In 2016, the short film Piper was released by Pixar,
and with the recent academy award nomination for Best Animated Short,
and marks the studio’s thirteenth Oscar nomination in its category.
I feel like we can learn a thing or two about the short film format
that Pixar has mastered so well over the years.
One of the things that makes these accomplishments so odd
is that there isn’t a single director or writer that makes these films.
No one at Pixar’s team has made any more than one shot for the company,
even if they’ve had success beforehand in previous short film they’ve made.
In the case of Piper, it was written and directed by Alan Barillaro,
previously working in the animation department or some of Pixar’s greatest films,
A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles and Wall·E to name a few.
This being his directorial debut,
it’s a wonder how he, and so many of his peers have had the fortune to be nominated for their first film.
Without taking any well-deserved credit for him,
I think that there seems to be a format that these films follow
that enables them to be made so well.
I think a lot of people know about the Pixar 22 rules of storytelling.
But this I think mostly applies to the feature film format,
something very different to short films.
And so while some of the rules may still apply,
for now, I’m just going to point out what’s not on the poster.
I think the most obvious thing that we can see throughout these shorts
is the personification of objects, places and animals.
Giving personalities and objectives to a character is very important in a short film.
With not a lot of time to tell a story,
we as audience have to infer a lot of what’s going on.
The basic story of Piper goes like this:
Piper has never been to the seafront to find herself food.
After being told that everything is fine,
she goes on to find herself some food.
She fails to find food and is swept up by the ocean,
leaving Piper afraid of failing again.
After plucking up the courage again to find food,
she meets a hermit crab that shows her not to be afraid of the ocean
but to embrace it and use it as a tool.
Finally she’s able to find food on the beach and feed herself as well as her family .
The short film follows a small bird named Piper,
as she learns and overcomes her fears of finding food at the seafront.
It’s a story about overcoming obstacles and not being discouraged by failure.
Somehow Pixar manages to fit all of these into a five-minute long short film,
without using any spoken language and entirely by animation.
It’s odd, but you might think that the most restrictive methods used to create this film
are hindering its storytelling potential.
But actually they’re the most useful techniques.
By having no dialog in this or any other short,
Pixar allows the audience to infer what’s going on in the scene.
Movements and personified facial expressions are what drives this story in this film.
We can look at the film Paperman to see how effectively this can be used.
There are no words because they aren’t needed.
We can actually see a technique used that Alfred Hitchcock describes as montage editing.
“The assembly of film
and how it can be changed to create a different idea.
“Now we have a close up, they will show what he sees.
“Let’s assume he saw a woman holding a baby in her arms.
“Now we cut back to his reaction to what he sees.
“And he smiles.
“Now what is he as a character?
“He is a kindly man.
“Now let’s take the middle piece of film away, the woman with the child,
but leave his two pieces of film as they were.
“Now we put in a piece of film of a girl in the bikini.
“He looks, girl in the bikini, he smiles.
“What is he now? The dirty old man.
“He’s no longer the benign gentleman, who loves babies.
“That’s what film can do for you.”
It’s what tells us that Piper usually expects her mother
to feed her much like a bird usually would for her babies.
And then later in the film, Piper is actually really hungry.
Along with the music that synchronizes with Piper’s emotions,
it really accentuates the feeling.
They personify these characters to make it so the audience emphasize with them just a little bit more.
This is one of the main reasons why Pixar does so well at the Oscars,
making that films with such pristine animation,
allows for even the slightest micro-expressions to be picked up by the audience.
If they had chosen to use dialog in this film,
I don’t think that they would have worked so well.
对于这样简单的故事 没有必要解释动机 做过多阐述
For simple stories like this, it’s unnecessary to explain motive and exposition.
When it tells such a basic story,
it just makes it redundant to explain what’s going on.
For this particular film,
there is a sense of hyper reality in the way that looks like it has been showed with the telephoto lens,
much like you have seen in the nature documentary.
With the continuous pulling of the shallow focus,
this is the extremely noticeable in this aesthetical film, adding the sense of realism.
Since we know that this is a real story that happens in nature all the time,
it leads the film to be a little more enduring than if it were to be done into the animation.
这部片和很多其他皮克斯电影一样 既带来了欢笑 也骗走了泪水
This film and lots of others by Pixar makes us laugh and cry all the time.
By fitting a simple story with even more simple characters,
we are led through obstacles to a satisfying conclusion for our characters,
although being confused or made to question what’s going on in the film.
I’m personally hoping that Piper wins the Oscar.
Because it’s one of the best short films ups in a long time.
Thank you all so much for watching.
If you like this video then you can check on my previous video on Negative Space in film.
I’d also appreciate it if you could leave a rating to let me know your thought.
My name is James Hayes and thank you for watching.