It is as inevitable as summer following spring that Disney/Pixar will be releasing a wonderful new summer film. This summer is no different, of course. ‘Finding Dory’ is on its way into theaters on Friday, June 17th, 2016.
As excited as I am about this sequel to 2003’s ‘Finding Nemo,’ I am equally excited about the beautiful short film that precedes ‘Finding Dory.’
The short is called ‘Piper’ and it’s the story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling who ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The only problem is, the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore.
When I visited Monterey, California earlier this year to interview the ‘Finding Dory’ filmmakers, I had the pleasure of enjoying a presentation and meeting ‘Piper’ director Alan Barillaro. (I know. I’m the luckiest.)
I always have to walk a fine line here when I write about an upcoming film, in this case, the short, ‘Piper.’ I want to tell you enough to pique your interest, but not enough to spoil it for you.
But I can tell you that ‘Piper’ Director Alan Barillaro, who has been with Pixar since 1997, has worked on almost every Pixar film as an animator. Following his success as supervising animator on “The Incredibles,” “WALL•E”, and “Brave,” Barillaro went to work with Pixar’s software development team to help craft an animation tool that would help provide additional creative flexibility to the studio’s filmmaking process.
It was in this context that he created a short animation test about a small bird, because… ‘feathers.’ How do they react in wind and light and water? This animation test grew into the full-fledged short film, ‘Piper,’ directed by Barillaro himself.
During his presentation, Barillaro explained to us that when he was at the beach, he always found the sandpipers running from the shoreline to be extremely entertaining, which is when the idea came to him to tell the story of one of these birds who is terrified by the water.
He posed the question: “What does the world feel like when you’re only 4 inches tall?”
Being intrigued by this and also being a Pixar animator, he set out to capture the world of sandpipers on film. Armed with cameras and a photography crew, they could never quite get a handle on these birds, who turned out to be quite skittish and therefore blurry.
As you know, Pixar Animation is famous for problem-solving in the most unique ways and so they designed the look of the water and the bubbles and the birds with a combination of hand drawn animation and computer effects to create the world of ‘Piper.’
Adding to all this techno-awesomeness, he also focused the story on the relationship between the mother bird and ‘Piper,’ the daughter. This adds everything to the storytelling as he shows us this bit of world through Piper’s eyes. (Get tissues, people!)
I know you’re going to fall in love with sweet ‘Piper’ when you meet her before ‘Finding Dory.’
If you don’t believe me, watch this.
You can see the entire short, ‘Piper’ along with Disney/Pixar’s ‘Finding Dory’ in theaters everywhere this coming Friday, June 17, 2016.