A Year in Shorts Day 79: "Day & Night"
A rather unfortunate side effect of 3-D animation’s current domination in the industry is the way in which traditional animation has fallen out of favor. There are still films being made in the classic hand-drawn style, certainly, but they’re few and far between, and received very little fanfare. Hell, even Studio Ghibli is going to be making a 3-D feature. I am not, of course, one of those people who thinks one style of animation is superior to the other, but am simply someone who thinks there’s more than enough room for both in today’s moviemaking business. Or, in the case of the 2010 short Day & Night, within the same film!
Released in theaters alongside Toy Story 3 and directed by Teddy Newton (who actually had a small role in that movie!), Day & Night is about as strange as we've come to expect from a 21st century Pixar short. The personification of Day meets the personification of Night; the two hate each other at first, but after a few minutes of cartoon violence they learn a valuable lesson about respecting each other's differences. Honestly, aside from the premise, the short is fairly simple in terms of story, but in terms of form it's pretty nifty.
As I said earlier, Day & Night mixes both traditional and computer animation, with the outlines of Day and Night being hand drawn and their interiors rendered in 3-D. It's a pretty neat effect, and plays perfectly to both styles' strengths. The elasticity of the characters' silhouettes allows for a lot of great sight gags, while the 3-D graphics are able to show off the visual splendor Pixar is known for.
While Day & Night's animation is definitely a mix of old and new, the short's sense of humor is definitely a little old-fashioned. Aside from the extended cartoon brawl so common in the early days of animated shorts, there are also some gags about how Day and Night are extremely horny, complete with a literal wolf howl. I personally find such things amusing, but they might not be to everyone's taste! More clever are the use of sound effects to convey Day and Night's "dialogue", such as some passing quacking ducks filling in for laughter. It's all profoundly silly stuff, but definitely amusing.
Day & Night did not win the Oscar that year, losing instead to The Lost Thing, a short which I have not seen. Of course, Pixar's done so well at the Oscars over the years (and that year especially, what with Toy Story 3 earning them their second Best Picture nomination), it's hard to say that they were robbed. Either way, I'm glad we have a short like Day & Night which celebrates two styles of animation in such a charming and successful manner.
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"Day & Night" is available on Disney +
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