I don’t intend for this blog to promote things, but once in a great while, I come across something so marvelous that it cannot be helped. Today, it is Paperman, a new animated short from Disney. It will show prior to Disney’s new fall movie, Wreck-It Ralph.
I had the privilege of seeing it (twice!) last week at SIGGRAPH 2012. The filmmakers were there to give a talk on the art and science behind its creation. Unfortunately, I missed the second half due to a meeting I needed to attend, but the first half was very interesting. Allow me to attempt to explain the specific tools that were developed to make the film. During the lull between two major productions at Disney, director John Kahrs pitched an idea about a lonely young man and a chance meeting with a pretty girl on a subway platform. He got the greenlight, and soon discovered a programmer at Disney was working on software he was creating for fun where you can draw lines directly on a tablet that turn into vectors which can be altered. More hard work and creative brainstorming ensued and eventually out popped this magical little short that is a 2D/3D blend of hand drawn and CG animation. It’s not a gimmick.
I was completely unprepared for this movie.
It is beautifully lit. Kahrs wanted to capture the style of slightly overblown photography, and the effect it gives is that of a tender memory of a warm summer day. The story is simple and universal. There is not a lick of dialogue, but plenty of excellent character animation that conveys every nuance of feeling clearly. The music is, in my opinion, 50% of the film, lifting you up at the best moments. The music is perfect. Anyone who is even slightly romantic will love this film. I will admit – I cried. It is that awesome. Go see it, even if you don’t want to see Wreck-It Ralph. Paperman alone is worth the price of admission.
Thanks to everyone at SIGGRAPH and Disney for making it possible for me to see it.
 Poster by Jeff Turley