‘Deep Canvas’ the Animation Technique

This is quick overview of the process used in the Tarzan Animated film. The result is one of the more satisfying combinations of 3D and 2D animation. The Wikipedia entry explains it like this-

To create the sweeping 3D backgrounds, Tarzan’s production team developed a 3D painting and rendering technique known as Deep Canvas (a term coined by artist/engineer Eric Daniels). This technique allows artists to produce CGI background that looks like a traditional painting, according to art director Daniel St. Pierre.(The software keeps track of brushstrokes applied in 3D space.) For this advancement, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the creators of Deep Canvas a Technical Achievement Award in 2003.

After Tarzan, Deep Canvas was used for a number of sequences in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, particularly large panoramic shots of the island and several action sequences. Expanded to support moving objects as part of the background, Deep Canvas was utilized to create about 75% of the environments in Disney’s next major animated action film, Treasure Planet, though the results were less stunning, due to the film’s tighter painting style which could have been accomplished without such advanced software. Deep Canvas was designed to accomplish a very loose, brushstroke-based style without hard edges, but Treasure Planet’s backgrounds were more hard-edged and clean.