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Animation by hand? Not at Disney

Jonathan Hardesty shared the news that Disney has laid off nine of its veteran animators from its hand-drawn animation division.

The fact that none of the names meant anything to me indicates how unimportant the mechanics of animation creation have become to most of us.

Even Jonathan Hardesty, who knows a thing or two about animation, commented:

When it is all said and done, I blame us as an audience for letting this happen. I mean, our money stopped going toward hand-drawn animated films, and this is where we are.

But in a sad way, none of this is surprising.

We watch animation to be entertained. When Walt Disney himself was supervising the animation of films, we were entertained by it.

When Disney and other American companies began outsourcing their production overseas, we were still entertained by it. The stories were still entertaining stories – I personally rank “The Lion King” up there with Disney’s greatest classics.

When foreign companies began providing animation to United States audiences, we were still entertained. I was entertained by Speed Racer as a child, and I had no idea that it was a Japanese import, reordered and rewritten to suit American tastes. The stories themselves were compelling, with the whole backstory about the mysterious Racer X; it didn’t matter to me that Speed Racer’s original name was Go Mifune (go Speed Racer go, indeed).

When companies like Lucas and Pixar did away with hand-drawn animators altogether, we were still entertained. The stories themselves were again compelling, and if you’re getting caught up in the adventures of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, most people are not going to be obsessing about whether Buzz was drawn by a computer.

So now that Disney is apparently doing away with hand-drawn animators entirely, will we care? After all, we’re still being entertained.

A pen in the hand of an animator is a tool, just as a computer in the hand of an animator is a tool. If we truly believed that the old ways should always be imitated, then we’d put saddles on our cars and hay in our gas tanks.

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