Disney returns to the Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 14th with three new shorts as part of Short Circuit, the studio’s experimental program launched in 2016 with “Cycles,” the VR short directed by lighting artist Jeff Gipson.
The premiering shorts consist of “Just a Thought,” directed by Brian Menz (animator on “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Zootopia,” “Frozen”); “Exchange Student,” directed by Natalie Nourigat (story artist on “Ralph Breaks the Internet”); and “Jing Hua” (“Flower in the “Mirror”), directed by Jerry Huynh (a technical director on “Moana,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet”). All three contain unique visual styles. Menz uses a Sunday comics look for “Just a Thought,” inspired by his awkward pre-teen memories; Nourigat utilizes a watercolor look for “Exchange Student”; and Huynh lends a gorgeous Chinese brushstroke technique to “Jing Hua.”
Short Circuit encourages everyone at Disney to pitch and offers an open environment for taking risks. The program began with the CR short, “Cycles,” directed by Jeff Gipson and now all of these roughly 2:00 shorts will screen at select festivals before finding their main home on Disney+ in the U.S., the studio’s upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service, in the spring of 2020.
Disney will additionally offer an inside look at the making of “Frozen 2” (November 22nd), hosted by Animation head Becky Bresee and Effects Animation lead Marlon West. Judging from the trailer, the sequel to the blockbuster Oscar winner offers plenty of innovative set pieces in Norway for sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) to conquer, including a frozen ocean, psychedelic snow flakes, a trippy ring of smoke, and a whirling leaves in a forest.
Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee resume directing duties, along with the return of Josh Gad as snowman Olaf, Jonathan Groff as ice-cutter Kristoff, and Santino Fontana as Prince Hans. Newcomers include Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”) and Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us” Emmy winner). Allison Schroeder (“Christopher Robin,” “Hidden Figures”) assisted on the script with Lee, who now runs Walt Disney Animation Studios as chief creative officer.