I recently had the pleasure of visiting Pixar Animation Studios and hearing from Alan Barillaro, the director of Pixar’s newest short film, Piper. Piper tells the captivating, well-researched story of a sandpiper who dares to brave his fear of water. Here are a few secrets behind the making of the short and director Alan Barillaro‘s intent:
- Barillaro really digged the animator’s on-boarding process at Pixar. From the get-go, he was able to show sequences next to 20-year animation vets and maintains that “Mistakes are much better than getting it right. With shorts, it’s about risk.” Apparently, the push for animators and directors to conquer their fears is the silent secret of Pixar!
- The director spent time plunging waterproof cameras into Hawaiian oceans during family vacations to capture the true look, feel and “caricature of a wave.” Each wave in the short has its own personality!
- Piper took 1 year to create, with sequences advancing at about 3 seconds per week
- There’s an iconic stomach rumble in the film, which is an actual growling from the stomach of the composer! This may not make sense until you see it, but I hope it brings you as much delight as it did me.
- During the advanced screening of Piper, I
geeked outprofessionally noted shifting lens blurs that I hadn’t seen in other Pixar films. Barillaro explained that he had a huge interest in studying “the influence of long lenses and shallow depths of field.“
- Where did he draw artistic inspiration? From American artist Norman Rockwell, who was extremely adept at “telling the audience where to look” with each stroke!
The director seemed as grateful for the opportunity to work at Pixar as I did to hear him speak! He closed with these words, “[Outside of Pixar] At a certain point, you’re just drawing and you’re showing off. You’ve stopped your learning.”
Never stop learning, and get ready to see Pixar’s Piper premiere before Finding Dory on June 17th!