Dick and Ada Birds unusual nature films of birds won them assignments to film wild-life for Walt Disney.
OF ALL THE 16MM cameramen who are contributing unusual color footage for Walt Disneys series of True Life Adventures films, none, perhaps, is more unusual than Dick Bird. There are numerous instances where 16mm cameraman have graduated to 35mm, but Dick Bird is one of the very few 35mm professionals who gave up the old standard in favor of professional 16mm cinematography. Today, aided by his naturalist photographer-wife, Ada, Dick is gathering color footage in Northern Canada for future Disney short subjects. During his youth Bird worked as assistant cameraman, as cameraman, then assistant director. For a number of years he was a photographer for Universal, Biograph, Mutual, Selig, Lubin, Thanhauser, and Essanay—which indicates how early he got his start. Later, he became a newsreel cameraman, working for Fox, Hearst-Tribune, Screen News, Pathe and others. Subsequently, he spent a lot of time shooting animated cartoon films, which were used chiefly for advertising. Dick Bird became interested in photographing nature subjects just prior to World War II. A friend who was curator in the Provincial Museum in Regina, Canada—his home town— suggested that with all his professional experience he was ideally equipped to photograph nature subjects. Dick liked the idea but kept putting it off, believing that nature photography was easy—something he could turn to when he was old and retired from the strenuous work of globe-trotting with a newsreel camera.