Patrick Osborne on ‘Pearl’ VR-animated short and life after Disney

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“Pearl” is the latest animated short from animator and director Patrick Osborne (Disney’s “Feast”). It follows the relationship of a father and his daughter throughout the years as they pursue their musical dreams, and it’s all set inside a hatchback. For the ultimate experience, you have to watch it using Google Cardboard or a compatible VR headset. (You can check it out here.)

Osborne’s life has definitely changed after his animated short, “Feast,” was a big hit in front of Big Hero 6 and when it won for best animated short at the Academy Awards. Now he’s in demand and is working on two animated films (Battling Boy, Nimona) and a TV series.

“I’ve been kind of curious about it for a long time,” Osborne tells Nerd Reactor on why he decided to venture into VR with ‘Pearl’. “It was on the horizon, and I’m a big gamer. The idea of getting inside of a game seems really fun. There’s a lot of people that want to make stuff for this platform, and that’s an opportunity to do creative things. I like jumping into things that feel a little bit different and interesting… a new experience.”

“It was a lot to learn at the beginning,” said Osborne about planning a VR short. “All those tools that we’re used to using to storyboard and to lay out a film don’t really work when you’re talking about an experience that happens around you. I try to think of it more like I was directing a play where the action tells the audience where to look, in a way.”

Image credit: First Second

Image credit: First Second

Osborne talks about how “Feast” has opened the door for him, like working on adapting Battling Boy, a graphic novel by Paul Pope about a genius vigilante saving Arcopolis from monsters.

“When you go out with a film like ‘Feast’, the doors do sort of open up,” Osborne said. “It’s the jump into the world of feature film development where nothing is a guarantee. It’s really fun to be a part of that world, but in the meantime, I wanted to be doing some of these other shorts again to hone my skills and to keep making things while the features get off the ground.”

disney feast

Image credit: Disney

The recent features from Walt Disney Animation Studios have been accompanied by animated shorts. “Feast” was shown with Big Hero 6, “Get a Horse!” with Frozen, “Paperman” with Wreck-It Ralph, and etc. However, a short was absent with Zootopia. Osborne has an idea on what that was the case.

“The shorts need to be made in between films when there’s time with extra staff that is around not doing anything,” Osborne replied. “If the films are back to back to back, and there’s no time in between to do a short, then there won’t be one. Basically, when you’re doing a short at a featured studio, you have to battle for staff. All of the features… they’re the money-makers for the studio. The shorts are these little art projects that are in between. It all depends on how many people are free.”

Osborne isn’t working under Walt Disney Animation Studios as an animator anymore since he’s busy working on projects for Fox, Paramount and ABC. He reveals how his life has changed.

“It’s very different. At Disney I was the head of their animation department. I was used to having a lot of people around me all the time. Now I am mostly by myself all day,” Osborne laughs. “Most of my days now are spent hanging out with one of the writers on one of the two projects or traveling around to do publicity for stuff like ‘Pearl’, or I’m doing a television show on ABC for next season… It’s a live-action show, so I have to go to Vancouver in a couple of weeks to start working on that. Your life becomes a lot more scattered. It’s that and a lot of driving around in Los Angeles and going to meetings.”


Image credit: EA

With Osborne being a gamer, we had to ask him about his favorite games.

“I’m a Battlefield person and kind of addicted to that,” he answered. “I play every version of Battlefield and Battlefront. I just like first-person shooters. I don’t have a lot of time to really get into games that have 50-hour commitments. I try to play games that I can jump in for five minutes and get out. I’m playing a lot on the Vive lately because I got myself one. I’ve been actually making stuff and putting it into the Vive in my house and playing around with how to maybe make stuff for these movies. I’m figuring all that out. My favorite all-time game is Bomberman. My wife and I love that game. I will always buy any version of Bomberman that ever comes out.”

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