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Disney Animators Create #AtHomeWithOlaf While Under Quarantine

The team behind Frozen is making a series of shorts starring everyone's favorite snowman.

The COVID-19 has shut down businesses across the globe, and the entertainment industry is no exception. Film and television shoots have been postponed indefinitely as everyone adheres to social distancing and stays home. But there are still creators who are able to make and share content, like Disney animator Hyrum Osmond.

Osmond, the supervising Olaf animator for the Frozen films and co-head of animation for Moana, pitched a series of digital shorts featuring Olaf the snowman going about his daily activities. Osmond described the short series At Home With Olaf as, “‘When he’s not saving the world with Anna and Elsa, what does he do?’ was the idea.”

Osmond pitched the short series in February, and was developing the project when the pandemic shut everything down. But unlike live-action, animation is something Osmond and his co-workers can do from the safety of home. “My workflow at this point is pretty productive,” Osmond described. “Occasionally, when my internet stops working on me, it throws a wrench into things, but I’m at least at 90 percent, I’d say, of my production capacity. It’s flowing pretty well.”

Osmond started out working on the shorts by himself, using re-purposed backgrounds from the Frozen films. In addition to lagging internet, he also struggles with the smaller sized monitors he’s using at home, which makes rendering the animated details all the harder. Eventually, he was joined by the rest of the animation team and by Josh Gad, who provides the voice for Olaf.

“I don’t have to take on the load of animating this all by myself. I love animating Olaf, but we have such an amazing crew for them to get involved and add their touch to things,” added Osmond. In addition to his team of animators and Gad, Osmond also has technical support from Disney’s IT department, which helps to streamline the animation process.

The result feels like ASMR for children (and, let’s be real, adults). There is a calming, almost meditative quality to these simple shorts that soothes your brain during this stressful time. And at barely a minute-long, these shorts are the equivalent of brain snacks, a welcome distraction from everything else.

Frozen director Jennifer Lee, who has since been promoted to Disney Animation’s chief creative officer, put Osmond and his team to work creating the short series from home. “There’s just a real desire to put a smile on kids’ faces,” Osmond said. “I told her, ‘I’ve actually been developing these.’ At that point, she gave me a crew, which is awesome, and we’ve just been moving ahead.”

The “At Home With Olaf” shorts are now available on Disney’s YouTube channel.

(via Entertainment Weekly, image: Disney)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.