By Sahil Patel
Vinylmation, a brand of collectible figurines sold by Disney, is the basis of a new animated short film from Disney Interactive premiering exclusively on Google Play.
“Blank — A Vinylmation Love Story” tells the story of its titular character, Blank, an unpainted figurine on an adventure to find his soulmate. The film, which features stop-motion animation, runs for 38 minutes and was developed and animated in-house by Disney Interactive.
As Matt Wyatt, creative director at Disney Interactive, explains to VideoInk, “Blank” came about in a “creatively organic way.” Some members of the Disney Interactive team, who are big fans of Vinylmation, conducted some early tests with figurines for a potential stop-motion animation project. That led to a three-minute short film, which introduced the characters of Blank and his soulmate, and served as a starting point for the longer version you can download today.
As Disney Interactive went into production on the film, and realized the scope and size of the project they were working on, the company started thinking of the “best way” to bring “Blank” to the world, according to Wyatt. “Obviously within our own Disney networks, we have a powerful reach and distribution platform,” says Wyatt. “But we wanted to do something cool and extra special with ‘Blank.’”
This is where Google came in.
As part of the deal between the two companies, Google will retain a two-week exclusivity to “Blank,” and in return is offering a couple pieces of companion experiences tied to the short film. The first is the ability for viewers to share frames from “Blank” as digital Valentine’s Day greeting cards to friends and family members.
Those who participate in this companion experience will be able to unlock a second animated short, which tells a different love story. Called “Cranes in Love,” Wyatt describes this film as an “office romance story” about a couple of secondary characters. “Cranes in Love” also came about organically, says Wyatt, as Google and Disney Interactive brainstormed ideas to build an experience around “Blank.”
This isn’t the first time Disney Interactive has used an element of Disney theme parks as inspiration for new original programming. In December, the division launched “It’s a Small World,” an animated series based on the theme-park ride of the same name.
Once Google’s two-week exclusivity ends, “Blank” will be made available across multiple Disney-owned platforms, including Disney.com, the company’s apps on Xbox and Roku, and its channel on the Google-owned YouTube.
In the meantime, Disney Interactive also has offline plans for “Blank.” The company will screen the film for a limited time at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA (from February 14–20), and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida (from February 14–17). At the El Capitan, the film is being paired with Disney’s “Lady in the Tramp” (synergy!), and will screen four times a day.
The full Disney force is in effect, it seems, as not only will a film about Disney merchandise be screened at a Disney theme park, but there will also be some “Blank”-related merch that people will be able to buy.
“Blank — A Vinylmation Love Story” was created by Disney Interactive’s Greg Shewchuk, Paul Foyder, Regino Roy, Alfred Montejano, Michael Ambs, and Whitfield Scheidegger. All but Montejano, who also composed the score, served as co-directors on the film. Producers include Wyatt and Shewchuk, who also wrote the film.