Ah, yes, I'm back
again with some exciting news from the Blender folks! Blender, of
course, is the free, open-source, cross-platform 3D suite, and it's
better than ever with the current 2.46 release. If you haven't
checked it out yet, maybe this article will encourage you to do
I'm happy to report that the Blender Foundation is busy as ever
this year, and will even have a
major presence at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. So, here I will
present a brief look at what the Blender Foundation has been up
to, including a brief interview with Blender's creator,
Now, if you weren't aware of it, May 30th saw the online release of
the Blender Foundation's second "Open Movie" project, the
animated short film, Big Buck Bunny. The first
"Open Movie" project in
2006 was Elephants Dream. But this time
around, Big Buck Bunny is of the "furry and funny" sort,
and aside from that it showcases Blender's capabilities very
Besides the fact that the film was made completely with open source
tools, it is a big boost to the open source movement in that, just
as with Elephants Dream, all production files used in creation of
this will be freely available under a creative commons license.
There's no better way to learn than by example, and the
Blender folks are not holding anything back.
As for the film itself, I really think they outdid themselves.
The characters are fun, the fur is amazing, and the soundtrack is
fantastic. All in all, a highly enjoyable film and a
great statement as to what can be done with Blender
Big Buck Bunny is currently available for purchase
on DVD and Blu-ray. While all production files are
freely available for download, you may ask "why then buy
the DVD?" Well, for one, you would be supporting
open source development. But also, it is a really neat package, and
you will then have the movie, complete with commentaries, for your
home viewing pleasure!
This second "Open Movie" project, like the first one,
also had the goal of improvement to Blender itself. As a result of
Big Buck Bunny, Blender's 2.46 version now sports some
great additions/improvements, including a new particle system
with hair and fur combing tools, among many, many other
things, which you can see here.
Here we have a look at the team responsible for Big Buck Bunny,
and many of whom will be present at SIGGRAPH to give a
presentation on the making of the film.
Rigger & Animator
|Brecht van Lommel
Music and sound design
Now, aside from Big Buck Bunny, the Blender Foundation has
been well into work on an equally exciting "Open
Game" project. Below you can see a sample of the work
that is being done.
Blender Game Engine Work in Progress 28/July from Campbell
Barton on Vimeo.
Nick C. Sorbin: It's fantastic to see Blender having such
a large presence at SIGGRAPH this year. In your own words,
what would you most like for attendees to come
away with after getting the Blender experience
Ton Roosendaal: Obviously we want to show Blender's
progress, show professionals that it's a viable open and free
alternative for expensive 3d tools! Hopefully it will help existing
Blender artists and developers to get hired more.
NS: With a 90 minute presentation on the making of "Big
Buck Bunny" at the Computer Animation Festival, can you
give us a taste of what to expect?
TR: We want to present a 'making of'. Almost all of the
artists (4) who made the film will be presenting. Hopefully we can
get our humble laptops to show several examples of how shots were
made. And, don't forget that all the production files we'll show
are freely downloadable!
NS: How did you hook up with the HP folks for the Tradeshow
Exhibit? What can be expected at the booth?
TR: HP needed high quality content which they can freely
show, print and work with to demo their latest color accurate
displays and printers. They used BBB footage for another tradeshow
too, so the link to make the Siggraph demo a real Blender demo with
artists was quickly made.
NS: I imagine there will be plenty of Blender goodies
TR: We already gave away everything! :)
NS: With the second "Open Movie" project, Big Buck
Bunny, how much has changed with Blender as a result? What do
you feel was most significant?
TR: The target was to make cartoonish character animation
with furry animals. A lot of development was needed for it, which
we completed succesfully... with our extremely fast fur render as
most visible result.
NS: Also, with the "Big Buck Bunny" project, do
you feel it was a smoother process, if only that you knew more
of what to expect after having gone through this
with "Elephants Dream"?
TR: In some ways it was smoother, but in other ways we just
pushed the level higher too. It's always nice to try things on a
level you know will run you into troubles... especially on database
referencing (sharing and instancing data project-wide) and managing
scene complexity we pushed things to the max, clearly finding where
we have work todo still.
It is also important to realize that the team was mostly with
relatively inexperienced artists, not having realized a serious
animation project before. To build a team again from scratch always
takes many months.
I've seen so far with the Open Game project is fantastic.
What is now the targeted release date for the DVD?
TR: The team will work on Apricot "Yo Frankie!"
until end of august. We probably need to schedule some authoring
extras, so expect it in the mailbox early october. Tell all your
readers to help us with this project by purchasing the dvd!
NS: How much has the Open Game project helped the development
of Blender's game engine?
TR: Originally we didn't even want to use the Blender GE.
The status of that part in Blender was quite horrible last year,
and we never got enough coders interested in bringing back to a
stable quality level. The main Apricot concept was to test Blender
in a more traditional game creation pipeline, with Blender used as
modeler, shader and animation tool, exporting data to an external
engine like Crystal Space. We also wanted to check on how python
scripting behaves for configuring the UI, for custom level
The fact the BGE is back is quite a coincidence... partially
because this spring a brilliant new developer fixed about every
open report in the engine (a 100 at least), and partially because
we added good GLSL shading, multitexture and normalmaps in the 3d
modeler display, making it very attractive to use Blender's GE for
prototyping. It was evident that this level of integration was not
simply feasible to achieve with an exporting system to Crystal
Space. So we decided to make the BGE version in parallel with a CS
NS: As for the growth of the Blender user community, do you have
any stats as far as, say, downloads per month?
TR: Within 4 weeks of the 2.46 release, we counted over
300,000 downloads from the blender.org download page. That is
excluding all other mirrors, download sites, distributions,
NS: Oh, and I really have to ask, who came up with the jump-rope
scene idea in Big Buck Bunny? Man, that cracked me up!
TR: Not sure! Originally we had the rabbit peeing, but that
appeared to not work in animatic. :)
Thanks to Ton for taking the time out to answer some questions
amidst a very busy schedule. And for anyone attending SIGGRAPH,
please do stop by the HP booth and check out the great
work the Blender folks are doing.
All supporting images are (c) copyright Blender
Foundation | www.bigbuckbunny.org and cannot be
copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without proper
attribution under the Creative Commons Attribution