Disney’s ‘Paperman’ to Revolutionize Animation?

Regarding a listing in the MPAA ratings bulletin awarding it a G rating, Bleeding Cool discovered Disney’s best kept secret, an animated short titled Paperman directed by John Kahrs. And while it’s only natural that the filmmakers are touting how wonderful it is, the accolades don’t stop there. Apparently every one who has seen it so far is going gaga over it. While Steve Hulett of The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 says ‘the look of it is terrific and unlike anything else out there,’ Pixar animator Catherine Hicks just took to Twitter with the following review:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/cathicks/status/168080100401754112″]

Hicks then followed up with ‘John Kahrs made a fantastic short. I don’t know if I can say too much more except for that Disney is doing amazing things.’

So just what is Paperman and when can we expect to see it? Nobody seems to be talking, but ideas from the outside are running rampant. Our friends at animatie.blog.nl offered up what they’ve dug up surrounding the mystery short. Sources have told them that, ‘this Paperman thing uses a software and an approach to 3d animation that is truly a gamechanger. When people see this, anyone who uses Mo-Cap will look RIDICULOUS.’

animatie.blog.nl has linked Paperman to a new feature-length film being worked on by Ron Clements and John Musker. They believe that Paperman may simply be more of a practical test for something even more ambitious. According to another of their sources who claimed to have spoken to Musker at the recent Annie Awards, ‘They’re doing something very technical, new and secretive. Something with an interface that translates hand drawn animation into CG.’

Whether that applies to Paperman remains to be seen, but the vibe is that Disney is so enthused with the short that it will waste no time in promoting it through film festivals this year.

UPDATE #1: 2/11/12 – After a long and virtually exhausting Google search, this article from Variety on October 25, 2011 was located. The article focuses on film composer Cristophe Beck who has scored Disney’s The Muppets along with many other films. As it turns out, Beck also wrote the score for Paperman which he refers to as ‘a composer’s dream.’ The article also notes that ‘the animators are [then] illustrating to his music.’

UPDATE #1: 2/11/12 – Disney animator Eric Daniels has linked to the article on his Facebook page, noting that Paperman uses a new technique he helped to create. Daniels previously helped create a process, first used for Disney’s Tarzan, he dubbed ‘Deep Canvas.’ As seen in the video below, Deep Canvas allowed animators to paint the environment over a CG model so that the computer would be able to keep track and precisely re-create the animators’ application as the camera moved in 3D space. The technology earned Daniels an Annie Award in 1999 and an Oscar in 2003 for technical achievements.

Effects animator Bruce Wright also linked to the article.

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