Ever since Pixar’s Toy Story brought CG animation to the mainstream and dropped everyone’s jaws with the amazing visuals that the process makes possible, traditional, hand-drawn animation has taken a serious backseat. Which makes sense, because the last couple decades of animated movies have used computers to push the artistry of these films to places that never seemed possible before. But hand-drawn animation has its charms, and is still very versatile in how it can be used, so it would be a shame if it went completely extinct in the wake of all the new computer whatsits.
Disney has recently tried to keep the art form alive with releases like The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh, but those films largely failed to find the commercial success of most of the modern CG releases. Could it be possible that today’s children just don’t want to go see a movie that looks hand-crafted and old-fashioned? Or have moviemakers just not found the right vehicle with which to have old-school animation make its triumphant return?
DreamWorks Animation seems to be willing to bet that the old way of doing things isn’t dead, and they may have found the best possible way to reintroduce hand-drawn work to a new generation of film fans. The studio’s next project, Me and My Shadow, will blend traditional animation with the more modern stuff. Over on the film’s Facebook page (found via ComingSoon) they’ve posted its first bit of concept art, as well as an explanation of the approach they’re taking by DreamWorks Animation Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke.
Damaschke introduces the new project by saying, “Me and My Shadow, which is out in spring of 2014, is a combination of CG and traditional hand-drawn animation. There is a reason to tell the story in that fashion. It’s about what would happen if your shadow, that has been following you around and basically just follows what you do your whole life, just stood up and took over. The shadows will be animated hand drawn, and the other characters will be CG animated. There is a reason to do it [hand drawn animation] that felt creatively interesting.”
The possibilities for artistic expression in the animation genre are near endless, so one would hope that there remains room in the world for releases that explore styles different from what looks newest, slickest, and most photo-realistic. Does Me and My Shadow have what it takes to accomplish what Disney hasn’t been able to do and prove to today’s audiences that there’s more than one way to make a great animated feature? DreamWorks has really been stepping up their game in recent years, so chances could be good. And this could be the thing that finally gets them out from under Pixar’s computer-driven shadow once and for all.