It's easy to understand why Teletoon is doing this. The TV winds are all blowing the Disney Channel's way, with live action tween fare pulling in the ratings. The corporate commitment to anything only lasts as long as it is profitable. If animation ratings are down, animation is not the business to be in.
The Cartoon Network has already gone this route and is reportedly upset that their name is so explicitly tied to animation. Teletoon has the same problem and one more. It is chartered by the government and its mandate is to be an animation channel. The following quote comes from an email newsletter I get from C21media.net. Here's how Teletoon will be positioning their live action content so as not to get in trouble with the government:
"We don't have to air just animation; we will do fully live-action series. It would be really interesting to hear more pitches on things like that," says Teletoon's director of programming Caroline Tyre, outlining a new drive to think outside the box.So the purpose of Teletoon isn't to broadcast cartoons, it's to broadcast programming based on cartoons. See? That was easy!
"She points out, however, that there still must be a connection to animation, whether it is a toon/live-action hybrid or simply based on a concept that comes from the world of animation, such as a graphic novel or a pre-existing cartoon property."
There are reasons why an animation feature director would try out live action. First, there are just more live directing gigs, which means that someone with a successful box office track record has a good chance of landing a project. Brad Bird will be directing a live action film called 1906 and Rob Minkoff has helmed several live films such as Stuart Little. Even Frederik Du Chau, whose animation track record is hardly stellar, has managed to carve out a place for himself in live action.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a good book with the potential to make a good film. However, it's nothing like the films that Wedge has co-directed at Blue Sky. That's another reason why live action is attractive: a greater range of subject matter.
That might be the most pertinent issue. As much as we want to believe that animation is a medium and not a genre, maybe everybody outgrows it after a while. Which isn't to say that animation isn't capable of more than it's currently doing, but looking at what's out there now, it's not hard to sympathize with directors who want to try something new.