CG Artists Toolkit - Animation and Character | Billy's Balloon


Billy's Balloon (1998) is an animated comedic short film created by Don Hertzfeldt. The beginning of the animation just shows Billy holding a balloon in one hand while occasionally shaking a rattle which lasts just long enough (40 seconds) for the viewer to build up a sense of uneasiness and begin to question what they're watching. After these 40 seconds, it becomes very apparent what is being shown; a child being repeatedly beaten by a balloon.

The film gets progressively more aggressive and over-the-top as more children being beaten by balloons come into frame, whether they're stuck on the floor with multiple balloons smacking into them or being lifted into the sky to be dropped to their deaths.

The suddenness of the balloons aggression is amusing and catches the viewer off-guard which makes for a very interesting and well-designed introduction to the short. On paper, it could seem as though the film would get repetitious and boring but, because of well-timed cuts and progression in action, this just doesn't seem to happen.

The main subjects of this short are definitely the balloons which is evident in the fact that they're the only thing with colour in the scene which causes you to wonder why. Why did Hertzfeldt decided to animate balloons beating up children? Why have the balloons be the focus instead of the children? Is it just some mindless fun or did Hertzfeldt intend this to be some kind of message? This film is just one big question.


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