The short animation film “Paperman” from Walt Disney studios was seen in theaters in November 2012 as an introduction to the film “Wreck it Ralph”. Mixing CG and traditional animation, “Paperman’ is a revolution in the animation world.


“Paperman”: a minimalistic and poetic short

Paperman - © Walt Disney Animation Studios“Paperman” tells the story of George, and lonely businessman in 1950’s Manhattan who falls under the charm of Meg, a young woman that he met briefly on the Metro station platform. After thinking that he would never see her again, he notices her in a neighboring building, and so begins his adventure.


Presented for the 1st time at the Annecy International Film Festival, this 7 minute 3D short film was created by John Kahrs, the animator of “Tangled”, “The Incredibles”, “Monsters, Inc.”, etc.
For this project, he worked with Glen Keane, artist for “The Little Mermaid” (who has certain characterists in common with Meg), and Patrick Osborne, Animation Supervisor whom he worked with on “Tangled” and “Bolt”.


“Paperman” is a minimalistic film in black and white with touches of color. It uses a non photorealistic style, granularity and very beautiful contrasts of lights and shadows.
The very poetic music in the film was composed by Christophe Beck.


“Paperman: the idea” by John Kahrs

Source : Vaultofdisney’s channel on YouTube


The innovative technique of “Paperman”: Meander

John Kahrs describes “Paperman” as hybrid film fusing together traditional 2D hand animation and CG animation. This innovative technique was made possible thanks to Meander, a in-house software developed by Brian Whited.


Vector drawing tool, Meander allows all the traditional drawing lines to be inserted into a digital image in one layer and gives the artist the possibility to manipulate the traced lines.
Notable elements offered by Meander’s manipulation options:
– The ‘CG rigging’ which allows the user to track the different elements of the drawing in order to define the rotation axis for animation.
– The ‘in-betweens’ which automate the creation of intermediary drawings; contrary to the classic rotoscoping technique which requires the artist to draw each individual image, this method only requires the artist to create one out of every 50 images.


Thanks to Meander, the drawing lines are incorporated in the top layer of the CG image (with the characters forms and environments) and the lighting. The last layer of color is then applied. Next the 2D and CG teams refine the cohesiveness of the layers until the final rendering stage.


Nonetheless, John Kahrs recognizes that Meander still struggles to automate all the steps, notably tracking.
This software is not yet a magic wand so the Disney programers are working to develop a 2.0 version of Meander. More to come on that…


The Meander tool

Source : It’s Art




[small_button]English version by Danielle Harrell, English teacher for ArtFx[/small_button]