First Look: New Pixar Short 'The Blue Umbrella' by Saschka Unseld
It looks completely adorable already! In addition to teasing some concept art for their upcoming projects, Pixar has also decided to unveil their new short film playing in front of Monsters University this summer (out June 21st). It's called The Blue Umbrella and the first introduction includes mention of the rather interesting director, Saschka Unseld, who pitched his way up from the technical artists section of Pixar, where the specialties range from lighting to clothing-simulation software, not usually where directors come from but he has some obvious talent. The reveal includes a quick clip from the new short film, see it below.
In Pixar's Blue Umbrella, the look of the film was to appear photographic, even though it's about umbrellas. Some scenes could take 20 to 30 hours to render one frame. "We had never at Pixar attempted to produce images that looked absolutely photorealistic," John Lasseter told Wall Street Journal (via Pixar Times). "We try to simulate those things in computer animation, but the truth is, until just recently, we didn't have the computational power or clever enough algorithms to actually do the more realistic kind of computations," explains chief technology officer Steve May. Here's an image and a clip, for a better idea of the look and feel:
Update: Here's another photo posted from Pixar Times, showing The Blue Umbrella from a different angle.
The Blue Umbrella is the creation of 36-year-old Saschka Unseld, who has worked in Pixar's camera and staging department since 2008. "The six-minute film is about a blue umbrella that takes a fancy to a red umbrella and, in trying to follow that fancy, gets weather-beaten and wind-blown during a rainstorm." It's attached to play in front of Pixar's Monsters University prequel this June. Unseld has worked at Pixar in the camera and staging department since 2008. Prior to that, he went to film school in his native Germany and later started an animation company with friends, where they made animated short films for television.
The WSJ article goes on to say that Pixar used techniques for this short, to make it photo-real, that they've barely used before. One is global illumination, "which simulates the way surfaces emit and reflect light." Another is deep compositing, "in which a scene is created by layering images with three-dimensional data, instead of flat, two-dimensional data, giving the filmmakers greater control over the look of the film and viewers the experience of greater depth of field." These are tools common with visual effects, but Pixar is always trying to push animation. This looks wonderful even for 30 seconds, I'm excited to see it this June.