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Toon Tuesday: It's a darn shame that Disney doesn't have any new hand-drawn animated features in the works

Toon Tuesday: It's a darn shame that Disney doesn't have any new hand-drawn animated features in the works

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"We currently have no traditional hand-drawn animated motion pictures in production or development."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

I'm paraphrasing what Disney CEO Robert Iger said at the recent shareholders meeting in Phoenix, AZ. But whether he knew it or not, the Disney chief executive had just announced the sad death of an art form that had once been the foundation of this prestigious media company. And with the passing of a unique art form that had been embraced and nurtured by Walt Disney nearly eighty years ago, we can only wonder where we go from here.

Now before you begin shouting at me and insisting that I don't know what I'm talking about, before you loudly remind me that hand-drawn animation is alive & vital today and hundreds of animation artists are creating films drawn by hand, let me hasten to add that I'm totally on board with you. I'm only saying that the art formerly used to create magical motion pictures at the Walt Disney Studios has finally gone the way of the Dodo Bird. Of course, others will continue to create hand-drawn animated movies. But let's face it: None of them will have a budget approaching a hundred million dollars. Sorry. Not gonna happen.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Of course, the animated film will continue to flourish and the road ahead is limited only by the imagination of the film makers. Plus we'll probably see even more innovation and unique blending of CGI and hand-drawn images much like the recent WDAS short, "Paperman." Having said that, I doubt we'll ever see the likes of the famous Nine Old Men or even Nine Old Women for that matter. The age of legendary animators like Milt Kahl, Freddy Moore and Bill Tytla will become a thing of the past as well. Don't believe me? I haven't read any books about famous CGI animators recently. And I don't expect any coffee table books on the subjects of rigging & rendering.

Now, before you consider me a Luddite, I'll remind you I brought my own computer to work at the Disney Company back in the 1980s and I was creating storyboards on an Apple Mac long before Cintiq developed their tablet. In no way would I consider myself anti-tech and I remain committed to advances in technology. Of course, I can't help but lament the untimely passing of hand-drawn animation because this art form could have had an amazing future as well. Should you think I'm wrong, I can only add that the recent departure of animation masters Andreas Deja & Glen Keane hardly assure me of any change in Disney's plans.

Disney's modern masters of hand-drawn animation (L to R) Andreas Deja, Mark Henn
and Glen Keane tour "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure" in early 2011
while this DCA attraction is still under construction. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

As colorful animated images recently danced across a large computer screen in a Disney lobby, an old gentleman standing nearby asked me a question. "Why don't cartoons look like that anymore?" he inquired. "Most movies made today are computer generated," I replied. The old gentleman seemed puzzled. Clearly he knew nothing about animation or technology. "Well, that's a darn shame," he grumbled. "I liked the old ones better."

"My sentiments, exactly," I replied, "It is a darn shame."

Copyright Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Group, an
Informa Business. All rights reserved

For those who found today's Toon Tuesday column a bit too depressing, I do have some good news. Floyd Norman's latest book, "Animated Life: A lifetime of tips, tricks, techniques and stories from an Animation Legend " (Focal Press, April 2013) ships next week. On April 4th, to be exact.  So if you'd like to be among the first to get your hands on this sure-to-be-entertaining 288 page beauty, I suggest that you pre-order a copy today.

And if you haven't yet gotten around to purchasing Mr. Norman's original collection of cartoons and stories -- "Faster! Cheaper! The Flip Side of the Art of Animation" - this paperback is still available for sale over at John Cawley's Cataroo. And if you still haven't had your fill of Floyd at this point, feel free to move on over to Mr. Fun's Blog. Which is where Mr. Norman posts his musings when he's not writing for JHM.

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  • “I believe that engaging people emotionally is easier with a freehand drawing. There is something in that analog process, something more emotional and engaging. There is much more work to do to convey the same emotion with the characters in CGI.”


    "If there's one thing that I do miss about [hand-drawn animation], it's the emotion we were able to achieve. You look at a film like A Charlie Brown Christmas, and it's the most simply animated film, but it's SO FULL of emotion. It gets you every time you watch it! That's the thing that's so special about seeing someone's drawings up there -- you can FEEL the emotion."

    — Chris Sanders, co-director and co-writer of DreamWorks’ The Croods (...a CG film!)

  • Sorry, but this is another case of a mere quote being blown way out of proportion once again!

    He only said that they don't have 2D films in the works "AT THIS TIME"! It does not imply that 2D is dead and it does not mean that there won't be 2D films in the future! Sheesh!

    2D is not being shuttered like it did at the end of Michael Eisner's tenure, so...RELAX, PEOPLE! RELAX!!!

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