Pixar’s latest feature Finding Dory recently got a slew of positive reviews, adding to the already feverish anticipation ahead of its release on June 17. But it won’t be the only new Pixar creation hitting theaters on Friday. Dory will be accompanied by the traditional short that runs before the main event — a frequent stomping ground for young animation talent. This time around, audiences will be watching Piper, a wordless, almost photo-realistic short about a hungry sandpiper chick who’s got to find his courage and learn how to pluck his own food from the pounding surf. Watch the first clip above.
Originally conceived as a technical test for new software, Piper is directed by Alan Barillaro, a supervising animator on Wall-E and Brave. In order to capture the right look and movement of Piper, Barillaro and his team studied sandpipers in northern California and devised a way to realistically animate between four and seven million feathers. The animators also drew inspiration from, among other places, Norman Rockwell, macro nature photography and Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins. “This is a story about overcoming your fears, as well as the parent aspect of wanting your kids to stay confident,“ Barillaro told The Hollywood Reporter.
Piper is just the latest in a long line of Pixar shorts, many of which have gone on to win Oscars, including Tin Toy, Geri’s Game, and For the Birds. Last year’s Sanjay’s Super Team — which played ahead of The Good Dinosaur — was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
Catch Piper in theaters with the release of Finding Dory on June 17.