A new upcoming online video series from Disney Interactive Video will be debuting at the D23 Expo next month: Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story. Here to explain a little about it is Matt Wyatt, Director of Creative / Producer at Disney Online Originals.
On my visit to the studios, Matt and the rest of the Creative Team showed us some of the planning and storyboard materials in use during the making of this stop-motion animated story, and exhibited some of the different sets being filmed. Displaying the careful detail they’ve built into the world mythology of the Vinylmation existence, the whole physical Vinylmation plane is constructed to superimpose exactly on a map of Disneyland.
In another room, we were shown the process of developing a shot from the storyboards…
…To the set construction…
…To the scene direction and cinematography.
The dialogue-free story involves vinylmations of all sizes, from the giants to the miniatures who distill the vinylmation paint from the flowers.
Even some of the Park Starz get cameos.
The fairly new branch of the Disney company works on something of a limited budget. Margie Gilmore, VP of Disney Online Originals, described their daily challenge as one of producing Disney quality with a shoestring budget. Some of the sets were built with materials scavenged off of the outside of the studio building.
Gilmore observed that the film was being created using “passion, hard work, and dumpster diving.”
To make the look consistent with the Vinylmation world, Regino Roy, Co-Director / Co-Creator / Production Designer for the series showed us how even the trains were designed to mimic the vinylmation monorails
Here then, is the newly-released trailer.
So knowing relatively little about the whole project (or even Vinylmation as a whole,) I think I was expecting something along the lines of a series of Vinylmation commercials. What you get instead with Blank, is a gentle, sometimes poignant tale of self-actualization, similar in some ways to Wall-E, in which characters strive to make connections and reconcile the differences between what they are and what their society requires them to be. The fact that the main characters have no facial features or voices would seem to render them completely without expression, and yet their point of views are always very clear. The art design and soundtrack are impressively attractive and imply a much higher production budget than what the studio says it enjoys.
Even if you’re not much of a Vinylmation fan, I think Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story is worth a viewing. If you are a fan, it’s a no-brainer. The first three episodes will be shown at the D23 Expo this year, with another nine three-minute episodes to follow.