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 "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.
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."