I am a regular reader of your "Cartoon Brew" website, and an animator at DisneyToon Studio's Australia. I have some breaking news for you: At 3pm today (Monday 25 July) the entire studio was summoned for a staff meeting in which we told by the General Manager Phil Oakes that upon completion of our next production "Cinderella 3", DisneyToon Studio's Australia will be closing down after 17 years. They have cited current business needs and production schedules as the cause. So Disney hand drawn animation now ceases to exist.
Seems Disney has finally broken the last remaining link to their hand drawn animation heritage. 80+ years of tradition and heritage left adrift. Now I know that some folks may say they've already done that by shuttering the orldano studio and by making the Burbank studio Cg only, but I thought the Australian crew were really starting to hit their stride as artisans. Sure the projects themselves may not have been the most original or inspired, but the quality of the work was advancing. So maybe this is not big news, but I think it's still sad. This means that any traditional animation done with the Disney name won't even be done by artists with the Disney name on their paycheck, if they do any at all. Will they putsopurce to Korea or other markets like TV does? Does this mean all direct to video projects will also be CG only? I know Disney's video division has a full slate of potential direct to video CG projects in the pipe. There are studios doing animation tests now for a Pinnochio-2 video sequel (all in CG, pinnochio as a real boy). Seems the outsource model is the path for Disney now?
On a side note, I wonder if this spells the end for Andreas Dejas. He's been the most stubbornly resistant animator when it comes to switching away from hand drawn. He'd been keeping himself busy doing animation direction and such on the tradtionally animated Disney Australia projects.
I dunno. I find it sad. But at the same time, it could be exciting to let traditional hand drawn animation find a new patron saint, someone who won't treat it with such contempt. I'm keen to see where the next great traditionally animated film comes from. I've got high hopes for Nocturna and Giacomo's Secret.