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Blender Debuts Fourth Open Source Movie: Tears of Steel 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the heat-tear-ducts-to-1200C dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On September 26th the Blender Foundation released their fourth open source short movie called Tears of Steel. This time around, Blender, the fantastic open source 3d modeling/animation/shading/rendering package, was used to mix 3D digital content with live action (PDF). The short was produced using only open source software and the team did an outstanding job."

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Blender Debuts Fourth Open Source Movie: Tears of Steel

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  • Kudos to Blender! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @04:50PM (#41501403)
    And thanks to George Lucas for supporting the project. His vision made it possible.
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      THis is some kind of joke, right? Playing on the extreme lameness of everything that is not technology in this movie: acting, plot, story...

      • by quadrox (1174915)

        I read these comments before watching the movie and thought it was just some troll spreading his hate. But after watching it... I am sorry to say that even Lucas could have done better than that. That was the absolutely lamest thing I have seen in a long time. Yuck.

        It's not even good for a tech demo, because the overall crappiness distracts from the CGI.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tough Love (215404)

          I am sorry to say that even Lucas could have done better than that. That was the absolutely lamest thing I have seen in a long time.

          Don't be such a flipping jerk. Sure, the acting is cheesy, the screen writing is cheesy, but it's still an awesome achievement and it has its entertaining moments. Hey, I've got an idea, why don't you come back here and make another whiny post after you've made a live action film with integrated CGI?

          • by quadrox (1174915)

            I really wanted to like the movie but I just couldn't - is that now somehow my fault and am I being a jerk for it? It doesn't matter how hard they tried, how little resources they had, whatever else excuses you want to list. I watched the movie, and it was bad, that is all that matters. The previous movies done by the blender foundation were awesome but this one is pure shit - with the exception of the technology itself.

            The CGI is fine, maybe even Hollywood level, the acting was surprisingly decent, but the

            • by Deus.1.01 (946808)

              For gods sake man! It didn't try to be anything else then a bit cheesy with robots.("awsome in space", I mean come on) it did not try to take itself to seriously...just a bit of campy fun to showcase the technology.

              And it is the technology this was made for, so to complain that it isn't HBO quality is just ludicrous.

          • by mapkinase (958129)

            Since when speaking the truth is being a jerk? Wait... it's almost always :-)

            Seriously though. The purpose of the movie is usually to entertain, not to demonstrate mad skillz in CGI. It's a synthetic experience.

            Watch The Man Escaped by Andre Bresson. This will glue you to the screen better than all Bruckenheimer movies condensed into 15 min.

            Offtopic: first time I was proud of my Firefox "suggested replacement" (Bruckenheimer ->Oppenheimer). Well done, my fierce hot predator.

            • Keyword in your sentence: usually. The purpose of this movie was not to entertain, it was to demo digital content with live action using Blender. Mission accomplished. That is what we should be commenting on. The fact that /. categorized this "Entertainment" is unfortunate, because it detracts from the technological prowess we are supposed to be evaluating.
      • Re:Kudos to Blender! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RockDoctor (15477) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @05:12PM (#41508385) Journal
        It is, overall, pretty lame I agree.

        On the other hand, I pay a subscription to an ink-on-paper SF magazine with a 50-odd (sometimes downright peculiar) year history of publishing and encouraging novel authors to cut their teeth in the art of the short story and novella. Why? Because it takes time for any individual to learn to use the simple tools of word and non-word.

        I'd expect it to take a lot longer to learn the more complex tools of the CGI movie. Particularly if it's not your day job.

        So I'd say, "Quite well done, but you're not going to scare the professionals. Yet."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not entirely open source software! Main Sponsors: NVIDIA

    I bet you they used the NVIDIA binary drivers!

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      NVIDIA might have supported them as a matter of advertising, since it is a GPU related project.

      > Come buy our stuff, it was used to render that movie you liked!

      • by donaldm (919619)

        NVIDIA might have supported them as a matter of advertising, since it is a GPU related project.

        > Come buy our stuff, it was used to render that movie you liked!

        What does NVIDIA drivers have to do with the project? Basically the film uses the Google/ON2 VP8 Video codec in a WebM [wikipedia.org] file format. For those that can't be bothered looking up the link:

        WebM is an audio-video format designed to provide royalty-free, open video compression for use with HTML5 video. The project's development is sponsored by Google Inc.

        A WebM file consists of VP8 video and Vorbis audio streams, in a container based on a profile of Matroska. The project releases WebM related software under

    • by Psyborgue (699890) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:10PM (#41501553) Homepage Journal
      The renderer they used is a GPU based path tracer called Cycles (there is a CPU fallback as well but in comparison it's very, very, very slow). The renderer supports both OpenCL and NVIDIA's CUDA but is a lot faster more mature with CUDA... and yes, to take advantage to CUDA in Linux you do need to use the NVIDIA binaries so far as I know. I'm not familiar with the details but if NVIDIA has supplied hardware to the blender foundation it could explain CUDA being more mature.
      • by game kid (805301)

        Exactly. I now use an AMD card due to...complications [slashdot.org], and I'm "forced"* to wait for them to improve AMD and general OpenCL support. I imagine that'll happen on or well after 2.65, but oh how I can't wait for that.

        *I scare-quote "forced", because with 2.63a and the current 2.64 RC2 [blender.org], I can sometimes actually get a few Cycles features to work with OpenCL, if I play around with the feature #defines in [BlenderPath]/2.63/scripts/addons/cycles/kernel/kernel_types.h, if I am willing to wait a whole bunch of min

        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          Supposedly they're working on it [blender.org]. I've had similar issues when trying experiment with OpenCL mode. Sorry to hear you're problems with your 460. I have three and they all work fine. Great for Cycles. You might try Luxrender or smallluxgpu for your GPU (both work well with blender). Have you tried either?
      • It's more the case that CUDA has supported the features necessary for hardware accelerated pathtracing for a lot longer than OpenCL. Also there are driver bugs on the AMD side that cause problems. This may not be the same going on into the future...

    • "Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License". link [blender.org]

      "The film itself -- as well as original footage and all the studio files -- will be released as free and open content; the Creative Commons Attribution license". link [blender.org]
  • by Eugenia Loli (250395) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:06PM (#41501513) Homepage Journal

    As a filmmaker and a graphics artist these days, I like Blender and its idea behind it, I really do. This is a copy of what I wrote on my blog about all that: The CGI on this movie still looks like VFX animation and not realistic. It looks fake. Camera tracking is good, modelling seems ok, but lighting and animation aren’t. There are no shadows to talk about, everything it’s too HDR-ish. If that’s what Blender can do in 2012, then color me unimpressed. That’s no Hollywood-worthy CGI. And let’s not forget that this movie was produced by the Blender guys themselves, with hand-picked Blender artists.

    Unfortunately, that quality is not even good enough for TV anymore. Sure, there have been worse VFX on TV than what Blender can do, for example the re-imagined version of “V”, but thing is, there have been better ones too. Back in 2010, Stargate:Universe had some amazing VFX in some episodes, more realistic than anything I’ve seen on TV, before or after. An even more important point for TV is the time it takes to do things with the app (since their deadlines are extremely strict). Blender is not that easy to use, Maya can do better, faster.

    That doesn't mean that Blender is useless. It’s not. You can’t beat its price and features in the advertising sector (which doesn't require extreme realism, it mostly needs some animation tricks), schools (for obvious reasons), or as a hobbyist artist. Blender can also prove to be a life-saver for indie filmmakers who primarily have the time to deal with Blender (rather than the money to buy other packages). So if *I* was doing an indie short movie, I would use Blender, because it's good-enough for what I would need to do, and I have indefinite time on my hands. So it’s got its uses in the world. It’s just that I don’t see it being able to compete for Hollywood movies and serious TV shows.

    • by binarylarry (1338699) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:21PM (#41501603)

      Just admit it, you're freaked out by my robot hand!

      I've watched more than a couple of movies recently that were done wth maya that didn't look this good (total recall and dredd 3d come to mind.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:24PM (#41501621)
      Yeah, Cycles, the new Blender internal renderer use to render this is a new GPU based path tracer renderer and it's not perfect yet, but I think a lot of what you're complaining about can be blamed on the artists not being of hollywood quality and lack of time/resources, and not the actual renderer or animation program (although both areas could use a lot of improvement in Blender). Cycles is a path tracer like any other that should, in theory, be able to do most things that other modern renderers can do (and in some cases more, since it's a path tracer). That being said, to set up a photorealistic scene, to match lighting, to get the materials right, takes a lot of experience and time and that does not come cheap. The goal of the Blender Foundation and these projects is to make "tech demos" to run the software through real world trials and develop features that are useful in a real world production pipeline. The goal is not to make things perfect. Besides. If you don't like the look Cycles gives to renders with blender you can use any number of external renderers including fully unbiased ones like luxrender or commercial GPU based unbiased path tracers like Octane.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's a good job that making hollywood movies isn't the only reason to use a 3d package then. Considering the software is free and (I'm assuming) the artists involved have not been paid hollywood cgi money for their involvement, this movie is very impressive. The story was not, however.

        Maya is quite an under featured and buggy if you use it out of the box. Autodesk add a few new features each iteration, but rarely fix long standing bugs or improve polygon modelling tools or productivity features like better

    • by Psyborgue (699890) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:32PM (#41501675) Homepage Journal
      Blender isn't perfect but Maya has it's own bag of very frustrating issues. Almost nobody uses Maya straight out of the box anyway. Most major studios do a serious amount of custom development to get Maya into a workable state and while Mental Ray is a very good renderer, Maya's internal is not at all. FWIW, there is a Blender exporter for MR as well, but i'm not sure how developed it is. If you don't like the look of Cycles, which is understandable since it's still in it's infancy and needs a lot of work (it doesn't even support true motion blur yet, although it can output motion vectors), there are any number of external renderers. The advantage to Cycles is that it's a path tracer that runs on the GPU and can give you realtime feedback in the viewport that is identical to a render (WYSIWYG). It's very very fast, but still needs a lot of work to bring up the level of accuracy and usability. Absolutely it's not ready for Hollywood out of the box, but if studios, collectively, all put the same amount of work into Blender as they did into developing scripts, plugins, and so on for commercial projects, it would be ready. It would be nice if studies could learn to cooperate like that. If they did, not only could they shatter the Autodesk monopoly, they could take the software out of the equation and focus more on things like artist talent and so on.
    • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:36PM (#41501703)

      It looks a damn sight better than most TV shows.

      • by gknoy (899301)

        It probably has a lot of time spent on it that TV shows normally do not have. Having a friend who works on daily film, they do a ton of work; I'd hate to think what FX guys have to do as well.

    • My major criticism in the lighting. It seems greatly over-exposed in several places.

      • by Bram Stolk (24781) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @06:31PM (#41502013) Homepage

        My major criticism in the lighting. It seems greatly over-exposed in several places.

        That's easy to fix.
        Source material is all open source, you can render it again at different exposure settings if you have a render farm.

        It's more than just a movie, it is an open sourced renderer PLUS open sourced model/animation data.

        Well done, Blender Foundation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That horrible stench is the FUD coming out of your mouth. If you're so naive to think that one small project represents all of the capabilities of Blender, then you have obviously never used the software nor do you know anything about 3d modeling, renderers or graphics design in general.

      Go troll somewhere else, dipshit.

    • by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @11:22PM (#41503535)

      "The CGI on this movie still looks like VFX animation and not realistic. It looks fake. Camera tracking is good, modelling seems ok, but lighting and animation aren't."

      Maybe a movie with such a ridiculous plot isn't meant to be realistic? Unrequited love brings the world to ruin but in the end love still saves the day. Really?

      Take a look at the mango juice the black sniper sips. It should have been easy enough to turn the carton in something that resembles a real world brand instead it looks like a generic stage prop simply labeled MANGO, the project code name. Look also at the retro pixelated font used for the text output on the computer terminals. If this were a realistic movie set in a future where virtual reality has become a reality, you'd expect something at least as crystal as Apple's vaunted retina display. There's also that large button that turns red and displays "ERROR!!!" when something goes wrong, a sure sign that this is comic sci-fi.

      So yes the stylistic look appears to be deliberate. You can see examples of such CGI unrealism mostly in fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings, but Tears of Steel isn't exactly straight-up hard sci-fi.

    • You sir, are full of it; first of all shadows/HDR issues (if there are any, this could just be stylised) have absolutely zero to do with Blender itself but with the renderer they were using. Second of all Blender being hard to use is a detestable myth and even between the people that think that way it's still universally accepted that once you learn the workflow Blender is one the most efficient and fast, if not the fastest, programs on the market to work with.

      Colour me unimpressed by your erroneous argumen

      • You sir, are full of it; first of all shadows/HDR issues (if there are any, this could just be stylised) have absolutely zero to do with Blender itself but with the renderer they were using.

        The guy is clueless. The shadows are there and they are decent.

      • by tyrione (134248)

        You sir, are full of it; first of all shadows/HDR issues (if there are any, this could just be stylised) have absolutely zero to do with Blender itself but with the renderer they were using. Second of all Blender being hard to use is a detestable myth and even between the people that think that way it's still universally accepted that once you learn the workflow Blender is one the most efficient and fast, if not the fastest, programs on the market to work with.

        Colour me unimpressed by your erroneous arguments.

        It's a she and you can catch her often on OSNews.com.

    • You know, I'm not impressed that you're unimpressed. I think it mainly shows that you don't have a clue what you're talking about, but you like the sound of yourself talking.

    • by forkazoo (138186)

      As a filmmaker and a graphics artist these days, I like Blender and its idea behind it, I really do. This is a copy of what I wrote on my blog about all that: The CGI on this movie still looks like VFX animation and not realistic. It looks fake. Camera tracking is good, modelling seems ok, but lighting and animation arenâ(TM)t. There are no shadows to talk about, everything itâ(TM)s too HDR-ish. If thatâ(TM)s what Blender can do in 2012, then color me unimpressed. Thatâ(TM)s no Hollywood

      • by forkazoo (138186)

        The other thing I forgot to mention is the fact that there is a massive volume of work. The sheer number of shots is huge for an untested pipeline. It's not unheard of for a highly trained crew of Hollywood professionals with a completely established set of tools to work for months of a highly polished 30 second commercial. Seriously. high end VFX involves massive amounts of work. If I had been the one picking the next project for the Blender Institute, I would have shot anybody who brought me a ten mi

    • As a long time blender user, I can tell you that it is quite possible to get realistic results while compositing in blender. If you don't like the results you can use Mentalray or one of many rendering alternatives.

      Having a bit more experience with the software I can tell you without trying to sound like a fanboy that the problem you (and I) see with this film is a product of the new cycles rendering system. Depending on how long you let it run it can give very good results. My experience with it is th

    • There are no shadows to talk about, everything is too HDR-ish

      Ok, I'm a Lighting and Comp Sup and I'n not sure what you're talking about here. There's a lot wrong with this movie, especially on the writing and acting end of the spectrum but the actual rendering seems pretty good except for some noisy GI sampling in a number of shots. I'm seeing a lot of cases where the lighting is wrong but not where it's lacking in shadow detail or missing shadows. Generally they match the 'character' and softness of the lighting correctly.

      Could you pick out a time-code with lac

  • Loved it! Man, those graphics are stunning. I never would have thought Blender would turn into this all those years ago.
  • I enjoyed watching. I like the stuff coming out of Blender. I just wish I could find a 3d artist who wanted to do a virtual world with me. I wrote code for an action MMORPG engine over 7 years, but no artist ever wanted to sign on to do 3d models. Ah, I can always revisit it in the future.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yep, and a LOT fewer artists are willing to provide 'open source' models/meshes/etc than programmers are code. Funny how the 'functional' guys are more willing to share their work (with or without being credited), whereas overall the art community is fascist about 'protecting their artistic vision', while oftentimes taking advantage of the former group (or each other's) work, without proper credit, or respecting the license (plenty of examples of similiar situations in the latter group, but it seems like it

  • I don't know if there is some sort of TOP SECRET BURN BEFORE READING link to a pdf (or other download) for the current version but there are several things about Blender i would like to know how to do.
    Oh and if you respond with JFGI or anything that is not a current (2.63 )DOWNLOAD of a TEXT then i will assume you are also sending me a large sum of money via email

    1 in UV painting how do you setup a model with an existing texture for UV paint??
    2 for that matter how do you link a texture to a material (to use

    • On topic 3 I recommend the "remesh" or "decimate" modifiers.
      • can you flip me an email with the subject |BAD WOLF model | so i can ask you about a model i am trying to create?? (its based on the base.obj from MakeHuman)

        so select the model then pull up the properties tab and those are in the list of modifers??

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      The current docs are mostly available here [blender.org]. As to your first two questions, they are pretty well covered in the manual. As to the third question, there is really no good way to do it while preserving decent topology and UVs. If you have a messy mesh, you probably want to retopologize it [blender.org] and lay out new UVs. You might want to use 2.4 for this [blender.org] and, when you're done, import it into 2.6. I say this becuase I know the tools in 2.4 are good and haven't yet used the 2.6 tools for this (they went through a mas
  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @06:01PM (#41501859) Homepage
    Now I've seen it, what's it about?
    • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @06:46PM (#41502103)

      it appeared to be some negotiation between man and robots, and there is a love despute between 1 man and 1 robot. It seems that the human military was aware of this and were using it as some attempt to bridge relations between the humans and robot species.

      But who the fuck knows. I loved it.

    • by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) * on Saturday September 29, 2012 @07:38PM (#41502429)

      Piecing together comments from other sites, I guess the boy and the girl were teenage lovers. The girl got annoyed that he didn't like her arm and started a robot army to exterminate humanity.

      The humans capture her brain and interface with it through a captured robot. They put the robot and the boy (now an old man) inside a holodeck and talk to each other.

      Robogirl is charmed and doesn't kill the boy. Meanwhile, inconsequential humans shoot air blasters at inconsequential robots.

      As the film closes, we're left to wonder if love can truly make open-source films better than Bioware cutscenes.

      • That's how I interpreted it.

        Graphics were Hollywood-quality though so that's pretty good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by edxwelch (600979)

        Going a bit off-stopic, I wonder what she uses that tiny chainsaw attachment for? Sawing tiny trees?

    • by siddesu (698447)
      It is the dream of an elephant who went to see The Transformers the other night.
    • by Deus.1.01 (946808)

      Its about FUCKING robots and guns man!

      Pay attention next time.

  • This movie is hit and miss. The bottom line for the Blender Foundation is to get people talking about Blender. Nobody really expected their underdog 3d program to be able to produce amazing visual effects. The more of these movies they produce, the more people will be talking about Blender.

    However, what they could stand to produce are movies that tell a more compelling story. Is it visually compelling? Sure, but Tears of Steel leaves the audience with all sort of questions about what is happening, w
    • by guruevi (827432)

      I don't think you understand the short movie art style. Go back to seeing Battleship or Spiderman you oaf.

    • by Joviex (976416)

      This movie is hit and miss. The bottom line for the Blender Foundation is to get people talking about Blender. Nobody really expected their underdog 3d program to be able to produce amazing visual effects. The more of these movies they produce, the more people will be talking about Blender. However, what they could stand to produce are movies that tell a more compelling story. Is it visually compelling? Sure, but Tears of Steel leaves the audience with all sort of questions about what is happening, who the characters are, what is at stake....and we haven't a clue.

      Not sure I follow. The story is pretty straightforward. Tom fucked up 40 years earlier and told a machine he was not interested. Flash forward he is trying to amend that past mistake.

      I also disagree about story structure. Not everything has to be a formulaic question, research, resolution. Some of the greatest fiction of all time does not answer every burning question. The audience is left to fill in gaps where appropriate. Mystery is still a good thing in storytelling.

      Now I will grant that this neede

  • Well.

    For the first time ever, the computer-generated part is more believable than the human-acted part.

    So therefore this kind of thing will make it into the next big movie...with real actors.

  • Not being one for cussing and memes, I just watched the shit out of a fucking well made movie! I tried to be criticial of the CGI, but as a casual movie watcher I found the effects more than good enough to easily get caught up in the story. If the goal was to make software capable of tightly integrated special effects, I say well done. And people are already working to make it better? Get outta here you vector render wizards, I already have enough trouble telling fake photos from their pixels.

  • Chalkboard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @03:55AM (#41504529)

    I liked the part where they made the boy rerun various lines to see if the outcome of the discussion would be different. And they had previous attempts listed on a chalkboard. Who hasn't sometimes played around with the idea of trying various permutations and seeing how the future shapes.

    By the way the bots kind of reminded me of Alyx's "dog" in Half-Life 2.

  • Have seen all of the films from blender so far. This one is their best. The human guys in the background were acting less than the robots.
  • Blender is anything but easy to get into. For the complete neophyte, what are the best sources of documentation in order to learn how to learn it without getting frustrated?

    Note, I'm not talking about a series of "this is Button XYZ, and here's what it does by itself", but rather "here is a practical end-goal, and these are the steps you must follow in order to achieve said goal".

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