Before you start reading this post, please watch the short video above. There will be minor spoilers regarding its content discussed below.
Just about everyone loves a good video involving a lovable pet doing something cute and charming. Videos of all sorts of dogs and cats getting into humorous "trouble" dot the social media landscape like so many furry stars in the sky. And, unless you have a soul made of concrete, nothing will make your eyes well up quicker than a video of an injured pet doing something cute or shaking off its disability as if it didn't even have it - humans are suckers for this type of heartstring pulling stuff.
That is the "tactic" animators Jacob Frey and Markus Kranzler used when creating their senior project for the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany back in 2014. The Present - based on a comic strip by Brazilian artist Fabio Coala Cavalcanti (which you can read HERE) - was so well done that not only did it receive over 50 awards at various film festivals around the world, it also garnered the attention of animation powerhouses Disney Studios and Pixar Animation.
While Cavalcanti's comic may have been the inspiration for The Present, it was the combined talents of Frey, Kranzler and their team of student animators that really brings this short, touching story to life. When you look at the amazing amounts of detail present in the short - from the boy's hair, to the puppy's fur, to the shading and lighting throughout - it looks like the same high quality work audiences have come to expect from the studios behind some of the biggest animated movies of all time.
Because of that, it's not surprising that Frey and Kranzler were soon offered jobs with both Pixar and Disney, respectively. Kranzler's work with volumetric clouds can be see in The Good Dinosaur, while Frey was an animation apprentice on this year's blockbuster Zootopia. According to his IMDb page, it would appear that Frey also scored a position with Illumination Entertainment on their upcoming summer feature, The Secret Life of Pets - which would make sense given his work with digital fur.
All grad students hope that their hard work during college will translate into a real world job, but to have your work noticed by several big companies must have truly been mind blowing for both guys. On his Vimeo page, Frey has other examples of his work - including Room on the Broom, an animated story about a witch and several of her animal friends - that is well worth your time to watch. Clearly Frey and Kranzler have a long future in the world of digital animation to look forward to - and that's good news for fans of medium.
What did you think of The Present? Let us know in the comments.