Disney’s possible return to 2D Hand Drawn Animation

Remember 160 Animators recently being laid off in Burbank? Have you heard the news that Chris Sanders has been removed as Director of American Dog? How about the latest rumor that the boys from Pixar, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, want Pixar to be the only computer generated animation studio at the Mouse House and that Walt Disney Feature Animation should instead return to producing features in the classic hand drawn style? Yeah, I heard that rumor too. It seems they’re all connected.

Yes, it makes sense for Disney to avoid going after the same market with its two animated studio divisions. But what happened to Lasseter’s edict that the story should drive the technology. Will there now be a story session and then it’s decided if it’s a WDFA or Pixar film? Will film directors make the commute from Burbank to Emeryville with every different film?

An Editor’s Note in Animation Magazine ponders those rumors and wonders
if too much damage has been done to the 2D Disney brand to resurrect

With cheap-quels, non-musical features, and stories aimed at one sex or another, Disney has spent 10 years doing its best to scare off and upset the masters of hand drawn animation. The link to the Nine Old Men is so faint and delicate that extreme care must be taken to rebuild a tradition of quality hand drawn work again. I hope Lasseter et al can pull this off.

Luckily they have the building. The Animation Building was designed to have three full length hand drawn animated features in production at one time and was not being used properly when CG took over. Luckily some hand drawn masters never left and some had agreed to come back (if in different capacities). So I have faith they can make this work.

Producing the next The Lion King or Beauty & The Beast is a matter of will to enforce quality control as much as talent. It may not come the first few tries, but come it will. I’m confident the glorious Disney tradition of animated features will return.

One last thought on American Dog. So WDFA is going to concentrate on Hand drawn, or 2D, animation? Fine. Instead of canceling American Dog, shift it up I-5 to Emeryville. Pixar can no doubt find a slot for this great film with all the incredible artwork and movie clips that have been released.