BREAKING: Disney Just Gutted Their Hand-Drawn Animation Division [UPDATED]

According to former Disney animator Tom Bancroft on Twitter, Disney gutted their hand-drawn animation division this afternoon, and laid off nine veteran animators, including some of the studio’s biggest names: Nik Ranieri, Ruben Aquino, Frans Vischer, Russ Edmonds, Brian Ferguson, Jamie Lopez and Dan Tanaka. Two of the animators who still have jobs are Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn. The news of cuts in their animation division was leaked last week, but I, for one, did not anticipate that all these top animators would be let go. We’ve reached out to the studio for comment.

UPDATE: According to Aaron Blaise in the comments, Alex Kupershmidt was not among those laid off.

UPDATE #2: The Animation Guild reported that 9 veteran animators were laid off today so there are still two names that are unknown.

UPDATE #3: And now the Animation Guild is reporting in the same link above that, “Other veterans are being called in to meetings to discuss pay cuts and/or buyouts.”

UPDATE #4: In light of Disney’s dismantling of their hand-drawn animation division, this Animation Guild post from last October suggests that Disney execs, including Lasseter, had decided a while ago that hand-drawn animation was no longer a part of Disney’s gameplan. In the post, an anonymous staffer at Disney lodges the following complaint to union rep Steve Hulett:

We’re developing a bunch of different projects to show John Lasseter. It’s a complicated process. We pitch to a development group, they tell us which ones they like, then tell us that people who’re pitching need to develop three pitches for John, since he likes artists showing him three things.

And when we do pitch, it’s made clear to us that the stories aren’t necessarily for a hand-drawn project. When we’ve brought it up with John Lasseter, he’s shied away from commiting to a hand-drawn feature …

UPDATE #5: There’s a long-ish piece at Business Insider that explores reasons for the broader company-wide layoffs at Disney. They include the dying DVD market (and sluggish sales of Brave and Cinderella) as well as the $50 million write-down on Henry Selick’s cancelled stop motion project. Of course, the hand-drawn animation division layoffs are simply because Disney is moving away from drawn animation.


  • Revy

    I remember when “J-Lass” took over Disney Animation in 2006, with Eisner finally out of the picture. So many folks heralded his arrival thinking he would save the company bring the real Disney back to life. Sigh… This latest story, not to mention the films produced under his guidance, show that Disney is just as lost as ever — if not more so.

    • z-k

      So much for the “No more of that sequel, direct-to-video sh*t” pep-talk he gave when the acquisition went down.

      • Keith

        I actually enjoyed some of the Disney sequels.

    • gt

      He has no love of disney, particularly hand drawn disney animation. If anything, it’s a threat to him. Ask someone from disney why “Tangled” was not submitted for Academy Award consideration sometime…

      • bb

        Tangled was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Academy Awards. What are you talking about?

        • http://twitter.com/CartoonPalooza Joseph Patrick

          Not that year. There were three films nominated. Toy Story 3, The Illusionist and How to Train Your Dragon

          • Joe_HTH

            Yes, and Tangled was better than Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon, and I loved both of those. I never saw the Illustionist.

        • mandawg

          No it wasn’t. How To Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3 were. gt’s right.

        • Max C.

          It was nominated for Best Original Song, actually.

      • GuyX

        Because every movie nominated that year was better then Tangled! John is protective of the Pixar brand(which is why Planes isn’t Pixar). John tried to revive 2D and the audience didn’t flock to it like CG. Sure it did over 100 million but in this day and age it’s just not enough. They should of worked the Pixar formula on Princess & Frog with no songs. Pixar reinvented what family entertainment can be. Song and dance numbers just don’t cut it for today’s audiences. Iron Giant is a poor example of success but a great example of what a modern 2D animated film can be. Brad Bird just didn’t have the marketing power that Disney has and Warner just wanted to flush it after closing its animation department. Lassiter has a somewhat fiduciary responsibility to make sure films make money for Disney shareholders and they lost money on Princess/Frog. He tried.

        • Frank

          1 film wasn’t enough of a try. P&F made around 267 mil worldwide, which isn’t a hit, but no reason to throw in the towel on the results of 1 movie.

          • Animator606432

            God, do you know how many films would KILL to make that much money on a hand animated film. A film that had some of the greatest animators of our time working on it? What was the budget for the P & F? If it’s was more then $300 million i’ll be confused. Where they expecting to make “Lion King” money with the movie?

          • Frank

            Budget for Princess & The Frog was 105 mil according to the site Box Office Mojo. A budget significantly smaller than most 3D films.

        • DarylT

          Tangled was just better thats all

        • Funkybat

          Princess & The Frog keeps getting called a failure or even a bomb, but it was not by any stretch of the imagination. I like the idea of Disney getting away from the whole “princess” and “song & dance” format they depended on for so long, but doing one once in a while works OK. Princess & the Frog was a good throwback movie. Closing down 2D after only producing it & Winnie the Pooh is pulling the trigger too quick. I don’t blame Disney for making logical business decisions, but I think it was too soon to make a judgment on whether or not 2D had more profit potential. if they had done 3-4 full-size, full-marketing features (Pooh was kind of quietly tucked away, and wasn’t really a major film anyway) then maybe they would have been able to make a good estimate of 2D’s current business potential.

      • TheAngryInternet

        Tangled was submitted. It didn’t get nominated.

        Here’s the full list of submissions for the animated category that year:

        Toy Story 3
        Tangled
        Megamind
        Shrek Forever After
        Despicable Me
        How to Train Your Dragon
        Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue
        Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
        Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
        The Illusionist
        Alpha and Omega
        The Dreams of Jinsha
        Idiots and Angels
        My Dog Tulip
        Summer Wars

        • SummerWarsRocks

          Summer Wars should have been a contender for the award! It’s 2d animated and is such an outstanding and beautifully animated film.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jpcassidy John Paul Cassidy

      Well, what did you expect, a grand, glorious, radical revolution? If so, then this is a textbook example of a failed revolution. The kind where the ones who proclaim to fight for us end up becoming what they fight against. And when Pixar is finally partnered with a company like Disney, don’t expect Pixar to be an expressive outlet for artists (even though that would be great); Disney is a corporation. And now, so is Pixar. Iger has more power than Lasseter. Do the math.

      That doesn’t mean there won’t be some good projects to come out of the company, though. We got a Disney film, WRECK-IT RALPH, that actually felt more like a Pixar film than the one they did that year! But with the fresh hits, you’re also going to expect a lot of cynical sequels to their past films. CARS 2, for example. Yeah, the spirit of the “cheapquel” is still haunting Disney. Now, it’s haunting Pixar. And it’s in theaters!

      Yeah, Michael Eisner was bad, but Robert Iger is *worse*. Buying Marvel and Lucasfilm is one thing, but when you dwarf animation with cynical teen idol crap, and the quickie TV shows and feature films made as vehicles for their successes (before sex, drugs, and rock & roll take their usual toll), it doesn’t look good. That, and the only other animation they seem to care about; shilling Tinker Bell and their “Disney Princess” brand. The days of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are far behind them (despite the cool new Mickey stuff I’m seeing; go figure). It’s gradually become a cold, bloodless corporation that now cares only about “numbers.” Don’t those things belong on SESAME STREET?

      If you want hand-drawn animation, you can’t count on Disney for everything. When Hollywood rejects traditional animation, and Disney staunchly considers it a lost cause, then it’s time to move on and be independent. If CalArts continues to graduate animators who do beautiful hand-drawn animation and show it off on YouTube and Vimeo, then hand-drawn animation is far from dead. There are animators who continue to do really good animation on their computers (Flash, ToonBoom software, After Effects, etc. – yes, you can even do traditional animation in those, especially if you have a Cintiq) in their freakin’ bedroom! While some of us will gleefully continue to do that, the rest of you are going to have to rebuild from the ground up, if you’re really serious about this. It’s time to get together, cowboy up somehow, and make new studios where you can continue to do hand-drawn animation. Whether it’s traditional Disney-style stuff or anime-style or whatever. And if you’re even mildly successful, you can build up from there and make Disney wish they can go back to trying good hand-drawn animation. :)

      If I must add something before I close this, whatever happened to that Legacy Studios thing that was supposed to continue the hand-drawn tradition that Disney so forsook? Well, maybe you can succeed where they failed… or just stay in your bedroom and toil away on your tablet and/or scanner.

      • DarylT

        How in the hell is Robert Iger worse? He bought Marvel and Lucas Film. Brilliant decision making. What Teen idol crap? Hanna Montana went away years ago. Marketing Disney Princess, again genius, why didn’t they do that before.

        And look I hate to be the voice of logic here to every one in Hand drawn animation here. I love hand drawn animation. I wanted to be a hand drawn animator. I went to college to be a hand drawn animator. And I have recently realised that it has come time to give it up! Yes you can practice and make little shorts all you want for the internet at home. Yes you may even manage to cobble enough together to make a small feature via KIckstarter but unless its a major widely distributed, widely marketed, widely merchandised studio release, nobody is going to see it and nobody will give two shits about it.

        So yeah do hand drawn animation as a hobby, have fun, but don’t expect to make a career out of it. Those days are long gone.

      • Revy

        Thank you for the well written reply! Legacy Studios, which I was aware of as a former Central Florida resident at the time, has long since folded sadly. It was a nice attempt after the shut down of the Orlando Disney animation studio, but like nearly every Florida studio, did not have a long arc in it’s future.

        I do have one problem with all the people stating “If you love 2D, then go and create your own studio! Prove Disney wrong!”

        As a working feature film animator myself (CG, of course), I dislike broad generalist statements like that. To say such statements grossly underestimate the difficulties of starting, opening, and running a working studio would be easy. I’m more frustrated by the news of all of these layoffs from the major studios because not every animation artist has a short film in them to tell.

        I, for one, NEED a studio system to do my art. I LIKE having supervisors, directors, my peers and assigned shots to work on each week. There are a lot of multi-talented folks who can design, write, model, rig, render, light, AND animate a full short film…. but I am not one of them. Nor do I have any desire to be. When I’m not animating at work, I prefer to spend my free time doing things other than working on a pet project of my own. After all, I slaved away as a student to get a job in the business full time so that I didn’t HAVE to work on animation at night!

        Granted, some folks find great joy in working on pet projects, and if so, I look forward to seeing their work! But to simply say “Go make your own film” or “Go start your own studio” I feel is a disservice to all of the massive hard work it takes to really make that dream a reality. See Legacy Studios, as you mentioned. There was a group of extremely talented and driven ex-Disney artists who banded together, gave it an honest try, and STILL didn’t have a successful run of it. In short, it ain’t easy. And to then say that such work will “show Disney what for” about their business decisions, I feel, is a bit naive.

        Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to see a rogue studio have a major box office splash with a 2D feature and inspire Disney/others to get back in the game. That would be great!! But the odds of that happening are very slim. And once again, not every laid-off artist has the drive or talent to do much more than the work they’ve always done. A great animator does not necessarily make a great director/writer/producer/etc. Many artists need a large team with them to create their best work. Even on flicks that don’t seem to have a lot of artist integrity (I’ve worked on a few), we still strive to do our best and treat each shot we work on as though it’s just as important as our favorite classic Disney scenes that inspired us in the first place.

        To wrap it up, Disney closing the coffin on 2D animation is a very big deal. It’s a big blow to the 2D animation industry that may never truly recover. Sure, CalArts grads will always have jobs at Cartoon Network or create the odd animated short that goes viral now and then, but the days of true legacy work being created in full 2D glory may be over. I’m an optimist, so I refuse to believe it’s over FOREVER, but it’s definitely taken a shot to the stomach that we won’t see a bounce back from significantly for many years to come.

        I hope everyone laid off at Disney, and other studios around the world, finds new work somewhere. No matter how talented one is, we all need a steady paycheck to support our lives and our families. Not everyone can go create their own studio and live without regular income for an extended period while that studio builds from the ground up.

        • Michael

          Thank you Revy for making this point.

          I HAVE started my own studio and as you said it is a daunting challenge to say the least. We are abundant with creative ideas, but struggling to pay the bills and fund future productions. I equally agree with your thoughts on having the studio “system”. It’s difficult to create an efficient pipeline while short on resources in capital. As for those preaching Kickstarter, you have no clue how difficult and “goofy” that platform is for raising funds. We invested heavily (over $80K) in 2 prototype production campaigns that had it all, original IPs, creative and fresh direction and a high “Pixar” quality art. Yet both Kickstarters failed miserably because idiots with $15 and no sense of business can back you and tell you what to do. Just recently William Joyce (creator of Rollie Pollie Ollie, Blue Sky’s Robots, Rise of the Guardians, and Morris Lessmore) also failed at raising funds for his latest “The Golem” pitch. Bottom line is Disney is failing as a production studio but succeeding as a branding empire. Like they are doing with LucasArts, they will simply license out the IPs and reap the benefits of productions created by other studios who take all the risk. It’s as simple as that. But Walt I fear is rolling in his grave, because he viewed the end product, not the money. His legacy sadly died many years ago. I thought John would pick up the ball and carry it, but greed (and corporate stockholders) has intervened. The last 3 years Disney has lost $750 million in games, now there rolling the dice on everything with their Skylanders rippoff. They’d make more profit, less headaches, less employees/benefits/yada just licensing out the games and collecting royalties.
          It’s a very sad time, but it’s business. One of the reasons Jim Henson bordered bankruptcy al the time is because he wanted to retain his staff like family, even when in between productions. Sadly those days are gone.

  • Walter.P.D

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  • jmahon

    wow, Nik Ranieri….? I always thought he was one of the big modern masters when it came to animation… studying his work taught me a lot, and his characters were always my favourite as a kid. I hope some sort of good news about this comes soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.bancroft1 Tom Bancroft

    Also still safe because they are tied up on actual “in production” projects: Randy Haycock, Dale Baer, and clean up lead Rachel Bibb.

  • Greg Manwaring

    Damn, Roy, you left too soon! We need your “Save Disney” movement now!!

  • Aaron B.

    Well, when you let go of the top cheese, you save the most money, right?

  • MRKid

    Really sad news. Mainly for me it is the fact that they have clearly given up on their beautiful legacy. All we have to do is look at just what Cartoon Brew showcases alone in terms of the tons of 2D animation around the world to see that it is still innovative, beautiful, engaging and desired by not only artists but the general public. Disney is only still Disney now because of the name, and perhaps the parks. That is it. Damn shame.

    • whypickaname

      Wheres Frozen at? Best animated films in decades. It’s 3D animation too.

    • Nica

      Agreed. Walt Disney himself said, ‘you’re dead if you aim only for kids’. Wouldn’t it be more profitable for them to get to a broader audience as possible?
      Nowadays movies like Frozen and Rapunzel are mainly aimed for 6-7 year olds… Certainly I didn’t enjoy them, and I consider myself a diehard Disney fan.

  • jonhanson

    Is it bad I just assumed that they had fired all their traditional animators a while ago?

    • Funkybat

      I had figured most of the 2D-centric folks who had worked on Princess & the Frog and Pooh had either moved on one by one over the past couple of years, or were being re-trained as 3D animators, or possibly moved into vis dev or story work, where they could still draw all day.

  • wgan

    drop your pencil, pick up mouse, …wait, that’s not safe either, right??

  • Sandra

    I agree Revy…Disney is going in the wrong direction. Kinda like this country. Walt would not be happy. Come back to us Disney magic!!

  • z-k

    Most of the major studios are legacies, nothing more. In their minds, the domestic pool of artists – let alone 2-D animation – is a redundancy; it’s a baby that is thrown out with the bathwater as soon as there’s a quarter drop-off in revenues or profits. Plenty of other ways (and places) they can get that Barton Fink feel apparently.

    …And maybe not even that. I’m of the mind that most of these companies would just as readily convert their enterprises over to plastic manufacture or east-bound train scheduling the moment they realize that the act of creation requires a motivation other than memo shuffling or number crunching.

  • MaskedManAICN

    They had some really cool projects just begging to be worked on there. I guess any new 2d animation will be over Iger’s dead body :(
    You let us down John.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pannozzi John Pannozzi

      Well, good, Iger steps down in about two years.

  • http://twitter.com/JasonCampbell JasonCampbell

    Sounds like we are primed for a sequel to Dream on little Dreamer. A little piece of me goes every time I hear they put more pencils down.

  • d. harry

    Schneider, Schumacher, Stainton, all got the ball rolling, and I’m sorry but now I have to add Lassetter to the list.

  • Animator606432

    What is going on with Disney? I understand the maybe Hand-drawn is breaking the bank but still. It’s real disheartening because one of my dreams was to actually revive hand-drawn animation back into the respected art from it once was. I hate to be the one to say it, but if Walt wore alive, I don’t think he’d let this happen. Sure, Walt was HUGE on innovation on perfecting an art form and making it as great as can be. But he also understood potential when he saw it and he wouldn’t just give up on something just because it wasn’t “hip.”

    Another thing that angers me, is that there were probably so many imaginative ideas that the studio never even looked at. Remember when “the Snow Queen” was supposed to be hand-drawn?

    • http://profiles.google.com/andreakhaid Andrea Haid

      No one should be lamenting about “what would Walt do”. He never asked that question when he was alive. He innovated throughout his life time. Go listen to the podcast interview of Ed Catmull at splinedoctors. And hand drawn animation doesn’t break the bank any more than 3D does. 3D features can be very expensive.

      • Animator606432

        I did said he innovated but he didn’t he also didn’t disregard things that had Potential to become wonderful pieces of art. How is stopping production of traditionally animated films, “innovative” in anyway? Plus, they only made ONE picture and ONE short out of that department before calling it quits.

    • z-k

      I’d heard once that a certain lead animator there had calculated what it would cost to do a traditionally animated project, with a group of several animators fresh from Gobelins/France under his wing. Flowchart of what needed to be done when, schedule, benchmarks, etc. There might have been designs and a pitch bible; I don’t recall. But basically performing the corporate cargo cult dance to justify the project to managerial, done apparently on his own time.

      The cost was reportedly well under what it took most animation studios to do one of their 3-D extravaganzas, not to mention the quality of work that’d be done by talent fresh from France (at the time, they were in the internship program, so there was a question of whether or not they’d need work visas to continue on as employees), with seasoned studio vets on art or animation direction.

      …And we’re told: For the millionth time Disney wasn’t interested. Regardless of how many decades he’d been there, a cardinal rule was breached: An artist was usurping his betters on their own bureaucratic turf.

      I have no way to verify this other than the one person who witnessed this at the time. But given the studio’s track record, it’s hard to doubt the story.

    • Christopher Fong

      2D Animation is still a respected art form among may of those in the industry, including Jon Lasseter, as far as I know. Just because Disney has made this decision doesn’t mean that you have stop pursuing that dream; it’ll make a popular and commercial revival of it that much stronger. Heck, it’s still my dream.

      And who knows would Walt would or wouldn’t do? It’s our world now and we’ll make our own films, studio backing or not.

      • Animator606432

        I’m just guessing on what I’ve read about him. That’s all. I keep hearing people say, “we’ll make our own films.” nice idea but I don’t ever see this come into actuality. I hear a hell of a lot more talk then anything getting done, so that’s why i’m worried.

        • Christopher Fong

          True. A number of years ago I went to an ASIFA student film festival at Woodbury University where 2 guys premiered a movie they had made together called The Animated American. It was about 15 minutes long if I recall correctly, and it took them about 4 years to make. But they did it on their own without a larger conglomerate backing them up and it turned out great.

          No one said it’s going to be easy. The reason why there is so much talk and less action is because it’s just plain hard to do, and as of right now, there is no commercially viable model of how to make money on a movie without the connections offered from a larger organization such as a studio. People need money. However, smaller, more independent studios and associations are popping up and doing their own thing which is the sort of trend we’re heading in to, with “we’ll make our own films” being a sort of mantra. In many ways it’s one of a few options left to us, I feel.

          I guess the bottom line would be with the current state of the industry somewhat imploding and evolving, “we’ll make our own films” is an ideal that we’re chasing. While most people haven’t achieved it, some have.

          • Animator606432

            That’s really encouraging to hear. I am willing to put the work in myself but I just don’t see a lot of people with the same mentalities A family friend just made a live action indie film and took up almost a decade of his life, even go as far as to call off his own wedding twice. And that’s just some one’s personal life, not including the money spent. That’s why websites like Kick starter and Indie GoGo are as great as they are. I think a lot of the reasons why the evolution is happening so quickly, personally.

    • rewmnb

      Just because Disney is shutting down their hand drawn animation department doesn’t mean that someone wont come along eventually and revive it somewhere else. It’s not that the medium is dead, its that nobody is bothering to create a story that people want to see.

      • Animator606432

        Hey, I really hope somebody does. I’m all for being on bored if this happens. I know, I think everybody here knows, Disney isn’t the be all, end all of traditionally animated features. It’s just a lot of people were hopping that if Disney pushed this idea more, other studios would follow or at least I was.

        • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

          Pretty much. Disney is pretty much the god studio in the animation industry. Disney does one thing, the other studios will follow suit. That’s what makes this so disappointing. When Disney gives up on it, so will the other big studios.

          The only way for 2D animation to make a comeback would be to make such a film, and make it a hit.

  • padawanpuddle

    One of those animators is my teacher…. This sucks.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andreakhaid Andrea Haid

    Disney doesn’t own hand drawn animation. It’s up to us to make hand animated films!

    • Mel

      Who exactly is “us”, if I may ask? :P
      If you mean feature films: unfortunately, Disney is in charge of what comes and goes.
      Indie films? Short films? Sure, why not. There are still tons out there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sullivan/100001833542564 Matt Sullivan

        I think what he means is those of us who do want to keep Traditional Feature alive will have to find a way to do it ourselves…either through investment or making our own feature studios…something like that. I dunno.

    • Tom Hignite

      Easy to say. When artists,such as myself step-up to the plate to do do what you suggest, it is amazing how quiet the animation community becomes. Blessings, Tom Hignite

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000548361879 Aaron Mincey

    I understand that we’re all shocked by this but looking up the laid off animators they haven’t been working on a feature since a few years ago. I don’t know what an animator do after a project but I figure that disney let go of these people cause they wouldn’t want to pay anyone who aren’t working on any feature film at the moment. I don’t really know but that’s my guess for now.

  • Aaron Blaise

    Gotta check the facts. I just talked to Alex K. He was not laid off. I don’t know about the others though.

    • AmidAmidi

      Post is updated with this info. Thanks.

      • John

        Union rep, Steve Hulett, said on the TAG blog that 9 artists have been laid off from WDAS. We still don’t know who the other two are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gonzalo.azpiri Gonzalo Azpiri

      It’s so sad. Hi Aaron, are you still at Disney? We met around 1998, I think, when you came to Argentina promoting Mulan along with Rick Sluiter. Best, G

  • http://twitter.com/tylerart Brent Tyler

    It’s sad to see Disney lay off so many talented artists, however I’m surprised they’ve kept the traditional team around for so long without any 2D projects in house.

    Perhaps this will give these amazing artists the ability to expand beyond the walls of Disney.

  • JeanbearTheImmasculator

    Maybe they are just going to get some new blood and fresh perspectives. The old formula isn’t working.

    • otherthings

      There are a lot of people who might reasonably be considered responsible for the failings of Disney movies. Executives, producers, directors, etc. But there’s one area where Disney has never let us down, and that’s the quality of animation. You can’t seriously blame these artists for “the old formula” not working.

      • D. Strong

        Yeah, but you can’t possibly fire the executives, producers, or the directors. They are the ones making decisions of who to let go! Who is silly enough to fire themselves?

  • Regis

    Someone from television might hire them to work on the next “Rubik, The Amazing Bowel Movement.”

  • Clint

    So the popularity of Paperman was lost on Disney?

    • Revy

      Paperman was CG trickery at it’s finest. If anything, Disney views it as a victory proving they don’t need actual pencil pushers anymore.

    • Erik

      Paperman was CG with hand drawn accents

      • Kyle_Maloney

        Yeah, I think the hybrid experiments will continue.

      • MRKid

        You don’t need highly skilled master animators like Nik to do “hand-drawn accents.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/bennettrr Robert Bennett

      Watch the ‘making of Paperman.’ That was predominantly CG.

    • Jim

      Such A Awesome Point! Yes..the both of 2D/3D strengths combined. Paperman was amazing.

  • magilla gorilla

    It’s sad when the industry sheds jobs, and starting with Cinderbiter back in August last year, it’s been nothing but bad news: DigiDom firing, then suing all their former employees, DWs layoffs, Disney layoffs, Rhythm and Hues, lucas-arts, but at least they all got to continue drawing 2D animation for ten years more than the rest of us. Pity what they were asked to draw was “the frog princess”-especially after audiences made it abundantly clear in the late ninties that they were completely and utterly done with that crap. Oh well, onward and upward chaps.

    • Revy

      Done with “that crap”? I assume you mean the princess/musical films of the early ’90s. I would take one of those with open arms right now over the wise-cracking, irreverant buddy comedies that have been flooding the animated market ever since Shrek happened.

      That’s why Tangled felt so fresh, even though it was just doing a damn fine impression of Disney’s early ’90s material. I’ll take more of that, please.

      • Magilla gorilla

        Well done to both of you for supporting that movie. You and the five or six hundred other people who wanted to see yet another example of lazy ambition from Disney were well served. The rest of us were waiting for Disney to cut some edges again.

      • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

        I think the success of Aladdin was the initial cause of the shift to more comedic films, though Shrek certainly contributed as well.

    • Animator606432

      The Princess and the Frog was actually a really well crafted movie. Plus, in the 90′s all those films were huge hits. It wasn’t until Disney did crap like “Home on the range” that audiences lost interest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sullivan/100001833542564 Matt Sullivan

    Bummer. Why did we give this industry for suits to run into the ground?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708927181 Debbie Valenta

    That sound you hear is Walt turning over in his grave. The only silver lining in this debacle (is this really Lasseter’s doing?) is that there are enough of them let go that they can start their own company. I’m an aquaintance of James and he’s ridiculously talented. It’s disgusting.

    • unknowncast

      It’s much more of “Disney” spitting on his grave on this layoff.

  • http://www.moviecappa.com/ Mike Caracappa

    I bet Jeffrey Katzenberg is making lots of phone calls today ;)

    • Revy

      Why? He’s been using 2D even less than Disney over the last decade. Unless these guys want to storyboard or “consult” on DW’s films…

    • d. harry

      Why? JK killed 2d at his own studio through horrible choices of projects at first. He also helped get the ball rolling at Disney before he left with films he got into production there. He finally found his niche though, but unfortunately believes that those successes are partly because of the cg ingredient. No, many of these guys are f’d if they don’t get themselves some cg jobs somewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/realar01 Peter McKennon

    NOT AGAIN!! Why the heck are they doing so many layoffs?!

  • Crystal

    I don’t want to come off as naive to how things work, but is it wrong if I find it incredibly irritating that Disney can continue for years on end to make money off their hand-drawn products (including merchandise, DVD/blu-ray sales of older stuff and rereleasing stuff in 3-D) yet can’t continue to make it? I understand the “don’t do things that cause you to lose money/fire people” but Disney is CLEARLY continuing to make money off their 2D properties (among other things) and yet still won’t make it?

    • Jonathan

      This is why the copyright extension act, a.k.a. the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” is bad. It limits creative freedom, ambition, and only gives more power to uninspiring, spoiled, and not too mention talentless people like Bob Igor.

  • z-k

    Two things I should’ve added:

    -This was back before PatF, likely while it was in its first stages of production, either pre- or proper.

    -The project presented above presumably wasn’t horrible.

    • z-k

      …Peter Parker pinches pennies by the pound. Period.

  • Anonymous

    You know that’s not true, right?! >:(

    • Jonathan

      If so, then why were there Chinese made goods pulled from Wal-Mart a few years ago?

  • Anonymous

    Most of these comments are stupid, wrong, overly-negative and just overreacting! Typical Cartoon Brew…

    I think this is nothing more than a phase that will eventually pass, especially since the 2D studio is not being shuttered completely like it did before Eisner’s tenure ended!

    • Funkybat

      I suspect whatever “2D” work is left will be incorporated into a “Paperman” type project(s) or intended solely for theatrical shorts, but I’d love to be wrong on that.

  • Mitchbear

    Like I wrote in Face Book, this was a long time coming and I think Disney should have reinvented itself and not burden itself doing all those “Princess” films. “Lion King” was a huge money maker because the film had huge cross-over appeal. The “Princess and the Frog” like “Mulan”, “Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” was mainly designed for Grandmothers to take their young pre-school Grand Daughters to see. I know I am being too short-slighted but Hollywood Studios have always treated 2-D animation as a Child’s medium and that attitue has not changed in years. Pixar was not only innovated with their digital 3-D Animation, but also with their storytelling on a mature lever that no Parent, teenager or film geeks would not be embarrassed view. 2-D could have gone in that same direction, but the suits (who proudly claim to hate and never watched cartoons as children ) with all intense and purposes still treated this unique American medium as a disposal source of profits for Special edition DVD re-re-releases. With the purchase of the “Star Wars” franchise and the “Marvel” empire, Disney is now trying to do service to their forgotten audience, young males. But along the way to the Box office, I think they will screw that up too…

    • Animator606432

      Beauty and the Beast was up for BEST PICTURE during the 1991 academy awards. If that doesn’t have cross over appeal, I don’t know what does.

    • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

      If I recall correctly, the whole “Disney princess” thing wasn’t made until the early 2000′s when some guy at Disney realized there was a market for princess stuff.

      And if I again recall correctly, those movies you listed did quite well. “Beauty and the Beast” was nominated for best picture, not best animated picture, just best picture. A rare feat for animated films. To say it’s only for pre-schoolers is something of an insult.

      On that note, the loss of the young male audience has more to do with Disney Channel rather than the films. There was never a time where Disney made exclusively princess-focused films, but with Disney Channel? For years most of their shows were aimed at girls, and anything that didn’t fit the current mold (which was inspired by Hannah Montana) got bad treatment by the network. You could see the desperation to win back the male audience years later with the creation of the “Disney XD” network, which focused on male-oriented programming, including airing reruns of older superhero cartoons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GtheChamp George Champion

    …and yet ANOTHER unique art form falls into oblivion. I was a freelance ‘painter’ of animation cels back in the late 70s. A terrific job but often monotonous. VERY sad that another job has been turned over to computers….which have no hearts. :-(

    • Anonymous

      Ah, it’s happened before! Have you people forgotten about what Michael Eisner did to 2D animation in the early 2000′s?! Even after that, 2D animation eventually came back! So, it has come back before and it will again!

      • Funkybat

        Exactly. I am less shocked and disheartened today than I was in 2004 when the truly terrible 1st attempted murder of Disney 2D occurred I believe this kind of thing is cyclical, and that there is still a large percentage of the general population that loves to see “traditional” Disney animation. Even as great as Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph are, after a few years there will be an “itch” for something more old-fashioned looking, but with modern humor and sensibilities, and 2D will come around again.

        There is also more potential than ever today for small and medium-size projects to get wide exposure via online methods. If something 2D becomes an online hit, it could get expanded into a feature, albeit this would probably be some smaller studio’s property, since Disney has few online-only shorts.

    • Doz Hewson

      People need to know about what painting cels was like. I was raised, and I raised myself, on animated works perpetrated during that era. Ever thought about blogging about your time, as you put it, ‘painting’ animation cels?
      Thanks for reading, sir. I’m nearly 45 years old.

  • rewmnb

    So, out of curiosity, what exactly were these people being paid to do the last couple of years with no hand drawn animated movies in production? Were they getting a paycheck just to come in to the building from time to time and say hello? How does that work? Forgive my ignorance.

    • http://twitter.com/E_MARSTON E.Marston

      Mostly pre production stuff. I know that Eric Goldberg did some tests for “Candy King” durring Wreck-It.

      • Funkybat

        A Disney WIki lists Eric Goldberg as an animator on Sour Bill in “Wreck-It Ralph.”

  • zaz_cag

    Another goofy decision.

  • Trent82

    But Disney is making lots and lots of money for a relatively small number of people. Wall Street LOVES Bob Iger, and this ensures that he, John Lasseter, Kathy Kennedy, Kevin Feige, Tom Staggs and the other top executives making these financially driven decisions will continue to get HUGE paychecks as a reward for their “vision” and “performance.” Even though Disney doesn’t actually MAKE things anymore (just buys other companies that do), no one cares about that namby-pamby “Disney has lost its creative way” stuff — they just want to know Disney is making LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.orton.71 Andrew Orton

    Terrible. I see no good reason for this. You’re a monster, America.

  • barney miller

    Did Disney actually still have a 2d division? Were these guys working on a 2d feature? I thought all of these folks had transitioned into CG a while ago.

    Whatever the answers to the above questions, it’s very sad.

  • V-Vendetta(occupy art industry

    I don’t watch movies, I don’t watch animations,I stopped paying to watch all these inferior and intellectually bankrupt dumb products produced by anyof these big corporate studios, I stopped paying money to their fat pockets. And I am an artist myself. This industry is wrecked, by an oversaturated market of talent who is willing to bend over backwards to work for free or nothing. For every veteran Disney lays off, there are 100 students graduated from the animation/computer graphics schools, lined up hungry to work as free interns or cheap labor-monekys. Because the appeal of these studios has been so over-hyped in their artistic brains, these kids are willing to bend over and give away their time and life for nothing, just so they can get a refferal letter, a tiny name on the credit scroll (noboady is watching kids). Eventually these studio execs can become millionairs off of the backs of an army of grunt artists. Is there respect for the art? No. It’s just more money for the sudio execs and their private jets. But you can eat ramen noodles and live in your shitty appartments and be happy you get to work for peanuts on the next inferrior Disney crap, or some other millionare big studio. You will be poor, you will be laid off. Veteran or not. Every year there are thousands of new artists of all walks of life pumped oput of schools and universities, in a saturated market like this it’s the perrfect environment for the studio owners to lowball you to nothing, what does the value of veteran artist mean to them? NOTHING! To them art is a product, artists are dime-a dozen and cheap, just factory workers. Yet here we are, all these artists so mezmerised by the idea of being part of the inferior products these studios pump out, so willing to walk inside the studio hallways and work for free. And thats how the value of our work is diminished, by our own hands. If you think it will not get worse, you better think again. It will get even worse than this. In fact if it’s up to studio execs not would they love to run an entire studio on interns and free-labor, they actually may ask you to pay them on top, just because they are giving you the ”opprotunity” to work in their studio for free. Actually the ex CEO of Digital Domain Florida publically stated that he thinks interns should pay the studio for the ”opportunity” that the studio is giving them to get to work on studio’s productions and get a credit on the film. Credit? It’s like telling an artist if they put their own signature on their own art they have to give their art for free or worse yet, pay you to watch their art. The psychology and mental profile of the execs is like a serial killer, they don’t care about lives of others, they have no respect for anyone or the arts. How does this boil down to our industry? The first thing is to diminish 2D, because 2D is very artist centric and artists can impose more of their personal style into the work. 3D hhowever is easer to controll and be broken down into technical steps, which doesn’t allow artists to excersise their authorship on the ”art” as much as they can do with 2D traditional art. Will it get worse, it will. Unless artists get together and stop working for nothing. Look at what actors did and acheived in the early 50′s, and later writers, they broke away from the studio system’s sweat-shop structure, they refused to work for nothing COLLCTIVELY. Of course with the art industry we have the major challenge to deal with slave nations like China and India that are taking over the work. But it still can be done within the borders of US/Canada/Europe to have a healthy and art-centric industry. We have to create scarcity of our servises, we shouldn’t give it away for free. We should STOP working for less and less, we should DEMAND, we are the product we are the reason people want to go see the work, not the execs or the owners. We need to become a unity, like actors and writers did for their industry. Don’t let the eagerness of working on a project make you give away you values for nothing and diminish our values.

    • Ringtail Badger

      Hey, how about showing those elitist bozos what you’re really made of. Start your own company and produce great artistic pictures and give everyone a share of the profits. I’ll be rooting for ya.

    • Mark Koh

      Just being objective here: . We chinese aren’t slaves. Neither are Indians or any emerging market with hungry artists. There is a wage differential because of a myriad plethora of variables in the economic game. The big studios GENERATE demand for people to pay for content. Whereas the rest of the market is full of individuals who happily torrent away content that takes months and years to grind out, regardless of how well paid the elements in the studios, big or small. The consumers are the ones causing this fall out. Its easy to scapegoat the old world titans in the media game, when its the uncounted billions that feel that they are entitled to free entertainment. It will eventually cease to be commercially viable to produce content of that calibre soon, because even us on this side of the world grow weary on higher volume of working hours vs lower paychecks. And there will be less places to outsource to ultimately. The solution ironically is for smaller studios and artists to collectivise and establish an economy of scale / scope to gain some traction. Or reposition to educate the young that this, like other cultural traditions is a dying art.

      • http://twitter.com/robertkohr Robert Kohr

        I always found the Japanese model interesting. All the stake holders form a committee with equal ownership and say on the production. They also all share in the risk. However they all, in theory, yield to the director. Of course their system is failing as well, due to other reasons.

        • Joneil

          So, what is it you’re saying,exactly?

          • http://twitter.com/robertkohr Robert Kohr

            Studios need to look for better integrated partnerships. Going it alone may not be the best way, business as usual isn’t working.

      • Animator606432

        Sorry but i’m not buying the whole “torrenting is killing the medium.” If that’s the case, then why are the highest torrented movies usually the movies that make the most money box office wise? Have you really ever heard of a movie not being able make it’s money at the box office because of file sharing websites? Yeah, I do torrent things, but I also buy things when I want to see creative team working on it make more things. Not everyone who downloads has the mentality but a large majority I have run into do. It’s the same thing with HUGE record companies complaining about torrenting hurting their business yet indie artist GIVE away their music for free via the exposure they could get. Some even have a “pay whatever you want” meaning you could pay nothing at all.

        • jonhanson

          Sure, the big boys are doing fine, as they always have and probably always will to some extent, but look down the line. Every day here in San Francisco it seems like more indie theaters are going out of business. Just look at your citation when it comes to indie artists these days, giving away their product for free because they know that these days music fans basically expect that. Do you think if they thought they could get $10 a pop for their album they’d still be giving it away? These days what I hear from artists is that albums are basically ads for their live shows where they make their money off of ticket sales and tshirts. That’s well and good, but it’s hell for artists who aren’t big on touring and even for the ones that tour you get a sense of bitterness that their art is basically worthless to the fans. I’m big into hip hop and you hear this a lot from independent rappers who have seen their money being drained away as mixtapes and pirating have work hand and hand to reduce the value of music. Sure, Kanye, Jay Z and Eminem still can sell millions, but there used to be room for a bunch of little guys who could get by of CD sales but now there are just way more artists than there are fans willing to buy musict. Not to get hung up on music, I’ve heard the same things from indie film makers.

          The internet is great because of all that “free exposure,” but the question is what does it lead to? For most artists, even some who’d be considered famous, is that it sure as hell doesn’t lead to making money.

          • Animator606432

            The whole thing is, the only way these movies can actually be pirated is if they have some level of popularity. Maybe file sharing has closed down those theaters down (really doubt that though), or maybe bad business practices, I’m still waiting for someone to give be an example of a movie that was pirated SO badly it caused a studio to collapse or an album have the same fate so that artist is not be able to make music anymore. With the films shown at my local indie theater, 85% of these movies CAN’T be found online with file sharing sites.They are just that obscure and unknown. Also, you say there is a lot of theaters in the San Francisco Maybe there are just TOO many. When I used to live in Queens, New York there were Chinese restaurants on almost every block. Eventually a handful of these had to shut down, because there was just not enough customers to keep each one afloat. I view the same way with theaters, everyone has there favorite and customers choice on place over the others well…..they’ll have to shut down.

            The internet has given way for MORE indie-artist to actually come out and therefore there are more artist around then ever, yet people only have but so much disposable income. So those artist who “got by on CD sales alone” could also attest that to less competition. With rappers it’s the same thing. There are SO many independent rappers out there, however talented they maybe, that it is hard to sell your music. Which is why exposure is so important. You can’t make a sell if no one knows who you are.

            Also for those who can’t perform live, website’s like stage-it maybe be an option to look into. It’s small and not the same as a live performance, but you get the same interaction with fans without having to go on a tour. Although, I don’t know any artist (Kate Bush comes to mind, but there is a reason for that) who don’t actually want to tour. Many start Kickstarter music campaigns exclusively for touring.

            So I still believe file sharing can still allow an artist to make money. I can name a handful of artist, who have never been signed, or even if they had were given very little exposure, that are able to make their living as an artist. A lot of these people even give away their music via Bandcamp. It’s just a matter of understanding how online works and using it to your advantage.

          • SSSSellers

            considering that the home video market is down some 70%, yes, torrenting is causing massive problems from the big and little guys. Have you ever had your film pirated off of a secure screener ftp? It sucks.

    • Noël Ill

      whoa! It kinda sounds like you use to work in production…? Because you know what, YOU ARE RIGHT. Sorry I stopped reading at “Veteran or not.” Because this is a super long post and I have to go eat something, but yes, you are right. If anyone is a true artist, they will not let a company take advantage of their talent and work them like machines! I am also an artist and I have worked in production and it’s all true. They use up all your talent and no one cares that your name flies by the screen in the credits, maybe a select few of the other people you worked with think it’s cool, but no one else notices. The writers, the producers and the voice actors get all the royalties! It’s a sad truth. I will always love Disney, but I think more so for what they use to be.

    • Mirielle

      PREACH!! As sad as it is you are so right. Its hard to find even one well paying intern ship, well, let alone a paying one. D: You would make more money working at mcdonalds.

      • jonhanson

        I’m a graduating student and it’s sad to see, people treat working for free like the greatest thing in the world.

    • bongobrain33

      It´s also like this. For each job you search, 400 others are searching for the same job. It is not easy peasy pie you know. It´s not about credits, it´s about that too many people want the jobs

    • Marc Baker

      I couldn’t have said it better, myself.

  • Floyd Norman

    “Walt’s gone! You missed it.”

    Ward Kimball

  • Dana B

    Animation has never really been the same for quite sometime, but now it will truly never be the same again.

    I know CG is basically the new face of visual entertainment, but no matter how many heartfelt stories they tell or dazzling sights they dream up, it’ll never capture the charm that traditional animation has had since the first time it arrived into the world. It makes me glad that I was born around the time renowned films like Lion King and Aladdin were released and inspired me to watch classic animated Disney films at a young age that still inspire to this day. I can’t really imagine how newer generations will respect traditional animation when all they’ll see and know is CGI and the future of it. I can only hope they’ll look back on it and be inspired, just like I have.

    Truly the end of an era. I can only wish nothing but the best for those affected by this situation…

  • http://www.facebook.com/keri.schow Keri Schow

    I will be interested to hear the “whole” story on this one. I am for animation any way it is completed. I just don’t care for artists being “set aside” because they are not technical enough…so I am sure that there IS more to this story. I <3 Disney.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasmine.rossetto Jasmine Rossetto

      I agree! This is a very one sided article.

  • http://twitter.com/robertkohr Robert Kohr

    I think its more like all they do is refresh their same brands over and over, ie Princess’

    • Rick

      “Franchise” is their magic word hehe.

    • http://profiles.google.com/corywgross Cory Gross

      The Princesses are one of those brands. The Walt Disney Company still has the Disney brand to use, but they’re evidently not overly concerned with being creative producers with it. The Disney brand is primarily a character backlog they can mine for merchandise, rides and the odd direct-to-video thing.

      That said, they are still making CGI animated and live action films (and sometimes they even advertize them!). I think, though, that the golden geese are Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm at the expense of Disney. Now you don’t even need to be from a Disney movie to be a Disney Princess.

      • Lili Little

        They have even been changing the Princesses’ appearance on their new merchandise. I don’t have a problem with them adding jewelry or embellishing the dresses, but it’s disappointing and frustrating to me to see them change around the physical features of the princesses. They don’t need to become more modern; the movies will always be loved without the princesses changing and the merchandise should reflect the actual characters.

  • http://twitter.com/spitandspite Abel Salazar

    Damn… Well these guys are essentially Masters so I’m sure they’ll land on their feet. Disney may have lost some animators but the world hopefully gained some amazing new Sup’s and Directors.

  • http://twitter.com/Zekumi Tori Rhodes

    As rich, exciting, and limitless as the world of traditional animation is, I have a hard time conceiving how any person at Disney could possibly doubt the medium.

    Bleak.

  • Amir

    -B-

    Finally, Charles Mintz is now laughing in grave…

    -Amir

  • leftforever

    This makes me sad. I want to see more hand-drawn animation, not less!

  • BrewtusD

    Please start your own company and please hire students from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. We are a new animation program contained of talented animators (and film makers) that just want a shot.

    Ali Pordeli, Michelle Pabalate, Preston Weinard, Dezmond Rose, Roy Matos, and Joel Ogden is among the elite.

  • Toonio

    Keep feeding the beast people!

  • http://www.facebook.com/woody.smith.50 Woody Smith

    Extremely sad and, unfortunately , short-sighted for Disney. With the profits they are making from Marvel alone, they should be doubling down on hand-drawn.

    That being said, if there are any of these guys without another job at the end of the month, I’d be shocked. Anyone out there that does any animation could hire any one of them for their experience alone! With luck they’ll get a serious salary bump as well:)

  • http://twitter.com/robertkohr Robert Kohr

    Not really most people think the computer does it.

  • mo

    Everybody is saying how sad it is but people get laid off all the time in most of the other studios. Yet we never see posting of mister John Doe who lost his job. What s the big deal? Those people who have so much experience and knowledge will have no problem finding another job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/william.bradford.102 William Bradford

    Wouldn’t be the first time this happened at Disney. I have a feeling they’ll be going back and forth on this.

  • D. Harry

    Exactly! Doing NOTHING rather than using his power to influence Iger not to give up on 2d, or let go of these last artists. Man up John, put your foot down, and let one of the umpteen films you have slated for cg be made in 2d instead!

  • Eric Kini2

    Wow! What about Randy Haycock and Bruce Smith? Man this sucks, especially since Glen Keane quit a little while ago. I was so excited when Disney said they were going back to doing hand drawn animation! Well, not anymore. This really sucks. My dream was to work there as a traditional animator. I guess that dream is gone now.

    • http://aaronmannanimation.tumblr.com/ Aaron Mann

      yours and mine both..

  • http://www.facebook.com/rodan.thompson Rodan Thompson

    So not a fan of the Studio… the artistry and the magic of the artists cannot be replaced…the more time that passes…the less valuable the Disney (studio animation) will be… such a shame. They’re so many other ways they could get by… Hang in there guys.

  • d. harry

    Scott, using your own argument, since we KNOW the Disney artists are competent to create great 2d animation then why NOT let them work their magic on one of the upcoming GREAT STORIES that Disney/Pixar have in the wings?? Great Story + Great Animation = Great Film!!

    • Funkybat

      I think the fear the top-level execs have when it comes to trusting one of the major established artists to direct or otherwise spearhead a personal project is that it’s proven to be a mixed bag at best. Disney trusted Andrew Stanton to deliver with John Carter, and even let him stay in control of the project after things started to go off the rails. I’m sure there was a good deal of pointless, counterproductive meddling from non-artists in the creative process (the name change comes to mind) but in the end, right or wrong, that movie was viewed as a failure and the crossover potential of animation directors to live action (not named Brad Bird) was diminished in the suits’ eyes.

      On the purely animation side, they let Brenda Chapman helm a very personal project that had a lot of great ideas and “buzz”, and let her get it to a certain point until the top men felt it was no longer going to work if she stayed in control. They forced her off and put someone new on it, and in the end the film came out a mixed bag because of conflicting creative visions.

      These two stories make the money men very nervous, they are not inclined to let anyone lead a film who hasn’t already successfully done something very similar to whatever film is now being pitched. That’s part of why we’re getting all these sequels and spinoffs. I don’t doubt that the vast majority of creative people in Pixar and Disney want to do entirely new things, and Pixar and especially Disney *are* coming out with non-sequel, non-derivative projects. But I fear that a revolution in creator-driven feature animation is nowhere near the horizon.

  • DarylT

    Hmm Sad. Quantitatively not a lot of cuts but still hmm. Not unexpected though.

  • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

    I really hate how Disney grew so quick to throw out hand-drawn animation when some of their best, most popular, most critically acclaimed films were hand-drawn. The only thing that would’ve changed Disney’s mind would’ve been if “The Princess and the Frog” had become a super-mega blockbuster hit. Maybe that could’ve happened if they released it during a time when it had less competition.

    What really depresses me is that, contrary to studio belief, audiences didn’t give up on traditional animation. It was all about timing. Pixar films will doing well at a time when Disney movies weren’t so great. Instead of realizing that this was because Pixar made good movies with good stories and characters, they assumed it was the animation.

    What makes this worse is that more and more animated television shows are going into computer animation. How long before that takes over?

  • http://www.facebook.com/teodor.ajduk Teodor Ajduk

    and…. who’s going to put green screen for 2D animators on facebook profile?

  • Tak

    This has happened before, and will probably happen again. Disney’s going to go through the motions of re-releases (and in the former motions, a slew of direct to video shenanigans) and try new things (see; Treasure Planet, Atlantis, Fantasia 2000 etc). Most of the original movies there were outstanding, but not moneymakers. Princess and the Frog falls into that category; outstanding, but not The Lion King. Paperman was a cut above the rest, and if they’re smart, they’ll try to go that route with a fresh medium instead of pumping out movies like Bolt and Meet the Robinsons. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to pay for art anymore, at least not art that takes much longer to do than CGI. Pixar in it’s own right is gambling on another prequel and now, another sequel after Brave didn’t pull in near enough positive reviews that the hype thought it would (despite the Princess franchise taking the opportunity to market her). To me, it sounds like the profit from Wreck it and Tangled are what sealed this department’s fate for a second time while Disney feeds off of the Princess franchise after shanghai’ing Merida to the lineup. I can’t imagine what they’re thinking now though, with Frozen production speeding up.

    Now, I feel like you can only rely on small studios via television like Titmouse (Viva Motorcity!) to bring some sort of hand animation to the Disney family’s table, even if it is flash, it still has that handdrawn quality. Unfortunately even that front is being shot down, I can only hope that Gravity Falls survives their second season.

    • IJK

      But Bolt was both a good film and a financial success…

  • OtherDan

    Why is anyone surprised by this news? We already knew there was nothing slated for 2D. We all know and see what the overwhelming shift is – that it’s all going digital. I’d like to see a thread or panel discussion about the actual differences of 2D vs CG animation. I mean artistically. Sure the principles are the same, but the inputs and expertises to execute are very different. I think CG breeds a different sort of artist; it’s a different appeal for the animators and designers – ever try doing CG turnarounds? Not fun at all. It’s like drafting. It’s mechanical and not expressive. That’s where we’re all going. We’re gonna be cyborgs eventually.

  • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

    Agreed. PatF did quite well with critics and audiences, but the only way it could’ve brought back traditional animation was if it was a super mega blockbuster hit. And maybe it could’ve done that, if it wasn’t going up against not only Avatar but also the second Alvin and the Chipmunks film.

    I remember when I was going to see PatF, everyone else was going to see Avatar. (which I did see later) I regret nothing!

  • Mark Gohering

    Am I the only one to think its extremely unprofessional of Tom Bancroft to tweet this? What if the artists didnt want the entire world to know they were fired? What if they wanted to tell their families in their own way? Even his tweet is disrespectful. “Disney layoffs are today!!” ….really?

    • Animator606432

      Maybe but he seems to be friends with these people, so maybe they gave him the okay. He’s a freelance artist nowadays so he doesn’t really represent anyone but himself (I think, I follow him on deviant art and that’s the impression I got). Maybe he’s still a little bitter about they way he was let go, not that I know the details of it.

      • Dave

        Animator606432 – Just to keep the record straight , Tom Bancroft wasn’t let go from Disney so there could be no “bitterness” about that . (also if you know Tom then you know that the word “bitter” and Tom Bancroft don’t go together) . He left Disney on his own to work for another company (Big Idea) , at the same time starting up his own company on the side . He returned to Disney briefly to work as an animator helping to finish up Brother Bear, but that was with an understanding up front that it was a temp “run-of-picture” contract . Upon finishing his assignment on Brother Bear he resumed doing work through his own company . He’s been an independent for 10 years.

        • Animator606432

          Never said I knew the guy. I don’t even know what his face looks like. I was just speculating on maybe why he posted about the layoff in a the way that he did. I just follow him on Deviantart but thanks for the background info anyway. He seems like a nice guy and he inspired be a lot as a artist (sometimes without me noticing it) so i’m sorry if I offended him or anyone he’s associated with,

  • Axolotl

    The Disney Company is like a really hot, abusive boyfriend, but hey…WE DON’T NEED HIM.

  • wendy

    I’m really sorry Curious if that happened to you. That’s awful and you’re right, we should be sticking up for each other and not letting this happen. The point I was making is that the board of directors and Iger are making these decisions and their salaries are so over bloated considering. Iger does not contribute 600 times more than 1 artist. Get rid of him and his salary, and with the money you would save could hire back the whole Wreck-it crew, Lucasarts crew, and the 2D Disney crew. Get rid of him and there would only be 1 guy and his family crying… but you know what, he wouldn’t be crying because his retirement payout is so huge! With his retirement package you could hire back the circle 7 crew, the Florida crew, the sydney crew, and every other crew you can think of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasmine.rossetto Jasmine Rossetto

    Disney has had nearly a century of practice at being a business. It’s evolving and growing and things that slow it down get left behind. The signs have been there for a long time so there is no point crying over spilled milk. Nobody knows the full story here and maybe no one ever will. What I’m hoping is that one or more of these Artist’s will open their own studios and excel and continue to blow our minds with their Artistry – really doing it for the love of it – or the whole group could go and set up a studio. James Baxter did it so why not anyone else. I was fortunate to listen to Glen Keane in 2010 speak about how we shouldn’t look at the big studios as the be all and end all of animation. They’re not (yeah I know you know that). They’re businesses. If you listen to the Spline Dr’s podcast with Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton they talk about trends in Animation. Everyone thought that it was a massive risk with Toy Story because it didn’t follow the traditional animated musical Disney formula. But it did better. So then a whole lot of trends followed Pixar. Things change, not necessarily for the worst. Stay educated, don’t let your skills and creativity be superseded. Maybe this is the final straw for Artists – be smart or don’t be in the industry, people will treat you how you let them.

  • Frank Summers

    I find this headline slightly inflammatory. Layoffs are a part of our business. Its happens to me like clockwork, but I plan on it and I adjust the best that I can. This does not mean that DIsney will stop producing hand drawn animation. It simply means in the foreseeable future that there are no plans that are ready to roll into production. Is it good news that these vets are laid off? Of course not. However, they’re vets for a reason. They’ll land on their feet and go on to do amazing work elsewhere.

  • Paul Dunahoo

    IDIOTS! First they layoff the majority of Lucasfilm Animation, then they shutdown Lucasarts, and now they killed their own division! Seriously, what’t their problem?

  • Nico

    Okay, I’ve lost my Respect for Disney.

  • Bart

    Er… as said in comments before, he didn’t launch that deal at all. I remember in some comments on a similar story years ago here where someone was discussing how Lasseter took credit for Princess Mononoke’s localization through Miramax, when he had nothing to do with it.

    Miramax was owned by Disney, the films shifted to release under the Disney brand. Whatever Lasseter says he did is completely touted up to sound like he discovered a Japanese animator himself and brought him to us blind Americans.

    Also, “close friends!?” I seriously doubt it goes beyond business meetings.

  • d. harry

    Charity?? Are you kidding me, they are like bandits getting away with not having to pay us backend profits!! That’s probably one reason why management types don’t respect us — we’re weak in their eyes, since we don’t even fight to be treated as equally as the musicians playing on the soundtracks. So they paid to keep the artists from going anywhere between projects — whoopdeedoo. I should be a multi-millionaire by now from residuals but instead I am out of work like so many of my co-workers. “Disney Animator will work for food” should NEVER be something you would hear, but I know it to be the case with many of us.

  • Daniel

    Lasseter does green light projects… and he hasn’t greenlit any hand-drawn animated films.. He’s also pushed the projects and given bigger budgets so that CG films would look more appealing to directors..

    And “good” is greatly a matter of taste.. I’m sure Lasseter thought his own Cars 2 was “good”, it’s probably the most director driven film that Pixar has ever done! Do you really believe that John has the taste and the judgement to know what is a “good” film idea and whether it needs to be hand-drawn or cg?

  • Shazbot

    Just another reason for me to despise Bob Iger. He is destroying Walt Disney’s legacy and raping the soul of the company just to please stockholders. He’s turning the WDC into the evil-heartless-greedy-corporate-empire caricature that used to be the stuff of jokes, but now appears all too real. When it comes to the Disney company, Eisner was an ailment, but Iger is poison.

  • Funkybat

    I can’t speak for wendy, but I suspect many of us were unaware that there were huge layoffs after Ralph wrapped. I don’t recall seeing that reported anywhere. Layoffs suck, especially after having completed an artistically and financially successful film!

    • John

      That occurs after every film at WDAS. It’s their new business model. They staff-up when the film goes into production and when it finishes they lay them off. It’s been going on since Meet the Robinsons.

      • Foreign Devil

        That’s pretty much the model at most animation studios. Major project wraps. . layoffs begin. . .with just a few lucky skeleton crew that gets to stay in studio for years.

  • Lauren

    I thought the 3D rereleases would usher in a new era of traditional animation, similar to Roger Rabbit. That thought seems so impossible now.

  • Elana Pritchard

    This is why I have no desire to ever work for a corporate animation studio. You can give your heart and soul to them and they won’t think twice about throwing your ass out into the street if the price is right.

  • jamil

    I think all these guys should get together and form their version of online 2D School….who knows, I might become their first student

  • Thios

    It’s the age of Kickstarter.

    Those 2D animation giants should get together, create a kickstarter project and work on an amazing animation film. Just pay someone who will write a good story. A movie that people will want to watch in 2013 or 2015.

    Princess and the Frog was such a bad story. They wrote it for audiences of the year: 1960, imo.

    Same with groups of students getting out of school. You people have so many great ideas for stories. And most of you can really do something with ur skills.
    Websites like kickstarter can help fund exactly that.

    Just do it. And don’t stop trying till u have made it. That is it. :)

    • Animator606432

      Seriously, they really should. I know everyone on this website alone would be willing to donate at least $20 to it. I don’t agree that PatF had a bad story, it just didn’t do anything new or exciting to the genre. I loved the movie very much, but even I can admit that the story was incredibly exciting or inspired. Despite that, you can tell the people working on it were in love with the project, To bad Disney sort of screwed them over in the end, I mean they put the film up against Avatar for gods sake.

    • Cee_Jay

      When you’re talking about individuals who have families and mortgages, doing a Kickstarter gets really complicated.

      You basically have to not accept any work in your own field, because every contract you’re going to sign is going to have language that assure that any animation you do (including an “on my own time” Kickstarter project) becomes the intellectual property of your new studio. So how does an experienced animator, who needs health insurance for his/her family, just NOT WORK and risk his/her fortunes on a Kickstarter campaign?

      But let’s assume for a sec that these folks walk away with decent packages that might extend their benefits through the next month to three months, as well as enough cash to pay the mortgage for the same amount of time.

      If that were the case, they’d have to get a proposal together IMMEDIATELY. Get a writer (animators are often lousy writers-they’d need someone who can crack a story), get some AMAZING concept art together, get a project that will excite animation fans, and set a goal that will give them enough $$ to JUST MAKE A TRAILER.

      They could perhaps use that Trailer to sell a second Kickstarter for an entire storyreel (BLUR studios recently did this successfully). If THAT worked, perhaps they could get Investors to fund a film, but more likely would be a third kickstarter to fund the entire film.

      The question then being, how much money would they really need? How much of a shoestring could you do a fully animated feature film on? In the millions, certainly. I don’t know – I suppose it’s possible. The Veronica Mars movie managed to collect 5.5 million – and that is to date the largest amount EVER collected for a Kickstarter film project. Would that even be HALF as much as would be needed to do a fully animated feature?

      Mostly, they’d need a name. A BIG name. Like, say, Frank Darabont as their writer/director. Or Chris Nolan as their Producer (The Blur project had David Fincher). Someone with enough critical success AND geek cred to get donations flowing.

      Possible. I’d love to see them try.

  • Maui

    Mamoru Hosoda also blatantly copied his previous Digimon movie, ‘Our War Game!’ in Summer Wars. The concept, story (and even certain shots) were not original to Summer Wars at all, he just added the theme of family.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Jones-Jr/100000771773320 Gregory Jones Jr.

      I always figured it was similar to when Hayao Miyazaki did the series Future Boy Conan. He had already envisioned Laputa: Castle in the Sky by then and utilized many ideas from Conan when he finally got the opportunity to to Laputa. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Hosoda doing the same with Digimon and Summer Wars. In the end both stories were heavily inspired by War Games.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Yeah, that was the point. When even animation fans don’t critically examine the themes in animated movies (I’m speaking of others in addition to you), you know it’s a form in trouble.

  • Concerned Fan

    Devastating. Does anyone know what fate holds for Bert Klein?

  • dead-pan

    Three promises John Lasseter failed to uphold:

    -No more Princess Movies

    -No More direct-to-landfill sequels/spinoffs

    -One Traditionally Animated Feature every 5 years

    His silence in the wake of all this speaks volumes.

    • John

      It was actually every 2 years, not 5.

    • http://animationanomaly.com/ Charles Kenny

      John Lasseter’s hands are tied by corporate level interests that in all likelihood are forcing him into decisions that are between a rock and a hard place.

      His silence is the result of an omerta placed upon him. A fact that’s easy to ridicule but takes a different tone when it’s your livelihood on the line.

      • d.harry

        screw HIS livelihood – what about ours???????

  • z-k

    It would be interesting to see if those other nations are as enthusiastic about internationalism, or of undermining their own economic sovereignty, as some Western nations have been. Given India has Pakistan, or that China has Russia, throwing away cultural identity’s going to be a hard sell, economically or otherwise.

  • z-k

    I’m assuming inbetweening every scene until they ceaselessly flow like water off a Vaudeville river is high-rent animation.

  • Animator606432

    Didn’t they do that same thing with a movie from the early 2000s? This film was up against not only a Harry Potter movie but a Lord of the Rings movie as well? And on top of that, the film got mixed critical reaction at best.Yet SOMEHOW the failure of the film was blamed on the fact that it wasn’t CG but 2D animation (even though CG was used in a great deal of the film).

    • Krys

      It’s like they wanted 2D to fail. :

  • Kieran Stones

    Yeah it’s a real shame this happened as i really liked The Princess and the Frog’s animation, still even if the theatrical feature animation market is mostly dominated by CGI, remember that there will be places for it, no matter how depressing the outlook is, it mainly depends on how people adapt the technique and how good the project is using the technique, whilst there may be only a small portion of it compared to the 1990′s in the cinemas, people will try to utilize the art style whenever necessary, be it for cinemas, television, home video or the digital multimedia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Jones-Jr/100000771773320 Gregory Jones Jr.

    I don’t know what to say. I started out of my journey to become a traditional animator a few years back and things in the industry keep getting worse. Some people tell me that these are warning signs, I look at it as motivation. If Disney doesn’t want to do 2D animation anymore, fine. We as artists have to fend for ourselves.

    • Mike Russo

      Yeah, you could always go over to the Dreamworks or Universal. Unlike Disney, they do hand drawn films every few years, right?

  • Animator606432

    Yeah i’ve noticed that as well. I mean, it’s look better then the crap that was on during the early 2000′s but the animation is still lacking. While traditionally done animation on television, maybe not always looking the best, at least looks like it as some life to it. I think it will remain hand drawn honestly.

  • Mike L

    Are you seriously suggesting that 2D animator pay is four times that of CG animators??? Sorry, your info is seriously off. CG artists are definitely paid better than 2D. It’s just that these particular animators were the heavy hitters who had been at Disney for generations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kdagvubelV Sabijn van der Linden

    they’re just stupid while short sighted. hand-drawing is already coming back

  • Fbt

    People should stop complaining about Disney not making 2d animated movies anymore because as you all know disney is no longer disney it’s just a name. That’s why complaining and getting angry is a waste of time (seriously).they want our money not our happiness.What ever happened to “You reach a point where you don’t work for money.” Walt Disney
    (Sorry 4 the bad grammar)

  • L.H.Puttgrass

    Disney?!? What are you doing, Disney? Hmmmm. Have you forgotten what put you on the map in the first place? It’s getting all corporate and heartless up in here.

    Hey! All of you animators that just got shown the door, I got a word for you. Kickstarter. It’s called Kickstarter and it is amazing! You can get the funding to continue your art and work your magic! And maybe, just maybe, hit Disney where it hurts the most. At the box office!

    • Mike Russo

      Yeah, because that pays the bills and helps you support a family, right?

      • L.H.Puttgrass

        It pays the bills to get a project off the ground that the donators feel is worthy. It ain’t a regular job.

  • http://twitter.com/ike4nsync Karen

    And my boycott of Pixar has begun…

  • http://twitter.com/rainbowpins 淑如・JOY ・(★彡) セイ

    “it’s made clear to us that the stories aren’t necessarily for a hand-drawn project.”

    I know business are mostly, if not all, about cutting cost and making profits, but still, this. This is BLASPHEMOUS. Hand-drawn animations are beautiful to watch, and very admirable. I have always loved the extra bits where animators talks about the initial stages and the process, the cautions they have to take regarding the sketches and how much it killed them yet they enjoyed working on the process so much. It makes me think that these were the movies where both the animators, people on the project team AND the viewers enjoyed. Disney broke a part of my dream by gutting their hand-drawn animation division.

    I’m not saying the 3D animation is any lesser, but with what we have in the industry now, hand-drawn animations WILL be a distinctive point and sell too. Just because the pitched stories don’t have to be hand-drawn, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t not use the hand-drawn animation.

    TL;DR — Hand-drawn animation should’ve lived on, somehow or another.

  • solvseus

    I used to work for Disney, and they are terrible. This doesn’t surprise me. It saddens me, but doesn’t surprise me.

  • Said Omar Eshaq

    Why don’t they make a project that combines hand-drawn animation and CGI like The Amazing World of Gumball or some of the great animated shorts from Gobelins. They could do something like Wreck it Ralph. The just have to try and find new creative ways for the medium.

  • Joshua Taback

    Does anyone know the total amount of people let go, and the Total number that stayed?

  • Piwilin

    I’m glad this happened. This leaves free open doors to those who want to pursue excellence on 2d animation. There are billions of 2d artists and 2d lovers out there. Disney is a media company, not an artistic community. They know how to sell stuff, not how to paint it. And this will lead into problems in the near future for them.

  • rooniman

    RIP 2D Disney.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.norcross.1 Matt Norcross

    I don’t really think this is the end of Disney’s hand-drawn animation unit. 9 people were just laid off. I still think hand-drawn animation will still go on at Disney, but I won’t believe the story of them officially scrapping their heritage until an official word comes out that “we’re not doing 2D animation anymore”. I don’t think that day will ever come again though as long as John Lasseter is in charge.

    • Keith

      Are you kidding? John Lasseter is the reason why these artists were laid off. It’s because he’s the chairman of Disney, and he wants to shy away from making hand-drawn films. He is the reason why people like Ruben Aquino were laid off, and Lasseter needs to step down as Chief and only deal with Pixar movies, and leave the Disney Animation division to people who actually know what they are doing, such as Don Hahn or Michael Eisner.

      • http://www.facebook.com/matt.norcross.1 Matt Norcross

        What are you talking about? Lasseter knew exactly what he was doing with Disney Animation! He was a HUGE fan of Disney Animation. He began working there fresh out of college, and he knows what it was like being fired from them. Don’t hate on him just because he’s from Pixar.

  • Greg Manwaring

    I think the sad thing about this layoff is that, many of us wanted Disney to remain “THE” place that was perfect about animation. It used to be THE place to strive to get hired, because you knew they only took the best, and it meant that you some how “made it”. Of course we all know now that the management of this huge corporation doesn’t waste a second thought on something as trivial as that. On the other hand I think they should, since they are neglecting the upkeep of their own legacy and “brand”, while buying up other “brands”, such as Pixar, Marvel, Muppets, Lucas, etc. Great animation movies – including hand drawn features – are what the company was built on and drove the merchandise sales and theme parks. I would argue that they can only neglect their own in-house brand for much longer. (and I don’t mean simply making spin offs, like tinkerbell pics, and cool artsy looking mickey mouse shorts)

    • Keith

      I really wish someone could knock some sense into this studio and get them back to producing hand-drawn movies. The way I see it, the hand-drawn films showed the most emotion out of anything I’ve seen from Disney. I’m praying and waiting with baited breath for the day when Disney finally gets it right.

  • http://twitter.com/reanimator999 Hyun Park

    It’s sad that Disney further shrunk its 2D animation studio. Just like everyone else, I thought it’s making a major comeback after the cycle of boom & bust.

    In my opinion, Disney’s recent 2D animations are neither interesting nor relevant enough to recapture the heart of the NEW generation of audience. That heart already went to Pixar and the others.

    People can easily blame executives and marketing for failure, but I strongly believe that root of the problem runs deep. Disney animators have artistic superiority, however I think that their works have shuttered from the world outside. Their lavish visuals cost lot of money than any other 2D animation industry in the world, and yet their recent works failed to appeal new generation of audience.

    As an animation fan, I don’t know what’s really going on inside the animation studio. I think that those senior artists are like last batch of cows ready to be slaughter on layoff table. We all know that executives are the types who don’t care much about artist. Either they’re too strict or too lenient. Anyway, when artists keep producing failures, it gives business executives more excuses to justify layoffs. This isn’t the first time Disney has shrunk its 2D animation department.

    I hope those laid off animators find new job or career soon. For aspiring animators & students out there, I think it’s a good way think about stability of the animation industry and figure out smart and creative ways to produce animation along with developing better career path.

  • Michael

    Why make Paperman? It wins an Academy Award for Best Animated Short, then you layoff your entire hand drawn studio talent? What was the purpose of making that film? Just testing the waters for public reaction to classic 2D animation?

  • Mike Russo

    How in the world do you know what Walt would do in 2013? The man has been dead for almost 50 years. Who knows what he would have done if he was somehow able to live forever and was still in charge of the company.

  • Noël Ill

    That is so sad. It should be like this.

  • Josh

    My opinion; Crisis and opportunity are the same thing.

    I feel the worst for the animators who worked hard to get to the top at Disney that are now being let go. No surprises that Goldberg and Henn are staying.

    I understand Disneys reasoning though. Their two latest 2D efforts weren’t bonanza hits. Why keep doing them when it’s easier and more chic to do 3D features.

    And more than that, why continue doing 2D if they aren’t trying anything new. After they announced their ‘grand return’ to traditional animation what did they give us? A princess movie and a Winnie the Pooh movie. Don’t stretch yourselves too much Disney!

    Still, I hope that the laid off animators land on their feet and find new jobs worthy of their talent and get to work on projects that try something new.

  • Tg

    :(

    I feel empty inside… The fired animators should make a new company!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-James-Heelis/1507832288 Thomas James Heelis

    How. . . HOW COULD LASSETER DO THIS? He is a freaking calarts grad for god’s sake, he started his freaking career in 2d. Would it really of been that hard to get a story writer from pixar to direct a 2d film, and market it properly?

    FML – wonder where I will go with my 2d animation career, especially when a fellow calarts alum decides to “shy away” from it.

  • http://twitter.com/alangoodson Alan Goodson

    Someone seems to have forgotten what Walt (remember him?) said, “Never forget that it was all started by a mouse.”

  • Lili Little

    I hope Disney doesn’t give up entirely on hand-drawn animation. Their classic animation style is really great and deserves to be continued. There needs to be less concern on profits and more effort put into artistic integrity.

  • Animator7

    I am really upset about Disney laying off some of their best traditional animators. I was hoping that would be working with traditional animation again ever since Paperman was a HUGE success! Although, a lot of people said that 2D animation is dead, I say it’s not. It’s up to us to decide. We can make traditional films by ourselves and keep the art medium alive! We don’t have to wait to see what Disney brings next. I am a person who always believe that hand drawn animation will always be the best type of animation. After all, I grew up with it. I am also currently working on a short film as a supervising animator! It’s a dream come true for me working with professional animators all with one goal in mind; keeping hand drawn animation alive!

  • Howard

    Ghastly. Just compare handmade Wallace&Grommit with the CGI alternatives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000548361879 Aaron Mincey

    Well as Others had said before those people weren’t working on anything traditional so why keep them? Just because Disney laid off the traditional artist doesn’t mean 2D is dead. This could be a new starting point for these artist. All animators aren’t trained just to animate, they’re trained in different skills. This could give them the chance to innovate on their own or with smaller studios. Disney may have a high production value in which we like but we don’t have to settle just for disney. The 30′s are gone and there are other studios who are producing mixed works of animation. So just because a path ends doesn’t mean that there isn’t anther one continuing. The American film industry is a business and if you know something about film history you would know that when they started to release box office numbers it meant a totally end to innovation from directors as money became more important that the movie itself. Think about it other films and animations release before box office reports didn’t even gross high as movies today but they’re still good. So just because VFX animators and traditional animators were laid off doesn’t mean that its the end. It could be a huge new beginning for them.

  • MidnightEkaki

    It seems like Japan, Studio Ghibli in particular, is the only one doing animation the true way (save independent artists with lots of time on their hands) And that’s mostly because Hayao Miyazaki is still alive and directing. He seems to be completely opposite to Disney, because he closed down his DIGITAL animation division lol (they still use computers for some things though). I wonder how Walt Disney would feel about his studio now if he could see it?

  • LKArtillery

    Your loss, Disney. These people are artists and damn it, they’re going to continue to be artists whether you want them or not.

    In my flights of fancy, these folks just get right on up and start their own damn studio for the sake of the art form. Hey, I can dream…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josh-Beck/100001421024626 Josh Beck

    Didn’t John Lasseter want to revive the traditional animations at Disney and put out more films, the last was a Winnie the Pooh that did so so, then nothing more. I blame of course the modern audience too dumbed down to watch 2d animation or stop motion, instead only watching 3d. And traditional isn’t dead no more then any other art form to say it different is ignorance of the highest level. But most people are just plan stupid,

  • Gar

    Don Bluth is a good example

  • Victoria Byrd

    It’s not fair. I was hoping that the would be more 2D movies. It’s just not fait.

  • Madelonetjj

    Wow seriously

    if you’re gonna cut ANYTHING off, cut off those stupid tv series with bad actors and lame humor/concepts.

    Walt Disney is turning in his grave…

  • Foreign Devil

    Are you sure?? This isn’t the 90′s. Very very few animators make 6 figure salaries anymore. Whether in 2D or 3D.

    • Steve

      I’m absolutely sure.

      • Foreign Devil

        Ok then I need to move to California.. I animate some Disney characters daily. . but I think I’d be doing much better by moving from Canada to USA and working for them directly.

  • IndiAnimator

    I know this is probably a forgotten topic now but I just got back from Orlando after seeing the video of Tom Bancroft describing how Mushu was created in the traditional hand-drawn style when I was in the old Orlando Animation studio. A feeling of pure anger came to me as I sat there knowing that Disney has put an end to this brilliant medium and I had to come vent.

    Something that I have been absolutely disgusted in with Disney is the timing of the release of the latest Winnie The Pooh. Does anyone out there realize that Disney released Winnie the Pooh the same day as the second installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows????!!!!!

    Now I am not one to believe in conspiracies but Disney had an earlier release for Pooh earlier that year back in March and then changed the release date to be on Deathly Hallows release date!!!

    when visiting with one of the lead animators that worked on that movie when I was visiting the studio last June ( I won’t say who, I don’t want Lasseter to oust him) he said he personally felt Pooh got moved so that it would not make a huge return with it being made on such a small budget- roughly $30M. Because that would show share holders how successful 2D animation can be and the pendulum swing of going from CGI to traditional could begin.

    Is there anyone out there who knows more about this can explain why Disney did that? No wonder Pooh had a meager box office opening.

    I can’t help but feel, and this is totally my biased opinion, that Paperman was a lame coverup of rotoscoped 3D animation so as that pendulum swing from 3D to 2D begins and old becomes new again. Both PIXAR and the 3D animators can stay in business.

  • Hazel Tarr

    I realize that I’m a tad late to the discussion, but this is exactly what my studio is working on – 2D [fighting to keep traditional alive], as well as securing funding. Yes, it IS one tough challenge! And even my indiegogo campaign is not garnerning tons of support – although I was extremely honored when Ruben Aquino pledged. I’m not giving up – so for those who want to support Tarrka Studios’ efforts, the more the merrier! And here’s the indiegogo link to the campaign: http://igg.me/p/398586/x/3148572

  • Hazel Tarr

    Hi Keith – Yes, I do plan on “Adventurous Ava” being made into a feature length animated movie, as well as doing the weekly animated series. I also have a couple of other stories in the pipeline too.

  • Joshua Hartzler

    I have always loved hand drawn animation! it is much better then Pixar animation.
    there are others out there that love to draw and I love to draw too.
    Walt Disney made a lot of good movies that he ever animated, ever since he passed away, his company continued to carry his work on. Hand drawn animation must never be shut down.
    Artist have good hands and I have a good hand too. I call upon the company to give the artists a chance at 2d animation.

  • Joshua Hartzler

    Disney animation studio must not shut down.
    If Disney was still alive, he would not like it, not one little bit, he would feel betrayed and heart broken, completely heart broken. it would like frauds had gotten in his way on make dreams come true especially for new hand drawn animators and new artists.

    I suggest for Disney Company that they should hire new hand drawn animators and new artists to continue on Walt Disney’s dream and his way of animation. these things must never be forgotten.

  • Alex.

    I have something to say to Disney directly, and that is ‘WHAT THE HELL?!’
    I really don’t understand why the voices of us bloggers who love traditional animation are going UNHEARD by the bigwigs at Disney and at other major American animation studios as well. I really don’t understand why especially DISNEY is flat out KILLING the animation art form that made them so famous in the first place, I really don’t understand the way of thinking of the people at the studio at all.

    Yes, traditional animation IS still alive today thanks to many independent animation studios here in America, and also from foreign studios and in the American animated TV market. But still, I doubt that that will be enough to keep traditional animation itself alive in the foreseeable future. In order for traditional animation to stay alive, BIG NAME AMERICAN ANIMATION STUDIOS need to quickly realize that CGI is NOT the only form of animation! I say this directly to not only Disney, but to the other big-name American animation studios as well; CGI is NOT the only form of animation! Somehow and very sadly, they don’t realize this and it’s seriously pissing off traditional animation fans, me included.

    Hopefully, Disney and the other American animation firms will pull their heads out of their you-know-whats and actually make a legit effort to keep traditional animation alive alongside the smaller-name studios and indie animators who are already doing just that.

    • Matt Norcross

      I read an interview with the studio’s general manager in the Los Angeles Times, and he says that these stories of Disney getting rid of hand-drawn animation are deeply exaggerated. Even Amid said to me that no one at the company said they were done with hand-drawn. Everyone needs to cut it out with the drama and the “Periphery Hatedom” (a TV Tropes-coined term) against CG already.

  • CKP

    What about Gravity Falls and all the other wonderful 2d Animations- THis is ashamed because I still see so much potential in 2d

  • Justin

    Disney needs a reality check. Some of their best movies were hand drawn and have a quality that can not be reproduced with CGI. They will suffer in the long run and hopefully they learn a damn good lesson from it.

    Hey Disney why not make a new addition to the Beauty and the Beast franchise? It could and would work.

  • Fastenal

    J-Lass is an idiot. Can’t he understand that CGI is the stale these days. Besides, so many other studios are making more unique and interesting CGI projects than Disney. (Universal, Dreamworks etc)

    Honestly, these movies (Tangled, Frozen) could be so much more enjoyable if they were hand drawn. Why won’t somebody at Disney understand this? Obviously it won’t be John Lassater as he is too busy playing with his toy cars that he makes bank off of.

  • HappyDreamer

    Disney company doesnt care where their fame and work came from . of course its from the classical hand drawing animations too bad they just dumped their employees just like that. They didnt appreciate their hardwork for years to help disney to rise up.because for me hand drawn animation is a part of a beautiful ART.

  • Darrell Wilson

    Man..it looks like 2D indie animation is all that’s left. I was afraid of this. To all cartoonists and inspiring 2D animators like myself, it’s time to up the ante and show how magical and even marketable 2D animation really can become!

  • FineArtist-<3

    Well this is really really depressing…
    I love 2D animation the most, I think this CGI 3D graphics are alright but theres nothing like a drawing coming to life in full colour like in tradition 2D!

    I’m seriously considering doing a degree now in animation and I’m researching how to work for disney. To find out that the 2D side of it is completely laid off—-Its heartbreaking to say the least. And now I dont know what I should do…..

  • Donnie G. Williams

    Well … this will open new studios that will take over the hand drawn animation and bring in NEW talent(s) ! nice break for those people . Hand drawn animation will ALWAYS be around no matter what . Happy animating !

  • yup

    ……and that’s why I now watch Japanese anime.

  • DangerMaus

    Reading this old thread almost makes me want to cry and I don’t even work in this industry.

  • DizneyFan85

    Disney let them go… let them go

  • Jjthejjj

    Sad? Not really- more like ‘expected’. The writing was on the wall 20 fucking years ago!

    Beginning In 1997, Disney gutted their premiere hand drawn animated divisions- the first being the Imagination/Orlando studio group; any staff not let go were relocated to Los Angeles, and the Orlando division was shuttered, leaving a skeleton crew to man the place and show publicly as a museum to what it once was. 2 years later the blood-letting continued in the Los Angeles offices, the result being an almost entire layoff of the staff. In 2003, a rebuild began to occur, and studio relations were set up globally in Europe, Asia, Indonesia, etc. But in 2006 Disney merged their head animation division with Pixar after its purchase (as they saw that 2D features weren’t making anywhere near 3D, and Pixar had fully stolen Disney’s market from them over a very short 10+ years).

    The very poignant message here is that hand drawn feature animation, though just as beautiful as it ever was, is unfortunately a dying feature form as far as profitability goes. The investors and executives are looking for a minimum $ return, and when they didn’t get it, they pulled their support and bought out the top player in the industry (Pixar). Like Cory Gross mentions below:

    “Walt Disney Company has really just become a high-end IP firm. Instead of being creatives, they just purchase and leverage brands.” aka ‘Franchise’.

    perfectly said.

  • roadrashh

    “Let it go… Let it go!”

  • Disappointed

    Totally he”art”tbreaking. I hate all the computer generated movies. Love the hand drawn ones though. I was so excited when they came out with Princess and the Frog and to me, it delivered. Sleeping is my all time fave, closely followed by Cinderella. Let’s not forget Alice. Bambi, Lion King… need I say more? Pocahontas & Hercules! Lady & the Tramp <3. The Little Mermaid crushed the world. Beauty and the Beast and Princess/Frog are winners too. Aladdin swallowed me whole. Even Atlantis was a gem. But each piece of computer art is so disappointing that I've moved on from my coveted Disney altogether. It's not that I don't appreciate the work going into these newer style films. It's not that I don't recognize that times evolve. It's not that I don't realize that kids are satisfied with the modern presentation, and even prefer it. It's that I don't prefer it and I'm the one with the money to buy for my kids. Sure, I'll buy them whatever they're favorite is but you're going to get a hell of a lot more of my money if you can entertain me with MY preferences too because we can both enjoy that as a family. Looks like someone new needs to rise with hand-drawn animated style as there is a market for it… especially if Disney has left you to be the only one. I'm tired of the huge eyed, toony, facial features, and lack of magic. And stop recreating the princesses facial features and killing the mood of their era. That is what makes them what they are and to modernize their images just detracts from their unique beauty. Shame on you "Disney". You're either going to hell for laying off these amazing artists who gave their lives to you, or if you do end up in heaven, I hope Walt himself is there to greet you. I can't imagine he's too happy about you desecrating his legacy.