Disney’s Immersive “Baymax Dreams” Short Pushes New Boundaries for Interactive Animation, Premieres at Sundance Festival New Frontier

Disney Television Animation and Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution Technology partnered to create new type of interactive episode

Limited release of the short at Sundance’s New Frontier Gallery in January 2021

Interactive cloud streaming technology enables seamless interaction and high-end graphics on mobile platforms

The Technology team at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED), and Disney Television Animation (DTVA) will debut a new interactive episode of “Baymax Dreams” using touch input at the virtual 2021 Sundance Festival (January 28 – February 3).

The new, immersive short experience uses interactive cloud streaming, which moves the computationally intensive graphics processing to the cloud – allowing simpler, lighter weight client applications. The touch input from participant viewers helps direct the story of the episode and can manifest in multiple ways, whether it’s choosing the color of Fred’s upload sequence, or assisting Baymax in containing a glitch by activating a debug protocol.

The experience is the first premium, interactive 3D animated content of its kind featuring touch interaction and is fully remote-rendered. These elements allow the audience to not just choose the path of the story, but also gives them agency – knowing that characters in the episode can respond positively or negatively depending on the speed and efficiency of participation.

In this workflow, real-time content is streamed to a device in a fraction of a second, allowing seamless interaction without loss of graphics quality on mobile platforms. Participants can have a high-quality experience regardless of how powerful or modern their device might be, as long as they have a strong connection.

“Disney has the greatest storytellers in the world,” said Kaki Navarre, Director, Content Technology, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. “By embracing new technologies and methods, we can free those content creators from the processing limitations of client devices, advancing what is possible from a computational perspective, which grants significant creative freedom in how stories can be brought to life for an audience.”

Added Andy Wood, Producer, Disney Television Animation, “This technology can allow production of narratives that immerse audiences into their favorite Disney stories in new ways, giving them the power to help beloved characters complete journeys, and shape the worlds they live in.”

The limited debut is part of The Sundance Festival’s New Frontier Gallery and reflects Disney’s innovative spirit and an ongoing commitment from DMED Technology and DTVA teams to explore new possibilities at the intersection of real-time production and interactive cloud streaming.

It is part of StudioLab’s Alliance partnership with Sundance, where the “Alliance Gallery” is a virtual portal that is home to the XR and immersive work of partners. Festival attendees will be able to access the portal via the designated area in the New Frontier Gallery.

For this initial experiment, Disney’s teams used Nvidia’s GeForce NOW interactive cloud streaming platform to deploy a broadcast quality interactive video experience. This approach enabled the creative team to match the quality of the linear “Baymax Dreams” episodes for the interactive experience.

“Baymax Dreams,” inspired by Disney Television Animation’s Emmy Award-nominated “Big Hero 6 The Series” TV show, originally premiered on DisneyNOW and Disney Channel YouTube in 2018. The series of two-minute shorts explore the content of Baymax’s dreams, whether he’s counting electric sheep or dodging virtual bedbugs. The episodes were created using a real-time production pipeline, which streamlines the process of creating content for multiple platforms and formats.

About Disney Television Animation:

Disney Television Animation (DTVA), an animation studio established in November 1984, is an industry leader in the creation of animated television product for preschoolers, kids, tweens and families. The studio brings programming and production expertise together under the same leadership as Disney Branded Television.

About Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution:

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED) brings together the Company’s best-in-class product, technology, and commercialization teams together into one global organization.

DMED is responsible for the P&L management and all distribution, network and engineering operations, sales, advertising, data, and certain key technology functions worldwide for the Company’s content engines. DMED also manages operations of the Company’s streaming services including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ Hotstar; and domestic broadcast and cable television networks.