It’s been almost a year since we’ve reported on the short film project by Pixar artists Dice Tsutsumi (Toy Story 3 art director) and Robert Kondo (Monsters University art director—set design and shading). The 18-minute film, The Dam Keeper, is now finished and will have its world premiere next Tuesday, February 11, at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Pig does everything he can to protect his town but nobody shows any gratitude. He trots tirelessly up and down the stairs, moving heavy levers and making sure the windmill keeps turning. This is the only way he can hold back the billowing black clouds of smoke which threaten to engulf everything. In between all of this, Pig rushes to school before hurrying back to the dam each day. The townspeople continue to ridicule and scoff at him, and he finds himself sitting alone in the back of the bus. Everything begins to change when Fox, a new classmate, joins Pig’s class.
A clip from the film can be seen on the Berlin festival website. The film’s painterly look wasn’t achieved with CG; rather it’s a combination of TVPaint, Photoshop, and amazing skill. (This making of video does seem to imply that some of the shot blocking was done with CG models.) Other Pixar artists like animator Erick Oh and visual development artist Chris Sasaki also contributed to the film. Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen (Forbrydelsen, Sherlock) narrates the film.