If you’ve seen Pixar’s latest feature, Monsters University, you will have been charmed by the animated short film that played before it. Written and directed by Saschka Unseld, The Blue Umbrella tells the story of two umbrellas that fall in love, despite running into a few challenges along the way. Prior to The Blue Umbrella, Saschka worked on Toy Story 3, Cars 2 and Brave. He is currently in the staging and layout department of Pixar’s next feature, The Good Dinosaur. We caught up with the uber-creative Mr Unseld to find out his favourite apps and gadgets, and to get a peek at his seriously cool workspace.
Location: San Francisco, CA; Currently in the Tendernob
Current gig: Working on Pixar’s next feature, The Good Dinosaur, in the staging and layout department. All the while also writing on tons of my ideas and scripts.
Current mobile devices: iPhone and iPad mini
Current computers: Macbook Air (for Pixar work and private); Linux Box (for Pixar work)
One word that best describes how you work: Calmly
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Doesn’t have to be tech.
Going on walks to think and relax. On the software side: RSS reader (currently Feedly), mobile photography apps (currently Oggl, Camera+, and Instagram), Gmail, a Kindle for script reading, and iaWriter, WriteRoom, and Final Draft for iPad for writing.
What’s your workspace like?
At work: two vintage chairs and a coffee table for relaxed reading and writing, a Marshall speaker/amp with my old iPhone for music, a Zassenhaus hand coffee grinder and tiny plunger for coffee breaks, a standing desk for Pixar work, and a big black pinboard for specially mapping out visuals and ideas.
Anywhere else: pen and paper to write, and a gadget to get it into the cloud: iPhone, iPad, or Macbook Air, and Google Drive and Dropbox sync.
Pictured above: Saschka’s workspace at Pixar.
What’s your best life hack?
Having breakfast at my local cafe every morning before heading to work. It makes me get up early, makes my brain start thinking about the day, and it makes me happy.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
Emailing myself, and any.Do for iPhone.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Being calm and being on time.
Pictured above: Pixar memorabilia in Saschka’s office.
What do you listen to while you work?
I go through phases. Sometimes I need music, sometimes I need quiet. I started listening to Steve Reich Ensemble’s Music for 18 Musicians for writing though (based on a tip by Michael Chabon) and am absolutely loving it.
What are you currently reading?
I’m in the process of reading myself through the WGA top 100 scripts.
What’s your sleep routine like?
It depends on my mood. I can do very late nights without much sleep before getting up, but I also enjoy hitting bed before 12. I prefer to get up between 6:30 and 8am though.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Too much to list. But my latest words of wisdom I found on a random book cover that said: “Remember ideas become things.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Do yourself a favour and watch Joss Whedon’s commencement speech at Wesleyan University.
We’ve asked a handful of heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Every week we’ll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips and tricks that keep them going. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.