Before Finding Dory swims back into our lives a new little bird named Piper will fly into theaters and will be there to capture our hearts. Over the years, the animated shorts that play along with the films from the good people at Disney•Pixar, have captured our minds, souls and our imaginations long after the short is over and leaves you with the feeling of wanting to know more of the story and Piper is all of that and more. Directed by Alan Barillaro and produced by Marc Sondheimer, Piper, the new short from Pixar Animation Studios, tells 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.
Last March I was treated to a very special screening of Piper as part of my visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for the Finding Dory media event and had a chance to learn more about how this marvelous tale of the adorable, wide-eyed beach bird named Piper came to life.
The inspiration for the six-minute animated short about a hungry baby sandpiper learning to overcome his fear of the water actually came from less than a mile away from Pixar Studios right here in Northern California in Emeryville where veteran Pixar animator and Piper director Alan Barillaro would run alongside the shore and notice birds by the thousands fleeing from the water but returning between waves to eat.
As Barillaro tells it, “Seeing the way these sandpipers react to waves and run, I always felt, ‘Gosh, that’s a film, that’s a character. It’s always fun to show a world we’re familiar with but from a different perspective. We’ve all been to the beach, but have we ever viewed water from just an inch off the sand? That could be very fearful from a bird’s perspective.”
In order to bring the story to life he began experimenting with animation software as a personal challenge to design a non-speaking character who was afraid of the water yet had to venture into it to eat. Having seen Piper, I can tell you he achieved his goal and more.
The story of Piper took hold and developed into the touching story of a child learning the ways of life at the wings of his parent and then taking it one step further to a child learning from another child, as Piper meets and befriends a tiny hermit crab who teaches her how to get the job done. Barillaro went on to explain
“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 get back up and try it all over again and the importance to learn from these experiences in your own way. 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 point of view.”
Your heart will soar right along with the story of Piper. Then get ready for the return of everyone’s favorite blue tang as Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory welcomes back to the big screen everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), who’s living happily in the reef with Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence).
When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, the trio takes off on a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium. In an effort to find her mom (voice of Diane Keaton) and dad (voice of Eugene Levy), Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill), a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark. Deftly navigating the complex inner workings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family. Directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo,WALL•E), co-directed by Angus MacLane (Toy Story OF TERROR!), and produced by Lindsey Collins (co-producer WALL•E).
This Friday fly along with Piper and then swim along with Finding Dory
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Disclosure: I was invited by Disney to cover this media event. All material and expenses for this event have been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios but all opinions my own.
Finding Dory swims into theaters THIS FRIDAY!