There were roughly 95 characters that had to be designed and animated in this years Year in Review. There were three weeks to design them, and two character designers, Romney and Nik. Thats 47.5 characters each in three weeks!!
Romney knew the style of the piece would have to be one that was manageable in this timeframe. He decided to strip the characters of all unnecessary details and try and find a way to keep their appeal using fairly flat graphic shapes. Oh, and he decided to give them all giant hands, cause they are cute and fun to draw.
The original concept was for the short to be set in space, following constellations and hopefully include some neat sci-fi stuff. This was an illustration Romney did to try and see what that might look like.