Pixar’s new short, “The Blue Umbrella,” will play in front of “Monsters University” this summer (in theaters June 21, 2013), but they couldn’t wait that long to show it to us. Thus, we get a 30-second clip below.
Like every other Pixar short or feature film, “The Blue Umbrella” looks completely adorable with totally realistic features on usually inanimate objects. It’s directed by 36-year-old Saschka Unseld, who’s worked in Pixar’s camera and staging department since 2008 (it takes a village to raise a Pixar short).
Prior to that, he attended film school in his native Germany and later started an animation company with friends, where they made animated short films for television.
“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,” explained Unseld in a Wall Street Journal story.
“The Blue Umbrella” is about, of course, umbrellas, but the filmmakers wanted it to look photographic, and some scenes took upwards of 30 hours to build one frame.
The Wall Street Journal story notes that Pixar used photo-real techniques that haven’t been used much 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 giving viewers the experience of greater depth of field.
“We had never at Pixar attempted to produce images that looked absolutely photorealistic,” John Lasseter told the Wall Street Journal.
Chief technology officer Steve May added, “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.”
I cannot WAIT to see this in June.