Blue Umbrella, The (Animated Short)
Release date: June 20, 2013
Director: Saschka Unseld
Screenplay by: Saschka Unseld
Much has been hyped about the latest Pixar/Disney short, The Blue Umbrella — brilliantly titled Azul-lado in Spanish, a common play on words on “a su lado,” which means “by his/her side” — outside your normal press piece on The Wall Street Journal (which bounced off on every other blog online), the technological kinks on this animated short by Saschka Unseld seemed to honestly excite a myriad of industry professionals from animators, 3D modelers, motion designers and designers in general.
The story is quite simple- It begins raining and the city becomes alive… literally. Then Blue Umbrella shows up in a sea of black-colored umbrellas and meets Red Umbrella. It’s love at first drop of water.
Though, the results are stunning, especially in some of the shots used in the 3D environment (like the asphalt level angle) alongside the gorgeously composite frames with the lights (and shimmers) creating a wonderful atmosphere, the storytelling isn’t all that engrossing beyond the “that’s cute” response. Similar to Johnny Fedora & Alice Bluebonnet  or, in any case, last year’s Paperman  which was able to finally mix CGI almost seamlessly with traditional Disney-styled characters.
The biggest question that has arisen is why use animation at all  if you’re making it all look ultra-photorealistic, but it seems that animation (and the development of CGI) in this part of the world has been heading that way since WALL*E started piling cubes of trash in post-dumpster Earth. So while the animation style might rise a suspicious eyebrow among animators, the technological advancements have been made for an industry that seems to rely heavily in new technology as of lately.
Of course, there are a few kinks to work out within this photorealistic environment, and that’s the “doodly” faces used on the umbrellas (anyone knows Nick Jr’s Face?), which seem displaced in a universe of faceless black umbrellas, almost as if they had been scribbled onto the umbrellas at the last minute. Though they emote and are our only connection to these characters’ “souls,” I wonder if it had been better to have them without faces… almost… a little bit like Le Ballon Rouge.
The Blue Umbrella is included on Monsters University showings, and will -most likely- be up for an Animated Short nod when Oscar time comes.