Elephants Dream is the world’s first open movie, made entirely with open source graphics software such as Blender, and with all production files freely available to use however you please, under a Creative Commons license.

The short film was created by the Orange Open Movie Project studio in Amsterdam during 2005/2006, bringing together a diverse team of artists and developers from all over the world. More about the project...

DVD print design

  / by Ton

And more previews; here’s a mockup of how the DVD sleeve and disks will look like, without some of the logos and text that we’ll add of course. Great design by Andy!

(Just click for the larger image)


Progress Update

  / by Matt

Well, we haven’t updated in quite some time, so I thought I’d let you know where we are and what’s going on in post-premiere Orange. Yes, there have been delays, and we’re working as hard as we can to get the DVD finalised and sent out. We have suffered from the setbacks and want to get this DVD out to the world as least as much as you do :)

We’ve now been back in our home countries for at least a week now, depending on the person. At least for myself it took a while to shake off the jetlag from flying halfway around the world, and emerge from the sleep-deprived coma I fell into, recharging after our final crunch. It’s also been very difficult collaborating between the team across time zones, but we’re doing our best.

I hope we can do a nice big post about scheduling and what happened when, where we spent the time, etc. when things are less busy. But suffice to say, Murphy was laying down the law, disasters were unfolding around us and we were working at full steam into the early morning hours right up until the day of the premiere. In fact, we were doing re-renders to fix errors the day before the event. One might think that if we’d spent one week less on the movie and given it a little less polish then we wouldn’t be running a bit behind now, but it didn’t work that way. Actually if we’d stopped one week early, our final scene would have been lit and rendered in OpenGL (although taking that option may have caused less detriment to our own health and sanity!)

So. Since the premiere we have:

  • Collected the timed translations (we have 34 in total, thankyou volunteer translators!) Also retimed them to fit the DVD (24fps -> 25fps and 30fps)
  • Created an MPEG4 version of the movie in HD 1920×1080 to go on the data section of the disk, with mixed down audio
  • All production files, .blend files, textures cleaned up and put in a disc structure
  • Collated, prepared and compressed the DVD extras to both PAL and NTSC MPEG, including a special thankyou surprise, four commentary tracks, the 30+ minute making-of documentary and two videos of our voice actors from the recording session
  • DVD structure laid out and menu animations almost finished rendering
  • Converted the 16:9 NTSC and PAL anamorphic png sequences of the movie to 25 & 30 fps Mpeg2.
  • Movie audio compressed (sound space) to fit home cinema systems.
  • CC is written, png, mpg

What we have left to go:

  • Final audio mixes for PAL 25fps version. NTSC version is already done. Jan has been fighting problems for the last few days now, but hopefully the end is in sight.
  • A few final tweaks to the menu animations, then converting to MPEG and implemented
  • Some final subtitle assignment (character set issues)
  • Finish off writing the production file structure documentation
  • DVD-rom content page for DVD video to be made.
  • DVD credits to be made
  • Placing the almost-done DVD cover illustration into the sleeve layout

Joeri is working hard on the DVD and says that when we have finished the above tasks (excluding the cover of course!) it will take him only a few days to get it together and ready as a DVD master for duplication. So it’s not done, but it’s very very close.

Anyway, as a thankyou for your patience as we continue plugging away, here’s a couple of teaser images! They’re still frames from the movie, untouched and in full HD resolution, probably suitable for wallpaper :) Cheers!



  / by Ton

Got no other words really now…. apart from a big THANK YOU! to everyone who has been there on the premiere and party, to everyone who helped out making it happen, and to everyone who’s still working on the last project details. :)

More detailed reports on last friday will be here too – and probably pictures and stories are popping up on other websites already. Last friday it was of course way too late, and we all had to be in Montevideo the morning after to prepare the weekend show (imagine zombies!). Because yesterday was also the last day the team was complete, we did the ‘commentary video’ for the DVD together, and had a very *lekker* dinner in our favorite Indian restaurant around the corner.

Basse will leave today. Matt goes monday morning. Toni leaves wednesday, Lee and Bassam thursday and Andy on friday the 31st. And then it’s back to normal again…. oh, how much I will miss this, and how much I’ll miss you guys. We’ve become a real family the past 7 months!

No time for tears… back to Montevideo now, we still got a DVD to complete and then an interesting backlog of website/admin/documenting/coding/bugfixing job is awaiting for me.



Premiere + after party: SOLD OUT!

  / by Ton

Everyone who has ordered via our e-shop can still get in. If you didn’t pay yet you can do that in the theatre or the restaurant too.
In order to get the whole logistics arranged OK, we also will have to ask (most) people who attend the first screening to leave the theatre before 18:40. At 19:00 the Blender restaurant is open for you!

Note; for the 2nd screening at 18:45 there’s still space.

Frontpage news of Dutch Financial Newspaper

  / by Ton

I did an interview yesterday with a journalist from “Het Financieele Dagblad”, let’s say the Dutch version of the Financial Times, and to our surprise they put it on the frontpage, right under a message of mr Bush! :)

Financial Times article
Usually I never read newspaper reviews of Blender or interviews with myself, so can’t really say what the article is about. But the headline means “Software premiere in Cannes competition”, which was just a side remark of me during a 90 minute interview. We’re not accepted yet, just submitted the movie! :)

Also got the message that our Dutch movie star Tygo Gernandt will be at the premiere. Cas Jansen can’t make it, he’s on a long holiday trip in Asia.

Further we’ve finished the movie! Yes? Eh… no, still waiting for the final sound edit! Eeek!


Important Premiere update

  / by Ton

We’re expecting too many people… so we have to reshuffle the premiere a little bit;

– Only people who bought the Premiere+After-Party ticket (or got invited for it) can get in the cinema for the first screening. Door opens 17:30. At the entrance are people with the guest list, it will also help if you know your order number from the shop. And yes; you can also pay for it in the cinema.

– At 18:45 there’s a 2nd screening, which is open and free for everyone to attend. For them the doors will open at 18:30. However! Since the amount of seats in the theatre is limited, you best claim a reservation via email: info(at)montevideo.nl.

– There’s still 25 (and really no more!) tickets available for the premiere (first screening) and dinner + after-party. We’ve invited ourselves about 50 people, and with the 75 tickets as available via the Blender site the restaurant and theatre will be completely full.

You can order a ticket here

– Saturday and Sunday after the premiere, the movie will be shown in Montevideo (Keizersgracht 264) every hour between 13h and 18h. Inbetween we’ll do presentations about technical and creative details.

Movie is nearly completed… we’re on schedule, and its great! :)

Cya in Amsterdam,


(If you have any questions? Just mail ton(at)blender.org or post to this blog message)

Elephants Dream Premiere: March 24

  / by Ton

Emo and Proog bathed in green light
Friday March 24th, the premiere of Elephants Dream will be in Cinema Ketelhuis, Amsterdam. This cinema is well known in Amsterdam as the place for documentaries and art-house movies. It is part of the re-developed industrial area Westergasfabriek, a new culteral centre in the heart of Amsterdam.

Recently the cinema got upgraded with HD digital projection, 10 bits per color channel. Just today we also found a sponsor who will help us with the proper conversion for our files this digital cinema format.

The cinema opens at 17:30 for us, and at 18:00 we’ll show the world what we’ve been doing the past 7 months. :) Part of the screening will also be a preview of the Making Of documentary. At 18:45 another run of the show will happen.

To celebrate the premiere, starting at 20:00, I have hired one the hippest lounge/restaurant/bars of the city for an exciting after-party; and it’s even called Blender!

Yes, the name is a total coincedence, I knew this very cool place was there for over 5 years, never got a chance to do something with it. But now is the right time! Expect here special Elephants Dream cocktails, excellent dinner from a renown cook, and a DJ to keep us moving for as long we’ve got the energy. Address is Van Der Palmkade 16, which is just a 500 meters from the cinema.

Entrance in the Ketelhuis cinema is free of charge, but for the Blender after-party, you’ll have to purchase a ticket in advance. This ticket will guarantee you a seat during the premiere, and it includes access to lounge-restaurant Blender, all food and most of the drinks in the evening while chatting with the Orange crew. We’d love to see you there.

Saturday 25 and sunday 26 March, we will be available all day in Montevideo (Keizersgracht 264, Amsterdam) for presentations. Again the movie and documentary can be viewed – unfortunately not in exciting HD quality – but now you can personally meet with the makers and get real-life demonstrations of how it all was done. A more detailed schedule of these two days will be published later.

I would like to invite everyone to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime first release of an Open Movie! It will be almost like a Blender Conference, and certainly as much fun… and if that’s not enough for you, on friday evening I’ll also celebrate my birthday!

You can use the online e-shop registration system for the VIP Blender party ticket. There’s only 75 tickets for sale, and first come is first served.

See you soon!


BTW; during the week after the premiere we’ll prepare the DVD, early April it will be shipped to all our sponsors. Only after that – I guess around early May – we’ll open up the movie and files for free download for everyone… I think our sponsors also deserve a personal premiere! :)

BTW2: It is still not too late to purchase a DVD! We can really still use your support!

BTW3: Note that we’ve added final movie shots to the frontpage and gallery… promising stuff eh!

tiny production report

  / by Bassam

Hello all, sorry for the long silence- it’s been a busy few weeks.
We’re in deadline crunch mode now ( sometimes it feels like we’ve been that way the whole project) but the difference now is we have *hard* deadlines that we have to meet.
A little update:
All shots have character animations- including lipsync, though some will need tweaking ( 1 or 2 days of work ).
We have 2 scenes rendered! and 2 scenes scored. The intersection of these two sets is 1, though we are very close to making the numbers 3 and 3, with an intersection of 3.
The rendering / lighting / texturing team have been burning the midnight oil to get some really beautiful stuff out in record time. ( This means Matt and Andy ). They rule!
For the rest, we have some environment animation, and all the cloth/intersection ( aka damage control) to do for the animation side. Most modelling is complete, with a few tasks left. Basse has been filling in the missing environment animations in the last scenes, and they are cool beyond words. He rules!
We’ve got two hard deadlines we work for now:
1- siggraph submissions in the beginning of march- we will submit an excert consisting of the afforementioned 3 scenes.
2- the premier date. Ton is still working on this, we expect a location and time fix soon. It’ll be in the middle/latter half of March, most likely.
3- then theres getting things ready for the DVD distribution folks ( credits, menus, titles, and subtitles ( thanks translators! ) etc.

Your help in getting us reams of textures has been simply fantastic :)

I’d post some renders up, but I’m a tease, and well, I don’t want to steal the steam from a forthcoming post……

Stupid memory problems!

  / by Ton

The original title for this post was actually “Stupid Macs!”, but luckily this story has a happy ending, also for OSX. :)

As you all might have noticed by the lack of blog postings, since early february we’re making very long days to get the final scenes rendered. This was the first real stress test for the Blender Render recode project, and needless to say that our poor fellows suffered quite some crashing… luckily most bugs could be squeezed quickly. After all, this project is also to get Blender better, eh!

With scenes growing in complexity and memory usage – huge textures, lots of render layers, motion blur speed vectors, compositing – it also became frustrating complex to track down the last bugs… our render/composit department (Andy & Matt, both using Macs) was suffering weird crashes about every hour. It either was in OpenGL, or it were ‘memory return null’ errors.

At first I blamed the OpenGL drivers… since the recode, all buffers in Blender are floating point, and OpenGL draws float buffer updates while rendering in the output window. They are using ATIs… which are known to be picky for drawing in frontbuffer too.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Call for Textures!

  / by Matt

Well, the translators have had their turn (and there will be more news on that later), but we’d also like to give the opportunity for more people to contribute. Part of us are now within the final materials/textures/rendering phase and are working on textures now ourselves. We had a nasty and unfortunate theft in the studio last week, and three of our cameras were stolen, so especially now, we could use some help with textures from outsiders – from gathering source material to final, lighting-corrected, tileable textures.

textures and stuff
The copyright issues surrounding this are a bit tricky, so we need to be very specific on this. Of course we’d love as many people to contribute as possible, but if you don’t comply with the right licensing requirements, we can’t use the textures. The movie itself and all the production files will be released under the most liberal Creative Commons license: Attribution 2.5, so in the interests of simplicity, we need people to licence any contributions under the same in order to use them. This means that you must give us, and anyone else permission to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, to make derivative works based on it, and to make commercial use of the work. So if you don’t like the idea of (for example) people making TV commercials for big companies using your textures, you’d better not agree :)

The one restriction that the license has is that “You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.” We plan to credit the authors in both the credits of the movie, and in the filename of the texture. You must specify that this is how you would like to be credited, otherwise it will be too complex for us to work out, and we won’t use the textures either. Of course sending in contributions doesn’t guarantee that we can use them, but you must comply with this in order to have a chance.

So, if you’d like to help out, please post links to places on the web where we can download your textures or photos, at least 1000px wide. They must be your own work, you must post either your real name or ‘anonymous’ for crediting and you must explicitly agree to the legal stuff written above. To make it easier, you can just copy and paste this into your post:

I confirm that these contributed textures are my own work, and I provide them for use under the Creative Commons Attribute 2.5 License. I specify that I would like to be attributed in the credits of the movie Elephants Dream, and also in the filenames of the textures.

Sorry about all this legal stuff, but I hope you can understand we have to be very careful on this! Anyway, for a list of textures that would be useful to us, click ‘read the rest of this entry’ below. Thanks very much! :)

Read the rest of this entry »

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