Writer-director Brad Bird has established himself as one of the biggest names in the world of animation, starting with his work on TV shows like The Simpsons and The Critic before moving on to a string of acclaimed feature films like Ratatouille and The Incredibles. Along the way, unsurprisingly, he’s developed some pretty strong ideas about his chosen medium, and he’s not at all timid about sharing them.
Kees Van Dijkhuizen Jr., a film editor from the Netherlands, has compiled some of Bird’s opinions into an instructive video called “Insight: Brad Bird On Animation.” Here, audio from various Bird interviews has been layered over clips from his work, including those aforementioned Pixar triumphs and 1999’s The Iron Giant. Think of this as a five-minute master class on what makes a great animated movie, taught by an instructor who could not be more pumped for this.
A big part of the video is Bird dispelling certain accepted notions about animation, like the fact that it constantly has to be frantic, loud, and chatter-filled. Nope, says Bird. It can be useful to slow down occasionally and have the characters simply take in their surroundings. He also likes to work “sneaking around” scenes into his films whenever possible.
Above all, Bird says, it’s important to remember that “animation is not a genre.” He explains:
Animation is an art form. It can do any genre, you know. It can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film, or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. Next time I hear “What’s it like working in the animation genre?” I’m gonna punch that person!
And now you know how not to get punched by Brad Bird.