First Look: New Pixar Short 'The Blue Umbrella' by Saschka Unseld

January 7, 2013

The Blue Umbrella Short

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:

Pixar's The Blue Umbrella

Update: Here's another photo posted from Pixar Times, showing The Blue Umbrella from a different angle.

Pixar's The Blue Umbrella

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.

Find more posts: Animation, First Look, Pixar, Short Film



Now THIS looks like the Pixar I knew and loved. Looks fantastic!

Danimal on Jan 7, 2013


My son said it was a bit short. I enjoyed it.

Carpola on Jan 7, 2013


Tell your son that's not the full short, it's just a clip.

Kris Kail on Jan 7, 2013


I told him right in the eyeball with a chair, he cried all day and then was happy that he'd be able to see more. I really need to read these articles sometimes. 🙂

Carpola on Jan 9, 2013


Una mierda

Sheldor on Jan 7, 2013


camera and staging department - lighting too... this guy comes from exactly the place you'd expect a director to emerge in animation. Sadly too many roles that are indeed art tend to lean toward technical titles.. its wrong.

dom on Jan 7, 2013


Usually in animation directors come from either character design or storyboards because they understand how to shape the story through the art. Camera, staging, lighting, these aren't really story telling abilities. They CAN be, but when you're making an $85 million animated feature film the studio execs need to be sure you can handle the job, not just make it look good.

Kris Kail on Jan 7, 2013


The best 20 seconds to come out of Pixar for a while 🙂

Ricardo_PT on Jan 7, 2013


I have had Saschka as a teacher and I have also worked at the studio he co-founded in Germany(Studio SOI) and I have just been waiting for him to direct a Pixar short. He is crazy talented in all areas of animation and I am sure it won't be long before he will direct a Pixar feature!

Peter Egeberg on Jan 7, 2013


I wonder.....what would look better: this, or real umbrella's with animated black eyes/mouth as seen in this video? It sure would have been cheaper. Yes, yes, it IS very good work, I get that 😉

David Banner on Jan 7, 2013


Where can I get the red umbrella

Mia on Jul 1, 2013


are they ever going to put this out for the public on a shorts dvd or something because I enjoyed it a lot.

leroy002 on Jul 26, 2013

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