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Immersed in Movies: Talking Disney Animated Short Oscar Nominee 'Paperman,' See Full Video

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood January 30, 2013 at 3:56PM

Is Disney's hand-drawn animated legacy dead? Let's hope not. The new "Paperman" short may provide the answer for its survival. (See trailer below.) "Paperman," which just premiered at the Annecy Film Festival and debuts locally this week at the Los Angeles Film Fest (in 3-D), will play in theaters alongside Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph" on November 2.
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Paperman Meg

Is Disney's hand-drawn animated legacy dead? Let's hope not. The "Paperman" short may provide the answer for its survival. (See full short and featurette below.)

"Paperman," which played in theaters alongside Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph," is widely considered the frontunner for the animated short Oscar.

Utilizing a minimalist black-and-white look, "Paperman" merges computer-animation and hand-drawn more holistically than ever before, thanks to a new interface. It's perfect for this dreamy mid-century tale of a lonely clerk who has a chance encounter with a beautiful woman during the morning commute in New York City. Determined to find her, he creatively uses a series of drawings on his quest.

Paperman George

In other words, "Paperman" is about the expressive power of hand-drawn animation to seduce us.

For first-time director John Kahrs, it was an opportunity to exorcise some old demons from his younger days in New York and to reinvigorate the hand-drawn process. As a result, he's found a way of marrying old and new school approaches and has literally brought animators closer together at Disney, because the new technique involves drawing over the CG frames on a Cintiq, adding outlines, textures, even warmth with this digital in-betweening tool.

"When I was on 'Tangled,' it just seemed a shame that we had to leave those drawings behind because they were so charming," Kahrs recalls."And I thought about a way for the drawings to track along the foundation layer of CG. That was my original notion. I wanted to see that expressive line back up front on the screen. And I thought there was a new way we could do this. But it came about technologically in a way I wasn't expecting, by people who are smarter than me."

This article is related to: Animation, Walt Disney, Shorts, Short Film, Oscars, Awards, Awards


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.