There’s a great number of short films available on the internet. Sometimes their purpose is to sell a product, sometimes to promote an animation studio. But mostly, when real animators upload their work for free it’s just an opportunity to show off and share their awesome creations to the world. So, sit back and enjoy. And if you’re in a hurry, don’t fret as all of these are fairly short and most are only around 5 minutes long. As a side note, these films are in no way a definitive list of every great animated short ever made. So, if you feel like we’ve missed any please feel free to post them in the comments section for everybody to see.
10. Johnny Express
The first short film on our list is Johnny Express, a CGI short Produced by a Korean animation studio called Alfred Imageworks. The main character here is a nameless thirty-something lazy, incompetent employee of an intergalactic delivery company called ‘Johnny Express’. For the most part he lets the ship’s autopilot do all the hard work while he vegges out and eats pizza. When the ship lands he puts on his spacesuit and delivers the packages. But when he’s sent to deliver a minuscule package to a tiny moon-like planet it seems uninhabited. The problem is… it’s not. There’s a real Futurama vibe to this one in style, humor and the intergalactic delivery angle so if you’re a fan of that show then you should love this short. Also, if you really enjoy Johnny Express you may consider checking out Alfred Imagework’s Vimeo channel which contains a portfolio of their other animated content.
9. Posthuman By Cole Drumb
Posthuman was produced by an independent company called Colliculi productions and directed by Cole Drumb and starring Trish Helfer (that’s Cylon Nubmer 6 from Battlestar Galactica). If you’re a fan of anime, and in particular Japanese animated movies such as Akira and Ghost in The Shell then you’ll probably love Posthuman. It has the same techno dystopia vibes as those flicks and animation of a similar style and standard. Add to that crazy action, a fantastic soundtrack and a dash of humor and Posthuman does not fail to entertain. So far it’s been nominated for five awards, won four and been shown at a whole heap of film festivals. It’s that good. The one problem with the movie is that it’s too short, and feels like a trailer for something much bigger. Fingers crossed for a Kickstarter campaign to turn this into a movie or mini-series in the future. The plot of Posthuman involves a hacker called Terrence who’s helping a psychic super being break a test subject out of a secret government lab. NOTE: this one contains extreme violence and nudity so you may want to wait till you get home if you’re reading this at work.
8. RPG OKC
RPG OKC is the longest film on the list at 09:39, but don’t let that dissuade you from watching as it’s also inventive, funny and sweet. The story centers on two minor characters in a role playing game (a henchman in an evil wizard’s army and a cat creature from the negative zone) and their unlikely hook up through OK Cupid. Yup, RPG OKC stands for role playing game OK Cupid. Also, the whole affair is played out within a gloriously retro 8-bit fantasy game like classic 90’s Final Fantasy or Legend Of Zelda. RPG OKC was created by a very talented animator by the name of Emily Carmichael whose work has previously been featured at the Sundance Film Festival. And if you enjoyed this you’ll be glad to know that its actually a spin-off of Emily’s full Penny Arcade series The Adventures of Ledo and IX which you can check out here.
7. To This Day
There’s a bit of a story about this one. It started off as a spoken word poem by Shane Koyczan that was featured by TED talks. The poem illustrates stories of his childhood bullying and how it still affects him, his childhood friends and others who were bullied. Next, it was then animated by dozens of different artists from all over the world and turned into both a video and free iPad app. The aim of the video is to raise awareness of the damaging effect of name calling, which it does quite powerfully. Although that description makes it sound a bit gimmicky, like an after school movie disguised as an animated short, it’s a lot more than that. It’s funny and touching and will genuinely leave you feeling a bit teared up. Don’t let the funny pork chop story fool you, this video will give you the feels.
Paperman is a sweet black and white story about a guy meeting a girl by chance while travelling and then desperately trying to catch her attention when he later notices that she works in the next building over. If the animation for this one looks like it’s of a ridiculously high standard here it’s probably because it was made by Walt Disney. Paperman was the brainchild of Disney animator, John Kahrs, when Disney were looking for potential projects to work on between movies. Kahrs took the opportunity to suggest they make a short film based around an idea he’d had while commuting through New York, kind of making him the hapless protagonist, we guess. Paperman then went on to win an Oscar for best animated short in 2013. It’s not hard to see why. Paperman is simply beautiful and also serves a reminder of Disney’s golden age of animation.
This is a list about short movies, not adverts that simply encourage people to buy products. However, Metamorphosis is an exception to that rule for two reasons: 1) It’s made by Goodbooks which is a non-profit company that donates all its proceeds to Oxfam; and 2) the quality and artistry here is simply too hard to ignore. Whereas most retailers would choose to make an inoffensive advert that promoted their product, Goodbooks decided to create a homage to Hunter S Thompson. What they ended up creating is a psychedelic mixture of the writing style of the king of Gonzo and the paranoid ravings of Franz Kafka. It’s easy to imagine that this video was based on something that Thompson might have actually wrote, but it’s actually an entirely original piece that Goodbooks ‘suggest Hunter S Thompson might have liked’. And we believe them. In the film Hunter S Thompson wants to buy Kafka’s Metamorphosis simply because it’s the right size to steady his desk but he doesn’t want to help fund greedy book conglomerates so turns to Goodbooks.
4. Writer’s Block
Writer’s Block is the one film on this list that isn’t featured on Youtube, at all. But don’t worry because you can watch it in glorious HD on Vimeo by clicking here. Writers’ Block was made in collaboration with WONKY Films and Gran and Martin Wooley, better known by the frankly awesome nom de plum: The Spinkick Brothers. In the film Writer’s Block is an institution for criminally bad writers where a group of some of the toughest bad guys in the slam have come up with a plan to escape — it involves the best writer in the joint, a typewriter and some well placed prose. Writer’s Block has a very distinctive animation style, great pacing and a sense of humor that makes it very watchable. If you liked this and would like to see more of the Spinkick Brother’s work you can visit their website here.
3. There’s a Man In The Woods
There’s a Man in The Woods starts off being quite a nice tale about a kindly teacher who works at a picturesque school where nothing could ever go wrong. Without giving too much away tension is soon ramped up as our main character begins to disintegrate as he watches his life fall apart due to the wicked rumors of one bad kid. There’s A Man In The Woods was actually made by a Cal Arts student named Jacob Streilein and posted to Cal Arts Character Animation Studios Vimeo account. Shortly after it was released it quickly went viral and caught the internet’s attention, getting over a 100k views in just a few days. Give it a look and see what all the fuss is about but don’t be surprised if you still can’t get the phrase “There’s a Man In The Woods…” out of your head in a few days time. This one’s haunting.
It’s kinda hard to say exactly what’s going on in 8bits. There’s an evil CGI toad creature and his henchman, a captive princess (called 8Bit) and a pantsless hero in a ratty hoody. The villain seems to want to kill off 8bit forever, therefore rendering the world three-dimensional and winning…we think? Yeah, we weren’t kidding about it being hard to describe. This is one video you simply have to watch to understand. The action is quite intense, as it jumps from CGI to 16bit platforming in the style of various old school games that’ll give older gamers in their thirties a warm nostalgic glow in their bellies. Basically, if you ever owned a console that existed before the Playstation 1, this one’s for you. 8bits was directed by Valere Amirault, Jean Delaunay, Sarah Laufer, Benjamin Mattern for Supinfocom animation studios If you enjoyed 8bits you can find the artists portfolios here as well as a list of the festivals it was featured at
1. Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
The Simpsons wouldn’t usually be featured on a list of animated shorts mostly dominated by independent artists and studios. However, The longest Day Care was released as a standalone short movie — that ended up being nominated for an Oscar, no less — and as its free to watch as per the other videos on the list, it definitely deserves its placing. The short itself plays out like a really good episode of The Simpsons with great quality animation and humor. Because Maggie is the main focus in this one there’s actually no dialogue but it still manages to be funnier than most episodes of The Simpsons — especially the later ones. The Longest Daycare was proposed by James L Brooks as a way to thank fans for watching the show and was originally shown just before screenings of Ice Age: Continental Drift. Directed by David Silverman (a regular Simpsons director) and carrying on from a previous Simpson’s episode where Maggie checks into the Ayn Rand school this is a must see for all Simpsons fans.