During my recent trip to Los Angeles I was treated to an advanced screening of Paperman, a new movie short that can be seen before Wreck-It Ralph. It’s been a while since Disney has put a movie short before one of their feature films but Paperman is a perfect edition to Disney movie shorts. This movie packs quite an emotional punch is just 7 minutes. It is the story of a lonely single man who makes a brief connection with a beautiful woman in the train station.
Even without words, the images and musical scores pull you in and you can immediately feel what the characters feel. As cliche as it sounds, I laughed, I cried! Paperman is groundbreaking because it features hand drawn animation merged with computer generated graphics which makes for a truly stunning cinematic masterpiece.
We next see the man as he sits at his desk at work thinking of his encounter when he sees the woman across the way in another skyscraper. Longing to get her attention and armed with nothing but the papers on his desk, he does everything he can to try to reconnect with her. Could she be the one?
Could he be the one? You’ll have to see the movie to see what happens next. Paperman really gets you thinking about the connections we make with others even if for just a moment. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and this movie spoke to that. Don’t miss seeing Paperman.
We also had the honor of speaking with the producer of Paperman, Kristina Reed, to find out all about the making of Paperman. Here’s a little bit of what we learned:
Director John Kahrs began thinking about the basic idea for Paperman back in the early 1990s when he lived in New York City and commuted 38 miles each way to his job in Westchester County. He lived in New York City and everyday he’d be traveling through Grand Central Station as a single guy in his 20’s. There were scores of people moving through the train stations and yet he kept thinking to himself, “Why am I not having a more happy life? I’m a single guy in New York City. I should be on top of the world. And yet I feel really rather lonely.” Every once in a while, he’d make a connection with somebody, eye contact in the station and think,”Is that the girl of my dreams?” And then she’d be gone.
At the time movies were either hand drawn or CG (computer generated). But then the creative minds at Disney began to wonder, “Is there some new place we can go visually that– that no studio has gone before?” And it was decided to merge both techniques. First they CG animators would create the scene. They they would go in and erase the character’s features. And flatten the image so that it didn’t look volumetric and CG anymore. It looks almost like they just did it in flat black and white. Then one of the hand drawn artists comes in and design how the lines are gonna work. They decide there’s going to be a very thick pen going down the right side of that airplane and thinner ones on the left. Both Kristina and John who had come from more of a CG background were amazed 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. So once the features are hand drawn back in they figure out the paint and decide where the highlights, etc. are going to be.
It is very tedious and basically double work to do it this way. But when you see the shot in the film it’s a magical moment.
It took about 14 months from start to finish to create this 7 minute short. Many people had a hand in making it but there was just a small main core of people working on it. The hand drawn team and the CG team were not able to work on the project at the same time due to availability issues. Since Paperman is a small project, finding time to work on it came in between bigger projects. Kristina mentioned that she would like the two teams to work more closely if they do a project like this again.
Make sure to check out Paperman, in theaters now!
Disclosure: Thank you to Disney who paid for transportation, food, and accommodations for this event. No other compensation was given. All opinions are 100% my own.