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When Pixar Animation Studios first introduced the SparkShorts series in January, the studio explained that the short films came from a program of “indie filmmaking inside of Pixar.” Creators are given six months and a small budget to make their own unique projects. The latest of those shorts, Smash and Grab, just debuted on YouTube, and it may seem a bit familiar to longtime Pixar fans — it features robots with a minor resemblance to the protagonist of Pixar’s Wall-E, from the head-cocked expressions and grabby gimbaled hands to the expressive mechanically irising eyes. Like Wall-E, these robots are in a repetitive, thankless job, but have seen the possibility of something more in life.

In an accompanying one-minute behind-the-scenes video, writer-director Brian Larsen says he personally got the initial idea for Smash and Grab while doing repetitive story development work on a different film, and longing to break out of the ongoing work. He felt that robots were a fitting metaphor for the mechanical work he was doing at the time.

Smash and Grab joins the first released SparkShort, Kristen Lester’s yarn adventure Purl, on YouTube. A third short, Kitbull, is scheduled for posting on February 18th. Several other planned shorts, laid out at Pixar.com, may be planned as Disney+ streaming exclusives later in 2019, if the tagline at the end of these shorts is any indication.

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