Pixar's newest animated short, The Blue Umbrella, is set to hit theaters this June, ahead of the CG prequel Monsters University.
The studio recently unveiled a peek at the six-minute film, billed as a love story, along with an official synopsis: It is just another evening commute until the rain starts to fall, and the city comes alive to the sound of dripping rain pipes, whistling awnings and gurgling gutters. And in the midst, two umbrellas—one blue, one not—fall eternally in love.
Directed by Saschka Unsel, who has worked in Pixar's camera and staging department since 2008 on such films as Brave, Cars 2 and Toy Story 3, the project marks the first time a short film will be conceived and directed by one of Pixar's technical artists. Here’s a first look, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:
Unseld wanted the scenes to appear photographic, even when inanimate objects come to life. To achieve the photoreal look, the Pixar team used techniques it hadn't used before, including global illumination, which simulates the way surfaces emit and reflect light, and can take 20 to 30 hours to render an image for one frame of film.
"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," said Steve May, Pixar's chief technology officer.
The film also marks Pixar's first use of "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 also using global illumination and some compositing in Monsters University.
From Pixar Animation Studios, director Saschka Unseld and producer Marc Greenberg, The Blue Umbrella opens in theaters on June 21, 2013, in front of Monsters University.