Live action is a form of cinematography or videography that uses actors and actresses instead of animation or animated pictures. Live action can be in conjunction with animation to create a unique cinematic form. Live action is used to define not only movies, but also video games or similar visual media[1] According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, Live Action "[involves] real people or animals, not models, or images that are drawn, or produced by computer".[2]


As the normal process of making visual media involves live action, the term itself is usually superfluous. However, it makes an important distinction in situations in which one might normally expect animation, as in a Pixar film, a video game, or when the work is adapted from an animated cartoon, such as Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, 101 Dalmatians films, or The Tick television program.

The phrase "live action" also occurs within an animation context to refer to non-animated characters: in a live-action/animated film such as Space Jam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, or Mary Poppins in which humans and cartoons co-exist. In this case the "live-action" characters are the "real" actors, such as Michael Jordan, Bob Hoskins and Julie Andrews, as opposed to the animated "actors", such as Roger Rabbit himself.

As use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in films has become a major trend, some critics, such as Mark Langer, have discussed the relationship and overlap between live action and animation. New films that use computer-generated special effects can not be compared to live action films using cartoon characters because of the perceived realism of both styles combined.[3]

Live Action v. Animation

In producing a movie, both live action and animation present their own pros and cons. Unlike animation, live action, involves the use of actors and actresses, as well as sets and props making the movie seem personal and as close to reality as possible. The only drawback being one's budget. On the other hand, animation works well in conveying abstract ideas and it generally takes longer to produce.[4]

Disney Live Action

Disney's first live action movie was Treasure Island in 1950. Both Mary Poppins (1964) and Who framed Roger Rabbit (1988) are examples of Disney's live-action and animation combination movies. After Treasure Island it would be years until Disney would start re-making some of their fan-favorites. After witnessing the success of Marvel and Pixar, The Walt Disney Company decided to experiment with the live action side of cinema with the re-making of The Jungle Book in 1994 (and twenty-two years later, in 2016, another re-make was made). Other fan-favorites such as 101 Dalmatians and Alice in Wonderland, as well as their respected sequels would become the next live action movies. Followed by Sleeping Beauty, narrated from Maleficent's point of view this time, Cinderella, and The Beauty and the Beast.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Merriam Webster Online Dictionary". Merriam-Webster. 
  2. ^ "live action Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  3. ^ McMahan, Alison (2014-08-21). "Hollywood's Transition to CGI". The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 013210475X. Retrieved 2014-12-19. 
  4. ^ "Animation vs Live Action: Which Makes the Best Corporate Video?". Retrieved 2018-03-23. 
  5. ^ "Here Are All of Disney's Upcoming Live-Action Remakes". Collider. 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2017-11-14.