SALT LAKE CITY — Disney released the full-length version of its Oscar-nominated short film "Paperman" online this week.
Since its Wednesday debut on YouTube, "Paperman" has been watched more than 6 million times. Set in "magical" mid-century New York City, the short film tells the story of two people meeting briefly during their train commute and later finding one another.
Director John Kahrs said the story was inspired by his time living in New York and taking the train to Grand Central Station.
He, like many who have taken public transit, made short but impressing encounters with strangers on the train and in the station. But perhaps unlike some, he wondered how the fates might conspire to bring two strangers back together.
The black and white film is only six minutes long and the characters do not speak a single word throughout, but the story plays across the screen with charm and clarity.
Part of the film's charm comes from the hand-drawn look of the animation. That effect was important to Kahrs, who said he wanted the short film to be a "rich, dimensional world that you feel like you could reach into."
"I didn't want it to be super flat. This is something that John Lasseter pushes for a lot; he wants the audience to trust that that world is out there," Kahrs said. "He doesn't want to break the spell. He doesn't want you to be pulled out of the storytelling experience. He wants you to be immersed in the storytelling."
One way to achieve that, he thought, would involve keeping storyboard drawings as part of the final computer-generated imagery. Enter Meander, a technology exclusive to Disney which allows animators to draw on top of CGI.
"That stylized photorealism can't be the only way that animation can look. And I feel like bringing the drawing back to it has great potential," Kahrs said.
The film premiered in June at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and was shown ahead of "Wreck It Ralph" screenings in 2012.
"Paperman" is nominated for Best Animated Short Film in the 2013 Oscars. Other nominations are "The Longest Daycare" and "Fresh Guacamole."