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Open Source On the Big Screen 120

An anonymous reader writes "Following the success of Elephants Dream, the Blender Foundation is developing a follow-on open movie called Peach, set for completion later this year. Computerworld has up an interesting interview with Matt Ebb, lead artist from Elephants Dream (the interview is split over 5 pages). Ebb talks about the making of the world's first open movie and offers some advice to others wanting to start such a project."
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Open Source On the Big Screen

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  • Success (Score:5, Insightful)

    by reality-bytes ( 119275 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:33PM (#22057594) Homepage
    Just before anyone wades in...

    ...this probably refers to the successful completion of the open project as opposed to box-office success or other notional gauge of success. ;)
  • Other projects (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:46PM (#22057804)
    Has anyone taken the source files to the project and created anything else with them?
  • Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:59PM (#22058016) Homepage Journal
    I have some advice for these guys: Get a script!

    Elephant's Dream was a huge technical achievement, but the final work was an abject failure as a film. A "movie" isn't just a series of pictures that appear to move when displayed in rapid succession. Tell me something. Move me. Give me a character I have a fighting chance of identifying with.

    Do something to transcend mere moving-pictureness.

  • by chubs730 ( 1095151 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:03PM (#22058090)
    When was the last time a multimillion dollar commercial game was created with gamemaker?
  • by Chris_Jefferson ( 581445 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:07PM (#22058146) Homepage
    Elephants Dream was a success? You mean a film which almost no-one ever heard of, and almost all of those who watched it didn't like?

    While it was cute to make an open-source film, it would also have been nice to have a decent plot and scripting. I've seen many better stories in flash on newsgrounds. Heck, I've seen better plots on ytmnd.com.
  • Re:Youtube (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:13PM (#22058244) Homepage Journal
    I recently learned enough Blender to be able to model some simple things.. and after learning all that crazy shit I even got to the point where I wasn't having to think what did what all the time. All the claims that Blender wizards make about the UI being ultra fast once you get to know it are just false. Even after you have mastered it the Blender UI is cumbersome and annoying. I think what they mean is that it is faster than using 3d Studio Max, which may indeed be the case, but for someone who finds 3ds max pathetic in the UI department also, that's not hard.

  • The Pixar Shorts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:18PM (#22058296)
    Elephant's Dream was a huge technical achievement, but the final work was an abject failure as a film

    If you want to understand the difference between a tech demo and a movie - and how the evolution of a story teaches you mastery of your craft - you need look no farther than this: Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1 [amazon.com] [Blu-Ray $20]

  • Re:Youtube (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:21PM (#22058348)
    I'm not sure if you're a troll or not, but seriously?

    I'll admit that Elephants Dream is a bit strange, but its certainly not dull. In fact, unsurprisingly, it sort of exists as a tech demo of what Blender can do, which makes watching it on YouTube rather akin to brail pr0n.

    Your other comments are both absurd, Blenders renderer is state of the art, and quite competitive with anything Max can produce as the gallery will contest, plus it has Yafray which kicks arse. As for the GUI, 3D graphics is complicated, and so are the GUI's. A professional learns multiple GUIs and accepts that each has its pluses and minuses. Lesser peons learn just one interface and bash the others when they turn out to be different.
  • Re:Youtube (Score:2, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:31PM (#22058476) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, any UI will be "super fast" after 2 years of learning.

  • by spoco2 ( 322835 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:41PM (#22058640)
    But two things were lacking on that front
    producing quality content for films.: It really wasn't quality at all, I didn't find anything impressive at all in regards to the animation or texture/overall look. So even disregarding the plot I found it substandard.

    and secondly, if it had been a story that was actually INTERESTING then maybe they would have helped their cause so, so much more. ("Man, did you see that crazy [funny/sad/emotional] cg film on the net... that was awesome" "I did, and did you know it was completely done with FREE software! Crazy... crazy") By ignoring a plot and any semblance of making it at all engaging they by and large wasted their efforts. A little bit of pre planning/script writing would have gone a LOOOOONG way.
  • Re:Success? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RobBebop ( 947356 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:12PM (#22059116) Homepage Journal

    I think Hollywood and conventional wisdom have perverted the term "success" for their own power so that it implies "commercial success".

    A more general definition is "an achievement of an objective or goal". To some extent, this is rather arbitrary but having created my own movies [metaphrast.com] (all videos licensed under Creative Commons), I would say that it would be a success for them to just finish it.

    Now, to inject my own selfish opinion into the argument of the definition of what success might be for an "Open" project like this, I would list the following, "an work that makes a positive contribution to the culture of humanity". It doesn't have to be a large contribution, but as long as people can gain something from it (a lesson, some entertainment, faith and hope) then it would qualify in my mind as a "success".

    This is what I aim for when I mark a publication with the Creative Commons license (which, in addition to the movies, includes this [metaphrast.com]).

  • Re:Youtube (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:14PM (#22059152)

    Seriously, any UI will be "super fast" after 2 years of learning.

    No, it won't. For a given task in a given UI, there is a way to do so with the minimum number of keypresses / mouselicks / whatever. This minimum number varies from UI to UI; the UI with the smallest minimum will also be fastest, because no matter how well you learn a given UI, your speed is still limited by the physical limits of your body. You simply can't press the buttons infinitely fast no matter how much you practice, so the less of them you have to press to accomplish a task, the faster you can perform it.

    That said, I have no idea if Blender's UI is fast, slow or average; I couldn't make sense of it when I last tried it, and have resigned to doing my modelling with Povray scripts. I guess that tells something about the user friendliness of Blender :(...

  • Re:Blender (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flewp ( 458359 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:26PM (#22059300)
    modo and silo have well done UIs. As does Mudbox. I was able to jump into all 3 with no problem. And before you say they're not major tools, I suggest you look around. A lot of work may be done in Maya, 3DS, etc, but a lot of modelers are moving to specialized apps for modeling. The thing with 3D modeling is it's still partly a technical exercise and not solely an artistic endeavor.
  • Re:Youtube (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:40PM (#22059514)
    Maybe he hasn't made a film because, like the Elephant's Dream team, he's not very good at making films. However, unlike the Elephant's Dream team, he had the good sense not to blow the first chance Open Source had to make headway in content creation.

    They entered it into every "proper" film festival and got nowhere. The animation industry isn't taking the film seriously at all.

    The only "success" they had was to identify faults and shortcomings in the software when used to make a short film. They were beta testers. The Blender community looked up to them, and were ultimately disappointed.
  • Re:Youtube (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Corwn of Amber ( 802933 ) <corwinofamber@nosPam.skynet.be> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:51PM (#22060310) Journal
    I'd like to point out that workflow decisions can only be made when you know the whole of your tool. I've seen people lose years of time, because they couldn't be bothered to learn how to do things in the ways the toolmakers already thought about.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @09:08PM (#22060468) Journal
    Elephants Dream was a success? You mean a film which almost no-one ever heard of, and almost all of those who watched it didn't like?

    Who cares if it sucks? Fantasmagoria [youtube.com] wasn't exactly an amazing piece of work by today's standards, but as the world's first cartoon (1908) it was a good indicator of things to come.

    Yes, including your beloved Family Guy...

    This is a trend-setting movie, underscored by the woes of the MPAA and RIAA. Media is moving away from centralized cathedrals and moving inexorably towards individualized bazaars. Nothing that the **AA can do will change this fact, since it's really a consequence of technology getting forever cheaper.

    The plot is weak, the voice acting is terrible. But like Fantasmagoria, it kicks off a trend of forever-improving material.
  • Not this again!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @11:23PM (#22061856)

    There's always one.

    Blender was a fantastic UI which is very powerful if you haven't been polluted by other interfaces. But that's okay, you go back to using notepad, I'm happy with vi.

    Moaning about the blender interface on /. is about as useful and interesting as me moaning about how slow and complicated Photoshop is to use because it's not like the GIMP. Seriously it took me a few minutes to figure out how to resize an image in Photoshop recently because I haven't used it in about seven years.

    "Blender's UI sux" comments have been done to death. They are boring and pointless. If you have a need to use it, learn the UI, otherwise quit whining, or go and whine at say 3D Max developers for creating a UI that is so slow and inefficient and takes so much unhealthy mouse work to get basic things done that they have forever closed your mind to new possibilities.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.