The short film, which is set to precede Wreck-It Ralph later this year (or the start of next year in the UK), is making waves for its revolutionary animation technique, which fuses hand-drawn animation with computer animation, combining "the dimension and depth of digital animation with the abstract warmth of traditional line-art. The result is a world seemingly sculpted out of sketches."
The article also offers up some insight into, and the inspiration for, the techniques behind the short's animation:
“Drawing can have a really powerful, visceral effect on the viewer. You can create anger and surprise or anguish with just a few lines of a pencil,” says director John Kahrs, an animator on The Incredibles and Tangled. “But it can’t just be the same thing it was. I think for 2-D to be revitalized, you have to figure out a way to make it new again.”
It also provides some insight into the animation software behind Paperman, Meander:
"Disney used new in-house technology called Meander to build the world of Paperman. First the characters and backgrounds were rendered digitally, and then hand-drawn art was layered over those shapes, giving the figures a kind of 3-D quality unseen in old-school animation. “What you’re seeing is a very stylized CG layer [underneath], but the feel of the image is very flat and lives in between the two,” Kahrs says."
Finally, I'll leave you with perhaps the most telling comment of all, from producer Kristina Reed:
“If this short had come out with The Little Mermaid, everyone would be excited about the CG,” says Reed with a laugh. “Now here we are in the early part of this millennium, and what we’re celebrating is going back to the handcraft.”
It's a fantastically rivetting read and Paperman promises to change a hell of a lot for animation at Disney! Be sure to read the full article over at EW.