In the realm of feature animation, the hand-drawn no longer rocks the cradle. Thanks to the consistent success of Pixar’s five computer-rendered theatrical releases, coupled with Disney’s recent failure to produce popular hand-drawn films, it’s easy to see why folks are favoring bytes and pixels over ink and paint.
Slashdot is offering up a great article and discussion thread about Disney’s abandonment of traditional, hand-drawn animation (which Disney has sworn, for years, it would never give up), in favor of 3D, computer-generated work.
Supposedly, all of their animators—even staunch traditionalists such as Glenn Keane– are being trained on 3D computer animation techniques. The last hand-drawn high-budget Disney feature scheduled for release is Home on the Range, which is due out next April. It appears that Disney is bowing to the supposed pressures of the market, even though the hand-drawn Lilo and Stitch was considered a success and the all-CG Dinosaur (done at Disney’s now-defunct FX house The Secret Lab) was not. However, I believe there’s another factor at work: Pixar’s contract with Disney is set to expire soon, and the revered CG house has been making their own demands of Disney for the contract’s renewal.
It’s no secret that Disney feels threatened by 3D Animation. “For the first time in decades, the entertainment giant that pioneered feature-length animation with 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” has no traditional animated big-budget movies in production.” Disney has not only fired many of it’s traditional 2D animators, but it has also been auctioning off the tools of the 2D animation trade, a sign that they don’t plan on rehiring new animators. “Among the items listed [for sale] was an animation desk for $1,299; a story board for $54.15; and a 6-foot-tall cabinet for stacking scenes for $64.95.”