Next Pixar Short Revealed: ‘The Blue Umbrella’

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about Pixar’s next feature film, Monsters University. However, this week brought us our first news about the short that will air in front of the highly anticipated prequel, as Pixar announced their next animated short, The Blue Umbrella.

The Blue Umbrella, directed by Pixar technical artist Saschka Unseld, tells the love story of two umbrellas against the backdrop of a rainy city. The official synopsis reads, “Amidst the rain in a singing city, two umbrellas – one blue, one not – fall eternally in love.”

While the film will feature everyday objects coming alive through facial expressions, the film will overall have a very “photorealistic” look that required the use of some brand new special effects techniques. These included global illumination, which simulates the way in which surfaces reflect and emit light, and deep compositing, which gives the image a greater depth of field through the use of layering three-dimensional images (rather than two-dimensional ones). About the use of global illumination, Pixar’s chief technology officer Steve May told the Wall Street Journal:

“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.”

Pixar’s brand-new use of these techniques in The Blue Umbrella proved to be a useful training ground, as they then went on to use some of these techniques for Monsters University as well. John Lasseter told the Wall Street Journal:

“What was exciting about the idea of ‘The Blue Umbrella’ was setting the story in a city where the city landscape has faces that come alive. Through this we could try to create some imagery that looked absolutely photorealistic, and also bring in some amazing tools that have been developed for the special-effects industry and see what we could learn from them.”

To give you a sneak peek of what to expect from this charming and innovative new short, check out this short clip from the film below:

The Blue Umbrella will debut in theaters in front of Monsters University on June 21, 2013.


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