When Wreck-It Ralph hit theaters last fall, audiences rushed to see a high-energy tale of friendship and a flashy and unadulterated homage to video games old and new. Yet many found themselves instantly enchanted with this colorful cartoon's unexpected opening act - a dialogue-free, black and white animated short called Paperman.
Directed by long-time Pixar animator John Kahrs, this charming 7-minute short wordlessly unfolded the story of a chance meeting, a romantic gesture, and a little bit of magic that led to love. Few who saw Paperman were surprised when it was nominated for the Academy Awards' Best Animated Short honor. And now you can celebrate its Oscar nod by watching it in full below, courtesy of Disney Animation:
Speaking to Animation World Network, Kahrs revealed the short's inspiration came from his old commute to work when he lived in New York in the early 1990s. Daily trips through Grand Central Station made him very aware of the random and sometimes wonderful connections that are briefly established between strangers en route. This because the seed from which Paperman eventually grew.
An ardent admirer of hand-drawn animation, Kahrs strived to combine "the expressiveness of 2D drawing" with "the stability and dimensionality of CG" for the short. This hybrid technique, which utilized the in-house tool Meander as well as Disney artists from both their hand-drawing and CG divisions, is just the latest groundbreaking animation innovation to come from Disney studios. Producer Kristina Reed notes its precursors include the use of synchronized sound in 1928's Steamboat Willie (the first cartoon to feature Mickey Mouse), addition of color for 1932's Flower and the Trees, and multi-plane camera in 1937's The Old Mill.
With the success of Paperman, Kahrs has been tasked with exploring what else this style of animation can do. So while there's no official word on his next project, it seems we'll have more to marvel over from Kahrs in the future. And then of course, there's Oscar night to anticipate.
Paperman will be included on the Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray that goes on sale February 12th.