November 13, 2012

Paperman: Love By and Of Paper

Saw "Wreck-It Ralph" this weekend, and liked it very much, but my soul was shattered by the preceding short, "Paperman."  The technical achievement is staggering.  It represents to me the greatest leap CG animation has taken since early Pixar.  For so long innovators have struggled to make things more realistic, but Disney took a left turn.  The precision and technical possibilities of CG combined combined with the hand-drawn aesthetic is something I was holding my breath for and didn't even know it until I saw this short.  And I think its is so appropriate that it is a love story about paper.  The paper is how the characters meet, the paper is the vehicle for overcoming the obstacle, and then the paper becomes self-aware and facilitates the happy ending.  Given the subject matter and the aesthetic, am I nuts to think that this is also a love letter to paper itself?  By the end of this short, I had tears in my eyes for so many reasons.  Bravo, Disney.  Now do this again, but as a feature. 

(PS- I know these characters aren't named Jim and Pam, but... Dunder Mifflin is a paper company.  Paper again!  It's too perfect.)


David said...

And no paper was harmed in the making of the short. Why not just do it in 2D?

I have to disagree that it was the best technical achievement since early Pixar. So much time and money is always spent making CG look like something else - whether it's stop motion, photo-realism, or traditional animation. CG's next great technical achievement will come when CG starts having it's own unique style. Or maybe the ability to make CG look like anything else the mind can envision is it's true benefit.

Joanna Davidovich said...

My first love will always be traditional animation, but I know it does have limitations. Because some of those limitations CG can handle with relative ease, I think there are immense benefits in combining CG and traditional. Just think of the lighting on the characters in "Paperman"- a traditional approach would require hours and hours of drudging shadow matte work, and it still wouldn't look as precise. And then there are the camera moves, keeping characters on-model, being able to making use of all kinds of hair and fabric simulations...and to still be able to keep a traditional aesthetic? To have engineered software that successfully tweens linework? It is inspiring in a way that fur, fabric, mocap, and wet hair never in CG never was for me.

I'm the first person to knee-jerk a "traditional would have been better" response to a film, but this short represents such a unique new facet to CG that I just have to give it all the credit it deserves. And CG can never have its own unique style just like stop-motion and traditional don't have their own style- they are just mediums that facilitate the artists' visions. The vision of "Paperman" was CG animation with a hand-drawn aesthetic, and it is achieved brilliantly. I can't see this as anything but a boon for all animation, including traditional.