Trust Pixar to put a smile on your face. That seems to be the mandate for the animation studio's short films, and it's one which Alan Barillaro follows, perhaps a little too closely, in Piper. Barillaro is one of the most talented animators at the studio, and his skill for design is matched by his team's execution - this is extraordinary animation by any standards. Photoreal images in astonishing detail, accentuated by a colour scheme that's as realistic as it is aesthetically pleasing. If nothing else (and, thankfully, that's not the case), Piper is a most wondrously beautiful film. The decision to resist anthropomorphism of the animal characters, thus allowing Piper to adhere to a time-tested tradition of dialogue-free short features, is a wise one, only contributing to the characterization of these creatures enacting their lives as nature dictates. That decision doesn't permeate too deeply, however, and while a tendency toward cuteness (and cutesiness) is largely earnt and wholly excusable, it feels like an easy cop-out. Even with these CGI capabilities, no-one's necessarily expecting documentary realism from a Pixar short, but each and every concession toward appeasing the pre-school target demographic amounts to a betrayal of the film's artistic achievements, albeit merely a small betrayal. And indeed, it all puts a smile on your face. That's Piper's mandate, and one which it fulfills wholeheartedly.