Little Bird is a short film that fuses stop-motion animation with live action footage, chronicling the adolescence of an unnamed baby chick that also narrates the film. The animation is reminiscent of childhood classics like Bagpuss, with its DIY style and ‘rough around the edges’ look. The plot is fairly straightforward; a newly hatched bird lives in a bird house with its mother. Unfortunately, a fox has eaten it’s siblings and so the mother takes care of this solo little bird. The bird is worried, however, when his mother spends more and more time away from the nest and seems distant and unresponsive to it’s troubles.
The narrator’s adult voice and regional accent sets a tone that gives the film a slightly different feel than you might expect. With its use of stop-motion animation and the subject matter, one would expect a more child like character. This juxtaposition created by the performance of the narrator (who is also the animator) creates a slightly darker layer to the story.
The stop-motion animation is simply charming, especially the shots where we can see the wires (deliberately unhidden) holding up the chick, as it gives the animation a slightly shambolic sensibility that works in favour of the film. However, when the animation is taken out of the studio and into the garden, the live-action shatters the atmosphere that had been created. Although (understandably) with a short film like this it is hard to avoid using what you have, the film does suffer from the mixture.
The lighting is worth noting in the stop-motion animation scenes, it gives the image a real warmth and glow that is simply not there with the outdoor scenes. In addition, the sound plays a vital part in the film, not just the narration but the ambiance and music. Jon Clarke (sound designer and mixer) employs an ‘easy-listening’ fuelled soundtrack, utilising harmonics and guitars to create a soothing and gentle atmosphere for the film to carry you along. Little Bird is simple but executed well, with a satisfying end that rounds the film off nicely.