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Parrots Take To The Big Screen

By Laura Doering

I had the pleasure of speaking with Galen Chu, animation supervisor for the upcoming 3-D animated film “Rio." Galen also worked on all three “Ice Age” movies, which are fun to watch even if you don’t have kids!

To animate the main parrot characters in “Rio,” the folks in the animation department hung out with a macaw and a cockatoo to see how they moved. I can’t think of a better subject to animate than a parrot; after all, parrots add avian flair to even the most mundane movement. Walking isn’t just one foot in front of the other, it’s a strut or a hop. Head movement could be an up-and-down bob, a sway or a full-on fling up of the crest and head feathers. And that’s all before we get into the dynamics of flying!

Now here’s a daydream assignment for you: imagine what type of character your bird would fill on the big screen. My conure Ollie would definitely be the sidekick-type, offering up comic relief by way of bobbing his head in agreement whenever someone said a word (and mocking what they said with his smirky conure imitation of their intonations). Gracie the cockatiel, on the other hand, would accept no role short of starring in a movie; that bird craves the spotlight. If there’s a script out there to bring a parrot musical to the big screen, I’m sure Gracie will make his own winged migration to Hollywood.

 **For the full issue, pick up the May 2011 issue of BIRD TALK at your local retailer or by purchasing a PDF download here.**

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