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

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In a world of gray, this tale’s only touch of scarlet can be found on her lips, which leaves a bright red kiss on one very important piece of paper. (You can see that on the desk in the previous image.)

The movie had help from Glen Keane, a veteran of hand-drawn animation who brought The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel and the title character of Aladdin to life (among others). It was one of his last projects before retiring from the studio this year. “He was really a great help at the beginning, crystallizing and focusing the character design,” Kahrs said.

“I didn’t want her to be too beautiful, because then she’d feel like she’s out of his league. And I wanted him to seem like kind of a normal dude, but still cute enough that she might date him,” the director adds. “When you see them together in the first shot, you should understand that it’s the first time they’re meeting, but you feel like maybe they’re already a couple.”

If the filmmakers had made Paperman without the hybrid technology, it might still be a sweet story — but the appeal of animation is as much about the technique as it is the tale. “If this short had come out with The Little Mermaid, everyone would be excited about the CG,” says Reed with a laugh. “Now here we are in the early part of this millennium, and what we’re celebrating is going back to the handcraft.”

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