SHARING AMERICA'S TECH NEWS FROM THE VALLEY TO THE ALLEY
In June, Pixar’s latest, Monsters University, comes with the expected pre-feature short. But The Blue Umbrella is something different. It’s the studio’s first try at photorealistic animation—and its director is the first to come not from story but from Pixar’s camera and staging department. Animation fans, meet Saschka Unseld.
A technical artist by trade, Unseld worked on the cinematography of films like Toy Story 3, for which he spent months tweaking shots of the horrified faces of Woody and friends as they approached the incinerator (“a dark time,” as he calls it). At Pixar anyone can submit short-film ideas, and Unseld developed a pitch based on a photo that had stuck in his mind of an abandoned umbrella. A panel of Pixar heavyweights liked it enough to send Unseld to John Lasseter, who approved the story. The Blue Umbrella was born.
Unseld says he’s trying to create magic that can only be achieved when a story is set in our mundane world—a magic he realized with new illumination techniques, motion-capture work, and countless hours of computer power (some frames took as long as 30 hours to render). “There are no limits to how animation can look and feel,” he says. “I’m interested in pushing people’s perceptions of what an animated movie can be.” Even if it’s only for six minutes and 45 seconds.
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