It's been more than a decade since Disney () has released a film with two-dimensional hand-drawn animation. At one point in Disney's history, that sort of thing was exactly what Disney did.
It's not that Disney is still producing popular animated films anymore. Far from it. But since Disney's 'Winnie The Pooh' and 'The Princess & The Frog's '17,' Disney's focus has been on 3-D computer-generated imagery.
The company has developed a creative approach that has surpassed expectations. Not only was the 3-D film "Frozen" Disney's defining film in the 2010s, but other computer animated films such as "Tangled" and "Moana" were also hit.
Once an artistic shift to a different style or medium becomes possible, the outcome will be culturally re-evaluated. Absence makes the great grow admirable after all.
From vinyl records and cassette tapes to MySpace, things that were once considered outdated and obsolete tend to eventually amass an online group of supporters who look at it with nostalgic affection and will lobby for its reinstatement.
And based on a soon-to-premiere film from Disney+, it appears that the 2-D animation renaissance might soon be upon us.
What is the point that Disney didn't stop doing two-dimensional animation?
It's common that when a company stops offering a product or service, there's two reasons why. The first is that, according to the company, something better came along, and the second is that the old thing got too expensive.
The film "Toy Story" was the first to feature computer animation but it was a big hit both critically (with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating and was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay), and financially (with a total of $373 million, it was the second-biggest film of 1995). Pixar would continue to produce some of Disney's most popular films in 2006 for $7.4 billion.
The vast popularity of Pixar films such as "Up" and "Ratatouille" clarified that there was an audience for 3-D animation, and it quickly became apparent to Disney that it was to utilize computers rather than a team of animators to produce an animated film, and the only thing companies prefer is saving money.
In 2004, Disney closed its 2D animation studio and changed its focus to 3-D animation, both from Pixar and produced in-house, including last year's hit "Encanto." There are still a few variations of old-fashioned animation at Disney, as a result of a small but dedicated group of artists.
These loyalists have a reason to believe that Disney may be willing to revisit its past with an eye on giving it a future.
How Is Disney Bringing Back 2-D Animation?
The sixth part of a six-part series about hand-drawn animation will be shown on Disney+ on April 27.
Six key Disney artists will be drawn from the documentary, which features Gabby Capili, the creator of "The Emperor's New Groove," and filmmaker Mark Henn, who is also working on "Peter Pan," and author Hyun Min Lee, who is acting on "Frozen," and story artist Samantha Vilfort, who plays Mirabel in "Encanto."
Goldberg talked about the, stating that "it's so rewarding to [study] because you get to understand those personal signatures that those artists bring to the characters. And, in animation, it's more than drawing, it's about timing and spacing, and how they move."
Goldberg reveals in his interview that Disney is taking steps to bring back 2-D. Last year, the company launched their first 2-D training program in over a decade, bringing six trainees together for a 12-month program that focuses on character and effects animation as well as cleanup. The trainees will receive mentorship from Goldberg, Henn, and animators Randy Haycock and Rachel Bibb.
This is just the first step, as Goldberg claims that Disney is planning for its next 2-D movies and series for Disney+, which will include original work and revamps of catalog material.
"I've long fought for people to be involved in hand-drawn," Goldberg said of the idea, citing the studio as the CG films became more popular.
"But now we have a relaxed atmosphere and a group of people who recognize that this is part of the legacy here, and that to actually have content that requires hand-drawn animation is absolutely fantastic. Thank goodness we have people who can do both here, but to actually commit to training up a new generation is a wonderful thing and I consider it perfectly appropriate for [us].