Additional Details Surrounding ‘Piper’ – Roots of the Film, A Painterly Style & More

Piper concept art
Concept artwork by Jason Deamer – copyright Pixar

Yesterday, the short film by Alan Barillaro, Piperwas announced and fans immediately fell in love with the aptly named title character, Piper (a baby sandpiper bird). Today, additional details have been revealed regarding the roots of the story, the crew’s research trips to the beach, and the visual design of the film (via an interview with The Hollywood Reporter).

In the interview, Barillaro shared that Piper was originally thought up to support a technical test — but it wasn’t until shortly thereafter (with encouragement from John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton) that he developed the idea into a short film.

“It wasn’t meant to be a short. I came up with the story because I wanted to look at software development (aimed at making computer animation more like live action production).” 

Alan Barillaro

Along the lines of software development, Alan noted that the visuals of the film will have a painterly feel, with the team drawing inspiration from Norman Rockwell and macro photography. “At a glance, it could be seen as realism, and then when you actually look at the artistry, everything is so deliberately exaggerated,” Barillaro said. “And I love the painterly aspects of macro photography; the textures almost becomes a character. I want to see computer animation fall into that world where lenses, just like in live-action photography, can have a lot of expression.”

The “painterly” note above got us thinking back to 2013 when Pixar (in preparation for the 2013 Siggraph conference) showcased new abilities in creating stylized animation. In the sample video above you can see the character Red (created by Teddy Newton) skating around sporting a painterly stylized look.

After watching the clip a few years back, we have eagerly been waiting to see if this style will appear in a Pixar film. With the confirmation that Piper will have a “painterly” look to it, we are wondering if this will be the first Pixar film to utilize the style. Of course, this is only our thoughts and we don’t know how far the painterly effect will be taken — in any regard we’re energized to see Piper on the big screen.

Piper will be released alongside Finding Dory on June 17 and is produced by Marc Sondheimer (Up, Mater’s Tall Tales – Moon Mater) with director of photography, Erik Smitt (Toy Story 3, Brave, Toy Story That Time Forgot). 

Be sure to share your thoughts about Piper with other fans in the Pixar Post Forum.

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