Disney Studios continues to innovate with the Oscar-nominated short, “Paperman,” which combines traditional hand-drawn animation and computer animation. The film short premiered in 2012 alongside the film, Wreck-it Ralph, but debuted online the last week of January on YouTube.
Set in the 1940’s, “Paperman” is a love story that follows a man who meets a woman in passing and chases after her using any means necessary— even if that means using the help of some paper airplanes and the wind.
The fusion between the traditional animation and the modern CGI animation is a perfect match for this short. The black-and-white shots and chemistry between the characters reflected back to Disney’s early days.
Many didn’t even know that the short was hand-drawn at all, which shows the quality of Disney’s animation studios.
The short was directed by first-time director John Kahrs, who was also the voice for the main character George. Kahrs has worked as an animator for previous Disney films such as “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story 2.”
Kahrs took the idea for the hand-drawn animation from working alongside legendary Disney animator Glen Keane in the 2010 Disney movie “Tangled.” Kahrs says, “We brought together as best we could the expressiveness of 2D drawing immersed with the stability and dimensionality of CG.”
Disney Studios engineered new software for “Paperman” called Meander. Meander allows the animators to draw over a CGI surface. Meander is what made the traditional hand drawn and the animated CGI possible.
Kahrs continues to explain the animation process saying, “In Paperman, we didn’t have a cloth department, and we didn’t have a hair department. Here, folds in the fabric, hair silhouettes, and the like come from the committed design decision-making that comes with the 2D drawn process.”
Meander gives Disney a whole new way to animate future projects and keep their traditional 2D drawing methods alive in a rapidly-expanding 3D world.
Although “Paperman” was already released online, it will be playing in select theaters as part of the Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013 program. “Paperman” is nominated alongside 4 other short animations films including Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” and “Adam and Dog.” However, because of its new animation style and romantic story, “Paperman” is a clear frontrunner for an Oscar.