The Present is a beautiful and touching piece of animation that is a must-see for anyone who needs a pick-me-up or source of encouragement.
In only a short amount of time, Jacob Frey has become a prolific animator. The 32-year-old German has worked with studios such as Walt Disney Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Magic Light Pictures, and Psyop.
In 2016 alone, he took part in making several high-budget films like, Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets, and Moana. Frey has done in a relatively short amount of time than most artists claim to have accomplished in their entire career. However, prior to this level of success, he was known for making humble yet impressive independent projects. These smaller animations gained Frey a grassroots following that led him being picked up by larger studios. For instance, perhaps Frey’s most famous work, The Present, gained a great deal of recognition, as it circulated via social media following its release in 2014. Based on a comic strip by Brazilian writer and artist Fábio Coala, this four-minute long animated short film won several awards from film festivals in multiple countries, including the United States, Spain, South Korea, Serbia, and the Czech Republic. With stunning presentation, as well as a touching story, The Present is an example of why Frey managed to do what he has achieved in the animation industry.
The short starts out with an adolescent boy sitting on the couch while playing a video game, until his mother gifts him with a small puppy. Noticing that the cute creature is missing one of its front legs, the youth wants nothing to do with it. However, he watches as the young canine keeps its playful demeanor, despite its handicap.
Given the small budget for the project, the visuals are still very appealing. The designs on the characters are stylized in a manner that fits the cartoony yet down-to-earth tone of the short film. Also, the animation on the dog is both impressive and endearing. The ways it walks and runs, capture how a three-legged puppy would move. It all culminates in a unique style that shows great talent on the part of Frey, and shows why big-time studios would find him as an asset. While the technical aspects of The Present are quite good, the story is also enjoyable. The boy is portrayed in a way not unlike many adolescents today. He finds more comfort in distractions than having real experiences. In our modern society, people have a problem with finding engagement with the world around them, leading them to unfulfilled lives. The dog, however, represents a genuine lust for life, and shows that even if you are disabled, you can still make the most of your time on this earth. The youth learns from the puppy, and starts to find genuine happiness by leaving his comfort zone and going forward. Also, without giving too much away, the ending is especially heartwarming.