Academy Award nominees are rarely available for free (legally) online before the actual Oscar ceremonies, but that's exactly the case with the short animation Paperman, produced with the help of Disney. The film is getting attention for more than just the nomination -- the technique used is an interesting blend of 2D hand-drawn animation mixed with a 3D world. It's not the first time that we've seen techniques like this used, but it may very well bring back some of the things many of us loved about traditional 2D animation. Check out Paperman and some behind the scenes videos below.
Here's a brief excerpt from Short of the Week on the film:
The key phrase is “classical-looking”. The buzz of animation circles for well over a year, Paperman is the beta test of a potentially momentous shift in animation technology. Using 3D modeling to create the world and models, 2D hand-drawn animation is directly applied to the image in a novel new process developed in-house. French schools have been experimenting for a while with 2D aesthetics in 3D, most notably Bastien Dubois’ Oscar-nominee Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage, but this takes the proceedings to another level of loveliness.
Here is a visual breakdown of the animation:
Check out some behind the scenes videos Disney has posted on their YouTube page:
I think delightful would be an understatement. Paperman does what I think is missing from a lot of animation: it brings the life back. Computer animation will never be the same as real life (though it may be indistinguishable some day), but hand-drawn animation has a certain charm about it. It's one thing that I think Pixar has been able to capture in their films -- they tend to feel more "lived-in" than some other computer animations out there.
If you want an example of showing and not telling, Paperman is it.
What do you think of the technique used? Would you like to see more of it in animation? What is your preference -- 2D or 3D?