When I was treated to an early screening of Paperman in August while at BlogHer I absolutely loved the short. I came home raving about it even then. There were more volumes spoken in this short 7 minute film than I had seen in most romance films in a while. And yet not one word was spoken. It is truly an incredible work of art.

Kristina Reed

Methodology Behind Disney’s Paperman

Kristina Reed knew there was more to animation that she wanted to push and knew she wanted to reach new ground with her next project. Therefore, when John Khars pitched the idea of Paperman, everyone turned to her and told her to produce it. This was her project that was going to demand more. Thus, Disney was able to use a new methodology called, “Meander” in the making of Paperman.

After commuting through Grand Central Station as a single guy in his 20’s, John Khars began to wonder about his life. He was feeling lonely at a time when he felt he should be on the top of the world. As a single guy living in New York City, he should have been living it up. Yet, after a few connections through eye contact only, he would think, “Is she the girl of my dreams?” And then… POOF… she was gone. So this became the basis of his story line for Paperman.


With a story in hand, and concept of how the methodology would work, John and Kristina began the production of the short. The process by which they made the characters come alive is incredible. As a huge fan of line art, I am quite impressed with the way that both animators worked together to create the look and feel of the classic animation.

Beginning with a hand drawn artist, the scene was laid out and then looked over by a CG artist. Yet, unlike a typical CG production, the artist goes back in and erases some of the character’s features and flattens the image to not look so “volumetric and CG anymore.” Then, the hand drawn artists are brought back to design how the lines will work in the scene. With a single line these artists can change an expression or make an entire scene turn a corner emotionally.


Then the paint is added. Yes, unlike CG lighting, paint is actually used to color the scenes. But, you also have some elements of CG lighting and animation that come into play and the effect is magnificently magical. The blending of the two methods worked seamlessly together within the 7 minute short and is beautifully displayed on the screen.


Again, Paperman is an incredibly well-done animated short. You can catch it as it shows with Wreck-It Ralph that comes to theaters on Friday, November 2nd. The feeling you get after watching it is nothing short of triumph and joy. I feel as though I cannot wait to see what happens in the next few seconds as the scenes progress. The music plays on and the story unfolds as the couple continues on with their day… separately.

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As fate should have it their paths cross once more… but all the paper airplanes in New York City could not get her attention. Until, finally there is one that is determined. One focused paper airplane finally makes the connection the young man at the train station missed.

You can catch the entire 7 minute animated short before the full feature film Wreck-It Ralph that hits theaters on Friday, November 2nd.

Disclosure: I was provided with a trip to the Disney Animation Studios in return for my honest review on the event mentioned above. All expenses were paid by Disney and no other compensation was given. Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own.