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SNEAK PEEK: The New Disney Channel “Mickey Mouse” Shorts

SNEAK PEEK: The New Disney Channel "Mickey Mouse" Shorts

You recall back in March, Disney.com sneaked a new Mickey Mouse short, Croissant de Triomphe, a fun, fast-paced 3-and-a-half minute short, which quickly went viral. This was the first in a series of new Mickey shorts done in a contemporary/retro look and feel – clearly an effort to reintroduce Mickey (and the gang) to a new generation, but preserving the personality and charm of the original characters. 

This Friday June 28th, the Disney Channel will begin rolling out the rest of the 19 new shorts in production. The first batch include:  

No Service in which Mickey and Donald try to buy lunch from a beachside snack shack but are unceremoniously turned down because of the classic “No shirt, no shoes, no service” admonition, Friday, June 28 

Yodelberg where Mickey longs to visit Minnie atop her mountaintop chalet but quickly realizes that the threat of avalanche has made the trek up the mountain more challenging than usual, Saturday June 29 

New York Weenie where the hot dog Mickey buys for his beloved and very hungry Minnie ends up taking him on a energetic chase through New York’s Central Park, Friday July 5 

Tokyo Go, which finds Mickey fighting Tokyo’s crazy commuting crowds aboard the bullet train, Friday July 12 

Stayin’ Cool in which Mickey, Donald and Goofy must find creative ways to keep cool on the hottest day of the year, Friday July 19

These shorts are not connected to the Mickey Mouse cartoon Get A Horse! which was produced by the Disney Feature Animation group and will get a theatrical release later this year. 

Emmy Award-winning artist and director Paul Rudish (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Dexter’s Laboratory) is the executive producer and director.  Aaron Springer (SpongeBob SquarePants, Gravity Falls) and Clay Morrow (Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls) are directors, and Joseph Holt (Sym-Bionic Titan) is the art director. The series is produced under the supervision of senior vice presidents Eric Coleman and Lisa Salamone at Disney Television Animation.

I recently spoke with director Rudish and VP Coleman about this series – how it started and how it’s going… 

So tell us how this
project came to be.


COLEMAN
: The goal is
to introduce Mickey to a new generation of kids and at the same time entertain
their parents who have their memories of Mickey Mouse. Our intention is to
highlight his personality and show him as the star he has always been.

Making them feel contemporary doesn’t mean give them an
iPhone and headphones it’s the execution, the sensibility, the tone, the way
they are animated, the music the movement, the timing, the editing. We wanted
to make shorts that would play well globally. We have Disney Channels around
the world.

Was there a mandate
from on high to “make Mickey cool again”?


COLEMAN: There was a
desire to create new content, to leverage the success of Mickey Mouse
Clubhouse. That was pre-school and we wanted to create new content for older
audiences. We wanted to do short form to focus on the essence of Mickey Mouse.
Mike Moon and I discussed what our goals for it were. Who’s the best person?
Maybe Paul Rudish, in the building, working on Tron Uprising at the time, who was deeply passionate about it and
chomping at the bit to play in this sandbox?
Paul literally took the wheel and showed us what we could be
doing with this. We were so delighted when we saw his first designs. They felt
so charming and were Mickey.

Paul, how did you
hear about this?

RUDISH: 
Always been
a classic Disney fan, grew up with The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday
night, grew up in a small town in Missouri and with the legend of Walt Disney
an inspiring story of someone from the Midwest and how you can go out there and
do your thing.  I got involved with
animation, cartoons and drawing, eventually got pulled in to Disney. I’d been
expressing an interest, loudly, in all the classic characters. I wondered if I
could trick ’em into letting work on the mouse – but I didn’t have to. Eric
came in one day and said, “So I hear you like Mickey Mouse.” I said I did,
indeed. He said, “Well, guess what? You should try some.”
I did a lot of sketching and research. Dug up the old model
packs and started doodling. Naturally the rubber hose thing resonated with
me. 
The Backgrounds are
quite elaborate and done with great style.

RUDISH: With the high contrast of the characters
black-and-white faces, your eyeballs go right for them, even when surrounded by
colorful Mary Blair, Walt Peregoy inspired backdrops. I wanted to honor that
Disney legacy.

What’s the technique
you are using and how many are on your staff to produce these?  


RUDISH: It’s a
super-hyper Flash animation program called Harmony. We do all the backgrounds
here, in photoshop. Lots of hand drawn posing. 
We have about 30 folks in house here (Burbank) and an animation team in
Canada. All storyboard driven.

COLEMAN: They are
working very, very hard to make it seem effortless. But I can speak to how much
work has gone into each one, the writing and re-writing, boarding and
re-boarding, and cutting down and building up to make them feel just so. I
think Paul and his team accomplish this so well by having great drawings that
communicate where we are in the story. Instead of needing a lot of exposition
and a lot of dialog to set up the conflict, they establish very quickly what
the goal is. And its not just through dialogue. It’s done through images.

Did you ever consider
putting two of the 3 1/2 minute shorts together to create a traditional 7-minute
cartoon?

 


COLEMAN: Since you
asked the clever question, then you can do the detective work when we say we
will deliver nineteen shorts. Originally it was an order for 20 shorts, now two
of them will be one seven-minute short.

I love the opening
titles done against burlap like the old shorts.


COLEMAN: Paul has
added a lot of little “Easter Eggs” like that for Disney fans and people like
you who will appreciate them. Casey Jr. appears in the Tokyo short, Cinderella
in the Paris short… 

RUDISH: It’s just
fun Disney fandom on my own part, which I throw in just because I’m here and I
can. 

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