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Short Circuit on Disney+ Keeps Animation Short, Sweet and Experimental

Want to watch something but ‘short’ on time? How about a ‘short’ coffee break? Short Circuit on Disney+ is a most fun and fitting option.

Short Circuit Experimental Films debuted on Disney+ on Friday, January 24. Beginning in 2016, Short Circuit is an experimental program produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) where anyone at WDAS can pitch an idea and potentially be selected to create an original short film. If selected, the short film’s director teams up with others from the Studio, as well as their fellow artists, to bring their idea to life. 

The goal of the program is to take risks, explore new and diverse storytelling voices at the Studio and experiment with new technical innovation in the filmmaking process.

Among the 14 shorts which debuted on Friday is the award-winning film, Cycles, directed by Jeff Gipson. Created within the Short Circuit program, Cycles provides a glimpse of one technical avenue animation features may take in the future – virtual reality. From Brian Menz’s Just A Thought with its comic-book style drawings to the beautifully stylized tribute Jerry Huynh depicts in Jing Hua, each animated feature offers something new and transcendent. We simply have not seen animation like this before.

Each film is briefly introduced by its director. The intros are a nice touch; inviting the viewer into the program and the creative process. Knowing what makes those geniuses at WDAS tick is something artists, filmmakers and fans will enjoy.  

Check out the below list of current shorts available on Disney+ and the bios of their talented directors:

PUDDLES (directed by Zach Parrish)

An adventurous young boy discovers that puddles can be portals to a fantastical world but struggles to get his sister’s attention away from her phone to see the magic in the world around her.

Zach Parrish joined WDAS in 2010 as an animator on “Tangled.” He then went on to work on such films as “Wreck-It Ralph” (Supervising Animator), “Big Hero 6” (Head of Animation), “Zootopia” and “Moana” (Animator), and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (Workflow Supervisor and Animator).

EXCHANGE STUDENT (directed by Natalie Nourigat)

Life is hard enough for an exchange student at a new school, butas the only earthling at a school for aliens, the central character in this fanciful story is the ultimate outsider and must prove her worthto be accepted by her unusual new classmates.

Natalie Nourigat joined WDAS in 2015 as a story apprentice. She has gone on to serve as a story assistant and story artist on “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

LUCKY TOUPEE (directed by Nikki Mull)

This clever bit of balderdash lifts the lid on an original tale about a hijacked hairpiece, a gang of larcenous leprechauns, and a budding romance.

Nikki Mull started as a trainee at WDAS in 2013, and is currently a Character Look Supervisor on “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Her credits include “Moana,” “Big Hero 6,” “Frozen,” and “Frozen 2.”

JUST A THOUGHT (directed by Brian Menz)

An awkward 12-year-old boy named Ollie experiences “bubble trouble” when his true feelings for a girl are embarrassingly revealed in the form of a physical thought bubble.

Brian Menz fell in love with animation at a young age and came to WDAS in 2008 as an animator on “Bolt.” He then went on to work on such films as “Big Hero 6,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Frozen,” “Zootopia,” “Moana,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet, and is currently an animation supervisor on “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

CYCLES (directed by Jeff Gipson)

A story-centered around the true meaning of creating a home and the life that it holds inside its walls.

Jeff Gipson first joined WDAS in 2013 as a lighting apprentice on “Frozen.” Gipson made his directing debut with WDAS’ first virtual reality short film, “Cycles” for which he won a Lumiere™ Award in 2019. He recently debuted his second VR short film “Myth: A Frozen Tale,” at the world premiere of “Frozen 2.”

LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE (directed by Virgilio John Aquino)

During a thunderstorm, a young boy’s effort to capture lightning in a glass bottle as part of a science fair project succeeds beyond his wildest expectations but is shocked when he discovers the consequences of this unnatural feat.

Virgilio John Aquino had early ambitions of becoming a comic book artist but turned towards a career in animation at the age of 26. Starting as an effects animator on “Hercules” and “Fantasia/2000,” he went on to work as a modeler on such recent features as “Tangled,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6,” and “Zootopia,” and “Frozen 2.”

THE RACE (directed by Terry Moews)

Grim desperately needs one more soul to win his work competition, but his last scheduled collection at a rigorous bike race turns his world upside-down. At the finish line, he learns that life is not always about the trophy at the end of the race.

Terry Moews is a 23-year Disney veteran, who came to WDAS in 1996 to supervise and shoot the live-action backgrounds for the innovative computer-animated feature, “Dinosaur” (2000). Following “Dinosaur,” Moews was chosen to create the CG layout department for Disney’s “Chicken Little.” He went on to serve as Visual Effects Supervisor, Layout Supervisor, Studio Department Leader and Layout Artist on such films as “Bolt,” “Big Hero 6,” “Tangled,” “Frozen” “Zootopia,” “Moana,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and “Frozen 2.”

HAIR-JITSU (directed by Brian Estrada)

A young girl faces off against an evil hairdresser as she goes through imaginative lengths to avoid her first haircut.

Brian Estrada started at WDAS in 2013 as a production assistant on the 3D version of “The Little Mermaid,” and has worked in many different departments at the Studio including Story, Art, Editorial, Environment Assets, and Post Production, where he is currently the coordinator. At Disney Animation, his credits include “Zootopia,” “Moana,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and “Frozen 2.”

DOWNTOWN (directed by Kendra Vander Vliet)

A commuter’s disappointment in missing the bus turns into a colorful and unexpected joyride when the surrounding street art bursts to life, revealing the heart of the city from an entirely new perspective.

Kendra Vander Vliet joined WDAS in 2013 as a rough layout artist on “Frozen,” and went on to work on such films as “Feast,” “Big Hero 6,” “Zootopia,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and “Frozen 2.” She enjoyed the challenge of telling her story through color and street art, with over 100 custom mural designs created for the project.

JING HUA (directed by Jerry Huynh)

A grieving martial artist pays tribute to her recently departed teacher by creating a painted world using a magical form of kung fu.

Jerry Huynh is a General Technical Director at WDAS, with credits including “Moana” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” Huynh drew upon his family roots and culture in telling this very personal story.

DROP (directed by Trent Correy)

A newly-formed raindrop falls to earth for the first time and has an unlikely and heartfelt encounter with a young girl that proves to be uplifting for both.

Trent Correy started at WDAS in 2012 as an animation trainee in the Talent Development Program. He most recently oversaw the animation of the beloved character, Olaf, among others in his role as Animation Supervisor on “Frozen 2.” His other credits include “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6,” “Zootopia,” “Moana,” and multiple shorts.

ZENITH (directed by Jennifer Stratton)

A luminous, ethereal stag bounds effortlessly through a dark expanse of the universe, leaving a galaxy of stars in its wake. When it accidentally creates a black hole that threatens to devour everything in sight, the stag is forced to make a decision that will leave a lasting impression.

Jennifer Stratton started with WDAS in 2013 as a look development artist for Special Projects/Legacy, and segued into feature production where she has contributed to the look of such features as “Zootopia,” “Moana,” Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and “Frozen 2.” On “Zenith,” she was particularly excited to be working with the effects team to push the design of the characters, and bring unique, cool new visuals to the screen.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (directed by Brian Scott)

A lost baby elephant is taken in by a boy and his father to work on their banana plantation. As the two quickly bond, the boy discovers that his new best friend yearns for her family and home in the wild.

Brian Scott began his career at WDAS as an animator on “Frozen.” He then went on to work on such films as “Big Hero 6,” “Zootopia,” “Moana,” “Frozen 2,” and the 2015 Oscar®-winning short, “Feast” (on which he served as Head of Animation). A chance childhood encounter with a baby elephant, and, many years later, the arrival of his first child, provided the inspiration for “Elephant in the Room.”

FETCH (directed by Mitch Counsell)

A child wants to play fetch with her pet but unfortunately, he has wandered deep into an imposing forest.

Mitch Counsell started his Walt Disney Animation career as a Character Technical Director on “Big Hero 6.” He has worked in a similar capacity on such films as “Zootopia,” “Moana,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and most recently served as part of the “Tactics Team” consultancy group on “Frozen 2.”

Tune in to Disney+ for the above shorts with more on the way!