Director John Kahrs had a vision for his animated short Paperman. There was just one problem. The technology to make it hadn’t been invented yet.
The 6-minute black and white film, which won Disney this year’s Oscar for animated short, tells the classic story of boy meets girl; boy and girl become smitten; boy then loses girl, literally, and the adventure he has trying to find her.
An age-old story perhaps but told using technology which didn’t even exist at the time the storyboards were being put together. Having previously worked alongside legendary 2D animator Glen Keane, Karhs had seen him sketching over CG-animated figures with his digital pen, creating texture and ‘movement’, only for the line work to be lost in the final composite.
Kahrs says “It seemed like a shame to have to leave all those drawings behind when you go to the final CG product. [The final product] has all the beauty and the realism of the CG, but there’s something I really like about the texture of the line that a human hand has created.”
In an effort to merge an old-fashioned aesthetic with modern technology, Kahrs went looking for a solution and teamed up with Disney software engineer Brian Whited, who was developing a program called Meander. “I was dealing with the interpolation of hand-drawn animation,” Whited explains. “Everything has been CG-focused in the past couple of decades, so it’s trying to bring some of those computer algorithm principles to the old style of animation.”
The black-and-white blend of hand-drawn and computer animation, 2D and 3D come together to create something beautiful and compelling. To appreciate the art of Paperman, press the pause button and look closely at the characters. You’ll find evidence of hand-drawn lines everywhere, from the texture of their hair to the creases in their clothes.
For more (geek-tech) details on Meander and the animation process, click here and enjoy.
Via Fast Company