Acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki is reportedly directing a short film that will use computers for animation.
Miyazaki directed such animated films as “The Wind Rises,” “Ponyo,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” His film “Spirited Away” won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and his films “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Wind” were nominated for the prize.
Now he will be using computer animation for a new short film that will focus on a hairy caterpillar. The movie will reportedly be the first by the director to be completely computer-generated and will play at Japan’s Ghibli Museum.
“We just started working on it," Miyazaki told journalists. "This time, our longtime staff will meet the new staff from the world of computer graphics.”
Miyazaki is the co-founder of Japan’s Studio Ghibli, through which movies like “Wind” and “Ponyo” were produced. The company was also behind the film “The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” which was released in the US in 2014 and was directed by Isao Takahata.
There is very little hand-drawn animation currently being done in the animated movie world right now. Disney CEO Bob Iger said in 2013 that the studio wasn’t working on any hand-drawn films at the time and that there were no hand-drawn feature movies planned. “We're not necessarily ruling out the possibility [of] a feature but there isn't any in development at the company at the moment,” Iger said. Meanwhile, phenomenally successful animation company Pixar, which is owned by Disney, has used only CGI animation since its debut 1995 film “Toy Story,” which was the first entirely computer-animated feature movie to be released.
However, Miyazaki’s experiment with digital animation doesn’t mean hand-drawn animation is gone for good. Disney’s animated short film “Paperman” took the Best Animated Short Oscar in 2013 and while the film did use computer animation, it also mixed in hand-drawn images. Critics called it "the best thing Disney has done in years" and "a perfect short film." The success of “Paperman” may have bought hand-drawn animation more time.