I love shorts. there is such a feeling of emotion behind them. If there are no words in them I find them even more moving. We all know the Pixar Shorts and even the SNL Digital Shorts that make us laugh. Paperman is different. It sneaks up on you and fills your heart with love. True love. That love you feel when you meet someone for the first time and it made me hold my husband’s hand a little tighter in the theater.
This short is amazing in the fact that’s it’s done completely different. It’s a new form of animation and Producer Kristina Reed talked to us a bit about that when I was in LA for the #DisneyMoviesEvent
So we start off with every short by storyboarding the shots. This progression I’m gonna show you is one scene. So you can see how it moves through the pipeline and how it comes along. Um, this is one of my favorite shots in the movie. You’ll understand why when you see the– when you see the short. But this is just sort of really the storyboard artist doing some rough animation. It allows us to see the camera work and what’s gonna happen in the scene.
The next thing we do is we set up the camera. And this is just rough CG models of the– of, uh, the hero girl. We call her Meg. And, um, some paper airplanes flying by. Whoops, sorry, I hit backwards. I didn’t mean to. Now, this is when it gets into animation. We start actually timing her expression, when she’s gonna open her mouth, what her eyes are gonna do.She’s gonna turn her head. What’s happening to her hair? How the planes are gonna move past. We’re making sure that we can see her clearly in that moment.
The scene times out correctly in the full short. And then this is where the process differs from a typical CG film. We go in and we erase her features. And we flatten the image so that it doesn’t look volumetric and CG anymore. It looks almost like we just did it in sort of flat black and white. And you’ll understand why we do that in a second. At this point we have one of our hand drawn artists come in and design how the lines are gonna work.
And the hand drawn artist decides, okay, there’s going to be a very thick pen going down the right side of that airplane and thinner ones on the left. And here’s how her hair will be shaped and will flow. And here’s the, um, the– the heaviness of lines we want to use for the top of her eyelid. One of the things that John, the director and I, we’ve spent over 20 years working in computer graphics. When we both came to this company, ‘round about the same time, we were both blown away by the ability that line artists have to put expression just in a single line.
Just how by lifting a lip up a little bit or turning an eye, there’s so much expression that can be conveyed. And when you’re trying to do that in the CG world it’s really, really hard. And you get very separated from the actual art. There’s a lot of different people left to come in and set up the model and do the rigging inside the model and get her eyelids and her eye lashes right. And it’s very intricate and complicated. But in hand drawn work, it’s a line. And there’s just this beauty to that that neither John nor I have been exposed to.
And you’re really around it when you’re here at Disney because they have hand drawn art on the walls. Our screen savers are past, um, hand drawn moments from films. And you really start to appreciate what a line can do. So there’s several frames where they’re laying out different pieces, how her hair will be, where the weight of it will be, how her bangs part at the top will look, um, her eyebrows, where they go up. Then we figure out the paint.This is where we decide where the highlights are gonna hit her face.
And we’re just– we’re literally painting them on. It’s very different from CG lighting. One of the things John liked about, um, the look of this picture is this really high contrast look of black and white photos. The light coming from behind her. And she’s picking up her– basically her face is framed in light. And then they go through and they animate by hand her hair, which is just as hard as it sounds.
Remember Paperman will be the short in front of Wreck It Ralph so make sure you head to theaters soon because it’s already out!
***Disclosure: I attended #DisneyMoviesEvent . My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney. All opinions are 100% mine. Pictures above provided by Disney***