There's a new love story at Disney, and you won't find a single princess in the mix.
Disney Interactive, one arm of The Walt Disney Company, will be unveiling its first stop-motion Web series, Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story, Aug. 11 on Disney.com and Disney's YouTube network. Mom.me got a sneak peek of a few episodes and some behind-the-scenes "magic"—a word that Margie Gilmore, vice president of online originals, says is the interactive offshoot's goal, albeit on a shoestring budget.
Blank is the story of a Vinylmation toy that gets left out of the coloring process, a conveyor-belt system that gives each toy its own design and personality. Instead of being defined, the hero toy is left, well, blank—which is considered to be a defect in the Vinylmation world. It's only when he meets another toy like himself—Bow, who is wearing a pink bow—that he finds a kindred spirit. And when the two get separated, the adventure really kicks off.
While the story itself is intended to be simple, lead producer and dad Greg Shewchuk says Blank is about identity and self-realization.
"It's OK to figure out who you are and not necessarily have to be the person you've been painted," he says.
The idea for Blank came to the team almost a year ago, says creative director Matt Wyatt, when they were looking to get creative "with the vinyl creatures sold at Disneyland." The concept, he adds, wasn't a corporate "top-down" decision, but instead came from the interactive team themselves.
"It took a lot of passion, scrap and hard work," Wyatt says. "The (animation) guys were literally diving into the Dumpster to grab cardboard to build sets."
There will be a total of 12 episodes, available to online visitors for free. Each of the episodes will run three minutes in length. The first will be unveiled at the company's D23 Expo in August, with another episode going live each Saturday after that through mid-October.
The target audience is kids, but Wyatt says the goal is to move beyond that. "We're hoping for 'co-view,' that kids will watch with their parents—that kids will be interested in it, but savvy audiences will also enjoy it too."
An even bigger goal, Gilmore mentions, is that Blank will inspire kids of all ages to make their own stop-motion movies—perhaps making their own magic on a shoestring.