Perhaps the only thing as good as (or better than) new Pixar movies are the wonderful short films that precede them. Not only are they great examples of short-form storytelling, but they also help to highlight some of the vast talent working behind the scenes at Pixar.
This is definitely the case with The Blue Umbrella, the new Pixar short that will appear before this summer's Monsters University. In it, a blue umbrella falls in love with a red umbrella. You know, just your usual off-beat but totally adorable Pixar stuff.
Recently, the The Wall Street Journal featured an extensive article about the new short, as well as a brief clip, which can be seen at the top of the article. In addition to showing off the undeniably cute blue and red umbrellas, the clip reveals some of the technical complexity of the film.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the short film breaks new ground for Pixar, using special effects techniques that the company hadn't used previously used to create a photorealistic animation style.
One special effect called global illumination "simulates the way surfaces emit and reflect light." Steve May, Pixar's chief technology officer, said that some scenes using this technique took as many as 30 hours to render only one frame of film.
Another new animation effect used in The Blue Umbrella is called "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." Pixar is using both of these techniques in Monsters University.
In addition to utilizing new technology, The Blue Umbrella represents another first for Pixar: It is the company's first short film to be directed by a technical artist. Saschka Unseld, who has worked in Pixar's camera and staging department since 2008, conceived the story and pitched it to Pixar's development team and, eventually, CEO John Lasseter.
What do you think of the short clip? Are you looking forward to watching The Blue Umbrella in front of Monsters University?
Monsters University hits theaters on June 21st, 2013.
Source: The Wall Street Journal