Short Film Review: Disney’s ‘Feast’

Click for larger version of teaser image from Disney’s Feast.

Disney’s Feast debuted yesterday to a raucous packed house at the Annecy International Animation Festival, alongside some never-before-seen clips from the studio’s next feature Big Hero 6. After its premiere, Feast’s director Patrick Osborne and production designer Jeff Turley delivered a presentation about the project’s conception and production techniques.

As suggested in the sparse teaser image that has been released for the film (above), the film uses some of the same non-photorealistic rendering techniques that were explored in the studio’s earlier Oscar-winning short Paperman, but the effect this time is more lush and immersive. Unlike Paperman, which relied heavily on character outlines, Feast explores an aggressive stylization, minimizing the exterior line and steeping itself in the possibilities of color, shape, and form. If you’ve ever looked at the concept art in an ‘art of’ book and wondered why the finished film couldn’t look like that, you’ll wonder no longer. This film is concept art come to life.

Without giving anything away that’s not already in the synopsis, the story is fundamentally the same as Paperman or even Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella—boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again. Osborne’s deft directorial choices avoid sappy sentimentality and expand the scope of this time-tested tale with a willingness to push cinematic language beyond the usual tendencies of Hollywood animated filmmaking. Osborne employs a unique point of view, showing us the world from the shallow depth of field perspective of the owner’s dog, Winston, and makes striking use of quick-cuts and time compression techniques. The narrative fragmentation lends the film a contemporary feeling that evokes the eye-blink editing of a Vine or Instagram video. (This technique was, in fact, inspired by one of Osborne’s personal digital projects: a video diary that he created over the course of a year documenting one-second daily snapshots of his meals.)

Food plays a key role in the film. During their presentation yesterday, Jeff Turley joked that all the artists who worked on the film gained weight during the production because of the ‘research’ that they had to do. Their weight gain paid off though. Feast is the first time in my memory that CGI food has actually looked appetizing onscreen. It’s certainly Disney’s strongest effort in their nascent revival of short filmmaking, and suggests exciting possibilities for how the studio could blend hand-drawn craftsmanship and digital technology in future projects.


  • RL

    I was lucky enough to hire Patrick for Imageworks right out of Ringling College of Art/Design – could not be more proud of his accomplishments.

  • MCar

    sounds promising!

  • Jiles Matlocke

    Why do they keep repeating this story? Or if they insist on repeating why not at least flip the genders?

  • http://pickledperfection.blogspot.com/ Andrea K Haid

    can’t wait to seeee it!!

  • http://www.animatorisland.com/ JK Riki

    Nice to hear! Now if they’d just start trying it in features instead of just shorts… Well, hopefully one day!

    • Fried

      I feel like they are trying to perfect for as much complexity as possible (Including special effects, how far they can push it, etc). Since Pixar is working on their own kind of orocess of trying to create more painterly CGI, I would assume both companies are sharing what they’ve done and will probably be ready to use it after a few years of working on it.

      I’m just gonna guess maybe sometime after 2018 is when they’ll start putting all these techniques into feature films.

      • http://www.animatorisland.com/ JK Riki

        I’d love to believe that, but at the same time I think “the masses” drive so much of what they end up putting on screen, much more so than a lack of technology or ability. And I’m just not sure the masses will ever want this sort of style choice.

      • ShouldBeWorkin’

        I really don’t know the difference between Pixar and Disney Features any more other than the former is Lasseter’s baby and the latter’s films are musical. Being in the public, I just can no longer see any distinction with the product. Someone tell me why the two companies, other than tradition.

  • http://mattdeanart.com Matt Dean

    Experimenting with different styles and meshing the best of both worlds in a unified, appealing aesthetic? I fail to see the problem here.

    This short sounds ambitious on both an artistic and cinematographic level. I’m glad Disney resurrected its shorts program because now we get to see experimental stuff like Paperman and this. Who knows? Maybe somewhere down the line we’ll see a full-fledged movie utilizing these styles.

  • Fried

    Just looking at Wreck It Ralph gives me cavities.

    • Mitchekie

      Yeah, seriously. This short is definitely not the first film to create mouth-watering CGI food. I intentionally snuck an apple with me into the theater whenever I went to see “Ratatouille” because I would get really hungry when watching the film.

      • Manboy

        Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs comes to mind as well…

  • TStevens

    Sounds an awful lot like a studio approved press release…

  • Funkybat

    Or as Sgt. Calhoun puts it; “Bull……roar!”

  • Mike

    Heh…I always get hungry watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, too.

  • ShouldBeWorklin’

    With Paperman I can understand your reasoning. That may have been easier just to draw. Maybe. However, with technology applications it isn’t always about where it is but where it will be in the future. We had to live through a lot of ray traced chrome balls and checkerboards before Toy Story.
    I surmise CG would be the most economical way to make a full fluidly animated painterly conceptual style cartoon however synthetic.