Frank Abney says the idea for his animated short feature and Oscar hopeful “Canvas” was born out of a need to make a film that was personal.

Six years ago, the animator, whose credits include Pixar titles “Soul,” “Coco,” “Toy Story 4” and “Incredibles 2,” felt he was nevertheless experiencing a rough patch creatively. “I was trying to navigate the industry, and we struggle as artists,” Abney says. “I knew when I created something, I wanted it to be unique to my situation.”

Watching his young niece and observing her carefree nature, he devised a family film in which generations help each other. Abney lost his father when he was 5 and witnessed his mother sharing his grief, his grandfather at her side. “I was curious [about my grandfather] because he was always quiet and withdrawn when I was around him,” Abney says.

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