The Beauty of Disney’s Short Animated Film “Paperman”

Disney’s newest short film, known simply as ‘Paperman’, recently debuted in theatres before Wreck-It Ralph, a movie revolving around video games and a villain’s quest to become a hero. According to a recent article by Wired, this is the first animated short movie since 1990 that Disney has released to play before a major release. In 1990, Disney had chosen to play the short film ‘Mickey Mouse in The Prince and the Pauper’ before The Rescuers Down Under. 

Paperman has received so much positive feedback not only for its compelling story, but for its unique animation style, as well. The entire film is told using pantomime, which is the art of expressing feelings and emotions using gestures instead of speaking. 

The Story Behind Paperman 
Short movie Paperman tells about a regular man who works a normal job. Each day he travels back and forth from the city on a train. On one magical occasion, he ends up accidentally running into a charming young lady who ends up boarding a separate train and disappearing from the main character almost as quickly as they had met each other. Eventually turning up for work that day, the man is saddened by the thought that he never got to know the young lady better. While glancing down at a stack of papers in his office that he was just given to work on, he happens to look out his window and to his surprise, he sees the potential lady of his dreams sitting across the street in a separate building. He tries to get her attention by waving, but she, unfortunately, does not see him. To try and get her to notice him, the man decides to use the paper on his desk, to continually build paper airplanes, and throw them towards the building this lady is in. The story turns into this is a lovely and heartwarming tale that cannot be missed. 

New Animation Techniques 
Paperman has been receiving so much buzz throughout the animation industry because of its new use of the technology that went into making it. Disney chose to combine the old-school technique of 2D animation drawn by hand with 3D art that was entirely created using a computer. This was done with each character featured throughout the film. The characters were created and rendered using computer-generation and were then combined with outlines drawn by hand using a computer program known as Meander, which was created by Brian Whited who is a software engineer for Disney. They opted for this technique, to give the film that “classic” look while upping the quality. 

Producer Kristina Reed has noted that while she and the director of Paperman John Kahrs have over 20 years of experience in computer animation, they were simply amazed how well line artists were able to convey simple expressions so easily. Compared to trying to animate a character’s facial expressions using CG, this task is typically easier said than done. With CG, there is usually a large number of people working on a single animation in order to get one aspect of the character, such as a mouth or eyelash movement, animating correctly. But hand drawn artists can accomplish this much more quickly by simply drawing a single line themselves. To animate Paperman, the team at Disney took about 14 months to get everything to appear beautifully. 

Future Disney Animation Practices 
According to Reed, Disney will be continuing to combine CG with hand drawn animation well into the future. Although many animated films are created completely with CG, Reed has stressed how this new form of animation is important to continue with the older roots of animation. Despite Paperman being set entirely in black & white, Reed has hinted that color films may be in the works soon using these new combinational animation techniques. Thanks to the success of Paperman, Disney should continue to see positive feedback regarding this film throughout the rest of the year. Once Wreck-It Ralph has finally been released on DVD, Disney may package it together in various DVD deals that will include Paperman on the DVD along with the film itself. The popularity of Paperman is not exaggerated in the slightest. As the Hollywood Reporter states, Paperman is part of a list of 10 short animated films that are up for Oscar considerations. Nominations will be released in January 2013.

Contributor: Evelyn Robinson