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...

A Call for Subtitles

  / by Matt

Well, the time has come to ask you all for some help for the DVD. While the timing is not final, the script has been locked down for a while, the voices have been recorded and selected, and it’s a good time now to start doing some translations. The Blender and wider open source community is a very multinational one, and we’d all really love to have a subtitle menu on the DVD packed full of all kinds of languages.

Joeri Kassenaar will be working on producing the DVD and has very nicely volunteered to co-ordinate the subtitles. If you’re interested in contributing a translation for the DVD, please email Joeri at:

and mention who you are, what language you’d like to translate, and perhaps if you have it, examples of things you might have translated before.

Right now, we have the English script, for which translation can be started immediately. When we have final dialogue timing throughout the movie, we can also provide translators with a low-res preview video, in order to do a timed subtitle file. We can probably also provide a rough timed transcribed English subtitle file, to use as reference.

We don’t want to distribute the script (or a preview video) widely before the DVD is released, so we will have to be selective with only a few translators. Maybe one to translate, and one to doublecheck if possible, I don’t know. We’d also like to be able to trust translators to keep things secret too, as to not reveal any spoilers, and of course translators will be credited on the DVD. Anyway, let’s start from here and see how we go!

New Mini Production report

  / by Bassam

the live edit
Well, feels like it’s about time to update everyone on how we are doing, as we get into the later part of the project. Ton told you all about the extension we got, so I’ll fill you in on where we are now, and what we’ll be doing in the remaining time.

We’ve animated 92 shots of our 130 total. The live edit image above shows the progress- the top “animatic” strips are almost gone- the rest is all production files. Of those scenes some are “timing complete” meaning main character and environment animation are done, and these scenes are ready for the Sound FX. Scene 4 already has a gorgeous sound track done by Jan, and he has scene 5 in his grubby little mitts… we can’t wait to hear what he does with it :) scene 6 is next; it is shot complete, minus final tweaks.

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Behind the scenes, shots and, er… files

  / by Matt

files I’ve had a few questions about how we’re organising our work here, so I thought I might give a little run-down on it. It’s been interesting figuring out ways that we can collaborate together easily, while also being able to re-use models, sets and characters.

Blender offers a pretty wide range of options for managing assets with its library linking system, and we’re using it a lot. As well as appending things straight into a local file, you can link any blender datablocks like objects, object data, actions, or entire sets from an external library .blend file. Blender also allows multiple Scenes in each file, which can be completely independent, or have various datablocks linked between them. The trick for us was in deciding what features would suit us best (and what should be coded :).

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  / by Ton

(About time for a short producer’s update)

I’m just back from another visit to the studio, and can only say it is truely amazing what goes on there! It is incredible inspiring to see scenes and shots increasing in quality step by step, and ending up in something that actually looks like a real animation movie. :) And not only that, each and every blend file the artists make is worth viewing and evaluating… the database we’re building is going to become a premium quality asset of the DVDs we will publish.

So… at this very moment I can only conclude we’re going to meet all targets as set for the Orange project; especially related to the impact on validating and improving open source development. Actually there’s only one minor target left…. we gotta finish this movie too!
Since last november I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of scheduling approaches, and there seems to be some law of nature that whatever you schedule, only 70-80% of a schedule is ever realized. Even when you try to anticipate this law… we just can’t stop making shots better and better and better…

Yesterday I’ve had a meeting with the co-producer (NIM/Montevideo), and we’ve decided to squeeze out extra budget to enable the team to work for an extra month. If we would end on February 23rd, we would have to scratch entire scenes… and there’s just no scene we can actually miss for this movie short.

Instead, the new deadline has been put on March 15th, with a premiere either on March the 16th or on the 23rd. We’re currently contacting Movie Distributors and Producers in the Netherlands to find an opportunity to organize a joint premiere, with Elephants Dream as pre-show.
There’s also an opportunity to organize a world-wide premiere. I’m already discussing this with the Libre Graphics Meeting organization.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday March 17-19 is also targeted to have three days of presentations (and an exhibition) around the movie in the Montevideo building in Amsterdam. All team members then will be available for demos, feedback and showing each and every trick they used to make the movie.

We’ll try to get the DVD and making of documentary finished in the week(s) after, ready for shipping to all of our sponsors early april.

That’s it for now… back to coding, Blender isn’t ready yet!

Foley is fun!

  / by Jan

The first scene reached “final” status last week (which means that it’s still in animatic state, but editing and character movements are frozen), so I was able to start working on the foley and SFX tracks. Foley refers to “everyday” sounds which are usually not noticed unless they’re not there, such as footsteps, cloth movements and sounds made by things the characters interact with. As you can imagine, this is a lot of fun! Here I’m denting an old PC-XT chassis from my attic. The small, rickety ladder adds some metallic resonance and rattling.

Also starring in the finished movie: rough gravel, giant cardboard boxes, power staplers, plastic buckets filled with water, styrofoam cups, a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle, 7.5 miles of string, a singing woman,

Publicity stunts

  / by Matt


We’ve been in the media a little bit lately, and as the press we’re getting keeps growing and growing, the pressure keeps piling on!

Right now in the well renowned 3D World magazine issue 74 onwards, we’re featuring in the regular ‘production diary’ section. We will have an article each issue for the next six months tracking our progress as we forge ahead towards completion. The current issue also has an interesting article on open source software in the film/media industry.

There’s been a two page article about us and open source movie production in general in the German technology magazine c’t, that we forgot to report about when it was fresh, but it’s still in the current issue that’s in our local bookshop here in Amsterdam.

And last but not least, the second issue of the online Blenderart magazine is out, featuring amongst the other articles and tutorials, a set of interviews with five of the six of us here in the studio. Unfortunately and embarrassingly I’m the missing one, away from work sick for most of the week when the other guys did their responses, and never remembered to reply when I came back! So my apologies, Gaurav, Sandra and co! If you want, perhaps I could post my responses here :)

Time Traveling-Solved!

  / by Bassam

insane xclock

It looks like my computer has suddenly aquired Einsteinian properties; after anywhere from a few hours to a few minutes of use the clock starts running fast; avi’s playback to fast, the clock goes too quickly and the command “sleep 10” sleeps for about 8 seconds only.

I’ve no idea how/why this is happening.. So this post is a bit of a cry for help- any ideas? could it be the CMOS battery? or anyway software (ubuntu linux, 64 bit version with a 32 bit chroot environment for blender and some other apps) could be responsible?

Don’t blame me if the movie seems a bit sluggish! It runs fine on my computer ;)
[edit] rebooting now, so my clock goes back to normal

( Erratic xclock video, 1MB MPEG4 )

Problem Solved! At least for me, it seems that some 64 bit kernels and certain chipsets exhibit this bug; appearantly, it can be cured via certain boot parameters posted by some of you in this thread. In my case, since I run blender in a 32 bit chroot anyway, I just made my chroot partition a bootable 32 bit system. After a little struggle re-configuring my sound in the 32 bit environment, it appears that my clock is stable.
Huge thanks to all of you for your suggestions, research and jokes :)

Noodles and CinePainting?

  / by Andy

cinepaint under pressureCinepaint is commonly known as powerful open source tool being used in major film productions. It’s basically a rather old fork from GIMP with higher bitdepth (32 bits per channel), and export options to high dynamic range image formats such as HDR and OpenEXR. For loading image sequences Cinepaint uses a simple ‘flipbook’ approach, which is also a major difference from GIMP… but other than that both are (or rather were at some distant point in the past) pretty similar. Now I finally had some time to write about our experience with Cinepaint and it’s place in our project.

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New Year Mini Progress Report

  / by Lee

So after a very different (At least to us Aussies) and exciting New Year, It’s back to normal at the Studio. Shot production as always at this point in projects is steady and full steam ahead and Bassams wonderful rigging ability has made animating the characters a breeze, at least in the technical sense. With a good percentage of the animation complete we are now shifting some energy into the final sets and materials in preperation for the first batch of finals. By the end of this week we are hoping to have our first complete scene, and that plan looks like it will work out well!

Our thoughts on the next few weeks is to set up some small armies again: Bassam and Lee working only on animation (Bassam also directing too!), Andy and Matt starting to work now on Getting scenes to a rendering stage, Basse keeping things together with his great skills in both animation and Modelling, and Toni trying to come up with some great solutions for project needs to keep us going. For today just this small update on the plans for the next month, but expect quite soon some more blogs for the new features we are using here and more goodies!

Season’s greetings!

  / by Jan

The whole team wishes you a merry christmas and a happy year 2006!

Ok, we originally had the idea to have a jolly Santa Emo here, but alas, the modellers had been fallen prey to the holiday spirit already. And sadly, all I can do is mirror spheres on checkerboards. I tried to put a red cap onto the sphere, but now it looked like Tim Allen. So, no pic here.

But you could gather around the fireplace and sing along!

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