Lou Romano one of the concept guys at Pixar, has an interesting post talking about the concept exploration he did on Up. (there's an interview with him over at Toon In. Also Brad Bird and others, if you're looking for something to listen to.)
Anyway, what's interesting to me is how much story telling he's getting out of non animated images with sound (well not elaborately animated). Also how they're trying to bring back some of the strengths of 2D that slip away when you get big fancy computers.
above the clouds
it's just panning still images, and it totally works to sell a mood and be entertaining.
Through the Clouds
the music and keep alive and light changing in the image is almost all that's needed.
again just a still image panning, with some lighting layers toggled on and off.
"We wanted to use light theatrically, as a way to selectively indicate detail. This is something that is done in 2D all the time, but I feel we've only scratched the surface in CG. "
"Another study in selective detail. The idea was that depth of field could simplify the jungle complexity, allowing backgrounds to go softer and more impressionistic, so the eye could focus on the foreground."
On color scripts: "These are very simple, but help give a sense of the film's tone, which I take further with lighting keys (images tweaked in photoshop to describe what is wanted in the lighting). This is a key contribution of the Production Designer at Pixar. "
Like this post by Disney animator Will Finn about a pretty limited animation test he did. "Of course it can't compete with the big studio animation I have done, but as an individual, I never can anyway. On a basic level it still achieves the same thing full animation does: communicating visually through 2 dimensional symbols. ... Maybe I just need to curb my appetite a bit without dampening my enthusiasm. My favorite quote lately comes from Teddy Roosevelt, who said: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.""