FIRST LOOK: Pixar’s “Blue Umbrella” short

This is exciting – a clip from Pixar’s newest short film, The Blue Umbrella directed by Saschka Unseld, which is due to be released with Monsters University in June.

Amidst the rain in a singing city, two umbrellas – one blue, one not – fall eternally in love.

(via The Wall Street Journal)


  • James

    Couldn’t quite tell from the clip, but is this all CGI, or live-action with animated faces on the umbrellas.

    Reminds me a bit of that Disney short about the fedora that falls in love with a bonnet.

  • http://www.amidamidi.com Amid Amidi

    James – Looks like a CG film to me.

    My first reaction when I saw the simple expressions pasted onto realistic objects: it reminded me graphically of Arthur Metcalf’s Fantasie in Bubblewrap”, especially with the spacing between the eyes, as well as mouth placement. Having said that, I know the directors of both films and their sensibilities couldn’t be more different. I’m also not implying anything because there are other films that use a similar style. Just a late-night gut reaction from someone who watches a lot of shorts.

    It’s also delightful to see one of the most advanced CG studios in the world do something so restrained and graphically conceptual. Even in this short clip, it’s a lot of fun to see the range of acting they achieve with simple turns of the umbrella and spare facial animation. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished film.

    • https://twitter.com/spitandspite Cool

      I agree with AAs observation that it’s awesome that such a huge studio is still demonstrating their dedication to story content over just visuals.

      Super inspiring to independent filmmakers and a great reminder of what anyone working on shorts should be focusing on.

    • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

      I thought the same thing (first time ever?).

  • Hank

    So–computers can achieve realism?

    What’s happened to cartoons?

    • http://www.amidamidi.com Amid Amidi

      The cartoonish black dot eyes are much preferable to the over-rendered glossy eyes used in every CG feature.

      • http://dtoons.com Dtoons

        It’s great they’re trying this out. Hopefully Blue Sky will take note, so they won’t give the Peanuts characters weird glossy eyes in their upcoming movie.

    • Klyph

      This is one.

  • http://thmazing.com Th.

    .

    I thought the exact same thing. I know the films will be completely different, but anyone who’s seen Fantaisie in Bubblewrap will have a hard time not seeing it in these umbrellas.

  • Tonnio

    After a long while Pixar goes back to simple and powerful ideas. Good for them!
    CGI human characters can be done by almost anyone. Now appealing anthropomorphic characters is another game where only a few excel..

  • Dry Bones Films

    maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting distracted with the face attachment to the objects. Some of the blue umbrella feels like it’s sliding with the camera moves, and it keeps pulling me out. With such minimalist features, I want to feel them locked down a little tighter to the umbrellas, or, if they’re not actually sliding relative to the object (they appear to be CG umbrellas, so maybe they’re mapped, but I doubt it), then the faces ought to be tweaked relative to the camera as well. I hope they clean that up, because I really like the “non-CGI puppet” direction this is headed.

  • Animador

    CGI Animation = More real than real

  • Drew

    it’s all animation. no live action

    • Hank

      It’s all CG. No live action. But where’s the”animation?”

      • CGAnimator

        Umm… I see a lot of animation… a lot of really good animation by the wonderful ARTISTS at Pixar.

        The idea that CG “isn’t really animation” is seriously outdated. It’s hard to believe people still have this viewpoint.

        • http://the-queen-of-gates.tumblr.com Nnenna

          I guess some people mistake the word “animation” with “cartoons”.

        • Hank

          Why would you suggest that CG animation isn’t “real “animation? I certainly don’t believe nor said so. I was talking about this particular clip.
          Those eyes are certainly well animated.

          • CGAnimator

            Sorry, must have misunderstood your comment.

  • http://the-queen-of-gates.tumblr.com Nnenna

    When I saw this I immediately thought of the “Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet” short from Disney. It sounds almost exactly the same, but with umbrellas instead of hats.

  • J

    how fitting that something animated in Vancouver, is about rainy umbrellas.

  • akira

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted."]

  • eron

    reminds me of Johnny Fedora & Alice Bluebonnet
    . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3lAztMhIWI

  • Charmed

    It’s so charming! SO charming! SO SO charming. SO f***ing charming!!!

  • Fox Heres

    This looks pretty uninteresting to me. I’m not really feeling the past few Pixar shorts at all. Too cutesy, too message-oriented, too dull.

    I guess the bulletproof days of Pixar are behind them.

    • http://www.philwillis.com.au Phil Willis

      Couldn’t agree more.

      I thought I was going to be the only crusty old man saying “Boring. Seen it.” but this is the same as Paperman.

      Not taking anything away from the technical triumphs in Paperman – but the story was about as tired as they come.

      This looks the same.

      Let me guess – they fall in love – they get separated in the crowd then it’s up to the blue umbrella (obviously not the pink one – she’s just a girl after all) to find his true love. The end.

      I know these shorts typically screen in the cinema before the main family movie, but the recent crop of stories are fairly uninspiring.

      Maybe I’m getting the wrong idea from the teaser, but from what I’ve seen – this does nothing for me.

      • http://www.rubberhousestudio.com Greg Sharp

        Agreed, make it two gay umbrellas, or two umbrellas getting a divorce or something. Or make the girl umbrella make the first move like in real-life…

        • Romans5Three

          I just saw it and I thought they were gay. The blue seems kind of adrogynous so it could go be male or female. The glimpses of the human looked feminim, but they could just be slender like Paperman.

  • hotdogface

    I thought this was a joke at first. It looks like some cheesy high school video project you’d see on Youtube. Even if the umbrellas are CG as opposed to live-action, the integration of the faces seems deliberately awful. As a tech demo for the rain effects it’s fine, but as a short it looks pretty bad. The story, from the admittedly small section shown, looks to be a generic love story we’ve seen a million times before. BOO PIXAR. BOO.

    • http://monstroanimation.blogspot.com/p/animation-article-database.html Jonah Sidhom

      Deliberately awful? I kind of feel like you have a bias against Pixar. It looks great.

      Besides, it’s a less-than-30-second clip. I’d hold off any judgements until we see more.

      • hotdogface

        By “deliberately awful” I meant that since they went to the trouble of actually animating the umbrellas, reflections, rain etc as realistically as possible, it seems like a waste of time and money when the final effect looks like live-action with a crudely drawn smiley face mapped to it. That would take about 10 minutes to do, as opposed to this which probably took weeks to achieve the same effect. The effort is impressive but it still looks dumb.

    • Emily

      I thought it was a joke too at first. Not bc of the visuals, but the story.

  • http://www.skwigly.co.uk Steve Henderson

    That blue umbrella is pretty creepy watching the other one in the shower.

  • Paranorman

    This is not incredibly original. Disney already did something similar with Melody Time. Two hats falling in love were featured in that package film.

  • M.V.

    Cute, the similarities to Johnny Fedora & Alice Bluebonnet must be intentional.

    But those faces are just kind of floating there. I think this demonstrates a hurdle that cg has a hard time overcoming.
    Those umbrellas look vinyl, i can see it wrinkle and wrap around the spines. i can see the water drip down. but the eyebrows don’t seem to effect the surrounding “flesh”. Why doesn’t the mouth sink in? Those graphic abstractions you take for granted in illustration become problematic when brought into a medium that it going to give everything depth and surface if you want it or not.

    Makes me concerned for the BlueSky Peanuts movie.

  • Matthew Koh

    Would it be better if this short film is live action footage but with animated faces on it?

    • hotdogface

      It would make a lot more sense from a budget point of view, since that’s what it looks like anyway.

  • http://Mattmaners.blogspot.com Matthew Maners

    The comments on this site are often insane. If you claim something looks bad then be specific. I keep seeing the word floaty, really? Frame by frame that clip, solid. Does the clip remind me and others of the Disney short about the hats, yes but again we will have to wait and see the whole short. I look forward to seeing this, nice to see Pixar reeling it in and doing something stylized and following a trend.

  • Dieter

    “Ballad of Johnny Fedora & Alice Bluebonnet” =D

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Cartoonnetwork

    While I don’t think it’s badly done or anything I have to agree with those who say it looks pretty much as if they maped the faces around life action umbrellas. And I know very little about CGI animation, but I think that wouldn’t be so difficult to do it right?

    Anyway they did the photo-realistic animation, which is a difficult part.

    I think it looks…interesting. A different look, but not sure if a more technically challenging one.

    As for the story, like others said, looks simmilar to the Johnny Fedora one and maybe a little too cutesy in its romance. The Knick Knack short has more of an edge with the (now censored) boobs and the notion that the iceman could be more of a wolf than a romantic. It also had some good slapstick attached to it. I don’t expect too many of these qualities here or in anything Pixar now.

    Also , like others said, they really should use eyes like these in the Peanuts movie.

  • http://grillhouse.blogspot.ca/ Steffi-alien

    What is the point doing all the work and make it as realistic as possible? Where is the style, creativity and imagination?
    Yes, it is impressive to recreate something as realistic as possible but at the end it is pretty boring. Same with those hyper realistic portraits and paintings, impressive but everyone can do something like this with a camera.

    The story seems to be really dull too. Another love story, yawn… Same with songs, most of them about love and relationships. I have nothing against Love as topic, because love is a great thing, but it is done to death and most movies and songs feel empty and unimaginative to me.
    Instead of doing a hyper realistic love story, they could do a 2D animated short(“day and night” was great!)with another cool topic for the story.

  • Steve Carras

    It IS like “Johnny Fedora and Alice Bonnett” most notably without the ANdrews Sisters or any other vocalizing, still good in its own right..Paperman had a similar plot with humans.

    • hartsx3

      thank you thank you…it was driving me crazy what it was reminding me of!