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Love and a gross misuse of office resources in mid-century New York City
January 30, 2013 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Disney's Oscar-nominated animated short Paperman has just been made available for your viewing delight on the official Walt Disney Animation Studios YouTube channel!

Paperman, which played before Wreck-It Ralph in theatres, makes use of a new in-house animation technology that "seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation", allowing "the 2-D hand-drawn artwork to “stick” to the dimensional CG layer underneath". Here's a video of the tech in action.
posted by brieche (85 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
I prefer to believe that it's set in Chicago.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:13 PM on January 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also!: the soundtrack, composed by Christophe Beck, can be heard at Soundcloud and Spotify, and purchased on iTunes and Amazon.
posted by brieche at 12:18 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This got me a little verklempt when I saw it in the theater. Very nicely done.
posted by schoolgirl report at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, thanks for the post - and especially the link to the soundtrack. I thought it was particularly beautiful.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:23 PM on January 30, 2013


Reminded me of Murakami for some reason.
posted by cthuljew at 12:25 PM on January 30, 2013


So NOT a man consumed by his paperwork then?
posted by edgeways at 12:29 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one that was super creeped out by that short? A man fixates on a woman, interrupts an interview? business meeting? and BAM! True Love because he won't leave her alone? He just struck me as an opportunistic creep of a stalker.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


(Tangentially, Christophe Beck will always be "Buffy composer guy" to me, and that's no slight: the stuff he did for that show was really really really good.)
posted by kmz at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thank you. That Disney Animation Youtube Channel is fascinating.
posted by RhymesWithToaster at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2013


Nice use of (mostly) B&W, and light and shadow.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:41 PM on January 30, 2013


stoneweaver, Well... is was very Disney.

My, wholly uncharitable, thought was that it was exceedingly... white.
posted by edgeways at 12:41 PM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cute short. Great design, especially the palette.
I didn't know Disney was doing shorts again (no, I don't get to theaters anymore) I see they're still mining the improbably-big-eyed female princess look, though. That's kind of disappointing.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:45 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The hybrid technique was amazing, but I wasn't a big fan of the deus ex página. (Though maybe that's appropriate for a semi-revival of hand-drawn animation?)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wait. I swear I've seen a real-life version of this. Have I lost my mind?
posted by cooker girl at 12:49 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


By "this" I mean "this premise."
posted by cooker girl at 12:49 PM on January 30, 2013


Am I the only one that was super creeped out by that short? A man fixates on a woman, interrupts an interview? business meeting? and BAM! True Love because he won't leave her alone? He just struck me as an opportunistic creep of a stalker.

Yeah, I thought that too. I really liked the art style and the music, but the story struck me as a bizarre. He sees her once on a train and falls so madly in love that he risks his job (or quits, can't remember) to stalk her until he gets her?

By "this" I mean "this premise."

The premise is basically the same as almost every romantic comedy ever: guy falls instantly in love with some girl he's never met before, he does crazy things, then they end up together.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:55 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


cooker girl... I had the same sense, I think they were writing notes and holding them up to the window..... damn.... Anyone else???
posted by HuronBob at 12:57 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will kill the person who comes up with a word ending in "punk" for this style.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:57 PM on January 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


When I saw it in theaters, I thought it was visually appealing but emotionally flat. It almost felt like a chore to watch the various shenanigans while it reached its predictable conclusion.

Compare it to La Luna, which was a simple story told in a very fresh, interesting, and unpredictable way.
posted by fremen at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The premise is basically the same as almost every romantic comedy ever: guy falls instantly in love with some girl he's never met before, he does crazy things, then they end up together.

No, I mean the guy in one office, the girl in the office across the street and he does some grand gesture or something. Maybe with post-it notes or something?
posted by cooker girl at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2013


HuronBob: YES! Something along those lines! And I swear I saw it first on MetaFilter.
posted by cooker girl at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2013


BTW, am I the only one who was disappointed when the story turned "magical"? Up until then I'd allowed myself to believe that the writing would be as brilliant and thoughtful as the production but it never, ever is.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I will kill the person who comes up with a word ending in "punk" for this style.

Upwardmobilitypunk?

(dies)
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:03 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


He just struck me as an opportunistic creep of a stalker.

I'm always baffled when I'm this unable to relate to somebody else's interpretation of a piece this small and short. I guess for me, the stories that feel stalker-y (and I agree that romantic-pursuit tales can go there) are the ones where the woman is indicating that the attention is unwelcome and the guy keeps it up anyway until he overcomes her objections.

The story I get from this is that she's utterly delighted to see him again when she finally does; until then, it's just a story of a guy trying to get the universe to give him a break so he can make contact. Until then, she doesn't even know he's there, that he's serendipitously found her.

I adored it, and the kids I saw it with loved it, too. I don't get the creepy vibe from it in the slightest.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:04 PM on January 30, 2013 [39 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT

At least they have something in common: now they're both looking for a job.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:07 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


am I the only one who was disappointed when the story turned "magical"?
Yeah, that kind of ruined things for me, too. Especially the overtones of Sorcerer's Apprentice in the way they marched along.

And, how the hell did ALL of the paper airplanes end up in the same alley? The one with the lipstick got there after flying what seemed like a couple of miles, thanks to him giving it a much stronger toss than any of the previous planes.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:07 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And, how the hell did ALL of the paper airplanes end up in the same alley?

And I'm skeptical about whether those people were even real.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:12 PM on January 30, 2013 [31 favorites]


This is the film that sprung to mind for me.

Signs-An Office Romance
posted by doogyrev at 1:12 PM on January 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Man, people loved this sort of thing when it was called Amélie.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:16 PM on January 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


doogyrev: That's it!! Thank you!
posted by cooker girl at 1:17 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And yes, you saw it here first.
posted by darksasami at 1:23 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thought it was lovely until about halfway through--and then either the magic, the treacly, or the creepy turned me off.

And I'm thinking maybe Brazil is where we've seen this before? Guy enveloped and nearly killed by blowing office papers?
posted by muckster at 1:24 PM on January 30, 2013


And I'm thinking maybe Brazil is where we've seen this before? Guy enveloped and nearly killed by blowing office papers?

Yeah, that's how Harry Tuttle gets it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:30 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stoneweaver, his interest in her was obviously reciprocated. Didn't you see her tuck her hair behind her ear? That's Disney code for flirting behaviour. She did it twice even. So she was interested in him, too. See?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


That tech.. is amazing. All while watching it I was fascinated at how close they're getting computer generated graphics to look like hand-drawn animation.

and I thought the story was charming and adorable. Very Disney/fairytale but that's what I love about it.
posted by royalsong at 1:35 PM on January 30, 2013


The shot at 5.22 is just gorgeous. For some reason this reminds me a lot of Billy Liar, and throwing the calendars into the quarry.

And you're a bunch of cynics and I definitely don't have something in my eye right now.
posted by mippy at 1:37 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will kill the person who comes up with a word ending in "punk" for this style.

Screwballcomedypunk

*ducks*

I meant, that's clearly the genre they are going for, anyway.

I don't see it as "stalker guy" I see it as "guy who hates his stupid job so much he'll gladly fixate on a possible romantic partner to the exclusion of all else" + "deus ex fucking magical paper."

Which makes me wonder; no matter how focused I was on a hot guy, would I not be distracted by wondering how the hell I had acquired a sentient and semi-self-mobile piece of paper?
posted by emjaybee at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2013


I don't see the creepy-stalky here.

Yes, he did try a little to hard to get her attention during that one meeting, but he failed at it, and at 4:08 he gives up.

It wasn't him her tracked her down at the flower stand and tricked her into getting on the train, it was the magic paper. The same magic paper that basically kidnapped him (4:54) and forced him to go and meet her. He makes an number of attempts to get away (most amusingly at 5:39).

The magic works, they meet again, and are both happy to see each other. If you want to see the magic paper as an omnipotent creepy matchmaker, go ahead, but it's not dudes fault here.

If you want to curmudgeon all over this because magic paper is a stupid plot device, I'm with you, but there are allowed to be stories about guys liking girls and being goofy because if it.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:42 PM on January 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I could watch it over and over again for the animation, which is like something from 1943 if you had an infinite budget. (Though that would certainly have been in color.) The full-detail, full-motion backgrounds, shooting on ones (i.e. distinct art for every single frame: that simply was never done).

Just imagine taking this back in time and showing it to a period animator -- he'd fall apart.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:43 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The first thing I thought of was The Red Balloon. The kid on the train seemed like a nice little wink to the audience.
posted by designbot at 1:50 PM on January 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I will kill the person who comes up with a word ending in "punk" for this style.

Pap-Punk
posted by Evstar at 1:52 PM on January 30, 2013


I will kill the person who comes up with a word ending in "punk" for this style.

Draper-punk
posted by sparklemotion at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait. I swear I've seen a real-life version of this. Have I lost my mind?

I thought that if they made a live action version of this it would inevitably stat Keanu Reeves.
posted by juiceCake at 1:55 PM on January 30, 2013


And then they found out that they had nothing in common.
posted by bookwo3107 at 1:56 PM on January 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, Joseph Gordon-Levitt opposite Emma Stone.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:58 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked this cartoon. Should I send a mass apology or do I have to Me-mail everyone individually?
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 2:02 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Linda_Holmes: "until then, it's just a story of a guy trying to get the universe to give him a break so he can make contact."

It looked to me like she was in a meeting, maybe a job interview? All I know is if someone I saw on the train once tried to interrupt an interview I was in by throwing paper airplanes, my reaction would be less "aw, that's cute!" and more "wtf???" (Even if he was an adorable cartoon person.)
posted by vasi at 2:11 PM on January 30, 2013


It's meet-cute, though, isn't it? Most romantic comedies are weird and stalky if you analyse them enough. A lot of people go gooey over the scene in Love Actually where a guy confesses his love via written messages - but the woman in question is married. (I believe so, anyway - I do not like the Richard Curtis.) Amelie has a woman getting away with a whole ton of weird behaviour by virtue of being a ridiculously cute Parisian girl.
posted by mippy at 2:15 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was hoping one of them would be wearing an eye patch by the end.
posted by orme at 2:55 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If you want to curmudgeon all over this because magic paper is a stupid plot device, I'm with you, but there are allowed to be stories about guys liking girls and being goofy because if it." Sparklemotion, sometimes I really have to question your committment to romantic comedy.
posted by seasparrow at 3:03 PM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pencilpunk!
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:08 PM on January 30, 2013


sparklemotion, sometimes I really have to question your commitment to romantic comedy.

Given that my namesake movie is as close to a romantic comedy as I generally enjoy, I really don't have a problem with that.

The magic paper was cute for what it was, a deus ex in this little (pretty well done) tech demo, so please don't think I am hating all over it too (just the curmudgeony part of me does, and haters are going to hate, after all).
posted by sparklemotion at 3:12 PM on January 30, 2013


Cheese-punk?
posted by sneebler at 3:13 PM on January 30, 2013


I loved the look of this but wow do I hate disney thematically. The magic part of it was so bad, so very bad and big surprise paper thin "ideal" people getting together. Thank god Wreck-It Ralph was amazing and wiped the revulsion away.
posted by M Edward at 3:43 PM on January 30, 2013


Someday Disney will develop the technology to draw female torsos that look like they might possibly have sufficient room for internal organs inside them.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:47 PM on January 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Am I the only person who got a vaguely Yevgeny Zamyatin distopian vibe from this?
posted by Sara C. at 5:31 PM on January 30, 2013


BTW, am I the only one who was disappointed when the story turned "magical"?

No.

I was hoping, when we got to the airshaft full of paper planes, that the one with the kiss would get caught on a breeze, fly back up into the sky and get stuck in a crevice of a subway car on the same line as the woman's commute home. She would see it and know to be on the platform again the next morning.

The actual ending was dumb.

(Especially since there are literally ONE MILLION more interesting ways to resolve it than "and then all the paper airplanes magically pushed us together".)
posted by Sara C. at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mimeopunk. And I loved it.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I absolutely fell in love with this short when I saw it before Wreck-It-Ralph. I still can't decide if I liked that movie more because it was prefaced by Paperman or if I liked it less by comparison.

The animation is beautiful from the setting to the expressiveness of the characters (the leads and all the minor roles) to the composition of virtually every shot. To me, it seemed an a creation that just overflowed with care for what they were creating. I also adored the sense that I was watching animation at times drawn with charcoal and the greyscale of the entire piece, the sense that the story unfolded in beautifully rendered storyboards.

The story, sweetness. It's about the universe bringing two people together to fall in love. That the tapestry of life demanded by the enchantment of paper that these two people should at least meet again, to gaze into each other's eyes one more time and yes, enjoy a cup of coffee together. It's romantic and adorable, especially with how the male protagonist struggled grumpily against the paper after he believed he'd lost his only chance to meet the female protagonist again. Her delight, an opposite reaction, to the magical airplane that appeared and guided her back to the train station.

I appreciated the visual cues that the male protagonist didn't fit into the world he worked in, as simple as his hair cut, his lack of suspenders and glasses. The implication that his walking off the job was more than just frustration over his failed paper airplane idea, but his decision to walk away from the job that threatened him with misery (a captive, almost, in the way that his boss slammed shut the window - a portal which showed the world he wanted to be in). In another angle of opposition to the male protagonist, the female protagonist had literally stopped to smell the flowers, while he would have otherwise been caught up in the drudgery of his work.

There were the small things which didn't have to be there. The boy on the train. The man on the floor(s) below the woman who received the airplane and his first look of pleasant surprise before realizing he wasn't the intended receiver.

In short, it's probably my favorite piece of animation in a decade, and certainly one of my most favorites in a lifetime. I really love this change by Lasseter to encourage Disney Animation to start doing shorts again. I hope to see more shorts in the future.

P.S. My wife who "hates Disney" even loved it.
posted by Atreides at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested
Marzano was taken into custody after violating a restraining order filed against him by Kellie Hamilton, 25, an attractive, unmarried kindergarten teacher who is new to the L.A. area. According to Hamilton, Marzano has stalked her for the past two months, spying on her, tapping her phone, serenading her with The Carpenters' "Close To You" at her place of employment, and tricking her into boarding Caribbean-bound jets.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:38 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another thanks to doogyrev, because like cooker girl, I, too, knew I'd seen this premise before when I originally saw the short in the theater, but couldn't remember where.
posted by paisley sheep at 5:45 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I thought of another more interesting ending.

What if the tenement air shaft has a kid standing in a window, staring out watching the airplanes snow down. Amazed at the appearance of an entire ream of paper airplanes arriving in his lonely dull little air shaft. The paper with the kiss lands on the window ledge. He (or she?) opens the window and takes the plane. Which sits on the formica kitchen table until Sunday, when the Woman from the platform comes to dinner. She examines the paper, sees the address of the Man's office, and goes and finds him on Monday.

Seriously, there are sooooooo many better endings for this thing.

OK, I should probably get back to my actual writing project and stop coming up with better endings to this thing that already exists.
posted by Sara C. at 5:46 PM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oddly enough, this short made me feel old. I'll grant it's a lovely achievement, but I couldn't connect with it. I was all: what's on those forms he's filling out? Is that confidential information? Are those replaceable? Sure, he's got a cute Adrien Brody nose on him, but is he violating some kind of fiduciary duty? Am I hopelessly desiccated for being distracted by these things?

Then Wreck-It Ralph came on and made me feel like a kid in 1989 again. Vanellope is my favorite Disney Princess now.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:54 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't worry Countess Elena, they were simply mortgage foreclosure forms before the time of auto signers. Thanks to the planes, quite a number of families were able to keep living with roofs over their heads.
posted by Atreides at 5:57 PM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are those replaceable?

That bothered me, too. Not enough to make me dislike it.

In fact, the discomfort of "ooooooh is he going to get in trouble for throwing all that paperwork out the window?" is part of what fed into the vaguely ominous tone, for me. The idea that one could be penalized at any moment for something as small and quiet as trying to make human contact in a huge, grey, impersonal city.
posted by Sara C. at 5:59 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


This gives hope (A New Hope?) that Star Wars VII will be done in this style. Heck, why not...
posted by Wordshore at 6:01 PM on January 30, 2013


Many Bothans died to bring those two together.
posted by Sara C. at 6:03 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, I think I like Sara C.'s ending better, but I still loved this.

My interpretation is similar to Atreides'. They meet, they share a moment, but the train is there. He sees her look back with a bit of sadness that they couldn't keep that moment going a little longer.

He starts sending the paper airplanes, and the universe is working against him, until he quits, at which point the universe starts working for them both.

So I took it as a subtle nod to the idea that one can't pin one's hopes for happiness on another person, but must make oneself happy to be there for them.

Just my interpretation, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:07 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This gives hope (A New Hope?) that Star Wars VII will be done in this style. Heck, why not...

Considering that Phantom Menace was pretty much in the style of Steamboat Willie, this is not as improbable as it sounds.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:09 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


More things I noticed upon watching it again:

First, a small touch, but I think a brilliant one - the man's office building address number is "365," a very subtle touch to the unending drudgery of the job.

Secondly, in the third act, the active protagonist role switches from him to her. Whereas before he was sending futile messages while she was oblivious, now he is literally being dragged to a spot and she is choosing to follow the lipstick-plane to go there.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:18 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Come to think of it, imagine if this approach were used to make the next Superman movie in a kind of perfected version of the style of the Max Fleischer shorts...
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:20 PM on January 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


For the record, here's my own* entry from years ago into the "dialog-free short films about urban alienation and finding love" sub-genre.

*Well, I produced it anyway. And codirected it, in reality, though I didn't care about that credit at the time. Whatever. It is what it is.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:49 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saccharine cheesepunk?
posted by sneebler at 7:05 PM on January 30, 2013


I think it's a fine ending, because it's actually kind of understated.

And, how the hell did ALL of the paper airplanes end up in the same alley?

They're not all his. People have been doing that, in that town, since the invention of paper. That alleyway is the graveyard of missed meetings, the mausoleum of What-Might-Have-Been.
posted by JHarris at 7:42 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Firstly, this was wonderful.

Secondly, with different music, that swarm of paper airplanes would have been terrifying.

Like this
posted by schmod at 8:43 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked it, but her face ... it was all "You like big eyes? Button noses? LOOK WHAT I MADE FOR YOU."
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:44 PM on January 30, 2013


I'd like to apologize in advance... This is what the short reminded me of.

(all right I watched the music video like 3 times and I like it)
(ok maybe 4)
posted by Riton at 8:52 PM on January 30, 2013


Signs-An Office Romance makes an interesting and very effective choice of avoiding using any synch-sound throughout. It has dialogue, of a sort, through an unseen boss and through and answering machine, but never, ever matched to lips. They come close enough to look like they're faking it, with laughter and a "shhh," but no actual synch sound. I think this is important. Associating lips with speech would have killed the magic of the sign communication.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:17 AM on January 31, 2013


CAN YOUR IPAD DO THAT

HUH

THERE'S NO APP FOR THAT SONNY BOY
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:40 AM on January 31, 2013


It made me think of the paper shikigami (I learnt a new word today) in Spirited Away, like in this picture.
posted by knapah at 5:51 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Considering that Phantom Menace was pretty much in the style of Steamboat Willie, this is not as improbable as it sounds.


Oh, come on now.

1920s animation was way less racist than The Phantom Menace.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:26 AM on January 31, 2013


The paper airplanes bit reminded me of a cute scene from the book, Rules of Civility.
posted by shoepal at 7:36 AM on January 31, 2013


And it just won the Best Animated Short oscar.
posted by Wordshore at 6:05 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heartening to know I'm officially a better writer than whoever wrote an Oscar Winning Animated Short.
posted by Sara C. at 6:35 PM on February 24, 2013


We'll just count you as someone who didn't like the writing.

Congratulations to Paperman and to Disney Animation, which is enjoying a rebirth.
posted by Atreides at 6:15 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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