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Alan Barillaro
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“Piper” Facebook Q&A

Academy Awards, Alan Barillaro, Marc Sondheimer, Piper

Posted by Simoa • February 22, 2017

The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air this upcoming Sunday, February 26th. Alan Barillaro, director of the Oscar nominated short “Piper” which captivated audiences last summer, was joined by producer Marc Sondheimer for a Q&A session at the Facebook Oscar Lounge. Fans submitted some interesting and thought provoking questions.

Do you create the story around a message you want to tell or is it the opposite?

Barillaro answered that character always comes first, and for “Piper,” his first feature as a director, he built the world around the character. He mentioned that animators are just like actors and their primary concern is to get into the character. This echoes the same belief of industry veteran Glen Keane, who also refers to himself as an actor with a pencil in his hand.

If you could make Piper again, what would you do differently?

Barillaro wouldn’t change anything because making mistakes is how you learn and you’re just stumbling through the process of filmmaking.

How long did you study sandpipers?

The research is always constant at Pixar. What’s most important is creating a language. For example, Barillaro observed that the way sandpipers ruffle their feathers to get warm could be used to express happiness in the film.

When asked about the announcement of the Oscar nominations, both Barillaro and Sondheimer mentioned how thrilled they were for the entire crew to be recognized. Something I’ve come to expect when watching videos like this one is the way Pixarians emphasize the collaborative  effort in every Pixar film. No one person receives all the credit. Barillaro was actually candid in admitting that as the director he didn’t have all the answers but had to rely on his enormously talented crew.

The video of the Q&A is available to watch on Disney-Pixar’s Facebook page. I encourage everyone to watch it, because Pixarians always convey so much enthusiasm when discussing their projects. Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer project the same kind of warmth and camaraderie of another director/producer duo, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera!

Be sure to watch the Oscars this Sunday!

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Piper: A Mini-Review

Alan Barillaro, Andrew Stanton, Angus Maclane, Finding Dory, Piper, Review

Posted by Nia • June 15, 2016

Piper is a short film directed by Alan Barillaro and plays before Finding Dory. It’s definitely one of the more simplistic shorts from the studio as it depicts the struggles of a sandpiper hatchling trying to catch food without the help of its mother. As the bird finds out, it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s a sweet little film about learning how to be independent, acknowledging the environment around you, and facing your fears; no matter how silly they may be.

One of the most charming aspects about this film is the amount of detail that was put into it and the fact that it’s told without dialogue. Piper is the cutest little bird, and even her ruffled feathers have character. I loved hearing during the press junket last week about the research trips that director Alan Barillaro and crew would go on in order to capture sandpipers in their natural habitat. The team would get down and dirty in the sand, waiting for hours for the birds to appear, and even submerging go-pros in the water to get the look they wanted for their desired shots. This film has so much energy and that’s in part to the overall cinematography and direction. Piper is full of macro-photography and photo-realism, as we get up close and personal with the hatchling in her environment. The music is also short, simple, and keeps the story moving with its fast tempo. The score was composed by famed guitarist and vocalist Adrian Belew.

Check out the little teaser below to get a sense of what to expect come Friday when Finding Dory is released.

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“Piper”: New Short to premiere with Finding Dory

Alan Barillaro, Finding Dory, Piper, Short Film

Posted by Simoa • April 6, 2016

Entertainment Weekly has just unveiled the concept art and synopsis for Pixar’s latest short film, “Piper”, which is attached to Finding Dory.

Piper, a baby sandpiper, learns to overcome her fear of the water in this short directed by Alan Barillaro. Inspiration for the short came from real world observations, as Barillaro noticed birds feeding at the water’s edge while simultaneously flying away from the waves.

“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.”

Barillaro was encouraged to raise the stakes on the story by Dory‘s director Andrew Stanton, as well as John Lasseter. Piper will learn about the food chain as well as some other lessons from another child, a hermit crab.

Piper is obviously adorable, and we can’t wait to meet the other characters. Pixar continues to expand their animation software, and as Dory looks to be absolutely visually splendid, we can guess the ocean in “Piper” will be just as gorgeous.

Pixar’s short films rarely match the themes in the full length features they accompany, so it’s rather nice that “Piper” and Finding Dory have similar locations.

You can “sea” both on June 17th.

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