Hilda (found animation test of Netflix animated series; 2014)
Early poster used to promote the series, highlighting the initial art style and logo.
Date found: 15 Jan 2021
Found by: Hilda Archive
First released on September 21st, 2018, Hilda is a critically acclaimed Netflix animated series adapted from the 2010s cult classic fantasy comic books of the same name by British cartoonist Luke Pearson and published by Nobrow Press. While its development from page to screen is well-documented, a notable part of its production, the animation test by Mercury Filmworks used to pitch the series, was lost for nearly seven years, before finally being found in early 2021.
The animation test, with a production date of October 2014, begins with a viewpoint of Trollberg, the main location of the series. It then cuts to Hilda sleeping in bed, before awakening and being greeted by Twig, her pet deerfox companion. As she is ready to set off on another adventure, she hugs her mother, Johanna, as she forgets to wear her beret before heading out. From Hilda and Twig running through multiple locations in the city and forest to encountering multiple creatures including elves, trolls, and giants, the demo cuts back and forth between the two, prior to culminating in a scene where Hilda rides a Woff home, to an awaiting Johanna who becomes annoyed from her daughter arriving late. Just as Hilda sleeps, she notices a mountain giant nearby the mountains outside her window, which elevates her excitement. Afterwards, it showcases the Hilda logo (slightly different from the version used in the animated series, utilizing the comic design), before the test concludes. Aside from the contrasting art style that matches the graphic novels more approximately, it is practically identical to the finalized product.
In a ThoughtBubbleComics interview discussing the production of adapting Hilda in November 2020, Pearson stated the full test animation couldn't be released to the public due to legal issues with the main song that played throughout the video. For many years, only a four-second running test animation that was published in March 2017, and a collection of screenshots from the early incarnation existed.
On January 15th, 2021, YouTuber Hilda Archive, owner of a channel dedicated to immortalizing all Hilda content, uploaded the lost animation test in full, which also confirmed the song used, which was "Hur Hamnade Jag Här," by Almedal. The user had gotten it from a Luke Pearson conference video that was filmed at the Pictoplasma exhibition in Berlin, Germany in 2019, which was uploaded by the Pictoplasma Viemo account in 2020.
- ThoughtBubbleComics interview discussing the progress of Hilda's development. Retrieved 05 Feb '21
- 2017 Hilda running animation test. Retrieved 05 Feb '21
- Article about when the animation was released, dating it back to March 2017. Retrieved 05 Feb '21
- A assemblage of images from the test demo. Retrieved 05 Feb '21
- The main song used in the animation test. Retrieved 05 Feb '21
- Luke Pearson's appearance at Pictoplasma 2019, in which the original animation test was shown. Retrieved 05 Feb '21