The Rules That Lead to 'The Envelope, Please'

Here's how it works: Studios or filmmakers must submit their films by Nov. 1. The executive committee of the short film and animation branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences then makes sure that at least eight films are eligible; if so, it can recommend to the academy's governors that the new Oscar category be activated. At its final meeting of the year, on Dec. 11, the board will decide whether the category will be part of next spring's ceremonies.

If there are 8 to 14 eligible films, the list will be whittled down to 3 nominees by a screening committee made up of members of the short film and animation branch who were not involved in making any of the competing films. If there are 15 or more, there will be 5 nominees.

Thirteen films were submitted this year, said John Pavlik, a spokesman for the academy. The list of submissions and the names of those who would accept an award have not been released. The branch's executive committee is deciding on the eligibility of at least eight of those films, making sure for instance that foreign entries have never appeared on television abroad, which would disqualify them.

Even if there are eight eligible films, the committee can decide that they are not of sufficient quality to warrant making the award. "We actually don't think that will happen," Mr. Pavlik said. "We think we will have the category, but the process must be served."