Piper: Short Film

Piper is a 2016 computer-animated short film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. Written and directed by Alan Barillaro, it was theatrically released alongside Pixar’s Finding Dory on June 17, 2016. The short involves a hungry baby sandpiper learning to overcome her fear of water. The inspiration came from less than a mile away from Pixar Studios in Emeryville, California, where Barillaro, a veteran Pixar animator, would run alongside the shore and notice birds by the thousands fleeing from the water but returning between waves to eat.

I looked into the creation of this short film as I didn’t know much about the development of the short film within cartoons. Therefore I though before I start looking into a textual analysis of this short film. I liked the use of the cartoon within the short film because I thought that this creates emotions and an atmosphere from the reader that I think a realistic film can’t create. I think that animated short films do seem to draw more attention to themselves and I think that they work better as a short film.

When reading an article published by “Business Insider”, I gained more of a base of knowledge about the reasons behind ‘Piper’, and how it began to become a short film as well as the inspiration behind the story line of ‘Piper’.

From this article I learnt that like any other film that Pixar had created it was based on a certain theme or something that the producer/ director has seen and enjoyed watching. From this article I think that the main aspect that helped with the development of my understanding about animated short films was the interview with the director, Alan Barillaro. This helped my because it gave me an look into what are the main factors of developing an idea and how that can be turned into an animated short film.

The interview informs me of the main inspiration if ‘Piper’. Barillaro, lived in LA; were he would walk along the beach each evening. When he was hear he would watch the sandpipers run in and out of the waves trying to get food, he  liked watching the baby sandpipers follow the bigger ones to try follow the pattern they had of getting food whilst the sea went out.

Also at this time he was very involved in the ‘Tools’ section of pixar’s editing team, which is where the editors play around with the computer software they use, and try and develop new skills with the programme. This is wear he began to think about creating a short film around the sandpipers he had seen on beach, however the CCO of Pixar, didn’t think much of the idea. But when he was shown the character of ‘Piper’ he though it showed potential. So with the encouragement from the CCO and the director of Finding Dory encouraged him to follow up the character with a story board, which he soon found himself creating, he worked with the story board creators for a year when coming up the the characters and the story lines.

He used the same software that was used in Finding Dory, and created what he could within the software by hand, as he was pushing the software to it’s limits. He used the best rendering that the system can give.

He also commented on how he was going to show the relationship between the the baby and its mother without making it look too human. His aim was to make the birds look like they are having a ‘conversation’ and I think he achieved it.

Film Noir

Film Noir, is a genre or style of cinematographic film; which can be noticed by the pessimistic mood that the film creates. It was given to this category of film by French Critics, it really means ‘Black Film or Cinema’.

Many of the first films in the film noir style were american crime or detective films that were released in French theatres, after the war such as: Murder, My Sweet (1944), The Woman In the Window (1944) and Laura. A lot of the early Film Noir’s reflected the hardships and tensions of the time period, however some were contradicted with the Hollywood style romance and comedy. Film Noir was also used to reflect the cold war period, themes such as: Fear, Mistrust, Loss of Innocence, Panic and paranoia. ‘Anti- heroes’ were seen in Film Noir were used as metaphors for society’s evil factors, there was strong sense of moral injustice and the films rarely ever ended happily, or with optimistic endings.

Often Film Noir’s main character is a cold hearted, disillusioned male character; who encounters a beautiful but seductive female. The female character would use her sexuality to manipulate him into being the ‘fall guy’- often after a murder. After a betrayal, the female character would also be destroyed, this is commonly seen as through the loss of the hero’s life. As women at this time were given a more independent role, through working at higher paid jobs and not being viewed as the typical housewives, they suffered with the presentation of women through the Film Noir style.

The females in this style of film were very distinctly spilt, they were ether presented as dutiful, trustworthy and loving women; or they were presented as manipulative,irresponsible, desperate women. It’s typical to see in this style that the male protagonist follows the mysterious path of his past, or follows the path ‘set out for him’. The female fatale, always leads to the downfall of the male character who decides to follow them and indulge in their character.

Heros (or anti-heros) are corrupt characters, involved in gangs, with the police or a ‘lone wolf’. They often have the back grounds that reflect a low sanders of living, and being involved in violence and have seen the dark world of corruption. They are usually hanging on to all aspects of survival, until the end.

The primary moods of the film Noir style are: bleakness, disillusionment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral guilt, disputation and paranoia. Story lines are usually, non- linear and contain a lot of plot twists.The narrative of film Noir is frequently complex, which can include flash backs, it usually consists of sharp dialogue but a confessional voice over is also common in the Film Noir style. Amnesia is also a commonly seen in the male protagonist, which foreshadows the revaluation of the him being part of a downfall, due to temptation.

Film Noir films thematically show the dark, inhuman side of humans with a doomed love, which is emphasised by a brutal, shadowy human experience. The protagonists in the play are usually driven by their past, which leads to them making the same mistakes.

Film Noir films are usually distinguished by their Lighting, Deep focus, Depth of camera work, Disorientating visual patterns, Skewed camera angles and deep shadows. The setting is usually interior with low-key lighting or lighting from a single source. Any setting that is outside is usually set in a urban town with dark ally ways and harsh shadows.

Examples of traditional Film Noir?

Out Of The Past Directed by Jacques Turner in the 1940’s. It is considered by critics a usurped example of Film Noir, due to its complicated dark story line, dark cinematography and classic female fatale. In 1991, Out Of The Past was added to the United States National Film Registry but the library of congress; as it was deemed as being “Culturally, Historically and aesthetically significant.”

Touch Of Evil– This example of a Film in the Noir style; was directed, written and co-stared in by Orson Welles. The screen play was loosely based on the novel Badge Of Evil, by Whit Masterson. This was one of the last films in the Noir style during the iconic classic era of Film Noir. In 1993, It was added to the United States National Film Registry but the library of congress; as it was deemed as being “Culturally, Historically and aesthetically significant.”

The Big Sleep– Is a crime novel written by Raymond Chandler, it was adapted twice from this novel to be made into a film in 1946v and 1978. The storyline is sent in LA. Th story is noted for it’s complex story line and the characters doubling crossing each other and exposing secrets throughout the narrative. The title is a euphemism for death, which has been adapted from the last lines of the book ‘sleeping the big sleep’.

Modern examples of Film Noir?

Drive- Director Nicholas Winding Refn, based ‘Drive’ in Los Angeles it is also well know for the use of his infectious soundtrack, it tells the neo-noir tale of a stuntman (Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as wheelman, ferrying crooks from job to getaway in record time. In between bursts of bloody violence, this critically-acclaimed film finds plenty of meditative character beats to make Drive one of the best slow-burn entries in the style.

The Dark Knight– Batman plays a hardened detective, so when his roles annualised within the comic it is clear to see that there is a clear element of the Noir style. It was directed, co-produced and co- written by Christopher Nolan.

Collateral– Michael Mann’s 2004 thriller embraces its L.A. Noir roots while playing with more conventional movie tropes, as contract killer Vincent (an underrated Tom Cruise) forces cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx) to drive him from hit to hit. Their violent and compelling crime-filled trip through Los Angeles makes the city more than just a gritty backdrop for the action – it turns L.A. into a character.

Initial Inspiration

As I began researching previous short film clips and other forms of short films used within the media industry, I found a clip that really interested me and inspired me to recreate something following the same internal structure.

Although the clip that inspired me wasn’t classified as a short film, it is actually an advert. I think that this clip is really inspirational, I think this because; during my research I didn’t come across many short films that include horses or have such a meaning full message within. I think that making a film that has a message behind it is really powerful and I aim to do this within my production of a short film. This inspired me because, when watching this I was more dawn into the development of the story, which included the advert and the product that was being advertised.

When I begin brain storming ideas, I understood that I wanted to look into creating a short film, which incorporates horses. I wanted to do this because this is a topic that I am  interested in, I also have the resources and facilities to produce this type of short film. This topic within short films is very limited, therefore I can try and create a product that involves this.

Because I was so inspired behind the story line of the advert I decided to look into the production of it, as some of the shots I think were really effective and I would like to include them in my own short film. I watched a video that was created by the production team to inform the audience of what the main aims of the advert was and how they went about filming it.

This clip really helped me understand that thinking of the story line and the meaning behind the story line is predominantly the most important aspect of the short film and its development. Also seeing the story board and how that was used in constantly when filming the different shots, allowed the importance of a story board to be re-enforced.



‘Draft Gratitude- Draft Horse rescue’ was another short film I looked at to gain more of an understanding of what works and doesn’t work when using horses to film with and produce a short film. Again within this short film it had a hidden message; which I began to notice as a typicality (code and convention) of a short film that incorporates horses.

This short film differs to the advert as it shows the development of both the horse and the lady. I think that this short film is really touching and inspires the audience to carry on watching and see what it next. These are both filmed in different styles and have opposite subjects that are the center of the film. For example, the advert was a round off of a life time and the development of the relationship between both the horses and then man but also the relationship he has with his wife and how that grew, but because it was an advertisement the product was the centralized view of the clip. However ‘Draft Gratitude- Draft Horse rescue’ was more of a warming story of the development of a relationship.

Watching this it is more of a documentary of a charity and the work they do. I think that this style of short film/ documentary is really effective; this is because it appeals to the audience and makes them feel warmed and grateful for the work that this charity do towards given old worn out horses new lives.  They also use interviews, facts and voice overs with the shots; this gain emphasizes the work and how much of a difference they make.  I also like how they use new and old photos to highlight the difference and the change in the horses that they bring back to the sanctuary.

These two are my biggest influences when looking at planning and making my documents. I like these most because they all have there own unique meaning that develops with the use of different techniques. I like these because they keep the audience involved and make them feel touched and part of the stories. This is something I hope to achieve with the creation of my short film.

Chosen Brief?

When it came to choosing my brief, I decided that I wanted to create a short film. I came to this conclusion by my reflection of AS. When reflecting on AS, I found that making the opening title sequence was a part of the media industry that interested me, therefore I wanted to build on this during the A2 course.

I was interested in this brief because you ca make it personal to you and include things that you are passionate about. This intrigued me most because there is not limit on what you can create. I think that this can be used to help gain ideas and try to improve the overall ideas that can be created. I also am looking to develop my skills within the film industry so this would be a great opportunity to complete all the stages of production and find the stage of production that I most enjoy.

I also chose to do the short film brief because during AS we only looked at the thriller genre, I therefore would like to explore the range of the short tim industry, as it interests me I would like to gain more of an understanding about the changing codes and conventions within each genre of the film.

I also decided on the short film brief because I looked into the three other briefs, I thought that the short film brief is more personal to me. I think that this would help me also develop more creative skills. As during the AS, comping up with an idea and trying to make it work really wasn’t easy and my group struggled with that. So I think building the skills that I developed in AS.

AS Media Final Group Evaluation

When thinking about developing my personal skills to create my final video at the end of A2 I think that looking back into AS and the skills we had to develop as a group, will help me identify the strengths and weaknesses that I personally possess. For this I looked back at the final tittle sequence that we produced and reflected on the roles we all played in making sure the product came together professionally.



Roles of The Group

Producer (Me)- As being the producer in the AS product, I feel I’m coming into A2 confident in the completing the main roles of a producer in my independent A2 production. From this I feel confident looking for the location and checking this out, as I know what to look for in a location, as the good points of a location. I am also really confident in the planning documents, and how to develop them fully into a successful plan that can be easily followed. I think that looking back as my role of producer that I will improve the planning documents, and make them more detailed, however I feel that this A2 level will help me improve the planning aspects because I can make them more personal to me. Also as being the producer I was able to look into what characters and who to hire with the role of characters in mind, I think tat this could be valuable when creating my own product because it gives me an idea of who will fit the role and help produce the product really professionally.

Director (Izzy)- This is also a job that I feel confident in when creating my media product. I think this role has very similar roles within the creation of the media product. I think the directors role requires more of a leadership role. Izzy was a great director, she knew what the main focus of the final product, but she also had ideas on how to improve it and was willing to listen to contributing ideas and use experiments to try and get the best shot and therefore the best way of reaching our target product. I think being the director will help, because when having your own ideas are easier to achieve and test methods out easier than working with others who might have a different view.

Director Of Photography/ DOP (Serena)- When working within our group I worked closely with Serena, which boosted my confidence when looking at ways to position the camera and make shots better, which gives a clearer idea of how different angles can effect different atmospheres given off by the camera work. I think that learning the how the camera that you are using works, is really important to try and improve the quality of the filming. Serena is really great with the cameras and has helped my understand different aspects of the camera setting, such as image stabilisation. I think that working with Serena has really helped me improve my camera skills. I now feel mrs confident in working with the camera. Although I will continue to keep practising and trying to develop my camera skills.

Editor (Corey)- During AS Corey was our editor. He was great and really developed our product through the editing, I think that he is really good at the editing aspect and was very knowledgeable about the technical  aspects of editing. I think that within the media production this is my least confident area. Corey was a very independent worker and mainly edited at home. However we did make inputs when he had edited a certain area and we held a couple of group editing sessions. I think that I could have benefited more through a more substantial amount of group editing sessions, however I am very happy with how the edit finished and will defiantly be practising to try and get my editing skills up to scratch.

Brief 4: Film Trailer

For this brief you will be asked to create a film trailer, which will tease the audience into wanting to watch the film. This is much like the advertising brief, as you will need to take bits of action from the film but incorporate the build up to the climax in the trailer.

When thinking about creating a film trailer, it is important to note the typical codes and conventions that make a successful film trailer:

  • Film Production Logo- Usually put in the first part of the trailer, the look of the film production logo will effect the audience view on the film and the quality you are about to present within both the film and the trailer. It will also lead to the companies reputation, for example DreamWorks is noticed as a high budget film company, who mainly make family friendly low rating films.
  • Film Title- The title usually reflect the film and the ending, the font, the colour and the background of the title will also release clues about what the film will be about. For more up beat comedies, or more family friendly films; bright colours and bolder fonts will be used, whereas in horror and darker thriller films, a plain dark background is common, with small lighter text.
  • Character Introduction The audience need to feel as though they have developed a connection with the characters and try and understand the roles that they will play in the film. For example, if their is a prominent young female; other females from the target audience that can relate to the main role are more likely to go and watch the film. Also if their are famous actors/actresses, and they have been in films enjoyed by the target audience then they again will be inclined to watch the film.
  • Music and Voice over- The music shows the pace of the film and the atmosphere that the director wants to set. Voice overs are important to help the audience understand the characters and the development of plots within the film.




These are two film trailers that are both advertising from two opposing genres. Both follow the main codes and conventions but they use these to expose the different aspects of the film that the audience need to be shown to develop the audiences views on the film. However there is a very clear divide in the film trailers, and the genre of each can be seen clearly. This shows that the different genres of films have a different approach to persuading the audience to go and watch the film.

Brief 3: Advertising

This brief requires developing your own brand or service, and going through the process of advertising and marketing this product/ service. This requires you to develop two TV advertisements as well as two of the following:

  1. TV programme sponsorship sequence.
  2. Radio advertisement.
  3. Website pop up.

For this brief we would be expected to persuade the audience to want to look further into the service/ product that you are providing. With this brief I think it is important to follow up with a range of different media, so that the audience get a full view of the product and how the service is going to help the audience, for example both different TV sequences can be used to visually show the product in different ways, but a web pop up could be used to show reviews and other aspects such as pricing.

Although this is a preexisting company, they have gone against the typical advert that is associated with this brand. They use the introduction of home life to show how the brand can be involved in every day life, they also use a range of all ages to show how the brand isn’t targeting one age group but a range.

This again is a advert of a brand that is already involved in the industry. I think this advert is really successful because it shows how the go pro can be used, it shows a range. I also really like how they used the go pro to film the advert, which just re-enforces the good quality of the camera and how versatile it is.

This is an example of the radio advert that if we picked this brief we would have to create. This radio post has a set image, which means that it can be used on the radio stations within the TV channels. This radio advertisement includes all the information that they would think the audience listening would need to know.  However when thinking about making a radio station it is important to follow codes and conventions to make the advert more interesting as the audience wont be able to see the images to engross them.

  • They often use a woman’s voice to present the product.
  • Often use a music bed, or a ‘jingle’ to make the advert more memorable, a voice over is still used to present the product.
  • Heavy persuasive language.
  •  Enthusiastic up beat, lively, to try and present the product in as much of a positive way.
  • Direct address will be used.
  • A slogan will be used that will associate the product with the advert.

Brief 2: Short Film

This is the second brief that we have been given to start looking at, and developing ideas around the A2 media course. The short film is to last 5 minutes, this can be animated, live or both. Along with the short film; if we choose this brief we would be expected to make at least two of the following:

  1. A poster for the film.
  2. Magazine article reviewing the film.
  3. A website home page for the film, which can include characters and there roles (along with a bit of information about the actors), behind the scenes of making the film and the development of ideas and the process in creating the final short film.

The short film has no boundaries, it can be put into whatever genre you wish, from documentaries to horror films. It could have any age target audience, from 8-10 year olds  or for 18+. This just means that the research you do has to be tailored to your set genre and target audience.  All the shots that are used have to be filmed by you, or with the help of a fellow classmate, if any music is used in a background for example that has to be Royalty free and have been declared as not your own within the short film credits.

Narrative theories also have to be looked at, and ether followed or challenged. Within the film the use of Katz uses and gratifications theory is commonly used in short films within the horror genre. Or the equilibrium theory is a common theory to challenge. This is throw opening the film during a challenge or a change within the characters life rather than leading into and showing that change.



When watching these two short films they both had a different approach to how they should introduce the audience to the beginning of the film. The first one used the limited sound and kept very basic with the idea of building up to a climax. (Following the Equilibrium theory). Whereas the second Film brings the audience straight into the acton and leaves them wanting to know more. This is more commonly seen with the uses and gratification theory.

This example is an animated twist on a short film. This animated short film, clearly follows the typical codes and conventions that are associated with animated films. The angles in which he shows the animations really helps the audience grasp the full understanding of the meanings behind each animation. It also shows the animation in a long enough shot for the audience to fully seen and understand the shot as they can understand what the location is. This also highlights the main animated characters in different colours which is what I like best because it draws the audiences attention to the specific animation, which also follows codes and conventions but it also makes the audience more interested in what they are watching.

Brief 1: Audio

The first brief was to create a promotional package for the release of a new album. This will be required to consist of a music video- promoting a song from the album (which is to be no longer than 5 minutes) and two of the following:

  1. A cover for it’s release as part of a digipack.
  2. A magazine advertisement for the release of the album.
  3. A website homepage for the band/artist.

To obtain the music that will feature in the music video it needs to be, royalty free and the band/artist needs to be unsigned and the song needs to be free from any record label. However if you want to use this audio then you have to contact the owner (artist that created it), and gain permission to use this. Below is an example that shows a template of what could be written to gain permission:

Letter of request

In the letter it would be expected to state the purpose for using the song, and it must be clearly stated that it is only for the purpose of the A-level task and no profits or personal benefits will be gained from the production of the music video. It also needs to be mentioned where the final product will be posted (For example Youtube, Within a WhatsApp group).

I then looked at previous examples of music videos from A2 level, to get some inspiration, and being to try and notice some typical codes and conventions. But also to look at how different genres of music effect the style of the video, through the body language and locations.

These music videos all focus on music from a different genre. And it is clear that they all follow different ways to try and follow the songs, but also they use different locations that show the different genres better. This will also be shown through the codes and conventions.

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