I was able to attend an event at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and spend the day in the Roy E Disney Animation Building (the one with the sorcerer hat pictured above). We started the day off with a screening of “Feast”. This will be the short accompanying “Big Hero 6” in theaters starting November 7, 2014.
The film shows the evolution of one man’s (James) romance with a woman (Kirby) through the eyes of their dog (Winston) in a series of short scenes covering several years in the 6 minutes of the film. The short’s director Patrick Osborne chose a different path to sharing this story. He based the shots on a technique that was inspired by his use of the 1 Second Everyday app. This application takes a second of video and then stitches it together to create a film of your experiences. Patrick used it to catalog his life by looking at the meals he ate each day. This led to the basic structure of “Feast”. As the title, “Feast”, implies food and meal situations are a key component. They are the setting and activity that the film revolves around.
“Feast” is the first short of a new program within Walt Disney Animation Studios to pitch and create shorts. As part of this program anyone at the Studios is invited to pitch to the studio’s creative brain trust, made up of the studio’s directors, story leads and John Lasseter. The team then picks the one to go into development. This is Patrick Osborne’s first time as director but not the first short he has worked on. He was the head of Animation on “Paperman”. He was also the co-head of animation on “Big Hero 6” prior to departing to direct this short.
In addition to this new program Patrick talked about the process to bring the short to the big screen, including the compressed time frame, about 18 months, and the many hats the director of a short wears while ushering it through the development process. He said that as soon as it was given the green light he was tossed into story development and they flushed out the story, taking his initial concept and visuals and turning it into the first treatment. Then they established the look of the film. The team started with traditional drawings then migrated to CG tests to achieve the look he wanted. Next up was shot production. One aspect that he highlighted here that interested me is the use of current technology – as they review the dailies they can annotate directly onto the frames as they are meeting. No more need for interpretation and writing it all down and you can leave visual notes/drawings as well as text directly on each frame/sequence you want to reference. The software handles everything and when he or the animators returned to their desks they could call up the footage and notes.
I found “Feast” to be very entertaining. In the span of six minutes with very little screen time devoted to the human characters, you will be taken on a roller coaster ride of human emotion and relationships as seen from Winston’s perspective. The short’s style and format goes in a different direction than traditional animation with the look, feel, shot selection and pacing giving it a unique feel that works well. Be sure to arrive on time for Big Hero 6 so you do not miss “Feast”. It’s worth seeing.