Nickelodeon is releasing the recent pilots and shorts that they’ve produced seemingly all at once. Among the characters that have earned a positive reception from online audiences is the unlikely pair of adventurers in The Ballad of Bea and Cad, which Nick posted last Saturday on its Facebook page for animated shorts.

Here’s the four-and-a-half-minute pilot:

The idea was created by Tim Probert, a director at New York City commercial producer Aardman Nathan Love (ANL), which produced the short.

ANL CEO and executive creative director Joe Burrascano tells Cartoon Brew that the project grew out of the relationship that both Probert and the studio had developed with Nick’s Digital Content Development team in New York.

The short was never part of any specific shorts program, but was developed on its own special track at Nick, where it was initially championed by Heather Tilert, a senior director of digital content development.

Probert and Burrascano worked to turn the concept into a full-pitch, and ANL was eventually given the green light to produce a full proof-of-concept and show bible. Under the direction of Probert, ANL produced a locked animatic, layouts, and backgrounds in-house. It also handled final compositing, and commissioned an original score from Drew Skinner.

The animation in the short, from blocking through color, was produced by Studio La Cachette in Paris. “We were drawn to their unique style, which from our perspective had a perfect blend of Japanese influence and the French animation style,” says Burrascano.

Between the time the short was greenlit and delivered, the Digital Content Development group at Nickelodeon in New York had been dissolved and its members were dispersed across various departments. At this point, the project was passed to Nickelodeon Animation in Burbank.

Says Burrascano: “There was a lot of love and interest in the project, especially from James Stephenson, who had recently made the move [from NY] to LA as Nick’s new SVP of Animation & Games. While there were many conversations as to what the project could be, and how it would fit in the world of Nickelodeon, we ultimately weren’t able to find a clear path for the sweeping scope of the project. Many formats and possibilities were explored, but the story itself was never actually written and the road ahead was long and unclear. In the end it made sense for both parties to part ways and let the process develop in its own time.”

Though Nickelodeon isn’t moving forward with Bea and Cad at this time, the characters aren’t going anywhere. Probert currently has a multi-book deal with First Second Books to create a series of Bea and Cad graphic novels.

“This is something we’re all very excited about, not just for the books themselves, but that the story has been given the necessary time to discover itself and develop organically without being rushed,” says Burrascano. “We’re all confident that once the stories have been written, the path to animation will open back up, and we’ll have a fresh and exciting new journey to share.”

“Bea and Cad.” All artwork by Tim Probert.