Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo, will dive into theatres in a couple of months time. The story picks up six months after the events of its predecessor, as Dory recalls her childhood memories in the hope of becoming reunited with her friends and family in the waters of Monterey, California. And while we have already been introduced to the new cast of characters under the sea, it appears that there’s a feathered creature on the shore, keen to make their debut.
Pixar’s tradition of showcasing animated short films prior to their main features started in 1998, with the studio’s second film A Bug’s Life. Since then, all subsequent Pixar films have been presented along with a short and Finding Dory will be no different. Piper, a six-minute short film about a hungry baby sandpiper that must overcome its fear of the water, will accompany the upcoming animated adventure.
Now, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we’re getting our first look at the titular character for Piper. You can check out that photo below, showing off the doe-eyed, diminutive, beach-dwelling bird (aka the most adorable creation you have ever laid eyes on):
According to veteran Pixar animator and Piper director Alan Barillaro, he sought his inspiration for the short film from the beaches of California, less than a mile away from Pixar Studios in Emeryville, where he noticed birds fleeing from the sea, restricted by their hydrophobia (fear of the water). He recalled:
“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’s early concept work had reportedly been playful but without enough risk. However, with encouragement from Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton and Pixar’s head honcho John Lasseter, he soon made progress on Piper. The animator explained how the story had developed into a tale about a child, learning from both its parents and fellow children about the nature of the food chain:
“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 brush themselves off and tackle something, and learn from that 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 perspective.”
Pixar’s short films not only serve as excellent examples of short-form storytelling and additional content for each of their feature films, which are unattached from the main story. They also showcase the abilities of the studio (both technologically and/or cinematically) and the vast talent working behind the scenes.
With 25 short films to their credit, Pixar have been on the receiving end of numerous awards and accolades, including Academy Awards for Tin Toy, Geri’s Game and For the Birds. However, the studio’s latest short (scored by King Crimson singer Adrian Belew) might find itself flying above the rest, especially considering that it took three whole years of storyboards, R&D, and production for Piper to reach completion.
Piper glides into U.S. theaters along with Finding Dory on June 17th, 2016.