Pixar Animation Studios have released the first look at their animated short “Piper” that will run in theaters ahead of the much anticipated “Finding Dory”. The six-minute, dialogue-free production tells the story of a hungry sandpiper chick confronting his trepidations about going into the water with the help of his mother and a tiny hermit crab.
The short is directed by Alan Barillaro, who began his work at the studio in 1998 as an additional animator on ‘A Bug’s Life’ and has since moved into several collaborations with ‘Finding Dory’ director Andrew Stanton. Barillaro said at the studio’s ‘Finding Dory’ press junket that the short began as an experiment in pushing Pixar’s photoreal animation capability, previously explored in The Blue Umbrella.The filmmaker was inspired by watching shorebirds as they scurried back and forth on the sand, avoiding waves and plucking up bits of food, and wanted to imbue his characters with movement that was “poetic but caricatured, with an emotional quality.”
“It’s the kid at the playground feeling. You fall down and you feel so small, but you look and see someone even smaller than you brush themselves off and tackle something, and learn from that in your own way,” he said. “It was important to me to stay in the kid world and see the world from Piper’s eyes, and not be from the human perspective.”
The creation of feathers and bubbles became one of the big tech challenges of the short. “How to animate between 4 and 7 million feathers? We had to come up with region controls. And what we realized was it influenced our acting,” said Barillaro. He continued by saying, “This is the first — as far as I know — an animator shaping the bubbles as 12 separate sculpts that he filmed and referencing that … It’s back to Pixar’s tradition of tech innovation for shorts.”