Watch Glen Keane’s New Google Short ‘Duet’

This morning at the Google I/O developer conference, Glen Keane debuted his new hand-drawn short, Duet, which he produced with Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group. The short is the third in Google’s series of Spotlight Stories that are designed to explore the possibilities of interactive animation on mobile devices.

The first short in the series, Windy Day, was directed by Jan Pinkava (Geri’s Game) and debuted last October; the second short, Buggy Night, was directed by Mark Oftedal. Pinkava has been the creative director on the entire series to date.

RELATED: The Revolution in Interactive Storytelling Has Arrived, and Surprise, Google Is Behind It

The version of Duet that Keane showed today was a non-interactive version and not the full mobile experience that will debut later this year on devices with proper hardware capabilities and Android 4.2. You can see the press conference followed by the entire short by going TO THIS YOUTUBE LINK.

Glen Keane working on “Duet.” (Click for larger version.)

Click for larger version.

Glen Keane working on “Duet.” (Click for larger version.)


  • Power_Animator

    Brilliant. I see Rapunzel, Tarzan, the female dancer he draws and Ariel’s gestures in this; the stumble backwards, the climb and dance. Very fluid, rich, lots of curves in his drawings.

  • Christian Bermejo

    If you missed the live streaming, you can watch the permanent link version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV8JDSO1NS8 It starts around min. 47.

  • Impheatus

    What’s the time on the video when animation starts? =)

    • Ronnie

      54:18, the short starts.

  • chrissypants

    Beautiful work! Glen Keane is the best!

  • otterhead

    A luminous, miniature masterpiece.

  • wgan

    look at those flows of lines, i can already see beautiful animation out of it!!
    and somehow that Glen at the front of the math board made me chuckle a little.

    • Brendan Foreman

      As a mathematician and mathematics teacher, I am fascinated by this picture. Is it a joke? Or does animation seriously involve multivariate calculus these days?

      • Jack Rabbit

        Its a joke. Can you tell if it is a real equation? If not, then the whole picture was set up to be a joke. If it is real, its “let’s get the master along side this to show what HE cant do. I’d like to know, so please equate as you are a math teacher……

  • Igor

    Wow the smoothness of the animation is mind blowing, Only i still dont understand how they implement the interactive part, do you have to follow the characters with your phone or otherwise the characters would go off screen?

    • Shaveen Kumar

      Yes you have to follow the characters with your phone. A lot of the interaction is similar to Windy Day and Buggy Night which are both available on Moto X.

      • Kyle_Maloney

        I’ve yet to try something like this, but I cant imagine this being a more fun way to watch a short. Thankfully its available in a more standard format.

  • James Madsion

    That was great! Make me wonder what a Keane and Plympton collaboration would be like.

  • Jack Rabbit

    Beautiful Glen……… the joy of youth brought through a pencil !

  • Delta

    I pretty much screamed when I saw “Glen Keane Productions” come out in the credits. Think of all the possibilities if this company starts churning out feature films. I mean, I don’t know if it ever will, but, wow, I think it could turn into a big player for 2D animation especially. He’s already talked about how there’s still much more innovative things to do with 2D animation, and I can’t wait to see him explore that with other artists.

  • RCooke

    Interesting. Mr. Keane is a terrific character animator–the best at Disney since the early ’70′s to be sure. But telling a story from scratch and directing may not be his strong suit. Most times, the best animators don’t make the best directors–animators need strong direction.But this piece is oddly characterless. As a test, it moves a lot–and I’ll certainly want to see the piece when it’s complete. But as neat a curiosity as this is, it’s certainly no where close to Keane’s best work. An experience producer might help on his next endeavor.

    • Christian Bermejo

      Well yes but it isn’t a story per se. It is interactive animation. Glen Keane himself said that for now it was showed in a “theatrical format”, but that is not how it’s supposed to be.

    • John

      Really? Characterless? Maybe you were hoping for a storyline? Like a mini feature film. Can you not appreciate poetic films like this one and Frederick back films? If this was your problem than there’s no hope for you. You are destined to only like mainstream big studio films. Don’t worry there are lots of tasteless people like you in the world.

      • Fried

        People who enjoy mainstream films would also enjoy this though. I feel as though most people being critical about this short are just trying to bring Glen Keane down to a humble level because they’re intimidated by his highly-mastered skills.

        It’s almost close to the mindset of, “I don’t like it because it’s popular”. I guarantee you if this was done by an unknown, there would be non-stop praise and applause.

      • RCooke

        No.

  • Strong Enough

    story isn’t an animators strong suit. its movement. thats why most animated shorts are all over the place

  • Nikolas

    The music reminds me a lot of the song from “Brave” during the scene when Merida teaches her bear-mother how to fish.

  • starss

    On the bottom, that’s not “Glen Keane working on Duet”. That’s “Glen Keane cracking the mathematical algorithum for how a black hole works!” Though, given who he is, I very much believe he can do that.

  • otterhead

    I’m a little baffled by the idea of criticizing the story of “Duet”. it’s a simple character story and designed to be explored with the interactive app. How is it “lame”?

  • Pedro Nakama

    I like how they showed the mapped drawings on 2D planes and then moving the camera around it. I’d like to see more of how that was done. Great film and the entire 59 minute video is very interesting

  • Pudleiner

    It was great seeing Glen’s animation again. Beautiful work.

  • CCS

    What’s up with him at the white board? How does all that math fit into what he does as an animator?

    • Jack Rabbit

      Its a joke.

      • starss

        That no one here got.

        • Fried

          I guess not a very good joke then? Or one that was missing a lot more stills.

          I didn’t get it because this was just a few symbols above looking as complicated as an exposure sheet, so for all we know, this could have been part of the coding for the program they were building and were trying to teach Glen about it.

          It’s not unusual for an artist to invest their time to study what they need to for a project, some even go as far as learning new languages or living someone foreign temporarily. That’s why none of us got the joke, we just figured he was doing that.

  • Fried

    I think you missed the point of this “Google-based technology test” entirely. Either that or you expect full fledged stories from everything film and animation-based and if something does not follow your checklist expectations, you decrease their overall score rather than looking at it from an individual standpoint.

    The short was mainly used for a type of technology that allows you to follow the characters around, so yes, there is no real story or character development but just a sense of progression as you move your phone around with a basic sense of relation, put yourself in the “every man, every woman” and just enjoying seeing the positives of life.

    It’s like nature watching but with animation. Unless you’re bored by the cliche plot of bird-watching as well.

  • TStevens

    It’s like Pocahontas and Tarzan meeting up for a Fantasia sequence.
    So the story is pretty simple and it definitely plays to the stereotypes that we have all been raised on: the girl has to be a ballerina and the boy is the adventurer. It also seems to follow right in line with the concepts that Glen has worked on over the last 30 years or so. I think the problem a lot of people are having with it is that in this form, it plays more like a one-liner than a real story since there isn’t any apparent conflict (unless you read it as the characters being separated from each other while they are growing up and then find each other again). The pseudo new-age soundtrack isn’t helping either.
    Is it memorable??? I’d rather watch Monkey Rag again!

    • Fried

      Does you wanting to watch Monkey Rag again somehow detract this from being good on its own merit?

      I assume you don’t have 24 hours to live so you have lots of time in the world to watch both.

      Monkey Rag is pretty typical in jokes and gags as well but that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable and eye-candy. People don’t need to break new ground everytime they do something, this is just Glen Keane doing what he is very familiar with. It’s almost like a big compilation of what he’s learned over the years.

  • FM Hansen

    That was amazing. Glen has way to
    capturing these little moments in time that contain the very reason any us
    actually exist in this world. The human spirit is so alive and perfectly reveled to
    us through his animation.

  • DangerMaus

    The typical, cliche, boy gets girl ending brought it down a bit, but the animation in this short was beautiful. Really nice work in conjunction with the music.

  • Fried

    “and no visuals on their own are boring unless the visuals tell a story. You’ll just be looking at lines moving with no purpose.”

    Are you now stating as a fact what someone can and cannot enjoy? If someone enjoys watching just pure artistic skill, what’s wrong with that?

    • Strong Enough

      Nothing is wrong with that. That isn’t a story just a show of talent like an airshow or a resume. But if someone was to create something like that and call it a film thats where it gets too much for me.

  • John

    Are you seriously calling this Disney? Did you even know that glen keane left Disney like 3 years ago and has done this short completely on his own for the past year. It was all laid out for you in the video of the google io meeting that was posted.
    In any case saying that making a love story is off limits because it’s been done too much is really ignorant. People have been writing stories about love since the beginning of time. I highly doubt that will stop anytime soon and I do not see why it should as finding love is such an impactful thing in peoples lived. Also if you only saw the short being about a couple dancing together maybe you didn’t watch it. It is about two people’s lives intertwining as they grow up finding their life’s purpose. Eventually they connect for good after they have become the people they were meant to be. Particularly, this short is meant to be interactive so you follow each character’s path as they grow up. Sorry but I’ve never seen that story done before and especially not told in this way.

  • Randy

    Definitely not true. I can think of many beautiful pieces of art that aren’t telling plot driven stories but convey rather a feeling. This short is more like visual poetry being told through a new platform of technology rather than a feature film type plot driven story.
    I think this piece is the first successful attempt at creating an interactive story. One that actually evokes emotion rather than just creating a game of some sort.

    • Strong Enough

      Like i said, i wasn’t talking about the piece above. And yes those things exist in the field of animation. I never said they didn’t. but a lot of them bore me to tears

  • nick

    hahhahhahahahaa! That is seriously the funniest thing I’ve ever read/watched! Hahahha! I don’t think anybody could take your opinion seriously of what a “great story” is after having watched your recommendation. hahahahahahahaha! Keane’s Duet is so beautiful in story and execution- I can’t believe this is what you’re comparing it to.

  • Jones

    Interactivity? Again? Really? – If I look at the Mona Lisa, I want to look at the Mona Lisa – and any App that allows me to alter her smile is just bullshit…

    • Fried

      Well it’s a good thing the standard format is available to you while the other format is also (soon to be) available as well.

      Because you know, it’s quite possible to have both, not just one or the other.

    • Kyle_Maloney

      To be fair, we’re not talking about taking a pre existing piece and tacking on a gimmick. This is new animation created specifically to show this tech off. How successful it was at doing that I have no idea without having tried it, but creating something from scratch for a specific purpose is hardly the same thing.

    • otterhead

      The Mona Lisa wasn’t designed to let you alter it.

      This was animated and created by Glen Keane specifically to let you interact with the animation. If you want to “just look at it”, you’re not using it the way it was intended.

  • Kevin

    I have been trying for an hour now to find out what the “revolutionary” thing is, the technology that “changes the way we tell stories”, the “interactive” side of it. What exactly does it mean to “explore the possibilities of interactive animation on mobile devices”?
    Could somebody enlighten me? Thanks!

  • mick

    “Duet” doesn’t stand a chance against “Furiko”

    Are they in a contest? I genuinely don’t know

  • DangerMaus

    I don’t know why one of these has to be superior to the other. They are both well done for what they intend to accomplish. They both use a similar theme but, to me, that is where the similarity ends.

    Keane’s animation is boy meets girl and the phases of their relationship interpreted through dance. It is a fantastic piece of fluid character animation and just something beautiful to watch as a master animator works his craft.

    Kurashima’s animation is far less technically accomplished, but it is still a great piece of work. It is a lot more grounded in actual reality than Keane’s piece as it depicts the good and bad times that a relationship goes through as depicted by the swinging pendulum. I’m not going to sneer at the work in this just because the animation is cruder and more rudimentary than Keane’s work. The truth is that I had a lot more emotional response to Kurashima’s piece than to Keane’s, but I also think that they were trying to accomplish different things with their animations.

    Keane’s was focusing on following the movements of the characters with the “story” being a distant second to the visual experience. Kurashima’s focus was the story that was occurring with the visuals being a distant second to the drama.

    In reality, these two pieces are not really comparable outside of the fact that they use a male-female relationship as their basis. I don’t see why one man’s work has to be ranked lower than the others when they are trying to accomplish very different things.

  • http://sobieniak.blogspot.com/ Chris Sobieniak

    Weird no one wants to put up a 1080p version on it’s own. I’ve already done that myself but know better than to ‘share’ it.

  • Hey Now

    I want a Glen Keane animated Simpsons couch gag. Someone please get on that and make it happen. Thank you.

  • Dan
  • Felix Sputnik

    Of course, all girls want to be ballerinas and all boys want to be adventurers, how original…Yawn

    • Ryan

      And why do you think one character is meant to represent all girls and the other all boys? I saw it as particularly this one character had a calling for dance from very early on and the boy character was following where his heart would take him. Did you want the characters to take on multiple hobbies and passions… Just to make sure everybody in the world could have their hobby represented in this minuscule short? Yawn.

  • Aegis7

    Like Up? God I hated that movie so the fact its not like it is a plus and not a minus.

  • Bradc001

    One of the reasons Glen left the Mouse house is because he was not given the freedom to do something this cool looking in the first place. The goal is not to re-invent storytelling or animation, but to bring some artistic quality and emotion to the mobile interactive experience. How refreshing to be able to see the animators original line work presented in such a beautiful way. Can’t wait to experience the finished product the way the creators intended. it’s hilarious to me to read people bashing Glen Keane for being Glen Keane. Rock ON, Glen..

  • Jake

    Where does the interactive part come in? I’ve watched the ‘making of’ and ‘conference stream’ posted online and it’s very very vague about what you’re supposed to do with your mobile device and how you’re interacting with the animation piece. The best I can tell is that maybe your mobile device is acting like the director’s camera and you point it at any direction in 3d space and see different parts of the animated story??? Does anyone know??

  • Lithia

    A bit of a typical story, but nothing really wrong with that. Animation is BEAUTIFUL. Movements are FLAWLESS. Nothing short of GREAT.

  • marti386

    Glen Keane is the freaking Michelangelo of animation.