"Feast" Continues Disney's Move To CG/Hand-Drawn Design

This week Disney released a teaser for its newest short, "Feast" that's slated to open for Big Hero 6 coming out Nov 7th. Already there's Oscar buzz about the short, in part to its cell shaded CG look popularized by Disney's Paperman, which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short last year. Feast is directed by Patrick Osborne who also served as animation supervisor on Paperman. The two shorts also share a common theme about relationships. While Paperman is an urban fairy-tale about a man's attempt to find a woman after their fateful meeting at a trolly station, Feast explores a relationship between an orphaned puppy named Winston and his newly found master. However, Feast is told exclusively from Winston's perspective with low angle shots that show us the diminutive canine's world. Brightly lit particulates and hazy lighting effects accompanying the dog's image also add to this floor-level look. More importantly, the art design, as in Paperman, is composed of a shallow depth of field, flattened shapes, muted tones and bold lines that hearken to Disney's pre-CG, hand-drawn style.
Presumably, Feast's look was accomplished in the same CG/hand-drawn hybrid technique used in Paperman. The style was, in part, developed by the short's director, John Kahrs who was looking for better ways traditional artists like Glen Keane could illustrate with 3D software. In his search, Kahrs stumbled upon a Disney prototype software called Meander that specialized in 2-D interpolation. At the time, Meander was being developed to help reason out gaps in sketched animations, essentially filling in between key frames. After some modification, the software proved successful at not only this important, time saving step, but also in producing more faithful renderings of artists' hand-drawn lines. Meander would eventually evolve into a way for traditional artists to draw directly upon 3D models, controlling their animations and their looks. More importantly, the software let designers combine the strengths of CG and traditional illustration. Now artists could give characters that nuance of movement achievable through hand-drawn animation while also taking advantage of the accuracy and speed of 3D software.The video below explains how the Meander software is used to create this hand-drawn style.