empnewcloth-icon empnewcloth-icon

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Steffen Schaeffler

Hand-drawn goodness by Rob Stevenhagen created for by Steffen Schaeffler’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. Where can we see the rest of the animation? Montreal-based Pascal Blais Studio produced the film. (The video was posted on their Vimeo account, but they didn’t produce it. See below for details.)

UPDATE: The animator of the piece, Rob Stevenhagen, writes: “The film is called Screen Test (and is a pilot for a feature film called The Emperor’s New Clothes). Screen Test is directed by Steffen Schaeffler, animated by me, and produced by Berlin based Ideal Standard Film (not Pascal Blais). See IMDB for credits.

(Thanks, Boris Hiestand)

  • Beautiful animation! Also the rough line style is super great too.
    It makes me want to go back and animate more.
    Congratulations to the whole team who put this together.
    What an inspiration!

  • Loved every second of that.

  • Mic

    Wow. So refreshing to see good old 2D again. Love it.

  • Michel Van

    nice work but,
    the Face look too realistic, what give a creepy contrast to his cartoon body…
    look like the artist use real dancer in rotor scope for this.

    • The artist used lots of reference, like all good animators should, but I do not believe there is any rotoscoped work in this.

      • Jason H

        When she hits the microphone is probably the part that feels the most roto-referenced.

        Honestly I don’t care if it was rotoed or not, it’s still amazing work.

      • Peter Wassink

        Its pretty clear the character is supposed to be a he even though the see-through gown shows a weird/disturbing/american(?) absence of genitalia.

        But never mind that, what a masterfull piece,
        What a joy to watch!

        This looks like the answer to a thought so many animators have when seeing linetests of the classic (disney(!)) animated features: “why can’t they just make the whole film look like this!”

      • hitface

        he’s wearing boxers under the gown I think
        but yeah I dont think its rotoscoped either, just referenced.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Given the circumstances of what type of film this was to be, I do kinda wonder if the emperor would go the Full Monty or just leave his boxers on (given how often the story had been adapted with varying results)?

    • Well you can see the under-drawings in the animation so that’s a pretty clear sign that this was NOT roto-ed.

  • V.Ens

    Awesome! Seems like there was some live-action involved in some parts of it. Nevertheless…love it! More of it, please :o)

  • Doug Holverson

    Like! Mainly because it strikes me as Chomet-like.

  • Theo M

    Its a pity that such skills have been marginalized by a trend.

    • I love this piece and I love Chomet’s work as well. I can’t get enough of pencil lines springing to life.

      Still, I think we need to get over the concept of CG being a short-lived fad.
      When used right, CG a very powerful medium for entertainment. “The Incredibles” holds up well against Brad Bird’s “Iron Giant”. “Tangled” holds up well against any other Disney princess movie and blows away the “Princess and the Frog”. Many CG films we had low expectations for (Kung Fu Panda and Bolt) are first rate, both artistically and as entertainment.

      I still love the craftsmanship of Lilo and Stitch as much as anything Chris Sanders has done since, but consider this opinion from the horse’s mouth:

  • Angry Anim

    It’s great not only because it’s animated well, but because it has interesting stuff that we haven’t seen before. Those little gestures with his hands while he’s dancing are fantastic! I think probably why hand-drawn has failed to keep a hold in the States is that it too often it’s regulated to feature-acting cliches that the audience has seen over and over since the 90’s. Princess and the Frog is a good example. There isn’t a single performance in that thing that I haven’t seen before… except for, perhaps, the Croc Hunters– and they had nothing to do with the story.

    This is a brilliant performance.

  • Dino

    Absolutely fantastic. It’s not often that virtuoso personality animation gets used for something this funny. Can’t wait to learn more about the project.

  • Carolyn Bates

    That is mighty fine and funny too! Want to see more!

  • John F A

    Beautiful linework! I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. All that synthetic 3-D stuff bores the hell out of me. With hand drawn animation, you feel like you’re actually making contact with the artist him/herself!

  • Wow! I watched three times in a row. Beautiful animation. That was some very entertaining and fluid 2d. When is this coming out?

  • Katella Gate

    I thought stuff this good was illegal produce. That’s the impression I get anyway. You’re not going to get in trouble, are you?

  • Pat

    Very cool and a studio in Montreal of all places, great to see Canada keeping up the 2d. I’ve known about pascal blais studios for a little while now and I hope to hear more of them soon. Although I couldn’t help to wonder about those legs, I am the only one? thanks for the post CB.

  • Absolutely beautiful. And the rough-line style… I would watch a full movie like this in a second.

  • burkiss

    It doesn’t look rotoscoped to me – it just looks like great animation. There’s a Milt quality to it that I love.

  • Jmatte

    It’s absolutely gorgeous. I keep looking at the details of the movements. The wonderful little hand gestures, and the VOLUMES of those arms! It looks so effortless. Big round of applause to the folks who worked on it.

  • Daniel

    is this character animation? what is the character thinking?

    sorry.. this doesn’t cut the cake for me! It’s great to see hand-drawn animation, but I’d love to understand what this character is thinking and doing then being amazed by how well the volumes turn..

    just my two cents

    • Hmmm? Seemed pretty clear to me. He was extremely nervous to audition, but once the music got started he was sort of taken over by inner passion and started dancing without much of a care regarding the situation. Unless I missed something…?

      • John

        Agree completely. I’m not sure what there is to miss in the character’s thought process.

      • Daniel

        the change of thought from nervous to “inner passion” just doesn’t sell it for me.. I just did not get “inner passion” from the dancing segment, I was just confused what his thought process was.. This may be the fact that I felt a disconnect between the facial expression and the movement for the body when he starts to dance..

        Half the time the facial expression doesn’t add to the gesture and movement of what the body is doing.. It seems to make two statements.. and not in a good way

        I really think the character design doesn’t help it either.. the legs aren’t believably designed to fit into the hips the way it does.. to a point where it makes me question the weight of the character and draws attention to itself(in the long shots).. especially since the joints are drawn somewhat naturalistically.. Can those legs believably support that much weight? This may be because of the character designer’s fault.. but something should have been corrected by the animator or director..

      • Veteren

        [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.” If you have a criticism, be constructive and mature.”]

    • Matthew

      Daniel, I’ve been animating for long time at a few major studios (Sony, DreamWorks, BlueSky, etc.), and I’ve seen your type before. You talk a good game, and sound like you’re some kind of animation guru, but you’re a fraud. You know it. We know it. Anyone who says something like, “Is this character animation?”, after viewing this piece is not only an insensitive jerk, but likely some critic with an ego who thinks that pointing out weakness in others will make him appear smart and talented. Look in the mirror and ask yourself this question, “Who am I to have such harsh words for an animator creating and sharing his or her work online? What have I contributed?” Then kill yourself.

  • Brilliant Rob , wherever you are.

  • Uli Meyer

    The animation is all done by Rob and there isn’t a single rotoscoped frame in this. Rob doesn’t do rotoscope, he’s simply one very talented animator.

  • greg m.

    Wonderful job Rob!! Very inspiring!!

  • JPilot

    This is awesome, Rob. You display a rarely seen level of skill that confounds some into thinking your work is rotoscoped or even “referenced”.
    Of course, no hand drawn animation can be that good, there has to be a trick or a crutch or an algorythm…

  • Claude Chiasson

    Wow!! Rob, that is beautiful! What a performance. I hope there`s more of this film to come? I can`t stop watching it!

  • snip2354

    “..and animated by me…”

    A feature film being animated by one person?

  • Uncanny valley

    Rob is one of the top animator’s today! It’s got charm and unique humor oozing out of every frame. Huzzah Rob!!!!

  • Sunday

    This character wears his heart on his (massive) sleeve! Job well done to those responsible, this is a work of joy!

  • Randy

    I agree with one of the other posters on here……I immediately thought of Milt Kahl. Very weighty, alive, living, smooth……….man, I loved this! Classic Disney, in every possible good way.

    Wonderful, pencil-y, alive animation. Refreshing! So damn well done!!

    I also agree with someone else who posted on here…….why can’t I see an entire feature done this way? Delicious!

    Big congrats to whoever did this!

  • andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    it’s wonderful. first bit of animation in a long time that i found inspiring. more personality than in the entire TINTIN movie. and can people finally stop ragging on Princess and the Frog? specially all those people who will never animate on a single feature? thanks

    • Jim

      People just love to complain Andreas! I, personally, loved Princess and the Frog but you can’t please everybody I guess.

  • Rock

    The hand with the slate at the beginning has 3 fingers and the (ahem) woman has 4 fingers. Odd.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I didn’t even notice!

  • Nexus IV

    Since people tend to rag on Princess and the Frog and to some extent Winnie the Pooh, what overarching trait do those two 2D features share? They were both approved, every step of the way, by John Lasseter. Lasseter has proven himself able to make a good 2D feature but not since The Brave Little Toaster. The choices made in the Pooh movie seemed on the tentative side and the story failed to grab the audience in either film, landing less than projected box office performance at a time when 2D sorely needed it. Is Lasseter out of touch with how to approach 2D? Something has sure rattled him when it comes to attempting to preserve that style. Even in Cars 2, Lasseter was sure of what he was doing as a director, from the second he took that film over from someone else. Is it because he has grown so accustomed to CG that it amounts to the only air he can now breathe? Something has happened and I don’t think it can be easily diagnosed. Just sayin.

  • David Nethery

    Nexus IV wrote:

    “Lasseter has proven himself able to make a good 2D feature, but not since The Brave Little Toaster.”


    NexusIV , since so much misinformation gets spread on the internet it needs to be pointed out for the record that John Lasseter was not involved in the making of the film “The Brave Little Toaster”.

    It’s true that John initially pitched Thomas Disch’s story “The Brave Little Toaster” , as a CG movie, not hand-drawn , while he was at Disney (was any of his concept art used in the making of the final film? I don’t believe so. John’s name is not on the screen credits for the final film as far as I can remember, not even a token “Thanks to …” credit. )

    When the film was finally put into production a few years later (not at the Disney company which passed on Lasseter’s pitch) it was Jerry Rees in the director’s seat.

    Me pointing this out is not in any way intended to be a slam at John Lasseter. He obviously loved the story “The Brave Little Toaster” and put a lot of work into developing the pitch at Disney and it ended badly at the time (though in the long run was actually a fortunate turn of events for his career). But this is about giving credit where credit is due , and John Lasseter is a master filmmaker who has many credits to his name , but it’s just factually not correct to credit him with making “The Brave Little Toaster” although many of the people who did make it (including director Jerry Rees and writer/storyboard artist Joe Ranft) were close to Lasseter. But I think Jerry Rees doesn’t get enough credit for this plucky little film and this is now the second or third time that I’ve seen someone on an internet forum or blog comment box casually referring to Toaster as a John Lasseter film.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      It’s a shame how the internet works against us sometimes.

  • FANTASTIC WORK! Thanks for sharing this with us! So nice to see some excellent animation work in 2D ( I’m assuming) again. Good luck with the feature!