Disney Closes it’s Doors to 2D

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (1937)Sad news in the last day of the Walt Disney Studio‘s once again closing the door on 2D/hand drawn animation, which is ultimately in favor of 3D/C.G.I animation that has had a more successful run in the last twenty years with the studio and all of its affiliate companies, most notably Pixar that spearheaded the way with their breakthrough film Toy Story (1995) that came at a time when already the renaissance of the Disney Studio animation was starting to decline during the mid 1990’s.

Chief executive Bob Iger who has been with the company for at least 15 years has just announced at a shareholders meeting that no more 2D animation productions (apart from television which are always successful) are in the works.

“To my knowledge we’re not developing a 2D or hand-drawn feature animated film right now, there is a fair amount of activity going on in hand-drawn animation but it’s largely for television at this point. We’re not necessarily ruling out the possibility [of] a feature but there isn’t any in development at the company at the moment.”

This doesn’t mean in the future they’re wont be any 2D animation in the future, just the immediate future. The traditional method was last brought to a halt after the poor response to Home on the Range (2004) which did poorly at the    box office. Marking a five-year silence in output from the studio. Causing a lot of skillful animators to lose their jobs too. Thankfully when Disney finally acquired Pixar in 2005 change The Princess & the Frog (2009)was slowly coming about when they made John Lasseter as Chief Creative Officer at the studio, 2D animation eventually returned with The Princess and the Frog (2009) which did far better at the box office, just not as the studio wanted (as we are informed). It was also a return to the tried and tested Princess forumla that has been a sure winner with audiences since the days of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). A few years later the studio released an updated take on another successful franchise Winnie the Pooh (2011) which grossed far less than the previous film they released in 2D.

Going briefly back to the mid eighties when C.G.I. was in its infancy and was being tested by the studio, appearing in small scenes of their films, such as The Great Mouse Detective (1986), 2D animation was again being threatened by technology. Thankfully with the release of The Little Mermaid (1989) all that changed for the next through years. Now they are faced with the same decisions.

I think a few issues here. The studio wants a far bigger profit than they are making, whilst they continue to release 3D animation, they can afford to make these more traditional pieces. Whilst the more modern medium continues to thrive, engaging with new audiences. They need to have strong material, not keep returning to Winnie the Pooh which they have proved to be very successful at over the years since the first film was released in 1977. The tried and tested Princess formula has never failed them, which they turned to a tongue-in-cheek way with Enchanted (2007), a modern take for such respected company that is rooted in family values and entertainment. Take a look at Tangled (2010) which revitalized the genre.

The method is a well-respected form of animation, that should be maintained, even for special pieces of work. Of course the art form is by no means dying, with heaps of animated T.V. programs, its thriving today.

In time the traditional method will return once more return, maybe for a short time, one or two features that need to be chosen carefully. I have sadly noticed that now that even Mickey Mouse has been transformed into a 3D character. Of course you can’t stop progress, Disney has always been at the forefront of that, investing in new technology to enhance the viewing experience. There will always be a place in the house of mouse for the hand drawn, when however I don’t know. C.G.I. is becoming cheaper, quicker to use and more profitable, it’s no longer a gimmick, it allows for greater story telling (which could be argued for 2D quite easily too), creating new world. It’s about what the medium can offer the story more than anything, if the material at the moment pushes towards C.G.I. so be it, if it;s simpler then 2D maybe the medium to choose. The tools just are needed at the moment, which is very sad, once again animators who dream of working at the Burbank studio’s have to wait just a bit longer.


2 responses

  1. soon everything will be drawn by robots
    for robots

    March 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    • let’s hope not

      March 29, 2013 at 10:59 pm

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