"The important part is, do you have characters that people care about? And do the characters draw you in? Do you find yourself scared or moved to tears, or are you laughing?" he said. "If we are making you feel all those things, then we are doing our job as filmmakers. And the animation part is just secondary, you know? And I wish it was seen as that. We're not some subgroup," Bird said.
The movie is the sixth of seven features to be released under the sometimes uneasy relationship between Disney and Pixar. If it does well, it could help Pixar negotiate a new deal with a studio, with the aim of keeping more profits from its immensely successful films.
Bird said if Pixar is interested, he'd like to return to the sprawling Pixar complex in Emeryville, Calif., to make another film.
"I think that on a really basic kind of bonehead level, animation is just cool," said Bird. "It's like the magic trick that you can't ever figure out. It's like the characters are thinking, living things with pasts and desires and dreams, and things they are afraid of. They really look like they are alive. And yet, you know they are not alive. And there is something that's mesmerizing about that, on a real simple level. Once you get a little taste of that, you want to see more.
"Yes, it's a tedious road sometimes to get to that point," he said. "But once you get there, the feeling of creating life in a sense is amazing."