Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Would Walt Do?

A sad milestone: "Disney Erases Hand-Drawn Animation"

In the 1960s, Walt Disney joked that one day he'd replace his elite corps of animators, known as the "Nine Old Men," and their slow, expensive way of making hand-drawn movies, with Audio-Animatronic figures.

At the end of last month, Walt's joke came true. The studio bearing his name announced that, due to a "changing creative climate and economic environment," it will be shutting DisneyToon Studios Australia next year. The studio, which turned out sequels (such as "Tarzan II," "The Lion King II" and "Bambi II") was the company's last remaining facility creating hand-drawn (or 2-D) traditional animation. To compete in the 3-D computer-generated imagery (or CGI) arena, the house that a hand-drawn mouse built will become a pixels, rather than a paper-and-pencils, place.

...But the demise of hand-drawn animation at Disney is a sad and significant cultural watershed that deserves a proper mourning rather than a brief P.R. notice.

For it was at the Disney studio that hand-drawn personality animation--an indigenously American contribution to the international art form of animation--soared to its greatest heights.

In my opinion, the trouble with Disney's last couple of animated features wasn't with the art. I liked the artwork of Atlantis, but the story & writing were not up to what we expect from Disney.

The failure was the story, not the medium. And computer technology won't change that.

Adam, this is your turf. What say you?


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