I was blown Away by the Animation in The Blue Umbrella while at #MonstersUEvent

I attended a Press Event for Monsters University in April. My Flight, Hotel and Meals were taken care of for me. I present these posts about the #MonstersUEvent 100% my own honest opinion.

The Blue Umbrella Director, Saschka Unseld talks with press at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Pixar Animation Studios. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Alexandra Ambrose/Pixar)
The Blue Umbrella Director, Saschka Unseld talks with press at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Pixar Animation Studios. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Alexandra Ambrose/Pixar)

While I attended the Monsters University Press event back in April I was able to speak with the director of the Pixar animated short, The Blue Umbrella, Saschka Unseld. Did you know that before every Pixar movie there is a short film? I hadn’t really taken note of it before but it is true. Before the movie Brave there was the short La Luna and before the movie Monsters University that is being released June 21, 2013, there will be the short, The Blue Umbrella. The short is completely animated but you will not think it true at all because it is so realistic that it is near impossible to tell. Some of you won’t believe that it is animated, but it is.

The Blue Umbrella is a love story that takes place in the rain on a busy city street during rush hour. The short starts out quiet but as the drops begin to fall the tone becomes lively and playful and the city comes alive. Inanimate objects take on personalities and celebrate the love story unfolding before them.I thought the short was amazing and the story was wonderful. Take a look at this clip. Obviously the faces are animated but look at the detail of the umbrellas as the rain pours over them.

As I said, I was able to speak with Saschka Unseld. I was part of a round table discussion but prior to that I spoke with him along with Geek Dad Editor-in-Chief, Matt Blum at the reception that followed the screening. We talked about a bunch of things from our impressions of the short as well as movie making in general. We asked him what cities influenced the creation of the movie. I was convinced that the short was filmed on a street in New York City, however, it was entirely animated. There were elements of the buildings and the city that were certainly influenced by New York but also, Paris and many other cities. The reason that the short looks so real is the detail of the features in the city like the wear and tear on buildings, mailboxes and more. This wear and tear brings out a personality in the objects that lend not only to the animated side but to the realistic side as well. Saschka was very interesting to talk to and I was glad to have that personal time with him to discuss the short.

"THE BLUE UMBRELLA"  (Pictured) BLUE and RED. ©2013 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
“THE BLUE UMBRELLA” (Pictured) BLUE and RED. ©2013 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

During the round table discussion the next day we delved deeper into the process of creating this movie. The animators had many challenges including getting the details down to the look of screws on a mailbox just right. Objects needed to be animated but not look animated at the same time. Features of the objects become eyes and mouths and not in a silly animated way but rather in a natural way using their existing features. A slight upturn to a seam on mailbox becomes a smile, screws and bolts become eyes.

One of the other bloggers asked Saschka what was his inspiration for the story. He said, “I was living here already since, like, four years or something like this. And it really rarely rained. And then finally it was raining. And I went for a walk through the city, and I saw an umbrella someone had thrown away on the side of the street. Um, and I took a picture of it. Like, I think, on the, on the Tumblr blog I have, the first post of that is that photo I had taken. I had this weird, incognito blog called Rainy City Tales on Tumblr that I actually was running during the production. Um, and that picture stuck with me and, and I was thinking about stories I wanted to tell. I just… It’s this weird thing. You see this umbrella and it’s just an object, but it looks so sad, and it looks kind of so down and drenched and, like, some, some kind of, of the ribs are sticking out, and it just, I don’t know. It’s a super sad sight. And, um, I wanted to tell a story with that.

You’ll get a chance to see Saschka’s final vision and story when The Blue Umbrella premieres with Monsters University on June 21, 2013. Once you see it, let me know what you thought of it.

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