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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Disney, Pixar, and the Art of the Hand-Drawn Cel (plus, DVD burning and HD disc posturing)

- As a reporter, you have these interesting moments sometimes when you ask someone a question, and you don't get a real answer ... but the interviewee seems to *wish* they could give you a real answer. That was the case last April, when I asked Pixar prez Ed Catmull whether he could ever see Disney/Pixar getting back into traditional 2-D, hand-drawn animation. No concrete answer ... but an apparent desire to say "yes."

So this headline in The Hollywood Reporter doesn't surprise me: 'Disney getting back to hand-drawn animation.' Paul Bond writes:

    Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, said Thursday in Orlando that he and John Lasseter, chief creative officer of those same entities, intend to bring back traditionally animated movies. The news comes little more than two months after Disney eliminated 160 jobs from its staff of 800 at its Burbank animation studio that deals in movies and TV shows.

    ...Catmull expressed an appreciation for animation of the CG and traditional variety, provided a worthy story is being told. "Quality is the best business plan," he said.

    He and Lasseter showed clips of the next several animated films from Disney and Pixar, all of which are computer-generated: "Ratatouille," "Meet the Robinsons," "Wall-E," "American Dog" and "Toy Story 3."

Some background:

    In 2005, the NY Times ran a story about Disney moving away from traditional animation.

    In July of 2006, after Disney acquired Pixar, I predicted that sometime in 2007, the studios would announce a 2-D animated project.

    Later that month, Disney announced that it was developing 'The Frog Princess,' a 2-D animated project overseen by John Musker and Ron Clements, who oversaw 'Aladdin' and 'The Little Mermaid.'

- Variety's Ben Fritz writes about the future of DVD burning, both at home and in stores using kiosks that can store as many as 65,000 movies.

- Yet another article about both sides in the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps trying to claim that they're ahead.