With the rise of computer-generated imagery and its accessibility and ever-presence, it’s too easy to start lamenting about good-old-fashioned hand-drawn techniques being wiped out of existence. But it’s not true, Hayao Miyazaki‘s Studio Ghibli is famous for using hand-drawn animation in their projects and French animator Sylvain Chomet uses the technique in his features. Disney’s 2009 film The Princess and the Frog was also hand-drawn, although it was an exception rather than the rule and ended a six-year drought on hand-drawn features.
So it’s still there, if a little niche-y. But paving the way for the future is this short Paperman from Walt Disney Animation Studios and director John Kahrs. The film seamlessly merges hand-drawn and computer-generated techniques using custom in-house software called Meander, which allows animators to combine the different practices and exploit the best of both.
The film itself is an old school affair, which tells a black and white retro-styled love story and wordlessly conveys its narrative about a commuter and a chance encounter. Harking back to the days when the name Disney was associated with charming animations rather than tween shows that destroy your very soul. It’s up for the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film and, if successful, could mean we’ll be seeing Meander crop up in many more animations, maybe even a feature.
This post also appears on The Creators Project, an Atlantic partner site.