london-based film director george wu has created ‘the dawn chorus’, a deceptively simple short film to celebrate the joyous moment the birds welcome in the day. the movie is a mix of high-end style alongside cheeky puppetry commissioned by short film strand random acts run by UK TV channel 4.

george wu the dawn chorus designboom
the trumpet and double bass birds



‘my work explores both the beautiful and the ridiculous,’ says wu. ‘I loved cheeky hand puppets from the 70s and 80s TV we saw as children, and so I’ve set hand-crafted funny little characters to elegant jazz.’

george wu the dawn chorus designboom
the trumpet lead – powered by the trumpet’s three keys


look closely and you’ll realise every single note has been meticulously calculated to trigger a movement from the puppet, an incredibly complex process. the largest instrument is the piano bird choir, which has 5 birds each triggered by a single note.

george wu the dawn chorus designboom
the piano choir


with influences as diverse as sergei prokofiev’s ‘peter and the wolf’, alexander calder’s ‘circus’ and 70’s TV fingerbobs, the end result is subtle and beautiful. wu is currently working on the next episode in this series.

george wu the dawn chorus designboom
the rhythm second made of woodpeckers


project info:


written and directed: george wu
producer: cherry jordan
music: athos tsiopani
director of photography: ian forbes

editor: george wu
grade: vic parker
art department: george wu and arthur harmsworth
camera assist: alan mcilrath
gaffer: robbie gray

double bass: doug kemp
piano: athos tsiopani
trumpet: finlay hetherington
clarinet: murray wham
drums: terry peng
recorded and engineered by dee o’leary


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom