Walt Disney Animation is ready to unveil its first Short Circuit collection on the streaming service -- and ET has your exclusive first look at the 14 experimental short films. The Short Circuit program offers anyone at the studio -- no matter what area of animation they work in -- the chance to pitch their own short.
These are the first 14 to be made, hailing from a group of artists who have worked on such movies as Frozen and Zootopia, Moanaand Wreck-It Ralph. The point of these shorts -- and they are short, each approximately two minutes in length -- is to "take risks, surface new and diverse storytelling voices and experiment with new technical innovations." Check out the trailer now.
And below, a closer look at each of the 14 shorts and what inspired their directors to create them.
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.
"The original inspiration for Puddles was my nephew, Noah," director Zach Parrish tells ET. "It always felt like he saw more magic in the world around him than was otherwise there. Puddles is meant to make people stop and recognize the magic that is in the world around them."
Life is hard enough for an exchange student at a new school, but as the only earthling at a school for aliens, the central character in this fanciful story is the ultimate outsider and must prove her worth to be accepted by her unusual new classmates.
"When I was eight, my mom signed me up for a summer art camp at a French-American school where no English was allowed, and I didn’t speak French!" director Natalie Nourigat reveals. "I couldn't communicate at all, and I felt so isolated and insecure. I wanted to make a short film for kids around that age to make them stop and think, What would it feel like to be the one left out?"
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.
"My inspiration for Lucky Toupée was my husband's bald head," director Nikki Mull says. "I really love the films we make at Disney Animation, but I wanted to create a film with a slightly darker humor that makes people laugh unexpectedly."
Just a Thought
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.
"Like the boy in Just a Thought, I was just as afraid to talk to girls I liked," director Brian Menz tells ET. "I was so shy that my first girlfriend had to ask me out, and now she's my wife. Together we have seven kids and a dog -- just like we see in the boy's thought bubble! My second inspiration was my love of newspaper comics, so I wanted Just a Thought to look like it was a living, breathing newspaper comic from the '80s."
A story-centered around the true meaning of creating a home and the life that it holds inside its walls.
"The inspiration for Cycles came from the experience of moving my grandmother into assisted living and the memory of looking over her house one last time," director Jeff Gipson says. "I loved the idea that a house could be a character and that we could tell an emotional story through its perspective."
Lightning in a Bottle
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.
"My mother was my inspiration for Lightning in a Bottle. As a single parent, she provided a home where I could have an imaginative childhood, which fostered my wonderment of discovering things," director John Aquino explains. "My short was the first time Disney Animation used volumetric clouds, which simulated real clouds with unlimited bounces of light."
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.
"The Race is really a story about life, the choices we make and what’s ultimately important," director Terry Moews says. "I wanted to create a fun and lighthearted look at a dark subject for our studio. I also wanted to create a unique character and perspective by making this Death an everyman, and hinting at a completely new world that he comes from."
A young girl faces off against an evil hairdresser as she goes through imaginative lengths to avoid her first haircut.
"The inspiration for Hair-Jitsu came from a friend’s 5-year-old daughter, Adrianna. She had never gotten a haircut, and that made me think she probably had a strong connection to her hair, almost like a best friend," director Brian Estrada shares. "So, I wondered how a first haircut might threaten to separate these two friends. I combined that with my love of kung fu and karate movies, as well as my seven years of Tae Kwon Do, and out came Hair-Jitsu."
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.
"The incredible street art scattered all over downtown Los Angeles was my inspiration for Downtown," director Kendra Vander Vliet says. "It's like living in an outdoor art museum and it has brought me joy to live in a neighborhood that has so many unexpected pops of color in the most unexpected places."
A grieving martial artist pays tribute to her recently departed teacher by creating a painted world using a magical form of kung fu.
"My family and I were going through a moment of concentrated grief and my colleagues in the studio gave me not only support, but also the motivation and confidence that we could make something great with these feelings," director Jerry Huynh tells ET.
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.
"Disney Animation has a long legacy of experimental shorts, and I wanted to continue that with trying a painterly look and an organic character in CG," director Trent Correy explains. "Using Meander, a tool developed for the short, Paperman, we were able to paint our character, based on the brilliant art direction of Jim Finn. "Collaboration is at the heart of Disney Animation, and with Drop we wanted to push the boundaries of how a small team can work together and create something special."
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.
"Fantasia was the biggest inspiration for Zenith; I had the desire to develop a short that embraced that playful experimentation with visuals, music and animation," director Jennifer Stratton says. "I wanted to create something completely different than what we normally do in our features, both artistically and technically."
Elephant in the Room
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.
"Elephant in the Room was an experiment in a lot of ways. The goal was to make the film look like a painting come to life," director Brian Scott tells ET. "Our look, lighting and visual development artists collaborated to develop new tools and workflows to transform our 3D animated shots into these beautiful moving paintings. Additionally, our film used an Ultra-wide 2.76 Aspect ratio, which is another first for a Disney animated film."
A child wants to play fetch with her pet. Unfortunately, he's wandered deep into an imposing forest.
"Fetch was inspired by my nephew, Maverick, who has the most heroic soul of anyone I know but is beautifully unaware of it," director Mitch Counsell says. "I wanted to make a story about such a hero, who by virtue of their naivety, has unlocked a secret the rest of the world is too self-confident to see."
Short Circuit's first 14 shorts films are now streaming exclusively on Disney+.