The Blender Open Source Film Projects

Tears of Steel from the Blender Foundation

One aspect of open source which perhaps people aren’t aware of are open source films – creative,  original content, created by open source software and open source themselves. One of the best ‘studios‘ for this is the Blender Foundation and its open source film projects. Blender is itself an open source 3D modelling and rendering system, and they use foundation and industry sponsorship to produce content where all of the source materials – models, music, renders, all of it, is available open source, with the CG works mainly done in Blender itself.

I first got into open source in 1998 when I installed Caldera’s OpenLinux. Open source worked for me as I could barely afford hardware, let alone software, and I’ve always kept a Linux (or FreeBSD) box running for various tasks and for tinkering with. Today, most people have heard of open source, or at least use some open source software, whether they know it or not.

I first bumped in to these film projects in 2008 with their “Big Buck Bunny” short film, which was well written and well made, taking on the childrens animation genre.

Big Buck Bunny is big, an open source film project
Big Buck Bunny

Then I went back to their 2006 project ‘Elephants Dream‘ , which is darker and more for adults,  a grainy, atmospheric tale of two workers who inhabit a seemingly almost sentient machine.

Elephant's Dream, an open source film project
Elephant’s Dream

Next up was ‘Sintel‘, a fantasy short about a young woman searching for the dragon cub she nursed, and lost.

Sintel, an open source film project

Their latest work is ‘Tears of Steel‘, which is unique as it’s goal was to use Blender to create the CG parts of a mixed live action VFX short film, based on a science fiction premise.

Tears of Steel, an open source film project
Tears of Steel

It’s another well executed short film, which brings home the flexibility of the open source tools, but also the wealth of talent of the people who use Blender and the strength of the community.

I quite like the idea of artistic works like this being open, so just as programmers and tap into source code to learn how things work, aspiring film makers and also take a look inside some of these high quality films and maybe learn a few things.