'Paperman': The future of hand-drawn animation is Disney's new retro short

paperman-poster

Behold the face that launched a thousand paper airplanes.

In the romantic animated short Paperman, an office worker tries to get the attention of the woman of his dreams by sailing handmade aircraft across the canyon of a bustling Manhattan street from his skyscraper to hers.

He’s folding a 2-D format into a 3-D shape to make an emotional connection — which is also a good way of describing how Walt Disney Animation Studios created the film.

Paperman is a hybrid that fuses the dimension and depth of digital animation with the abstract warmth of traditional line art. The result is a world seemingly sculpted out of sketches.

Click through to see three new photos, and the movie’s poster.

The technology used to create the short, which debuts Nov. 2 in front of Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, could be the first step in a long-overdue comeback for hand-drawn animation.

“Drawing can have a really powerful, visceral effect on the viewer. You can create anger and surprise or anguish with just a few lines of a pencil,” says director John Kahrs, an animator on The Incredibles and Tangled. “But it can’t just be the same thing it was. I think for 2-D to be revitalized, you have to figure out a way to make it new again.”

Hand-drawn animated films have been relegated to the sidelines over the past decade as digital films dominated the multiplex. Can Paperman change that? At the very least, it’s an evolutionary leap.

While hybrid animation has been around for decades (creating the giant, swirling clock gears in 1986’s The Great Mouse Detective and the sweeping ballroom shot in 1991’s Beauty and the Beast) this is the first major use of it to actually emphasize the retro charm of pen and paper.

The goal on Paperman was “to find a way to not leave the drawings behind in the final image,” says Kahrs.

NEXT PAGE: See the first full ‘Paperman’ photo — a ‘meet-cute’ between a guy, a girl, and two different animation styles

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