Bird Karma is a 2018 traditionally animated short film written and directed by William Salazar. It was the first short released from the DreamWorks Shorts program, and DreamWork Animation's first fully 2D-animated project since 2003's Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.


A long-legged bird lands on a foggy lake, and eats fish in time with the music. Eventually, the bird sees a sparkling orange fish jumping out of the water and vainly tries to catch it until it rains. When the sky clears, the bird again spots the fish and gives chase. As the bird pursues its prey, it is dazzled by the fish's rainbow trails when it leaps out of the water. Eventually, the bird successfully catches the fish by feigning friendliness, and proceeds to eat it. However, this meal makes the bird deathly sick, and the other fish in the lake devour its corpse.


Development on Bird Karma began in the mid-1990s, when director William Salazar created a pencil test of a long-legged bird while working in London at Amblimation. When Salazar moved to Los Angeles to work at DreamWorks Animation, his work was moved to his attic, where it lay untouched for two decades. When DreamWorks Shorts was announced, Salazar developed his test into a three-minute animatic and pitched it to the program.

While Salazar animated over 75% of the short, other Bird Karma animators include Jakob Jensen, Simon Otto, Kristof Serrand, and Stephen Wood, most of whom had worked with Salazar since The Prince of Egypt. Salazar intended for the short's aesthetics to be "clean-rough". This was accomplished by avoiding the use of a cleanup crew; each animator had to clean up their drawings on their own. All backgrounds were painted by production designer Raymond Zibach, who previously worked on The Road to El Dorado and Kung Fu Panda. The backgrounds' visual style was inspired by the works of J.M.W. Turner[1].


Bird Karma had it's world premiere on February 24, 2018, where it was included in a program of shorts at shown at the New York International Children's Film Festival. On March 21, 2018, Bird Karma was attached to the Japanese theatrical release of The Boss Baby[2], while that June, it was shown as the opening program of the 2018 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. DreamWorks Animation's official YouTube channel uploaded the short on December 21, 2018[3]Bilby and Bird Karma were both included on home video releases of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World on May 21, 2019[4].


Bird Karma has met with generally positive reception. The short 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].


DreamWorks Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Bird Karma.


Bird Karma is the fourth DreamWorks Animation short film to be rated G by the MPAA, after The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper, Almost Home, and Panda Paws.


  1. Wolfe, Jennifer (December 3, 2018). EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Bringing a 2D Touch to DreamWorks Animation Short 'Bird Karma'. Animation World Network. Retrieved on August 21, 2019.
  2. Amidi, Amid (November 15, 2017). DreamWorks Is Going To Start Adding Shorts In Front Of Its Theatrical Films. Cartoon Brew. Retrieved on August 21, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wolfe, Jennifer (December 21, 2018). WATCH: DreamWorks Animation Releases 'Bird Karma,' 'Bilby' Shorts Online. Animation World Network. Retrieved on August 21, 2019.
  4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 4K Blu-ray. (March 26, 2019). Retrieved on August 21, 2019.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.