If you’ve watched any movies like Transformers or Avatar lately you may have noticed that they tend to have a lot of CG in them. While the production costs for features like these lie in the millions, you may be surprised to hear that you can actually make a lot of these effects yourself. For free.
On September 26 the Blender Foundation released it’s fourth open movie, ‘Tears of Steel’. The 10-minute short was created using free and open source software only. That’s right, not a single penny was spent on software. The Blender Foundation is a non-profit organization that heads development on it’s open source 3D package Blender. To identify problem areas and help further improve the software the foundation has created several open movies so far, each with specific goals and targets in mind.
For this movie, the Blender Foundation wanted to focus on the visual effects pipeline, (further) developing features like camera and motion tracking, photo-realistic rendering, compositing and improving the color pipeline. To accommodate to these requests, the team chose “Science Fiction in Amsterdam” as the movie’s theme, leaving plenty of room for CG-added props, environments and effects.
Another goal of the foundations open movies is to help promote and validate Blender as a serious software packages. Open source software is often still looked upon as being inferior to commercial products and by using Blender to create these kind of shorts the foundation hopes to take away some of the doubt in it’s capabilities. Now while the industry won’t switch tools overnight, the film has made quite an impact already. Aside from already having over 670,000 views on Youtube the film has had it’s own theatrical premiere in Los Angeles, organized by the the International Animated Film Society Hollywood, which includes studios like Pixar and Dreamworks. The Blender Foundation has also been invited to show this movie, as well as it’s previous one, Sintel, at an open source event at the European Union Parliament.
Aside from just releasing the movie online for free, the team have also released all of their work files, along with examples and documentation, under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license. This essentially means that you can do whatever you want with them, as long as proper credit is given. This gives it the status of a truly open movie and allows anyone to look at, play with, and learn from the original production files and workflow.
If all of this has gotten you excited to try out the software you can download it from the official site. You may also want to take a look at their previous shorts: Elephant’s Dream, Big Buck Bunny and Sintel.