John Canemaker’s opinion piece in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, documenting the demise of hand-drawn animation at Disney, can now be read on-line HERE. Canemaker, who is one of our foremost historians on the art of Disney animation, is succinct and doesn’t mince words. He writes, “…for me, as an animation historian, Disney’s decision to eliminate hand-drawn animation for its features is sad. It implies on the part of management disrespect for the studio’s history and a lamentable lack of flexibility and vision.” Canemaker is the first to say that he thinks Walt Disney himself would have been excited by computer animation and would have explored everything the technique had to offer. But Walt would have done so in a dignified manner, without dismantling the entire legacy of the studio:
But somehow I doubt he would have thrown the baby out with the bath water by abandoning hand-drawn animation. Walt was known to spend years trying to find the best way to deploy the talents of certain of his artists, and perhaps he would have found new ways to use the unique qualities of the hand-made moving image–its inherent warmth; the happy accidents of the human touch; the immediate intuitive link between brain, hand and drawing instrument; the special flexibility and style that is so different from the dimensionality, essential coolness and realistic imagery of CGI.
Another bit of Canemaker news worth noting: Part Three of the interview with him has been posted at Animation World Magazine. It is an excellent read wherein John speaks candidly about his multi-faceted career as indie filmmaker, historian and educator. Be sure to check out parts ONE and TWO as well.