Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pixar's Latest Short "The Blue Umbrella" - Sneak Peek and History

Copyright Disney•Pixar
UPDATED text (and an additional image) is has been added to the bottom of the post - January 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM EST

Director: Saschka Unseld
Producer: Marc Greenberg
Score: Jon Brion with vocals provided by Sarah Jaffe

It's been rumored that the Rainy City Tales 332 website/team was producing Pixar's next featured short film for quite some time and it was confirmed today via a great Wall Street Journal article and the rainycitytales332 twitter feed. Note - the link to the WSJ article was removed because the only way to fully view the article is to do a web search for "The Blue Umbrella Wall Street Journal" - it does not allow direct linking.

A 34-second clip that was released gives us a glimpse at a blue umbrella that becomes smitten by a nearby red umbrella - the blue umbrella gets pummeled by the wind and rough weather as it pursues the  red umbrella (clips below). Other details that have been revealed are that the short will premier along side the upcoming Monsters University (June 21, 2013) and will be directed by Saschka Unseld. Very excitingly (as is typical with new Pixar shorts and movies), the short will utilize new technology created exclusively by Pixar. The Blue Umbrella will utilize "global illumination" which simulates how surfaces will reflect light.  The other additional technical advancement is "deep compositing" in which three-dimensional data is layered into the animation (instead of two-dimensional data), which allows (among other things), increased depth of field.

The WSJ article also mentions that the city will come alive, "gutters grin, sewer drains smile and 'walk' signals spy". John Lasseter was also quoted as saying, "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."

Below is a collection of other interesting clips that will give you some additional insights and background of The Blue Umbrella from the Rainy City Tales 332 website.

We thought it was really neat that Saschka mentioned that he was moving to a new office in an October 31, 2012 post.

Another really interesting post from October 30, 2012 was when the team was recording sound for the short - this clip provides great insight as to the power of the wind and weather in the short.

These clips from October 11, 2012 and October 12, shows the effects artist's work and how rain interacts with cars on a wet street. These clips certainly highlight the chaos the city streets - this is not a calm, quite town!

This post from October 10, 2012 shows what originally looked like a wet and dented car hood - but we now know it is the red umbrella.

On August 9, 2012 a post revealed several small bits of information from the script.

This post from July 16, 2012 was our first hint that Saschka was directing this short.

This Pixar press photo of Saschka shows the similarities.

Finally, this drawing from June 27, 2012 clearly shows the main characters of the short (shown upside down) - hindsight is 20/20! Clever, very clever!

It certainly looks like the star of the new short isn't going to have an easy time chasing after his new crush. We can't wait to see this new adventure in theaters.

UPDATED January 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM EST

A new image has been released in a second Wall Street Journal article featuring a wider shot of the city and the two main characters. The article also additionally mentions that there were times when the frame rate of the rain drops is dropped from the standard rate of 24 frames per second to 12 frames per second. I'm guessing this add to the choppiness of the rain and increase the tension slightly - we can't wait to see this.

Copyright Disney Pixar
Additionally, Saschka has also noted on his Twitter feed that the score for the short was completed by Jon Brion with additional vocals by Sarah Jaffe

For those that don't follow Saschka on Twitter already, if you like photography, you definitely need to follow him on Instagram as well. He does an amazing series of images of his daily commute that are truly awesome if you like photojournalism-style people photography. You may even see a few photos that are similar between the Rainy City Tales 332 website and his personal Instagram page!

Here is a breakdown of how you can follow Saschka:

Twitter - @saschkaunseld
Instagram - Saschka
Personal Website - - with some images from Pixar films he's contributed to as well as some cool side-project work. From this clip below (uploaded two years ago), we can see that Saschka has had umbrellas on his mind for quite some time! 

As an additional side note, here is what the article looked like in today's Wall Street Journal - very cool to see the image in print.

For more information, see our additional posts on The Blue Umbrella

Pixar Post - T.J. & Julie