Right from the first frame in Pixar’s new short movie “Piper” the audience is captivated not only by the amazingly realistic look of the animation, but the simple and delightfully engaging story. Audiences watching the new short which accompanies “Finding Dory” cannot fail to be captivated by this enchanting tale of a baby bird learning how to survive in the world.
Alan Barillaro took 3 years to produce the 6 minute short which is surely heading for an Academy Award. Every Pixar movie involves a meticulous process of research. Barillaro and his team spent many hours of research at Muir Beach and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The technical advances which Pixar has made in what really is a relatively short number of years is nothing short of astounding. You only have to compare the look of the 2003 Finding Nemo” with “Finding Dory”. Pixar shorts have in many ways been responsible for the huge leaps in technology which the company has been able to make.
The innovative short movie program can find it’s origins in John Lasseter’s original “Luxo Jr” movie. Lasseter directed this movie to showcase the Pixar Image Computer’s technology. The short movie program gives the Pixar team the opportunity to push the boundaries of technology. After “Piper” it is interesting to speculate how much further they can go – it is just so realistic.
Barillaro realized that it was essential to get the movement of the feathers correct to achieve the standard of animation that they were looking for. This was no easy task. If we think back to “The Incredibles” the technology of the movement of hair was evolving a lot at this stage. A great leap forward was seen with Merida’s stunning red hair in “Brave”. The animation of the feathers in “Piper” takes another big step forward in advancing the realism of the technology.
But the brilliance of “Piper” is not just about the animation. As John Lasseter once said “The way the films look will never entertain the audience alone. It has to be in the service of a good story with great characters”. The new movie looks amazing, but it is the story which captivates us. It wouldn’t matter how wonderful the movie looked if we didn’t love the story.
It is particularly impressive that “Piper” manages to make such an impact without having even one word of dialogue. Barillaro has been with the studio since the early days and the production of “A Bug’s Life”. He is very in touch with the studio’s strong sense of history and the lessons that can be learned from that. He drew inspiration from Andrew Stanton’s courage to have the entire opening act of “Wall-e” without dialogue. Some of the most powerful scenes in Pixar history have had no dialogue. Just think for a moment about the depiction of the love story of Carl and Ellie – an amazing illustration of how emotion and story can be conveyed without words.
“Piper is simply brilliant. No more to be said.