• Piper (2016) - Alan Barillaro

    “Smooth and stunning in its animation, Piper is a dream to watch. The short starts with a wide-eyed baby bird emerging from underneath its parent, who bids the baby out to sea. Then, a lesson begins to take place, involving the sea, neighboring creatures, and how to find food. All of this is set to languid orchestration, punctuated by plenty of chirping and tweeting. Of course, a little bit of drama occurs as the waves start to roll in, but you’ll have to see for yourself how it all ends up for Piper.” (Cameron Norsworthy, Romper, 2016)

    “Simple as a haiku and yet stunning in its own right, the tiny toon opens with a beautifully lit, impeccably rendered shot of the seashore so realistic, one could be forgiven for mistaking it for live action. It’s not until we meet Piper, a baby sandpiper with a perfectly understandable fear of water, that we can be absolutely sure the footage was shaped by an animator’s hand — and even then, apart from his slightly cartoonish behavior, the baby bird is so detailed (the character model contains millions of feathers) he could pass for real. As impressive as Pixar’s virtual universe has become, it’s the wordless elegance and gentle relatability of “Piper” that makes it the uncontestable best of this year’s crop. (Peter DeBruge, Variety, 2017)”

    “As a narrative, Piper is entirely about stretching out and expanding your horizons, and the cinematography emphasizes that. There are a few shots with deep three-dimensional focus: those are the ones where the bird is suddenly overwhelmed by the scope and size of the world, whether in terror or in awe. Not everybody is going to notice this, of course (particularly not the children who are, in theory, the target audience, unless they are uniquely precocious), but it’s the kind of thing you feel – it has the same effect of scale and sprawl on us that it does on the bird, and that kind of empathy is key to Piper’s success. The film’s triumph isn’t just in making the most sickeningly adorable baby bird in the annals of human art; it’s in managing to hook our perception to that bird so completely that we go on a rollicking emotional journey with it in just six minutes. It is as satisfying at that level as anything else I’ve seen in all of 2016.” (Tim Brayton, Alternate Ending, 2016)

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