Pixar has revealed the lead character of its next short Lava. Meet Uku, the volcano. He's crusty and known to erupt in bursts of anger at any minute without warning, but he also has a very warm center in this 7 minute musical love story between two mountains. Take a look.

<strong><em>Lava</em></strong> Uku Volcano Photo

Uku and Lele are two mountains in love in the Pixar animated short Lava, which will have its premiere at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan in August, before being attached to prints of Pixar's next full-length feature Inside Out, in theaters June 2015.

Lava is directed James Ford Murphy, an animator who started working with Pixar on 1998's A Bug's Life. He came up with the idea for Lava more than twenty years ago, visiting Hawaii's Big Island while on his Honeymoon. He explains,

"I thought it would be so cool to fall in love with a place who's also a character. I wanted to make Uku appealing and likable but also look like he's been carved out of lava flows."

To pitch the idea to executives at Pixar, James Ford Murphy wrote his own love song to play on the ukulele, which actually appears in the movie. Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig, two world-renowned Hawaiian musicians, are recording the song for use in the short.

Most Pixar shorts are used to advance the technology that Pixar will later use on its feature films. With Lava, the filmmakers set out to achieve the sense of scale live action films can capture from a helicopter shot within the world of 3-D animation. This is usually too much visual information for the computers to handle.

Says the director,

"This whole story has been an exercise in contrast. Volcanoes are so destructive, but they're so creative. They're so powerful in their eruptions but they're so peaceful."
B. Alan Orange