Playhouse Disney - Fred & Eric - Preschool Series

Playhouse Disney

A loveble lion and a delightfully squidgy Cuddle are just a few of the heart-warming characters who appear in this mixed media series of short bedtime story animations.

Introducing a series of short-form animations created for Disney Playhouse's Bedtime Stories for preschoolers. For this dream brief, Disney provided the scripts and left the creative execution of each story completely open.

The Squeakiest Roar

The first in the series (shown above) is a multi-award winning story of a little lion called Bapoto. He is desperate to have a big, loud roar like his brothers and sisters, but every time he tries, Bapoto makes a very different sound. His roar is high and squeaky. Saddened, Bapoto decides he will never roar again. Until one day he stumbles across an animal choir, who help Bapoto realise the beauty of his unique, squeaky roar.

The style chosen for this piece was a geometric, 2D vector style. Inspired by the work of legendry illustrator, Charlie Harper. The designs were all created in Illustrator and animated in After Effects, with a textured canvas overlay designed to soften the vector style.

Credits & Awards

A Friend Like Me

A Friend Like Me follows the story of a Lion called Lester who is preparing to go to school for the very first time. On his way to school, he meets a little orange mouse called Monty who tries to make friends with him. But big, strong Lester couldn’t be friends with a tiny, squeaky little mouse…. Could he?

Upon reading this story, a trip to the craft cupboard was the first port of call! After digging through our vast collection of fabric and wool, Lester's head was the first item to be made. The rest of Lester's body and background scene was then created in photoshop for the initial style frame. 

The original plan was to bring Lester and his friends to life in After Effects. However, knowing we had the skills and know-how to shoot in-camera, we decided to create the entire piece using stopframe animation. The charm of a handmade piece, complete with all of its imperfections simply can't be recreated in any other way.

Taking influence from 70s children's shows like Paddington and the Magic Roundabout, the team set about creating Lester's world. Ensuring the hand-crafted aspect of the piece was part of its character and integral to the story's charm.

The animation was shot at 12 frames per second over 3 weeks, with hand-drawn clouds added in post. Keeping the set simple allowed for many different settings to feature in the story - with small props hinting at the various locations. The characters' expressions and movement really brought the story to life, creating a visually engaging and charming story which enhances the message of the script. On completion, the cast were so excited they even created a celebratory dance!


The Little Cuddle

In this story, the Little Cuddle sets out to find out exactly what he is. With the help of his friends and family.

Step one was to visualise the Cuddle! If something is named a Little Cuddle, we felt it was essential it could be cuddled in real life. So building squashable models and shooting stopframe was the way to go for this story. First, we created this pink candyfloss inspired ball of cuddliness, complete with extra long hugging arms! In addition, a cast of fabric friends and family were stitched and crafted. All placed into a beautifully colourful world, ready for the Little Cuddle to discover his true purpose. This animation was shot at 12 frames per second, all in-camera.


Dog Cafe

Dog cafe follows four doggie friends who decide, one cold night, to start up a café in an old rickety shed. Within a jiffy the dogs cleaned the shed spotlessly, ready to open up shop. Serving their speciality sausages to all the dogs in town!

The style was designed to look like felt cut-outs. Each frame of action was designed in photoshop and then brought to life in After Effects. Giving the characters lovable personalities and expressive movement. For the backgrounds, all of the layers were separated into 3D space giving the settings strong depth of field and parallax.

Watch out for the elements of detail that bring the story to life. Like the nosy cat, and the angry mouse resident of the Dog Cafe.


A Halloween Present

Introducing the Scraggity Scarecrow. A kind scarecrow who likes to share and help his friends. Taking inspiration from real scarecrows, Scraggity was made from fabrics and given real straw hair and hands. The rest of the characters and sets were all knitted! Building a wonderfully tactile world for the narrative to take place in.

Each frame of action was crafted, photographed and layered up into After Effects. Creating settings that were rich in depth and full of vibrancy and texture. The animating elements were brought to life through a combination of of stoprame and After Effects animation. Resulting in a handmade mixed media creative for this heart-warming narrative.


A Journey for Parrot

A journey for parrot tells the story of how parrots got their colourful feathers.

The designs were created using hand-drawn illustrations, coloured using watercolour paints. Each element was individually cut out, photographed then layered up into After Effects. Allowing all of the illustrations to pivot, move and build up to create multi-layered settings.