It's not abnormal to see a child today who would rather play video games than go outside with their dog. But, in a unique and touching take on this all-too-familiar scenario, German animator Jacob Frey is revealing to the world the special bond a child can form with their pet.
"The Present" was released by Frey in 2014, and has won nearly 60 awards, propelling the four minute animated short to viral status with over one million views on YouTube, in recent weeks.
Inspired by a comic strip by Brazilian artist Fabio Coala, Frey says he was in awe of the storyline of the comic, and was inspired to translate it into an animated short.
"The overall story is the same as in the comic, but I had to go in and make quite a few adjustments to make it work as a short film," Frey told TODAY. "The comic itself is very strong in the amount of emotions, from being mad at his mom, to disliking the dog and finally warming up to him. In a short-film format...I tried to find the perfect balance in his emotions. It ended up being much more subtle than the comic."
Frey's talent in translating the comic to the screen captured the attention of Disney in 2014. Frey now lives in Los Angeles and has worked as a part of Disney's talent development program. The animator took part in the production of the film "Zootopia," and is now working on animation for the upcoming film "Moana."
"The short tells the story of a boy who rather spends his time indoors playing video games instead of discovering what's waiting in front of the door," Frey wrote in a blog post about the film. "One day his Mum decides to get a little surprise for her son, which makes it hard for him to concentrate on his video game."
The surprise the boy receives is an adorable, playful puppy who has a disability. The boy tries to concentrate on his video game as the puppy attempts to convince him to play, but is eventually won over by the pup's determination and resilience.
When the boy gets up to take the puppy outside, a touching similarity between the pair is revealed.
To see what the boy and his puppy have in common, watch "The Present" yourself — just be sure to grab some tissues!