January 31, 2011
Animation historian Jerry Beck released a book in 2005 titled "The Animated Movie Guide," which chronicles just about every single animated feature ever made from the early days of Snow White up to Pixar's The Incredibles in 2004. Given the popularity of CGI films and the presumed decline of 2-D animation since then, it's safe to say that things have changed in the last five years. And with amazing effect.
When the Disney studios bought Pixar in January 2006 by means of a $7.4 billion acquisition deal, new CEO Bob Iger made Pixar co-founder John Lasseter (director of Toy Story 1 & 2 and Cars) the Chief Creative Officer of both studios. Beginning in 2007, Lasseter has had a hand in serving as the executive producer of almost every animated feature released, beginning with the entertaining Meet the Robinsons and the widely-acclaimed Ratatouille in 2007. In addition, on of the goals under Lasseter's leadership was to revive hand-drawn animation, which many have feared dead since the 2004 release of Home on the Range. Thus, Disney veterans such as directors John Musker and Ron Clements, as well as animators Andreas Deja, Mark Henn, and James Baxter, were brought back into Disney for the hand-drawn form. What resulted were the releases of 2007's Enchanted (a live-action/animated hybrid, paying homage and parody to the Disney classics of the early days) and The Princess and the Frog (the studio's first animated fairy tale since 1991's Beauty and the Beast). And with the current release of the CGI Tangled and the upcoming summer 2D release of Winnie the Pooh, I believe we may be in another golden age of animation a la the Disney Renaissance.
The following is a short video interview with John Lasseter from late 2009 regarding the Disney-Pixar acquisition, as well as the medium of animation and what makes is so great.