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Disney Shuts Down 2D Animation Studio 335

sofakingl writes "As mentioned in this Slashdot article, Disney has been planning to shut down their 2D animation studios. Just recently, Disney shut down their Florida studio, with some animators transferred to Disney's Burbank studio, and others being left out of a job. This has brought criticism from Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney. And to top it off, Disney may be facing new competition from Legacy Animation, a new animation studio that was formed by ex-Disney animators."
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Disney Shuts Down 2D Animation Studio

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  • by Teddy Beartuzzi ( 727169 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:04AM (#7983691) Journal
    Disney thinks that it's computer animation that has led to the success of Finding Nemo, Shrek etc.

    It's good story, humour and characters that have led to success. Their hand animated flicks bombed because they were bad, not because they were 2D.

    • by krymsin01 ( 700838 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:10AM (#7983710) Homepage Journal
      Mabey some of those animators, now that they have some time on their hands, will decide to group together to work on some non-family animation here in the US. Limiting the scope of animation to family friendly themes is such a waste of the artform, in my opinion.
      • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:29AM (#7983789)
        After seeing the art and animation from such films as "Tarzan" "Hercules" and "The Emperor's New Groove", I put it to you that many of the Disney animators deserved to be laid off. Feel free to hold whatever opinion you like about the writing and voice acting, but the bottom line is that those movies looked like ass.

        Animated feature-length movies are not made for adult audiences very often in the US because the truth is, they just don't sell very well. You could make the case that movies like "Final Fantasy" and "Titan AE" bombed because they were painfully dull and poorly written, but the fact remains that there has yet to be a successful American full-length animated feature which wasn't considered a "family" movie in the US. Ever. The closest you could possibly get is "Heavy Metal", which enjoys a cult following (mostly among 12-year old kids and stoners, both of whom like looking at the cartoon boobies.)

        • How much money a film makes in the US is not the best indicator of the quality of that film. With that in mind, there have been adult-oriented animated movies in the US that have fared pretty well. Waking Life by Richard Linklater is an example. While not traditional 2d animation, this movie uses a 2d-like animation techinque as a tool to create a sureal, dream-like texture to offset it's philosophical questions. Perhaps if fewer people worried about the money, more people would go down this path. And
        • by clickety6 ( 141178 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:49AM (#7983854)
          yet to be a successful American full-length animated feature which wasn't considered a "family" movie in the US.

          Beavis and Butthead do America - think it mae around $80 million which isn't too shabby - and definitely not one for the liitle kiddies!

          South Park Movie - also did around the $75 million mark.

          Don't sound too shabby to me!

          • Beavis and Butthead do America - think it mae around $80 million which isn't too shabb

            No, it made $63,118,386 []

            South Park Movie - also did around the $75 million mark.

            No, it made $52,037,603 []

            Name three more. I dare you. Non-children's animated feature films very rarely get made in America.

            There's Heavy Metal []. I think Aeon Flux [] deserves a mention. Even though it was never a feature film, it was a whole different class than The Simpsons.
            • Dated, I know, but a lot of Ralph Bakshi's work such as Fritz the Cat and Wizards continues to have a cult following. If we're getting away from feature films, I think The Maxx deserves a mention as well.

              2D Animation is just another form of storytelling, I think there will always be room for interesting stories regardless of the medium used to tell them. It's not an either-or decision.

            • How can we name movies when nobody makes them? It's a chicken and egg scenario. Nobody makes them because they don't sell, and they don't sell because nobody makes them. It's no differnt than games on Linux.

              • Nobody makes them because they don't sell, and they don't sell because nobody makes them.

                Not really. I could name dozens of animated features that failed miserably. (Lord of the Rings, anybody?)

          • Someone mentioned "Fritz the Cat", but didn't point out that it was a huge hit [] at the time, esp. for an "underground" animated film.

            $25 million isn't much today, but in 1972 that's quite the take (recoup-ing production + marketing costs over 25-times over is never too shabby!)
        • by gnalre ( 323830 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:35AM (#7984006)
          Call me what you want, but actually I thought Tarzan" "Hercules" and "The Emperor's New Groove" were actually quite good.

          At least they were original.

          The problem is more there latest offerings. You know the ones. The one with 2 at the end. I was forced to sit through Cinderella 2 with my daughter recently and it was the most shocking piece of crud ever. It would not be so bad if it was only for video, but no Jungle book 2 and tigger thr movie made it to the big screen.

          They seem to run out of people with original ideas willing to take risks.

          3D is not the answer. Sack the execs and the accountants and hire some decent script writes and concentrate on making one good movie every two years instead of 4 bad ones in a year
          • by perly-king-69 ( 580000 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:11AM (#7984108)

            They seem to run out of people with original ideas willing to take risks.

            The shareholders don't want them taking risks with their money. They want Cinderella 3: Rise of the Sisters, they want tie-ins with McDonalds, they want safe, easy, money.

            Two years' worth of criticall acclaimed, but poorly viewed films will see the stock price slide and credit rating disappear. The people who own the company have no interest in it other than as a cash cow. You can't be dangerous and edgy as a public company.

            • I understand what you say, but critically acclaimed, does not necesarlly equate to poorly viewed.

              On the other hand if you keep creating offensive smelly things, people will catch on and stop going anyway. No audience, no tie ins no safe money. Not only that but you lose your reputation, and thats something which you may never get back.
              • On the other hand if you keep creating offensive smelly things, people will catch on and stop going anyway.

                Wewill catch on my friend, but the great unwashed probably won't. Name the most succesful food outlets in the Western world: McD, Burger King, KFC. Nutritionally poor, unhealthy and cheap. I rest my case.

              • But the modern business world is very short term oriented. What matters is how much MONEY is made NOW! Just do something to make some money and if it results in losses in the future, well, just jump ship or change the company name, or just use an advertising campaign. Even investors are short-term oriented. For instance, many investors (including institutional ones) sell out if things look bad.

                Reputation used to mean something at one time but is less important now. Apart from the fact that a lot of ind
            • Curse of the sequels (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Bluetrust25 ( 647829 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:12PM (#7987821)
              The shareholders don't want them taking risks with their money. They want Cinderella 3: Rise of the Sisters, they want tie-ins with McDonalds, they want safe, easy, money.

              This is one of the main reasons why Roy E. Disney (Chairman of Disney Animation Department and member of the Disney board of directors, and Walt's last remaining relative in the Disney empire) resigned in a big melt down last November.

              In his resignation letter (available here []) Roy E. Disney blasted Michael Eisner with, "This company under your leadership has failed in many ways:" then of the many things he slams, specifically bombasts Eisner for "The perception by all of our stateholders -- consumers, investors, employees, distributors, and suppliers -- that the company is rapacious, soulless, and always looking for the 'quick buck' rather than long-term value which is leading to a loss of the public trust." and "Your failure to establish and build constructive relationships with creative partners, especially Pixar, Miramax, and the cable companies distributing our products."

              All in all, it's a great letter, rather well written, and my brief highlights don't do it justice. He tells the world that Michael Eisner is a no-good egomaniac who's systematically destroying the legacy that Walt built by not taking risks, going for the quick buck, and releasing sequels rather than using the briliant writing talent already available inside the animation complex.

              Now here's how the animators feel. There was a letter of support written recently by Disney's top animators Tim Hauser (writer of the OSCAR nominated short Runaway Brain), Steve Moore (director, OSCAR nominated short Redux Riding Hood, Emmy nominated special Olive, the Other Reindeer), and Dave Pruiksma (supervising animator, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, etc.) and it was signed by over 4200 members of the animation community:
              "The unique traditions of visual storytelling, humor and personality animation on which the Walt Disney Studio had thrived, gave way to politically correct sloganeering, stale one-liners and film seminar formulas to which audiences have refused to respond.

              Mr. Eisner's rejection of Walt Disney's heritage has been a colossal failure. Yet this is a man who has been paid over $700 million in compensation since 1996, while the Feature Animation department has been decimated by pink slips.

              Now, skilled craftsmen go unemployed while the executive ranks swell. A unique American art form, the Disney cartoon feature, hangs precariously in the balance - - reduced to the production of cheap direct-to-video franchise extensions made by committee.

              Without Roy, who will protect the 70-year Disney legacy from becoming no more than a hollow brand?"

              The whole scandal is great reading. I recommend checking out (Roy E. Disney's website.) Then while you're feeling indignant that the little spark that Disney still had was purposefully extinguished, go sign the petition [] then if you're still feeling indignant, purchase some "Roy was right." messenger bags [] and wear them to Disneyland or Disneyworld the next time you go as a show of support, cause the appropriate behavior to news like this -- a boycott -- just isn't going to happen. So buy the bags, and be obnoxious at the parks.

              Anyway, Roy's email address [mailto] is on the web. You can email him here.
          • Tarzan [] and Hercules [] were original?

            If I'd seen or knew more about the Emperor's New Groove, I could probably drag up something there too.(aside from a very superficial and hardly indicting reference in the title)

            Nevertheless, it is a fairly safe bet that any theatrically released Disney animated feature will be based on an existing story(out of copyright :), and include a list of characters determined by formula.(One true-blue sidekick, approximately two, but possibly more, comic relief tag-alongs, and
        • Personally I didn't think Final Fantasy or Titan A.E. were boring. I just think there is a stigmatism on what most people would call anime. People have grouped all anime movies together and talk about them as one genre, which I think is as absurd as putting The Boondock Saints and Fried Green Tomatoes in the same category because they were both made with live people and cameras.

          Animation is an excellent way to make a movie. You don't have actors bitching about a closeup, you don't have to hire expensive p

          • Although with Mononoke Hime, they hired expensive pretty boys to do the voice work anyway, because star power is still the most reliable way to sell movie tickets.

            Okay, maybe "pretty boy" is not really a valid way to describe Billy Bob Thornton, but you get the idea.

        • I beg to differ. While Titan AE didn't do well as far as box office revenues, I thought it wasn't at all painfully dull nor was it poorly written. And it wasn't artistically poor, either. I saw a high definition version of it on HBO or showtime (can't remember which) and I thought it was awesome.
      • Mabey some of those animators, now that they have some time on their hands, will decide to group together to work on some non-family animation here in the US.

        Yes I for one vote they make a sequel to Fritz The Cat. []
    • by jdifool ( 678774 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:13AM (#7983723) Homepage Journal
      Disney is not even better in 3D animation. Basically, the 3D cartoons were produced by Disney. At least Toy Story and Finding Nemo have been done by Pixar Studios.

      What this seems to mean is that Disney is turning into a production studio, instead of a genuine creator of cartoons. As said by the Pixar site, in February 1997, Pixar entered into the Co-Production Agreement (which superseded the Feature Film Agreement) with Disney pursuant to which we, on an exclusive basis, agreed to produce five original computer-animated feature-length theatrical motion pictures for distribution by Disney. One might guess that Disney will try to keep its dominant position by signing such agreements with the creative animation studios now that it's been recurrently proved (since the Lion King, mostly) that Disney 2D creations suck... Too bad I'll have to keep my old device to show Bambi to my children... :)


      • by Anonymous Coward
        Too bad I'll have to keep my old device to show Bambi to my children.

        Uh ... I'm sorry to tell you that that's illegal in almost all western countries.
    • by phorm ( 591458 )
      And once pixar's contracts with disney expire... does disney think that they are readying to replace the gap currently filled by pixar? What happens when they invest in 3d only to find that their movies still suck - not to lack of flashy graphics - but comparatively lower talent.

      Will they try to hire their animators back?
      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        Will they try to hire their animators back?

        Prediction: after both a shareholder and employee revolt, Eiser will finally "retire", and his successor will buy Legacy Animation, merge with Pixar, and negotiate for a worldwide distribution deal with Studio Gibli.

        If I were a Disney shareholder, I'd be praying for this to happen within the next five years. Since I'm not a Disney shareholder, I'll just go to see Pixar and Ghibli movies whoever distributes them.
        • Re:Pixar (Score:2, Insightful)

          by NuShrike ( 561140 )
          Disney already has a worldwide distribution deal with Studio Ghibli which consists a lot of sitting on the material instead of releasing it.

          The fact that Spirited Away got an Oscar blind-sided them shows how much they want to push other people's better 2D animation works.
          • by jcr ( 53032 )
            Hmm.. I knew they had US distribution for Ghibli, I didn't realize it was a worldwide deal.

          • Disney already has a worldwide distribution deal with Studio Ghibli which consists a lot of sitting on the material instead of releasing it.

            Disney is already distributing virtually every Ghibli movie ever made in Japan. Porco Rosso, Nausicaa and Ocean Waves(?) have already been dubbed and are due for an R1 release in 2004. Totoro might also be pending, since Fox lost the rights at the end of 2003.

      • I don't see why pixar's contract with disney has to expire. As long as Disney is satisfied that their getting good value out of pixar, they can afford to negotiate new contracts. If pixar doesn't want to, Disney easily has the deep pockets to buy them out.

    • "Bomb" is a relative term in the movie industry. A truely flop or bomb or dud movie is defined as a movie that cannot make in gross revenues what it cost to produce. Computer technology is reaching the point where it's soon going to be cheaper to produce a Pixar movie than to pay hand animators to make a 2d movie...
      • Ok so now they will be able to send more crappy 3d animation movies to the wild. They won't bomb so hard, because they were cheaper, but at some level they will bomb.

        This would help them much less then if they had made a new writing and scripting unit. Disney has a great advantage in their side, their name is as strong as a animation studio can be. They are destroying this with each launch, at the same time Pixar and Aardman (chicken run and wallance and gromit) are getting their names.

        If this keeps going
    • The traditional side of Disney has never really succeeded in finding that balance between entertaining the kids and entertaining adults. Most of their 2D work has, for whatever reason, been extremely child-centric of late. They stuff they've released with Pixar, on the other hand, has got the balance right - kids love the bright, colourful characters, the slapstick, the excitement, and the adults with them love the sly humour, the in jokes, the bits that go over the heads of the kids.

      You can't please ever

      • aside from the 1st 2 or 3 episodes,* South Park has been entirely CG, and i would assume that the movie is the same way.

        *the 1st few episodes of South Park used a claymation technique with... construction paper...
        • Yes, but South Park has always used a cheap 2D CG to simulate the original construction paper effects. It's the style of the show that carried into the movie.

          Even The Simpsons is mostly computer drawn, with what hand animation work is still left done overseas, and with the exception of one particular special segment is entirely 2D.

          Nearly Anime is also 2D... "3D Anime" almost seems like a contradiction in terms.

          But notice that Disney has no entry in the adults-only animation sphere. Well, they tried, Touc
      • Can't you remember watching some old Disney cartoons (don't know the english translations, so I'll keep my mouth shut here) with your parents ?

        Disney's cartoons strength was their ability to make the whole family gathers around the TV, with the children crying when Bambi dies, and parents crying because of their children crying... :)

        Now all they can dou is *crap*, *crap*, and some more *crap*. This is actually good for competition, if you ask me.


      • Look, people, Slashdot for some bizarre reason is making this into Disney shutting down a 2D studio. That's not why it's shut down. Eisner is a micro-managing freak and doesn't want to have to deal with managing a distant studio. They want to keep everything at home in one building.

        This has nothing to do with "Disney shutting down a 2D studio!" 2D isn't the issue here. It's a management issue.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Shrek was good?

      Seriously, um... All these novelty flicks have their place, and will no doubt manage to go down as classics of the early days of 3D, on par with Mortimer Mouse, if not 'better.'

      I'd still like to think there's room there for something a little more... well, a little less direct-to-marketing for the kids, and a little more ambitious for the adults. But then, even as a child of the '80s (raised on the third generation of postwar marketing tie-ins, you could say), I can't help shaking my walki
    • well, they don't say they're going to dump int totally. pure hand animation is expensive, very expensive if you want it to look _good_(when shooting for a 'realistic' world like usually in disneys movie cartoons). expect to see a lot of going to the direction of treaseure planet(mixing traditional animation with cgi - like the one character that had a cgi hand and leg) and seeing the computers crawl into places in the production line that you would never guess them being there, but they save quite a lot of
    • It's good story, humour and characters that have led to success. Their hand animated flicks bombed because they were bad, not because they were 2D.

      Exactly right. Lilo and Stitch won big because it was an officially-sanctioned "skunk works" type project, designed to not go through the committees and focus groups. It was the vision of its creators, and it was wonderful and made money. (The sequel was another matter...sigh.) I guess Disney didn't learn diddly squat from it.

      So...I guess what I have to say to
    • You are absolutely right. Let's look at last year: Lilo and Stitch was supposed to be their "low budget" effort for the year, and did surprisingly well, sparking a spin-off series on Disney channel and lot's of merchandise.

      Treasure Planet was their "big budget" holiday release - using both traditional and 3D computer animation. It wasn't bad, I took my kids to it, it was entertaining... it just wasn't very good, either. Frankly, I'd rather then see a good Treasure Island. The end result, though, is it
  • Irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alset_tech ( 683716 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:05AM (#7983696) Homepage
    If you can DREAM it, you can DO it.

    -- Walt Disney

    This is on the front page of Legacy. How ironic. Or insulting, depending how you look at it.

  • Save Disney site. (Score:5, Informative)

    by AchmedHabib ( 696882 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:08AM (#7983703)
    Save Disney [] Save Disney site for those who cares.
    • by cgranade ( 702534 ) <`cgranade' `at' `'> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:15AM (#7983733) Homepage Journal

      Frankly, I don't. Disney is making a big mistake, and this will most likely, while not bringing about an end to Disney, open up the market for many other animation studios such as the aforementioned Legacy Studios.
      Indeed, Pixar succeeded because they knew how to make a good story, and good characters, and to use the medium. While I don't think that 3-D CG is inherently better (or worse), I do think that variety is important, and that using the appropiate medium for the appropiate story is crucial.
      Toy Story, for instance, was wonderful, not just because of the lovable characters, but because the quirks of CG lend themselves to doing well at rendering plastic-y models. FF:TSW was wonderful because the CG animation let them paint a world that was at once real and surreal, and to pull off effects that would be damn near impossible otherwise (the Phantoms for instance...).

      In short, it seems to me that Disney is shooting themselves in the foot by reducing the available avenues for them to express themselves through, and that this will open up for more creative studios to finally grab the market.

      • Unfortunatly the one thing Legacy will not have, but disney has in buckets is a distribution network. Many films die on the vine because they cannot get shown, while Star Wars I makes it millions of cinema's

        What Legacy will have to do is tie up to amajor studio, otherwise they will be stuck making 5 minutes shorts for adverts.
    • The last bastion of creativity within the corporation has fallen.

      The Disney company is now just an entertainment broker.

      It's time to rest in peace.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:10AM (#7983711)
    If Walt Disney were alive today, he likely wouldn't recognize the company that has his name. Roy Disney certainly doesn't think so...

    The Disney of today is not a pure family-friendly company by any means. The "Disney brand name" is reserved for G-rated projects only, but companies such as Touchstone Entertainment and Miramax Pictures exist under the Disney company's ownership to publish PG to R-rated fare. Everything that goes out over The Disney Channel is family friendly, but you can't say the same about ABC.

    And from that view of the world, it's easy to see why 2D animation is out the door. It's not a money-maker today.

    The original Disney works are living on borrowed time right now. Mickey Mouse quietly celebrated his 75th birthday this year. Why didn't the Disney theme parks hold a big celebration for that event like they do for every other excuse to hold a big celebration? Because 75 years old used to be the retirement age for copyrights, until the Sonny Bono Copyright Extention Act made it 95 years. The company knows that they're not going to be able to get extentions forever, so they've already started to diversify while they still can...
    • Because 75 years old used to be the retirement age for copyrights, until the Sonny Bono Copyright Extention Act made it 95 years. The company knows that they're not going to be able to get extentions forever, so they've already started to diversify while they still can...

      Even if the 1920s Mickey Mouse cartoons went into public domain, the later ones don't (until they're 95 years old at least). Regardless of copyright, more importantly, the "Mickey Mouse" trademark will never expire. No one can ever make

    • by divide overflow ( 599608 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:36AM (#7984009)
      >Because 75 years old used to be the retirement age for copyrights, until the Sonny Bono Copyright Extention Act made it 95 years. The company knows that they're not going to be able to get extentions forever, so they've already started to diversify while they still can...

      Well, after seeing the copyright period extended time after time as I have, I have no faith that it won't continue to be extended, indefinitely. The copyright holders have paid politicians enormous sums to keep their intellectual fiefdoms. And recent court rulings indicate that there are no current legal limitations to prevent future extensions. If additional legislation isn't put in place to limit further extensions I would posit that they may well continue ad infinitum.
  • adios 2D (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phuller10 ( 702876 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:11AM (#7983718) Homepage
    It's kind of sad. I love watching The disney version of the Jungle Book because the backgrounds are so detailed and lush. There is a certain warmth to 2d animation, at least I think there. Who knows though, maybe I'm just being a technophobic jackass. I say the samething about records as opposed to digital media. There is a certain je ne sais quoi to it, know what I mean?
    • Re:adios 2D (Score:2, Interesting)

      by apoch2001 ( 701484 )
      I could see a potential 2D revival when people get tired of the 3D thing and want something different (or nostalgic). For the time being, it's the right direction... but those 2D animators will be in serious demand one day. They brought back bell-bottoms, ergo they can bring back anything.
  • by octal666 ( 668007 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:12AM (#7983719)
    When I heard about this first time I thought that Disney has probably the best 2D animators working for them, wich is a pitty, since their stories suck so much. But if all thouse people are fired and start working on their own, maybe they choose to animate good stories and we can see something more than boring musicals with no plot. The ones to lose more about that can be Pixar if they are forced to animate that crap.
  • by Dark Nexus ( 172808 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:15AM (#7983732)
    They close down their 2D studios, and it looks like they won't be renewing their deal with Pixar. They're closing the studios down because "it isn't profitable", as I recall.

    And what's Pixar doing? Possibly opening a 2D animation studio [].

    I think it's the Disney studios that aren't profitable anymore, since most of the good animated movies out of Disney in the past 5 years or so were from Pixar...
    • That's a very odd war of words between the two parties, since they completely agree with each other. One can put the two statements together into just one:

      The Walt Disney Company and Roy Disney together state: "This difficult decision was based on what is best strategically for company business in both the short and long term, to which end it has de-emphasised creativity and is totally indifferent to its impact on the people who helped to make the company great."

      Why have a war when there is agreement?
    • They are just closing down one of their studios (the profitable one. dumbasses. the ones that made lilo and stitch)

      and then, switching to digital animation.

      Just because its digital, does not make it 3d. In fact, the entire anime industry is, basically, digital animation. I think there is one or two cel painted titles a year now.

      Its cheaper, cleaner, and looks better. Even the simpsons are digitally animated.

      Really people. Point me to something that says "disney is stopping 2d animation."

      Yes, I think th
  • by Drakino ( 10965 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:25AM (#7983769) Journal
    It amazes me that animation is repeating the same mistakes computer games did. I remember when the big buzz word in games was 3D, and somehow this magicially made a better game. With the advancement of 3D, we saw the loss of such awesome games like old Lucasarts adventure games. They switched to 3D, and have never felt the same since. And the move to 3D killed Warcraft Adventures, since they saw a preview of Grim Fandango and decided a 2D animated adventure game wouldn't make it.

    And even outside the adventure genre, the bad effects of 3D can be seen. Who here actually liked Mario 64 over say Super Mario World? Sonic Adventure is another good example. It went from avazing speed along a 2D course, to a game that had very little speed areas. Why? Well, 3D speed areas take a lot longer to make, and for little return since the character will be zooming through there at insane speeds.

    3D has done wonders for computer games as well, but some of the most interesting games today are still very 2D, or trying to immitate it anyhow. Notice the big trend to do cell shading for example. Also look at Viewtiful Joe, one of the most creative games out recently, and it's a 2D game (well, 3D and shaded, but 2D playing field).

    Hand drawn 2D animation still has a huge place out there. I remember the animated films for their content and look, and unfortunatly you loose a bit of that personal touch you feel from 2D films. And not only does this impact movies, but also their TV shows it seems. Gargoyles was an awesome show, and was a shame to see it stopped.
    • With the advancement of 3D, we saw the loss of such awesome games like old Lucasarts adventure games. They switched to 3D, and have never felt the same since.

      I don't know about you, but coming from a fan of Lucasarts adventure games, Grim Fandango was one of their best works. Going 3D certainly didn't affect the quality of their games.

      I get your point, but 3D isn't the work of the devil, either. There are some damn good games and movies that use computer graphics.
    • 3D has done wonders for computer games as well, but some of the most interesting games today are still very 2D, or trying to immitate it anyhow.

      I'm a fan of 2D games as well, and I recommend that anyone with a similar opinion gets themselves a Gameboy Advance, and possibly a Cube with a Gameboy Advance Player.

      The Advance is essentially a miniature SNES, but with the advantage over a second-hand SNES of new titles still appearing for it (and portability, of course). It doesn't really handle 3D all that w

    • Who here actually liked Mario 64 over say Super Mario World?

      I know I'm not alone when I say that Mario 64 is one of the most innovative and fun games made. Seeing it for the first time was breathtaking. AND it was a lot more fun than Super Mario World. Obviously, taste in games (and most things) are subjective. But you picked a bad example here, IMO.

      But you're right. It's not whether it's 2D or 3D game that's important. It's a lot of other factors (gameplay, interface, story, etc). And for the mo

    • by Cebu ( 161017 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:16AM (#7983945)
      How exactly is this the same "mistake" as the computer game industry? Disney is cutting it's traditional animation division not for any technical reason, nor as some artistic statement on whether 2D animation is better than 3D annimation.

      The traditional animation division of Disney has been a financial failure for Disney for several years now. "Road to El Dorado" cost $95 million dollars and has recouped only $50 million dollars. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" cost Disney over $100 million dollars and ended up with a total box office of $83.5 million dollars at box over the course of 20 weeks. Even adding rentals, which totalled less than $11 million dollars, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" was entirely a financial failure. What else has the divison produced recently? Treasure Planet in 2002 for a friendly cost of $140 million dollars and has received $38 million at box office and around $4 million from rentals. Would you fund a division that has lost $150 million dollars over the past 3 years on features alone?

      Incredible amounts of market research modified scripts have essentially killed North America's last traditional cell animation studio. Disney's cell animation scripts lack direction, coherence, and even an audience (they try to pander to all ages and end up appealing to none).

      To reinterate, the fact that the division used traditional cell animation had nothing to do with why the division is being closed. That being said, cell animation in North America has essentially died for now -- Disney was the last major cell animation house on the continent, and yes, that is somewhat sad.
      • you forgot lilo and stitch. How convenient. Considering it was a runaway success.
        • By that time Disney had already decided to cut traditional animation. If I remember correctly, "Lilo and Stitch" had Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders heading the project which were originally not from the Florida office of Disney -- they were brought on specifically for "Lilo and Stitch".

          On another note, it was a nice movie and did quite well in profits -- I wouldn't really call it a "runaway success". It cost a bit under $90 million to make while pulling in $145 million at the box office over the course o
      • by proj_2501 ( 78149 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:38AM (#7985151) Journal
        The Road To El Dorado was done by Dreamworks.
        • Oops, sorry -- I remembered there were three failures, but you're right, "Road To El Dorado" wasn't one of them: it was "The Emperor's New Groove" at box with $87 million over 15 weeks, and a cost of around $100 million dollars.
      • Well, looks to me like a classic case of a company that has lost its focus.

        Are movie audiences that much different than they were a few years ago, when The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King were such huge successes?

        When Howard Ashman died, Disney no longer had a critical part of their formula: the go-to musical team. And its probably true they can't just keep retreading The Little Mermaid formula. Struggling with this has given their films of the last decade a hit-or-miss quality.
  • Apparently they believe in legacy hardware as well. That is one slow server.
  • Stupid, noone cares if it's 2D or 3D, it's the story which is important, I've liked quite a few animations from both camps lately. With Toy story 3D was cool because it was new, that isn't the case any longer, and sure shrek looks nice, but I have no troubles whatsoever with Mulan either for example.

    3D doesn't have to be better than 2D, just look at the game industry, the only good 3D game I can figure out is Quake and maybe WarCraft3 but that's not any 3D i count, it works like 2D. The rest of the games a
  • Blame Y2K (Score:5, Funny)

    by macgyvr64 ( 678752 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:40AM (#7983826)
    Top Ten Ways Y2K Affected Disney World

    10. Accidental switch back to 19,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
    9. Messed up computers report EuroDisney turning a profit.
    8. Air traffic control glitch causes Dumbo to smack into a DC-10.
    7. The "It's a Small World After All" creatures go on a rampage.
    6. The Hall of Presidents keeps chanting "Kill Clinton, kill Clinton."
    5. When you wish upon a star, nothing happens.
    4. Unexpected power surge brings an angry Walt Disney back to life.
    3. "Main Street Electrical Parade" becomes "Main Street Two Guys With Plastic Flashlights Parade."
    2. Ticket machine accidentally dispenses day passes for less than $600.
    1. Two words: catapulting teacups.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:41AM (#7983829)
    but this doesn't mean Disney's switching to polygons for everything, just that they're phasing out old techniques for doing animation. There will still be 2D animation, it'll just be done on a computer. I'll agree you lose some warmth when you go the all computer route (at least with current technology, see Saber Marionette J). On the other hand, with computers you can do animation that would normally be outside budget constraits (again, see Saber Marionette J).

    Not that I'm not taking a cynical outlook to the whole thing. Once you get over the novelty of polygonal animation it just looks awful. Animators aren't really taking advantage the new tools (at least not in a way that's apparent to a non-animator). I want to see more intricate, detailed animation of a sort that wasn't possible before. Right now it seems like computers are being used mainly to cut costs and boost profits.
    • While it is true 3D done wrong can look horribly artifical, this is not necessarly the case. Spirited Away was done completly in SoftImage with hand drawn textures. Some more info here : lu me_2/issue_1/ghibli.htm
  • They just don't know what to do with 2D... considering how much of cool art has gone 2D recently, just consider viewtiful joe on the nintendo gamecube and many other examples...
  • It's a shame (Score:2, Insightful)

    by madssj ( 697348 )
    What a shame that disney is moveing away from 2d animation, no 3d animation can ever be compared to the life like strokes and personality there lies in such a piece of work.

    Not saying that Shrek or Finding Nimo could have been done better using 2d animation, but can anyone picture donnald in 3d. Its just not the same.
  • Uh-oh! Looks the Slashdot effect has shut down another animation studio []. =)

  • -6 troll :) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrshowtime ( 562809 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:57AM (#7983878)
    I got to talk to Don Bluth, the saviour of classical animation, (if it were not for him classical animation would have died a long time ago) at Comic-Con two years ago. He was one of the nicest persons I have ever met. He drew me Dirk the Daring from Dragon's Lair in about 5 seconds, perfect. He told me that Roy Disney came to his studios in Ireland (at the time) and essentially told him "Join us, or Die." So enough of the B.S. that Roy Disney is trying to save classical animation. He is just pist that they forced him to retire. The worst part about the termination of the Florida animation unit, is that they actually churned out two hits in their short lifespan. So it's b.s. that Disney needed to shut em' down to save money. Classical Animation is not dead, it just has had a few set backs in the past few years. It will return. I wish Disney would use Miramax and make an adult animated film.
  • Are they going into total 3D ala Pixar, or are they just moving all of their animation over to digital? I recall reading that they were going to be phasing out hand-drawn stuff and going over to pure digital animation, but in a lot of cases (ie the Simpsons) this isn't a bad thing. I had thought that is was Pixar who was pushing Disney to go all digital.

    All things being said and done, the move over to digital animation shouldn't be a bad thing.

  • Arep Arep Arep..... thats all folk's

  • of course, (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:39AM (#7984020)
    Step 1) Close 2D Studios
    2) ???
    3) Profit!!
  • Rampage (Score:5, Funny)

    by pangu ( 322010 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:45AM (#7984033) Homepage
    Hopefullly, Stitch will go on a rampage at Disney headquarters.
  • Wha?! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Next thing you know they'll announce their newest 3D project using this fantastic new technique called "Cell Shading"!

  • Who cares if they stop 2D animation? If there is a demand for it someone will produce it. If not Disney, the someone else. If it turns out 2D becomes a phenom, I'm sure Disney will jump back in to the cash pool.

  • News Flash (Score:2, Funny)

    by Effofx ( 640933 )
    Walt Disney Co. plans to close all of its 3D animation studios by late March, 2006. The CEO intends to replace them with new 4D animation techniques developed by NASA scientists placing Disney back on top as the leader in animated film production.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:25AM (#7984514) Homepage
    "The mouse factory," as his studio was known in the forties, like the rest of Hollywood, was in the business of making money out of dreams. It is possible to acknowledge real affection for the enterprise and its products. But at the same time, we should recall details such as the ugly labor disputes that took place at Disney studios during the forties.

    Hand-drawn animation was all but shut down once before, as I recall. In the fifties, Walt Disney shifted the emphasis to live-action movies (and mixtures, as in "Mary Poppins.") Animation wasn't abandoned altogether, but the stuff between 1955 ("Lady and the Tramp") and 1981 ("The Fox and the Hound") was cheaply done and not top-drawer. You didn't have those luscious Chris-van-Allsburg-quality backgrounds, the animation was jumpy and more like Saturday morning cartoons than the classic Disney animation oeuvre.

    I believe the survival of animation at Disney depended in part on the new technology of xerography--pencil drawings were photocopied onto cels instead of having to be laboriously inked.

    Walt Disney himself didn't have any special affection for animation. It happened to be the business gimmick that worked for him and got him on the road to success. When he was asked late in life what he was proudest of, he answered that it was what he had built--the buildings, the companies, the infrastructure, the businesses.

    And, when it came to animation and movie production, he was always a bit of a gadget freak. Or technology enthusiast. He would be just as pleased with Pixar's technology now as he was with the multiplane camera that pushed the envelope in the, let me think, late thirties? For Pinocchio? Used in that amazing over-the-rooftops opening sequence.
  • by pmauro ( 555688 )
    When I heard this news in the LA Times I thouhgt glossed over it. I don't think this is about 2D or 3D. The fact of the matter is that the good scripts are being made in 3D. The talent is going to shops like Pixar and the results are first and foremost excellent stories and characters. 3D animation costs more than 2D to produce so this is not about making it cost effective. Nemo would have grossed the same amount of money if it was traditionally animated. pete
  • by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:20AM (#7984941)
    Fine, let Disney shut down the (practically brand-new) Florida animation facility. What other effects does this have?

    We all know that the Florida studio was responsible for creating "Lilo and Stitch". As WDW moves forward with a retrofit of the screamingly-fun "Alien Encounter" ride to a more family-friendly "Meet Stitch" format, they ran into a small glitch.

    With all the animators gone from the Florida studio, they ended up having to out-source the pre-show animation to some non-Disney company [].

    On the plus side, it gives Disney one more building to reuse for yet another cartoon-based stage show in the Studios theme park. Better get that created soon while they still have popular films that haven't been used yet. That's right, you can't have too many stage shows that all end before 5pm at a theme park open until 10pm to entertain the masses.

    The reason Pixar is considered a threat to Disney is not because they have succeeded in 3D computerized animation where others (except Shrek) have not, but because they excel at the exact same things that the best Disney works did just as well: the storytelling. Toy Story 2 was supposed to go direct-to-video, but its story was so well done and compelling that Disney told Pixar to remake it as a feature.

    The medium is not the problem here. It's the message. 2D vs 3D is not what Disney should be concerned with, but rather how to get back to telling a quality story instead of some rehashed dreck. If the story is good, then the audience will come and Disney can continue to build *original* park rides based on those stories.

    Yes, Disney needs Pixar because Pixar "gets" what Walt did and will be terribly sorry if they can't come to terms with Pixar on the contract renewal. But Pixar also gets a benefit from the Disney association that they may not get with another studio distribution as the Disney name still carries a bit of class with it, so they may not want to play *too* hard to get. Being independent (like Lucasfilm) may allow you the freedom to create whatever you want and distribute it on your own terms, but it may not be the best solution for everybody.

  • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <tim,almond&gmail,com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:28AM (#7985654) Homepage
    There was a recent BBC documentary (I think in the Imagine series) where there was some discussion about 2D vs 3D, where someone was saying that come the next 2D hit, they'll all go back to it.

    And there was John Lasseter talking about that creative genius Miyazaki. Incidentally who uses 2D.

    To concur with many authors on this thread, it's not about the 2d or the computers. In the same way that scripts and characters, not actors make good movies, so scripts and characters, not 3d and computers make good movies.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:42PM (#7986528) Journal
    2D animation will probably keep popping in and out of style forever. The decision of Disney managers is whether to keep those in "out of style" arts around, or dump them when they don't need them and hire them back or contract them as needed.

    Just when 2D people learn 3D, it will probably be 90% offshored, so they will dump 3D people also.

    Job and career stability is the dying art, not 2D animation.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger