A Closer Look at Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella and Director Interview #MonstersUEvent

I can promise you one thing. After seeing Pixar’s newest short film The Blue Umbrella, you will never view a rainy day the same again. The Blue Umbrella animated short will be playing before Monsters University, opening in theaters on June 21, 2013. Make sure you arrive early, because you won’t want to miss the magic of this film.

The Blue Umbrella Animated Short

A chat with director Saschka Unseld, during a recent press trip, revealed that The Blue Umbrella is 100% animation. You might be wondering what the big deal is about that, after all isn’t that what Pixar is known for?But trust me when you see the animated short this little tidbit of information will be astounding. I watched the short thinking that it was a blend of animation and actors, and after seeing the film twice now am still shaking my head in disbelief. It’s quite remarkable.

I was captivated from the moment the first rain drop hit the ground.

There are two themes intertwined as the title character strives to meet the red umbrella, but more than that it’s about how a city comes to life when it rains. There are faces to be found everywhere in the city. I don’t want to say too much and give away the film, but like I said earlier you will be looking at things a little differently after watching The Blue Umbrella.

While in San Francisco, I had a chance to sit down with The Blue Umbrella Director Saschka Unseld and a group of bloggers for some Q&A.

The Blue Umbrella Director Saschka Unseld

Director Saschka Unseld on the creative process:

Generally on every movie that comes out, there’s new technical innovations that are being used. Especially with the short films, you can test something out without putting into jeopardy the production schedule of a feature, which is kind of nice. If you don’t hit the theatrical release date there, that’s a bigger problem.

A lot of it was just approaching it creatively differently. As a hobby, I’ve done photo series on this. I love details in reality. Like for a fan I did a photo series of just sidewalk asphalt plates, and the 3 way cracks out there, and in some areas there’s more kind of these black dots from chewing gums, and on the side there’s something from a tree which probably stands 10 meters down the street.

And just the complexity and the beauty of all these details you can see in the city. And a lot of it was me and the team going on trips into the city and looking at all these details, like, on the side of a newspaper box there’s streaks of probably someone tying their shoelace, and then you have the streak of the black rubber from the shoe there.

Or the way these things are moved around has a certain way. There’s scratches on them. Everything kind of tells a story to it. And a big, big struggle in the beginning was getting people to change how they work. Like, it was amazing how much people are used to doing things in a more stylized, cartoony way.

The Blue Umbrella

Another question for Unseld was what city is the film based on?

Unseld told us there is clearly New York, because he went on two trips there to take photos. There are some characters, from the city of San Francisco. The the very first character on the sidewalk we called her Lisa. They actually have all names because you couldn’t say, like, you know that weird metal thing in the 15th shot? Lisa is two blocks down from where I live. So that’s from San Francisco. I looked through all the photos I had done from Paris, and there is the building in the film where you see just the rooftop with two windows being the eyes, and then the rain pipe being the mouth. That’s a building, um, in Paris. So I think it’s mostly New York, San Francisco, and then a bit of sprinkled stuff.

Where did the story come from?

I was living here (San Francisco) 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. I took a picture of it. 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. That picture stuck with me and, and I was thinking about stories I wanted to tell. 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, some of the ribs are sticking out, and it it’s a super sad sight. I wanted to tell a story with that.

I thought about first the umbrella wants to get back to the owner, and it’s kind of a break-up story, like, someone broke up with you and you still want to be with that person, and I couldn’t find a happy ending to that, sadly. I abandoned that story, and then it became, the owner wants to move to somewhere where it never rains, and the umbrella doesn’t want to, but I couldn’t find a happy end for that either. And then I was thinking of why do I like the rain so much? And it became me thinking about where I grew up it rains much more than here. And I really like cities in the rain a lot. I think they become beautiful like in Hamburg, in Germany.

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.

Be sure to check out The Blue Umbrella when you see Monsters University in theaters starting on June 21st!

Like Monsters University on Facebook!

All-expense paid press trip provided by Disney/Pixar. No compensation was received. Opinions are mine.

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  1. This is going to be really cool. I cannot wait!

  2. I love the Pixar shorts, they’re always so cute! This one looks adorable!

  3. I’m still astonished at the brilliant animation in this too. Utterly spellbinding! You’re so right about it making us look at things a little differently. :)

  4. I always love the shorts before the film with Pixar movies. I’m sure this one will be fantastic, too.

  5. Too cute! I can’t wait to see this short. The animation looks awesome.

  6. I really want to see this, I keep hearing about it!

  7. I loved the blue umbrella! Kind of reminded me of Paperman, a simple love story done in a few minutes. And perfectly lovely.

  8. We loved the paper airplane short! Can’t wait to see this one too!

  9. I love the clip. Pixar makes great shorts and this one I can tell will be one of those that I will quickly fall in love with. :)

  10. Ohh this sounds great! I’m looking forward to seeing it now – I already have Monsters Uni on the list of must go and see films ;) xx

  11. I love the sound of rain I bet this whole clip would be cute to watch.

  12. I actually cried when I saw this short film.
    This is one of my favorite parts of Disney Pixar Movies, the short films.
    I loved that the street items were trying to get them together, you could feel their excitement, their joy, their pain…

  13. one of my FAVORITE part fo pixar movies is the shorts!! we love them .

  14. My son is going to flip for this! He has such a big imagination and loves stuff like this.

  15. I saw this short last week and loved it! Great behind-the-scenes look.

  16. I can’t wait to see this! It’s so different than other Pixar films!

  17. this looks like a cute movie my daughter would enjoy!

  18. I’m soo excited and can’t wait to see the movie…. This was super cute, thanks for sharing

  19. That looks so adorable! I love these little mini-films that they show before the movie. Such amazing talent, too.

  20. I thought the short was adorable. All of us loved it. I love how one tiny idea got blown up into one creative masterpiece!

  21. I love Pixar shorts! Can’t wait for Monster’s U and Blue Umbrella!

  22. This was such a sweet short! So cute!

  23. It’s such a beautiful film! He did such an amazing job!

  24. I love the creativity behind this!

  25. Pixar always has the best shorts — I love them!

  26. Christina Kelbel says:

    wow this sounds very cool! I love rain and rainy days, so just that idea has me very intrigued. I want to see this now, I might have to check youtube and see if it’s on there. thanks for the review.

  27. rebeccabasset says:

    Oh no I missed this but I did see a small clip of it on IMDb and it looks awfully cute, I will try to find more than a clip though.

    Thanks for the post!


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