Disney’s Wish stands as a testament to animation pushing the boundaries of what’s possible; where the fusion of hand-drawn artistry and cutting-edge computer graphics bring to life a visual spectacle like no other. During the press preview day, we were fortunate to learn more about how technology enabled a unique storytelling experience from Chris Buck, Director and Story By, and Jennifer Lee, Screenplay by/Story by/Executive Producer. Both visionaries shed light on how technology has enabled them to tell the story in a way they couldn’t have 15 years ago.
Merging Tradition with Innovation
Buck highlights Walt Disney Animation Studios’ ongoing commitment to pushing technological boundaries in their animation projects, especially in their short films. Yet, even as they venture into new technological territories, there’s a conscious effort to incorporate elements of hand-drawn artistry.
“Well, it’s the technology that we’ve been doing throughout. A lot of our shorts, we push some of the technological boundaries. And we’ve been doing things where you do incorporate a bit of the hand-drawn into some of the shorts that we’ve done.”-Chris Buck, ‘Wish’ Director and Story By-
Buck does his best to elaborate on the phenomenon that really has to be seen to understand.
“You get a little bit of line around the character, but sometimes the characters are still animated in CG. But again, it’s starting to do what we’ve also been loving to do, and that is sort of embracing our legacy, along with moving towards the future. So, I think it’s that hand-drawn look, and computer. It is very hard to describe. I can barely describe it myself. I won’t even try, ’cause I’ll mess it up. But we have a lot of really amazing artists and technicians that push us, you know?”-Chris Buck, ‘Wish’ Director and Story By-
Buck further echoes the sentiment of pushing boundaries and embracing both the past and future.
“We asked them, could we come up with a look that would embrace, you know, all of these things. And they were up to it. They were up to the challenge. But really, it happens every year, every movie. We keep pushing the boundaries a little bit more, and seeing the new things that we can do.”-Chris Buck, ‘Wish’ Director and Story By-
This approach is a testament to the enduring allure of traditional animation, honoring its rich history and the nostalgic feelings it evokes. By seamlessly integrating these classic techniques with modern technology, the result is a final product that beautifully marries the cherished aesthetics of the past with the innovative capabilities of the present. This fusion ensures that audiences are treated to a visual experience that feels both familiar and refreshingly new.
The Challenges of Bridging Art and Technology
On the other hand, Jennifer Lee delves into the challenges faced in the past when translating beautiful paintings into CG. She also discusses how the goal is no longer just about pushing the boundaries of computer graphics to mimic reality but about preserving the essence of the artist’s initial vision. This delicate balance between traditional artistry and cutting-edge technology has been a challenging endeavor.
“And just to say, I think one of the goals of a lot of our artists at this studio, and when we develop these films, we develop them with the most beautiful paintings by incredible artists. And then when you would transfer it to CG, there would be a shift.”-Jennifer Lee, ‘Wish’ Screenplay by/Story by/Executive Producer–
Lee further emphasizes the importance of preserving the artist’s original vision now that looking real is not the main focus.
“And then in the past, when you would also do it in hand-drawn, there would be limitations. So, one of the goals has been, again, not how do we keep making CG more real, ’cause people can do that. How do we actually get the artist’s vision from the beginning, from that first painting? And I said, like, Lisa Keene, who’s one of the production designers on this, her paintings, I wrote to them in Frozen and I wrote to them in Wish. And how do we do that? And so, with fighting through the technology and I mean, getting some of the linework back in, it’s tied to that watercolor.”-Jennifer Lee, ‘Wish’ Screenplay by/Story by/Executive Producer–
Lee closes out by talking about this unique and incredible marriage of art and technology.
“This achievement has meant a lot to us because it’s getting their vision, actually finally having technology and artistry meet in a way that they’re seeing eye to eye, instead of having to compromise. And I think it’s part of why it’s been so hard, because it’s not just about, oh, we can add this and add this. It’s about what’s the end result we want? And it’s that sense of art.”-Jennifer Lee, ‘Wish’ Screenplay by/Story by/Executive Producer–
Lee’s insights highlight a significant evolution in the animation industry. The commitment to achieving this harmony ensures that audiences are presented with a visual masterpiece that truly reflects the heart and soul of its creators. The fusion of technology and artistry has now reached a point where they complement each other, allowing for a more authentic representation of the artist’s intent. And from the preview of Wish we saw, it is an absolutely jaw-dropping marvel.
Experience the revolutionary combination of art and technology yourselves, when Wish releases exclusively in theaters on November 22, 2023.
Release Date: November 22, 2023
Directors: Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn
Writers: Jennifer Lee, Allison Moore, Produced by, Peter Del Vecho, Juan Pablo Reyes
Music: David Metzger
Production: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distribution: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Runtime: 92 minutes
Cast: Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Angelique Cabral, Alan Tudyk
“Wish” is set in the kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it’s answered by a cosmic force—a ball of boundless energy called Star. Asha and Star confront the formidable King Magnifico to prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
How has technology transformed the world of animation? What does the future hold for blending traditional and modern techniques? Is Wish the beginning of a new era in animated storytelling? Let us know what you think and be sure to check out more from the press day for the film on our social media!