Short of the Week


CURRENTLY OFFLINE—A 2013 Oscar nominee, an urban office worker finds that paper airplanes are instrumental in meeting a girl in ways he never expected.

For the second straight year, the favorite in the Oscar Short Subject: Animation category has appeared online. The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore only lasted a week before before the various contractual obligations of the nominees’ theatrical run and iTunes sales convinced Moonbot Studios to pull the film back. Will Disney buck those forces though? You should probably watch Paperman right now!

Uploaded yesterday to the disneyanimation YouTube account, this groundbreaking short film is surprisingly now available for free public viewing. A sweet tale of love at first sight, the 6 minute short is a gorgeous experiment in black and white classical-looking animation that nostalgically revives the timeless Disney-style of character animation and design.

The key phrase is “classical-looking”. The buzz of animation circles for well over a year, Paperman is the beta test of a potentially momentous shift in animation technology. Using 3D modeling to create the world and models, 2D hand-drawn animation is directly applied to the image in a novel new process developed in-house. French schools have been experimenting for a while with 2D aesthetics in 3D, most notably Bastien Dubois’ Oscar-nominee Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage, but this takes the proceedings to another level of loveliness. I had the pleasure of attending the one of the creator’s hour-long presentations about the development of the short, and it is a very exciting breakthrough. Disney has shared a series of short clips about the process, which I encourage you to check out.

While animation-geekery has powered most of the Paperman buzz, narratively it is a very refined and cute story worthy of highlight outside of technique, and fans of romantic comedy and, of course, older Disney features will take great pleasure in the work. Counting myself in both those categories, I do love the film, and hope you will as well! Kudo’s to Disney for making the film widely available.

Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • Andrew S Allen

    Beautiful aesthetic, beautiful story—Disney seems to be on to something here.

  • Ivan Kander

    I’m hoping the next animated feature from Disney utilizes this aesthetic. It truly is gorgeous to look at.

  • Ivan Kander

    I’m hoping the next animated feature from Disney utilizes this aesthetic. It truly is gorgeous to look at.

  • kung_fuelvis

    No doubting the sumptuous visuals on show – they really are exquisite. The plot is all too sickly sweet for my liking though – then again, what else should I expect from Disney?

  • Usama Khan

    Great! The expressions, aesthetic, music, and story make this piece beautiful. The use of black and white gives a feeling of warmth and comfort! Disney has really pulled it off with this short. Kudos to them!

  • George

    No doubt, the images are beautiful, but credit should be given to a little short called “Signs” from Patrick Hughes out of Australia for the tale.

    Amazing nonetheless.

    At the end of the day, 99% of everything created is a slight tweak on that which already existed.

  • Gyld

    I thought of the same thing ! “Signs” (which was featured here) was quite the same story. And the same idea, of a short without any spoken words… Of course, this short brings something new to the idea, but well… It’s surely interesting to compare both.

  • Usama Khan

    I just got around to watching “Signs” and I can see why you would say this. The resemblance is uncanny. Nevertheless, both of these shorts are beautiful in their own right!

  • David Gaillardetz

    This is wonderful. I hope it wins, for it definitely deserves it. Personally, I’d be rooting for The Eagleman Stag if it were nominated, but Adam & Dog and Head Over Heels aren’t bad too.

  • TJR
  • Robert Grieves

    With all its hype, this hot favourite for the Oscar was decidedly underwhelming. Pretty but bland.
    But as a short film maker, that leaves me strangely excited for the rest of us!
    I’ve just written a post on my blog with more thoughts…

  • Rustysofa

    Sadly Disney have made the video private now…

  • Rustysofa

    Sadly Disney have made the video private now…

  • kung_fuelvis

    For those who got to see Paperman before it was taken offline – check to see if you think it has similarities to Patrick Hughes’ ‘Signs’ –

  • Jeff Waweru

    As a consolation you can enjoy this alternate/parody version It’s pretty damn good

  • Miles Dixon
  • jho

    The link is broken….

  • Carlos Danger

    Paperman Director Lands At Paramount

    The Oscar-winning direc­tor of Disney’s Paper­man- John Kahrs– has turned up across the street at Para­mount for his next project. His new project will be Shedd, a fea­ture film with no release date yet set.