Bird Karma

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Bird Karma
Directed byWilliam Salazar
Produced byJeff Hermann
Written byWilliam Salazar
Music byNora Kroll-Rosenbaum
Edited byJames Ryan
C. K. Horness
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • February 24, 2018 (2018-02-24) (NYICFF)
  • March 21, 2018 (2018-03-21) (with The Boss Baby in Japan)
Running time
5 minutes
CountryUnited States

Bird Karma is a 2018 American traditionally-animated short film written and directed by William Salazar and produced by DreamWorks Animation. It was the first short to come from DreamWorks' newly-created shorts program, and the studio's first film to utilize only 2D animation since Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in 2003.


On a foggy lake, a long-legged bird flies into the water and, to a musical beat, catches and eats some fish. Eventually, he sees a sparkling orange fish jumping out of the water and vainly attempts to catch it until it begins to rain. The next morning, the bird again spots the fish and gives chase, but his attention is soon diverted by the fish's ability to create rainbow trails when he jumps from the water. But despite his amazement of the sight, the bird lures the fish into a false sense of friendship and proceeds to catch and eat it. However, this meal causes the bird to grow sick, turn orange and fall over dead, after which the fish in the lake begin to devour his corpse.


The idea for Bird Karma originated in the mid-1990s, when director William Salazar created a pencil test of a long-legged bird while working at Amblimation in London. After moving to Los Angeles to work at DreamWorks Animation, his work laid untouched in his attic for two decades. When DreamWorks announced it would launch an internal shorts program, Salazar revisited his idea and, over a period of three months, expanded his test into a three-minute animatic and pitched it to the program.

Besides Salazar, who animated over 75% of the film, other animators on Bird Karma included Jakob Jensen, Simon Otto, Kristof Serrand and Stephen Wood, most of whom had with Salazar since The Prince of Egypt. Salazar intended for the animation to have a "clean-rough" style; thus, the animators had to clean up their drawings on their own without a separate clean-up crew.

Production designer Raymond Zibach (Kung Fu Panda, The Road to El Dorado) painted all the backgrounds for the film, whose visual style was inspired by the works of J. M. W. Turner.[1]


Bird Karma made its world premiere on February 24, 2018, when it was included on a program of shorts as part of New York International Children's Film Festival, and was then attached to the Japanese theatrical release of The Boss Baby the following month on March 21[2] before it was shown as the opening program of the 2018 Annecy International Animated Film Festival that June. On December 21, 2018, the short was released on DreamWorks' official YouTube channel.[3]

Bird Karma, along with Bilby, was included on home video releases of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World on May 21, 2019.[4]


Bird Karma has met positive reception. It won the Audience Award at the 2018 San Francisco International Film Festival, and was lauded when screened at CalArts, Gnomon and the CTN Animation Expo.[3]


  1. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (December 3, 2018). "EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Bringing a 2D Touch to DreamWorks Animation Short 'Bird Karma'". Animation World Network. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Amidi, Amid (November 15, 2017). "Dreamworks Is Going To Start Adding Shorts In Front Of Its Theatrical Films". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Wolfe, Jennifer (December 21, 2018). "WATCH: DreamWorks Animation Releases 'Bird Karma,' 'Bilby' Shorts Online". Animation World Network. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  4. ^ "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 4K Blu-ray". March 26, 2019. Retrieved March 26, 2019.