Is it really the end of the line for hand-drawn animation at Walt Disney Studios?
That was the conclusion that many in Hollywood reached late last year. All they had to do was compare Winnie the Pooh's meager ticket sales with the boffo box office that Tangled
had done worldwide, and it then became obvious that CG had finally
officially fully eclipsed hand-drawn animation at the House of Mouse.
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But that wasn't how John Kahrs saw this situation. As the supervisor of animation on Tangled,
John had worked closely with industry legend Glen Keane. And Kahrs
watched as Keane had actively pushed to make sure that this CG retelling
of the tale of Rapunzel had the look and feel of Disney's classic
hand-drawn animated features.
"Glen would literally draw over our work. He'd take a tablet and a
stylus and then show Disney's CG artists how they could make their poses
stronger, how the staging of individual scenes could be improved by
just drawing a few lines right on top of their scenes," John remembered.
"And as I looked at Keane's hand-drawn lines on top of those CG scenes,
I have to admit that I liked what I saw. Those few rough lines that
Glen had drawn really added a lot of power, clarity and emotion to those
scenes. Which is something that CG scenes sometimes lose as they go
through the clean-up phase of production."
Now it might surprise you to hear a guy who has spent his 20-plus
year career in animation (which started when John got hired by Blue Sky
Studios in 1990 and then transitioned to Pixar in 1997) working almost
exclusively in CG talking this way about hand-drawn animation. But
Kahrs is the first to admit that -- when he moved from Pixar to Disney
in 2007 -- the DNA of the place just got to him.
"I have to admit that when I began working for Disney, I just fell
in love with the hand-drawn line. And seeing as Walt Disney Animation
Studios has this long tradition of producing hand-drawn animated
features... Well, I wanted to do what I could to make sure that more of
those great line drawings that Disney artists produce during the
preproduction phase of our new CG projects actually wound up on screen
in the Studio's animated feature films and shorts," John explained.
So what did Kahrs do next? To learn more about the amazing new short that John and his team at WDAS produced to prove that CG & hand-drawn animation could be combined to create a whole new style of cinematic storytelling, either click on the headline above or go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-hill/disney-paperman-short_b_1593015.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment
I was BLOWN AWAY by the animation in Tangled. It was CGI but when I saw it I could see that it had managed to capture a lot of the virtues and sensibility of line animation. I thought that was a real breakthrough.
That, and the breasts. I hate to seem un-Disney here, but it seemed to me there was a real breakthrough in the shift, bounce, and movement of breasts in Tangled. Quite lifelike. Congrats to the animation pioneers who contributed to that effort.
Things I would like to see/hear as soon as possible:
1) moving, video footage of Paperman
2) news on what exactly Glen Keane is up to these past few months.
3) news on how this new animated technique will be utilized in feature features at Disney.