Called simply "Duet," this animated short is the creation of Glen Keane, an animator who worked for Walt Disney Studios for nearly 37 years. As you can see, this lovely and luminescent cartoon unfurls the love story of a boy and girl who've know each other since infancy. But beyond being beautiful, there's something truly unique about this particular animation, though you might not guess it from the above render.
Big Cartoon News reports that "Duet" is the first release to come from Glen Keane's recent association with Google and Motorola. The 60-year-old animator who contributed to the character animation for such beloved Disney films as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, and Tangled left Disney in the spring of 2012. But rather than retire, he joined the Advanced Technology and Projects Group Motorola and Google had created to further merge the worlds of art and technology.
Duet screened in San Francisco on June 25th before Google I/O Conference as one of three Spotlight Stories, created to " explore spatial awareness and the sensory inputs of a mobile device to create a distinctive storytelling experience." In this case, Keane showed how new technology could bring a new look to traditional hand-drawn animation, one where the viewer follows the character with their cell phone's screen.
Spotlight Stories is the beginning of a new storytelling format that's meant to play particularly to mobile devices. The first of these was Windy Day, an animated story about a mouse trying to get his hands on a blown about red hat. Rather than passively watching this short, Windy Day invited mobile phone watchers to use their device like a window into this world. Moving it around, changed the view of what you saw. The second short was Buggy Night, which further explored this concept.
Then came Glen Keane, who brought the discipline and art of hand-drawn animation into this boundary-breaking brand of storytelling. The full presentation has ATAP group leader Regina Dugan breaking down how this marriage or art and technology took shape in dizzying detail. But the most shocking element is that Keane had to draw not the typical 24 drawings per second, but 60, for a frame rate that played best to mobile devices--all this while drawing in three-point perspective. Total, the 3 minutes and 43 seconds of Duet contain 10,055 drawings. From there, technicians painstakingly recreated Keane's drawings into a 3D space. And the final results is the break-taking piece of art above, which Keane calls, "A captivating conversation between the artist and the viewer."
Could Glen Keane have given us the second coming of hand-drawn animation?
On the next page, you can see a behind-the-scenes presentation about the making of Duet, including Glen Keane stepping us through his process with a live-sketch of baby Mia.