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Disney Animation working on new Hand Drawn film

This morning on Facebook Disney’s Animation Research Library wished Disney animation director Ron Clements a Happy Birthday. We do too!

On this 25th of April, we wish Artist-Writer-Director Ron Clements a Happy Birthday! Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Ron joined Disney Animation as an apprentice to Frank Thomas (one of the Nine Old Men of Disney Animation) and made his feature debut as an Animator on THE RESCUERS.

Joining John Musker, Ron and John (as they’re known at the Studio) have co-directed THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, HERCULES, TREASURE PLANET, and PRINCESS AND THE FROG. Ron and John are currently working to develop the next hand-drawn feature at Disney Animation. (Sorry, we can’t tell you what that is.)

Wait! What? We knew Ron & John were working on another animated feature, but I don’t think it had been confirmed that it was hand drawn. That’s good news in my book. I firmly believe there is a wide range of artistic and story telling craft yet to be explored in hand drawn animation. The water color style of Lilo & Stitch or the the new ways light can be played with in film deserve to be explored further.

Apparently this film is still in early production, so it might be 3-4 years before it hits the big screen. Are you happy to see Disney continuing the 2D animation tradition? Do you think Ron & John are the right pair for the job? Any guesses as to the name or subject of their film?

Previously: Disney announces new Pixar films and Muppets sequel.

22 thoughts on “Disney Animation working on new Hand Drawn film”

    1. I definitely perfer Disney hand drawn animated movies too, Pixar and Tangled are exceptions. I’m pretty sure that Brave and Frozen, the newest Disney princess films, will sure to blow us away! I’m hoping that Disney will return to the hand drawn animated fairy tales. There’s lots of fairy tales Disney can do like The Princess and the Pea, The Twelve Dancing Princess, and Hansel and Gretel. Also, we need a Spanish princess, a Muslim princess, and a Italian princess. All we can do for now is wish.

      1. Jacob, I agree with you all the way. I was doing research for my blog and discovered that several years ago when Tangled came out, Disney announced they don’t have plans to do anymore fairy tale movies “in the foreseeable future.” Could this be one? I hope so! I’m a lover of fairy tales!!

    1. I agree that there should be all types of animation, but I have problems when the original movie (say Peter Pan) was hand-drawn and then the sequel (Return to Neverland) is computer done, which doesn’t live up to the original. But sometimes the CGI is great.

      1. You know, the sequel has hand-drawn animation, it’s the scenery that mostly consists of CGI.

        Oh, and you know what hasn’t been done in a long time? An anthology. Think of the ones that were made in the 1940s (e.g. Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music, Melody Time), or perhaps one that throws live-action into the mix (The Three Caballeros).

        I think such elements would be perfect for a film about MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob (in the 1990s, of course). Why, you ask? Paula Abdul, who’ll be 50 this year, had a bit of history with the Walt Disney Company, and there were Disney artists who worked on the animation and coloring for the videos featuring Skat Kat. Did you know that Eric Goldberg did much of the animation for the unreleased music video for the Skat Kat single, “Big Time”?

        With no other studio bothering to do traditional animation, this is practically Disney’s chance to reintroduce Skat Kat and the Mob and prove that the hip-hop genre can be clean and enjoyable.

  1. SO HAPPY TO HEAR THIS!!! 2D animation is the heart of all animation. There is so much more expression and feeling in the characters. I’m thrilled to hear this…;D

  2. I’m guessing it might be “Mort” (the adaptation of the Discworld novel) or “Fraidy Cat”. (the project that was canceled back in 2005)

      1. I hope it’s Mort then, though out of all the Discworld characters, I’m more of a Witches fan. In Ogg We Trust.

  3. mackenzie drevniok

    I agree, hand drawn animation is the core to all animation, and being lost is that connection all of us had to the artist in so many films. Being that it is hand drawn, an audience can get a feeling from that, where with digital, there is absolutely no connection. Digital is great for all the effects, but digital is cheaper and easier and with that the audience feels the same, they are always looking for something that they can connect too, and traditional animation will always allow this much more. Mack drevniok

  4. I love traditional animation as a true art form. While CG dazzles us with all its automated bells and whistles, it still relies on a visual style close to live action (i.e., less imagination and more relying on what we see with our own eyes every single day.)

    Traditional animation, by contrast, is pure abstraction and pure inventiveness; audiences must use their imagination to interpret these lines and blocky colors/shapes as characters and objects. There is so much power and emotion in the abstract line, something that computer animation will never achieve (unless Disney’s Paperman lives up to its hype.)

    However, I don’t mean to burst the bubble of the 2D fans here, but I believe Ron & John’s new film is only going to be PARTIALLY traditionally animated, similar to Dreamworks’ upcoming Me and My Shadow.

    1. Or maybe it’ll be similar to commercials that use hand-drawn animation in CG scenery. Have you ever seen the commercials for Froot Loops and Keebler’s? Pepper Films, Inc. is responsible for those and still uses traditional animation. And let me tell you, the lighting and shading details on the characters are fantastic! I’m surprised no one’s ever acknowledged the studio’s existence!

      If I were the folks at Disney, I would follow Pepper Films’ example. After all, Pepper Films did contribute to some Disney-related projects, like The Tigger Movie and the scene showing the seven dwarfs in a theater for Disneyland.

  5. I notice that the ARL’s Facebook page has removed the post from April 25 which claimed “Ron and John are currently working to develop the next hand-drawn feature at Disney Animation. ”

    I know of a very reliable source who mentioned that he had asked John Musker directly about it at a recent lunch and Musker said their film currently in development has NOT yet been greenlit and is not necessarily hand-drawn animation as people are accustomed to using that term , it will perhaps be a sort of 2D/CG hybrid, but not necessarily hand-drawn in the traditional sense.

    Someone at the ARL clearly jumped the gun by posting that tantalizing bit of rumor. Although if you look closely at the original post on the ARL’s Facebook page it allows some wiggle room : “… are working to develop the next hand-drawn feature” . Well the key word there is “develop” . Development is a very fluid stage in the process at Disney. Lots of stories go through extensive development which are never made . Some films start development as hand-drawn (Snow Queen) and end up as CG (Frozen) . So in this case we are really going to have to just wait and see .

  6. Well if they are really making a 2d film, I’m pumped! The world needs more, not saying anything agents pixar, cuz there two different elements. I’d like to see them go in a new direction with it though, like make a PG13 more risky kind of film!! ;p

  7. It’ll be “King of the Elves” hopefully, but they’re also developing a film around Mickey again. We know that one won’t be CGI now do we?

  8. We’ve been inundated by computer generated animation. Wonderful stuff, but there is too much of it. Simply put, the magic is not there, not to mention the innocence. I love Disney’s hand drawn animation. When I saw Princess and the Frog I was delighted. It was right out of the glory days of Disney animation (I’m 74). I think it would have been more successful though if it had not been so widely presented by critics as having Disney’s first African-American heroine. That was seen as pandering (though it wasn’t), and that pleased no one. So Blacks and Whites both ignored it. Now with the race mountain out of the way, Americans may be ready for something else from Disney that is race neutral. No one – not no one, no how – does fantasy with Disney’s gentle touch, and that is a national treasure for the ages.

  9. i am very excited to listen this news, because i am very die hard fan of hand drawn animation, we can deliver our internal moods,emotions and expressions through this.

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