Clements & Musker Bring 2D Back to Disney -- Again
Ron Clements and John Musker were thrilled on a recent Friday afternoon. The directors had just finalized color for their long-awaited return to 2D animation at Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Princess and the Frog. Not surprisingly, their giddiness spilled over into a roundtable discussion with a half-dozen online journalists, who were first treated to a special VIP press tour of Disneyland and the studio's animation archive to get us in the proper mood. We then viewed additional footage from what was already shown at Comic-Con and D23. As they head into the home stretch, the directors discussed the genesis of the movie (an amalgam of projects inspired by the Grimm fairy tale developed at both Disney and Pixar); what it's been like rejuvenating the studio's vaunted hand-drawn, musical fairy tale tradition the second time around; and how this classical New Orleans feast differs from The Little Mermaid. Meanwhile, they divulged that another traditional feature is already in the works, and that they are pursuing other 2D projects as well. AWN subsequently learned that there will be no animated short accompanying The Princess and the Frog (opening in limited release Nov. 25 in L.A. and New York and going wide Dec. 11).
Bill Desowitz: This is the second opportunity for the two of you to usher in traditional animation at Disney, but technology has allowed you to raise the bar aesthetically. What's it been like this time around?
John Musker: Certainly it was odd to start it up again because they kind of mothballed the CAPS system, which is what we used…
Ron Clements: Mermaid was the last film done with cels -- the sort of traditional way. Every movie up to that point, the drawings were Xeroxed onto celluloid, painted on the back and then filmed over painted backgrounds. And then Rescuers Down Under, which was the next film, was the first film to use the CAPS system, which was digital ink-and-paint and composited. And that continued until things kind of went away.