Disney and Pixar: John Lasseter previews dinosaurs, Frozen, Big Hero 6 ... but no hand-drawn feature plans

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What’s the future of 2-D, hand-drawn animation at Disney?

We still are doing some … We’re still doing a lot of short films. There are no features on the docket for hand-drawn, but we’re definitely keeping hand drawn alive at the studio. Hand-drawn is finding it’s way in a very interesting way into the technology. There’s a lot of hand-drawing that goes into the computer animated movies at Walt Disney Animation Studios. There’s a different style to the animation from that studio, too.  Even though it’s computer animation in the end the way they do it, and the feeling it has, is more the feeling of hand-drawn animation. And then there’s a little bit of work going on with shorts such as Paperman, John Kahr’s film which won the Academy Award, and has this really interesting very innovative combination of hand-drawn and CG.

But a lot of veteran hand-drawn animators were let go during Disney’s layoffs last spring, and others like Glen Keane and Andreas Deja parted ways on their own. Could this become a lost art?

No, I don’t think so.

But if you’re a kid entering Cal-Arts today, [the school Walt Disney helped found to educate animators], is there any reason to study hand-drawn animation if a someone in your position says we’ve got no films like that in the pipeline?

No, I mean, it doesn’t mean we’re not doing it, we’re still doing a lot of hand-drawn animation. I just don’t agree with you.

Big Hero 6 is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first team-up with Marvel. What’s the nature of that collaboration?

It’s based upon a very short series of comic books and it’s six comic books. They’re out of the Marvel universe, but more of a Japanese manga style. We’re creating something based upon that so it’s really a Disney Animation production. A loose adaptation — like all adaptations are. They almost have to be.

In addition to Marvel, Lucasfilm is now a Disney company. Pixar started out as the graphics division for George Lucas’ empire – now you’re together again.

Yeah, how about that. Very exciting!

I heard [Oscar-winning sound designer] Gary Rydstrom was directing an animated film for Lucasfilm, so I wondered if that project might fall under you?

No, nope. That stays under the leadership of Lucasfilm.

Do you see any potential Star Wars or Lucasfilm-related projects for Disney’s animation branches?

Not really, other than Pixar has always used Skywalker Sound for all of our productions. They’re the best so we’ll always continue using them and we’re very good friends. And we always have been with [special effects house Industrial Light and Magic] as well. But other than being friends we have never needed to do anything with them. But we’re also massive Star Wars fans so we’re all very excited, as is everybody around the world, for new Star Wars films.

Do you get to weigh in on those at all as part of the Disney brain trust?

I don’t know anything about it other than just being a fan.

I guess we’ll wait to learn more from Disney’s live-action D23 presentation on Saturday. Meanwhile, we’ve got your news Friday.

Fasten your seat belts, you’re going to love what we have down there.

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