“Hi! I’m Mr. Mo Cap! I’m the future of animation!”
I woke up this morning to the news that Disney is entering a partnership with Robert Zemeckis to create a new in-house studio to produce motion capture films.
Mo-Cap? Oh-Crap! In a parallel universe, (the one in my mind, anyway) Disney was supposed to make a deal with Aardman for clay films… not with Zemeckis and motion capture. There is a part of me that would like to think that Disney bought in with Zemeckis just to keep him and his future “performance capture” projects off the market… but I doubt it. The grosses (and Oscar prestige) of Happy Feet and Monster House are too great for Disney to ignore.
I’m guessing this is an Iger-led business decision, not a Lasseter-led creative one. Let’s not forget the studio’s mandate: Disney must dominate animated features. Number 1 – buy Pixar. Number 2 – buy any other technique or filmmaker encroaching on our dominance in the market. Teaming with Zemeckis is part of that plan.
I hated the look of Polar Express, but could see some potential for the technique in Monster House. However, neither film can be compared to the true art of hand-drawn Disney animation. John Lasseter is commited to reviving traditional hand drawn character animation at the studio and this new business deal does nothing to slow those plans. While this new arrangement doesn’t bode well for Disney’s own (non-Pixar) CG feature projects, it does keep Disney at the forefront of digital filmmaking – with a new twist on an old technology. I can’t help but think that Max Fleischer is looking down on all this and having the last laugh.