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Elephants Dream Creator Talks to Wikinews

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the artists-sharing-their-art dept.

86

An anonymous reader writes "Three days after the Internet release of the free content 3D short Elephants Dream, Wikinews exchanged e-mails with Ton Roosendaal about the reaction to the film, open source filmmaking, and the changes to Blender that resulted from the production."

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FIRST POST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378713)

first post yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

what did the elephant dream about?

my opinion (4, Informative)

Toba82 (871257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378719)

The movie sounded like a feature film - it wasn't. It was a very thought-provoking piece, however. I've got to say the graphics were impressive.

Re:my opinion (1)

fragmer (900198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378860)

Graphics were very impressive, yes. But the lipsync was very poorly done. It's really distracting at times.

Re:my opinion (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378926)

It was a very thought-provoking piece, however.

And what thoughts did it produce? "Gosh this doesn't make any sense"?

Re:my opinion (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380068)

And what thoughts did it produce? "Gosh this doesn't make any sense"?

Well, to be fair, it seemed nonsensical at first. However, now that I've watched it a few times, I'm finding all kinds of dimensions and plots from it. Then again, I'm perfectly capable of looking at at a cloud and coming up with a novel-length story of whatever it resembles in my eyes. Or a blade of grass, or a grain of sand.

I guess that means that the sense is in the eye of the beholder.

Re:my opinion (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380165)

Well, in that case, it would have been quicker for them to rent a DV cam and film clouds for a few hours instead of wasting all that time with a renderer. Because I didn't get crap out of the movie other than, "hey, look, open source is so great you can produce high-quality animation using it! ... and a team of 20 animators! ... and over a year of work!"

Re:my opinion (0, Flamebait)

dangermouse (2242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385096)

Art is expressive. If a work does not convey a specific message or emotion from its creator to the audience, but instead leaves everything to the interpretation of the audience, it is not art.


If the intent to evoke a particular thought or emotional response is there, but the work does not do so, then the creator has failed to create art.


If there is no such intent, then the creator is just screwing around and wasting everybody's time.


I can't tell whether this movie was a failure or just screwing around, but either way it's not art any more than your blade of grass or grain of sand is, and you shouldn't give the creators or the work any credit for your own ability to amuse yourself when left to your own devices.

Re:my opinion (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15379079)

Well, I thought it sucked badly.

Everything have been already said to the stupid story. We could add things about the camera movment et al, but it is overshadowed by the failure that this story is.

We've seen this stuff in Imagina dozen oftimes. Teenagers trying to be deep and arty.

It is very unfortunate, as I, as many others, can't send show this movie to anybody I know, without feeling ashamed. Compare this to the first Pixar shorts. It is such a waste...

Ok, storytelling is hard. I can admit that. In that case, they should do something else. Avoid the story. I don't know, make a 5 minutes breath-taking space combat sequence, Enders Game style. Play with scale, like IBM did in the famous power of 10 sequence (zoom between some bacteria and its environment).

Anything that could be showed to other people. Not some sub-Kaena story (I would never had thought that ANYTHING could be sub-Kaena, story-wise).

And, when you see that his favorite 3d animation movie is Ice Age 1. What a pity. That is one of the very worse animated movies, story-wise.

The only positive thing they may have done is that someone will look at it, and think that it is easy to beat. And maybe it will spark creative offspring, using the same models.

Re:my opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384127)

The writer is not a teenager, he is a professional with a good resume. The film is stuffed to the seams with plot and meaning, which obviously makes it "deep and arty," since anti-intellectualism is l'trend du jour, it seems.
  Maybe they should have included a cute talking blender? And have Emo and Proog go on a wacky adventure to find a magical coffee bean plant? With musical numbers? Would you prefer to be able to say "See, Open Source can make a movie like Pixar's worst crap, only not so good!"

  Or watch ED and take another look at it. Try this: Consider the nature of the machine -- what kind of devices does it always appear as? What does that imply the machine is?

Re:my opinion (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15381135)

Sometimes less is more....a LOT more.

Re:my opinion (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15381607)

And sometimes less is less. Yay tautologies!

Re:my opinion (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384234)

It doesn't surprise me that some people are totally lost on the meaning in this animated short, nor does it surprise me that people would label something they don't understand as inferior in some way. It would be a refreshing change of pace to see someone provide some intelligent discourse as to what was so lame about it, other than, "the plot sucked," "it was too short," blah blah blah...

Re:my opinion (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384283)

I consider myself a pretty intelligent, literate person. If I watch/read/listen to something, and I don't understand it, I'm inclined to not think "IT'S SO GREAT, BECAUSE I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT!" If I don't get something out of the experience, it is not of value to me. Sometimes, I can go back and get something out of it. Sometimes, I go back, and it's still impenetrable. Philip Glass is in this category.

Does that mean it has no value? Surely not. Simply that I (me this carbon unit) didn't derive any value from the work.

So, you criticize others for providing no specific issues they had with the film (which, by the way, I haven't taken the time to view), while at the same time mouthing an empty platitude like "less is more"?

Mr. Pot? Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Kettle.

Re:my opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15464875)

Um... I think it was trying to say that different people see the world differently-- and that offends some people.

No shit.

Other than that, the animation sucked. The only thing that I enjoyed was when they walked across the chasm and the older guy was gyrating and the younger was sauntering.

But in all honestly, that is exactly an idea I had a decade ago (movement across a chasm, taking different paths, reaching the same goal at roughly the same time).

The character movement was extremely disappointing.

And other than the older guy's face, it seemed to me that the rendering was 5-10 years behind the times.

Creating Extra Buzz. (2, Interesting)

crhylove (205956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378727)

If you really want to draw people into the whole FOSS arena and generate pieces in the real world, make it applicable to real life. I think an all CG documentary about LOTS of subjects would dominate text books, and making one under GPL or GML or whatever would make it an editable improveable piece that could be used again and again, and improved over time by every viewer or instructor who used the material. Plus I can imagine quite a few topics where CG graphics would help clarify the subject matter for the student. Maybe even some computer lessons. Now granted, clippy sucked, but maybe FOSS can do a whole shit load better...

rhY

Topic Ideas: Something about ancient architecture. A biography about the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. A Mortal Kombat game featuring Leonardo Da Caprio. I'd love to do that fatality.

Re:Creating Extra Buzz. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378763)

"A Mortal Kombat game featuring Leonardo Da Caprio. I'd love to do that fatality."

You're just jealous because he's sexy and you're a hairy blob of fat.

Re:Creating Extra Buzz. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379495)

I realize I'm responding to a troll, but I'm really not:

www.leperkhanz.com

I'm the one with the violin.

What... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378739)

...are you tallking about? My spelling is perfect!

Re:What... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378809)

How is that offtopic? This dude is pointing out that there is a spelling error in the title of the article.

Re:What... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378831)

It's not a spelling error, that's what tall people do when they're talking. You probably don't know about this because you're short.

Download it here (5, Informative)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378774)

For those who didn't see it the first link here are the movies again, hope you enjoy it

http://orange.blender.org/ [blender.org]

LetterRip

U send me more information plz (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378782)

U send me information bout elephant 2 here: slash@spambob.com

plz send me ur data on this asap.

Thx.

What he learnt was... (2, Informative)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378795)

to remember never to post mirrors to 400meg or 800meg files when they think they're going to get slashdotted. those servers that were mirroring the video were litteraly hammered to the point of non-recognition. Even the edu server they had was trailing less than 10KB/sec.

Re:What he learnt was... (2, Informative)

ramunasg (973228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378971)

Re:What he learnt was... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379224)

twas the first time I've seen a torrent where there were so many clients that the number got displayed wrong as a negative value... methinks there was a type mismatch there in Azureus's display.

Re:What he learnt was... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15382051)

I kept a seed going over the weekend, with max upload rate set to 15k, and used almost 10gb of bandwidth...

Re:What he learnt was... (2, Funny)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380440)

"Those servers that were mirroring the video were litteraly hammered to the point of non-recognition."

Isn't it funny that people use the word 'litteraly' when they actually mean the opposite?

I'll have to watch the anim now! (4, Insightful)

Ithika (703697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378800)

Nice interview, although he sidestepped a couple of questions... like the one about closed source sound software. He just seemed to go off at a tangent there.

The interview (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378811)

Reporter: How did the project come true? Animators: Emo, it's not safe here, Emo, it exists. Reporter: What were your goals you've set for yourself? Animators: No, Emo, Emo, FOLLOW ME Emo, Emo...

Typeo... (1)

rollonet (882269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378823)

Tallks?

Re:Typeo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378950)

Typeo?

Try "typo", moron.

Movie (1)

kanzels (975208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378824)

It was very well done, I like graphics, but story sucks.

Re:Movie (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15381177)

Just curious...what do you think the story IS, actually?

Re:Movie (1)

gtm256 (848258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384741)

I thought the story was about societal conformance, pressure to be "normal", and the consequences for not doing so. (Death apparently.) Kind of makes sense that people trying to buck the system would make something like this.

I think the story is besides the point though. What's really impressed me is that the drove their software development through an actual project.

Fix the spelling mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378840)

Isn't there a spelling checker in slashcode?

For crying out loud there are Open Source spelling checker libraries in existence...

Re:Fix the spelling mistake (2, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379692)

Isn't there a spelling checker in slashcode?

Yes, but its disabled because they can't afford the supercomputing cluster needed to cope with the work load.

Tallk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378845)

Fix the subject ;)

Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378864)

Slashdot has reached a new level. No more just dupes, now typos in the headlines too!

omgponies (0, Troll)

taskforce (866056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378868)

Wtf? A half decent article on Wikinews? A full page long?

Lies.

A review: (3, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378896)

Well... yes, the graphics were quite impressive, however the animation looks very clunky at times. Although the static and slow-moving graphics looked fine, the walking motion and some of the fast action looked very bad (I actually checked to see if my player was skipping frames).

The audio wasn't fantastic - a little jingle of music, a few sound effects and Emo has a very strange accent (and, BTW, what is the Colossus of Row-Des, I thought it was Rhodes, as in "roads"... maybe that's just me being on the right side of the pond). There's little emotion or character in his voice, either.

The "plot" is just plain weird but we'll excuse that on the basis that there isn't supposed to be any plot (read into the plot what you like but it's not present so you can say that anything "represents" anything you like... I hereby declare that the plot could be about Emo the technophobe not wanting to use the clunky old tech that his father used, in the same way I use CD's where my dad used vinyl).

By making the plot weird and the animation clunky, they've actually achieved the opposite of what they wanted - they relied on DVD pre-orders and grants to get this off the ground and, now people have seen the result, they won't be getting many of those for their future projects. Plus, when people next say "we want to use Blender to make X", everyone's going to remember this.

I can't see this being something that people will share around to go "wow" at with their friends (unlike that short about the little robot who wakes up in a room on a spaceship (Blue?), anyone remember how much that cost to make?) so very few people are going to realise this even exists. If they do, they are going to be one of the people here just disappointed with what's been produced after they've spent a lot of money on a DVD pre-order.

The arty-farty types will adore this film if for no other reason than nobody else can understand it and it's been called art.

Re:A review: (4, Insightful)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378938)

There's more to CG than character animation, and as Ton explains in the inteview, the artists got better during the course of the project. I think judging by the amount of blog buzz the thing has received, it is being shared and copied quite heavily. I see many potential benefits:
  • Be taken seriously by studios and animators. Having a tech demo like this out means that people who make decisions about spending money are more likely to take a closer look at Blender as a highly capable free solution for 3D graphics.
    • As a consequence, a studio might even say: "Sure, Blender is cool, but it's lacking features X, Y, and Z. So we'll pay for developing those, it's still cheaper than what we would pay for licensing." Studios are first and foremost about making films, not software, so open source makes strategic sense for them.
  • Get young artists interested in using Blender. "That movie had a weird plot, but man, I'd love to do graphics like that." This in turn may lead to increased uptake in academia, as kids want to use their favorite software in university.
  • Help people learn basic 3D filmmaking skills. Remember that the DVD contains the 3D models, storyboards, making of, etc.
  • Establish working relations with artists, organizations, and so on that can be built upon in future projects.
  • Identify key areas where Blender needs work -- this was done during the process, and any new movie project will help to further refine the software.
I don't dare to predict if future movie projects will be successful. I think there's a good chance they will, especially if the basic idea (without spoilers) is published upfront and well-received. I think it would be neat to cooperate with a major webcomics artists on characters and plot. This is a community artform that has already established itself quite well.

Re:A review: (1)

gkhan1 (886823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379352)

It's certainly being shared, my torrent lists over 30000 seeders right now. Might have something to do with slashdot, yes, but it's still pretty impressive. That's basically as much as the newest episode of lost gets.

Re:A review: (1)

anno1a (575426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378943)

My impression (Much like parents):
Decent graphics.
Weird albeit interesting plot.
Crappy sound effect (Horrible actors).
Crappy animation.

The sound effects have nothing to do with the tools used, that just shows that the crew isn't all that good at making cartoons.
The animation might be an outcome of the bad tools, but it may again just be the animators who don't have the proper skills.

In the end, this "feature" could be a lot more impressive, and failed in showing that OSS tools can be as good as the professional tools. It came pretty close though - an other crew might be able to pull it off!

Re:A review: (2, Interesting)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379819)

This sums up my impressions as well. In the previous thread someone said that this should scare the crap out of Pixar and the like, but I still think that is wrong. They may have the tools to make a good film, but the pure level of talent and experience is lacking.

This would provide an excellent opportunity for those with talent to show it off and strive for a job in the field though. As nice as Free software/media is, you still need to pay the bills. And there is nothing stopping you from working on side projects for free.

Re:A review: (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379005)

unlike that short about the little robot who wakes up in a room on a spaceship

I seem to have missed this one. Any chance you could hunt down a link, if it is that cool? I don't know enough about it to find it on Google.

Re:A review: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15379083)

unlike that short about the little robot who wakes up in a room on a spaceship
http://www.xenobi.com/blue/ [xenobi.com]

Re:A review: (1)

TyFighter (189732) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379026)

I agree with what you say, but I would go even farther to say that the facial animation is absolutely awful. There is coherency between facial movement and audio. I couldn't even call this a technical achievement other than it was incredibly inexpensive to make, but at the cost of embarassing animation. Free software may make great pictures, but free animators are not worth the loss of quality.

I have nothing to say about the story, since there is none.

Once you get the glitter of open source eye candy (a glitter that only exists across an individual frame), you'll see this is very poor quality work.

Re:A review: (1)

swbrown (584798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379045)

The "plot" is just plain weird but we'll excuse that on the basis that there isn't supposed to be any plot (read into the plot what you like but it's not present so you can say that anything "represents" anything you like... I hereby declare that the plot could be about Emo the technophobe not wanting to use the clunky old tech that his father used, in the same way I use CD's where my dad used vinyl).
Just because it was over your head doesn't mean it lacked plot. :) It was definately aimed at a more artsy audience (which was rather refreshing), but you should still be able to figure it out if you think about it for a bit. If you still can't get it, read the reply from 'Brkn' on the digged story and the post he's replying to. http://digg.com/movies/Elephants_Dream,_the_Open_3 D_Animated_Movie_Released_On-line [digg.com]

Re:A review: (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385821)

Okay... I'm not desperate to understand the fuss around this (I can accept that some people are seeing things that just aren't there) but I did *SPECIFICALLY* read these posts, consider them carefully and then re-watch the entire thing again with this in mind. I was sure that I must be missing something that other people are somehow seeing.

And you know what, it's rubbish. The first 7 minutes of the film DO NOT tie in with the theory you have linked too, not at all, most especially the dialogue just does not fit in with this.

I'm not saying that it's not what the creators had in mind for the plot but if it is, it's not something that the audience is ever expected to pick up on. Even on the final scene, it seems to only apply for that scene.

If this is "the plot", it's a very, very shaky one that raises more questions that it answers, for example why does Emo interact with the birds which are perching on the cables, for instance? Are they supposed to be "real" birds that Proog is imagining as something else? Still incredibly shaky and unclear as far as I'm concerned. The theory I posited in my post above explains just as much as this "plot".

I have a friend who is an absolute EXPERT on movie interpretation - a semi-autistic man who has studied film since he was a child, who can easily find deep meaning within a "arty" film consisting entirely of a blue screen (I kid you not, he sat through several hours of it and thought it was the best thing he'd ever seen), a person who can tell you every film any actor's ever been in and draw parallels between films which are decades and genres apart. I'm gonna show him this and see what he sees. It will be an interesting experiment in the name of movie art.

Re:A review: (1)

jtriska (520530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15382492)

I believe another Blender Foundation movie would definitely draw in just as many, if not more pre-orders and donations than the original Project Orange did. Why? Becuase it was a humongous success among the Blender community, the majority of people who did donate and pre-order.

The movie might not have the best plot, the animation might have it's issues, but this whole project has brought the communities strength to new levels. We love Blender, but we especially love those behind its growth.

If this project has done nothing else, it's extended Blender by leaps and bounds, and offers an extremly unique learning tool to the community. From the technical blogging to all the source material being made available on DVD, the resource gain is monumental.

If Ton offers to make another movie, as a Blender user (and one of many and growing) he has my dollar, thats for sure.

Re:A review: (1)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 8 years ago | (#15382968)

Well... yes, the graphics were quite impressive, however the animation looks very clunky at times. Although the static and slow-moving graphics looked fine, the walking motion and some of the fast action looked very bad (I actually checked to see if my player was skipping frames).

Agreed. With human characters, you have to work extra hard to make their motion human. The walking lacked weight, and the feet had a tendency to glide along the surfaces. The animators need to spend a lot more time working with simple characters. When you can give a stick-figure animation weight and believable movement, then you can go do a big project.

What a blowhard (0, Flamebait)

YAMSYAMSYAMS (973117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378907)

Disclaimer: I think this was a cool project and I like that Blender is open source. But this guy is a fucking blowhard. "We get a lot of complaints by non-artists that they can't get into the software easily, whilst the complexity of commercial products like Maya or Houdini is perceived as a confirmation of its "quality"." Yes that's right. If you critisize Blender you're not an "artist". Because clearly only an artist enjoys unintuitive guis that makes it extra hard to get into. Yeah and Maya clearly sucks because everyone is using it. "Luckily we also got many positive reviews of the artistic result of the movie. It is quite abstract, but definitely has many layers of information, inspiring many of the viewers to see relevant real life messages hidden here." If by "abstract" he means bad storytelling and direction then I agree. I think the real life message is: this is what happens if you don't know how to tell a story properly. "(Check the weird walk cycles in The Incredibles for example)." Pfft! Pixar, what do they know about animation.

I interpret Roosendaal's comments differently (2, Informative)

Mille Mots (865955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379422)

But this guy is a fucking blowhard. "We get a lot of complaints by non-artists that they can't get into the software easily, whilst the complexity of commercial products like Maya or Houdini is perceived as a confirmation of its "quality"." Yes that's right. If you critisize Blender you're not an "artist". Because clearly only an artist enjoys unintuitive guis that makes it extra hard to get into. Yeah and Maya clearly sucks because everyone is using it.

Out of curiosity, have you ever created anything with Blender? I'm not trying to troll or flamebait, I'm genuinely curious.

I have created with Blender, although it was many years ago (c. '99-00). At first I hated the GUI. I ranted and raved on the Blender forum. Then I quit wasting time venting about how things weren't 'standard' (by which I, and many others, meant, 'Not the same as apps in the Windows world') and started learning how the GUI actually worked. After some time climbing the fairly steep learning curve, I realized that the GUI was actually laid out fairly logically...if you worked the 'Blender way(tm)(c)(r).' If you wanted to work the 3DSMax or Maya way, you were SOL. But, maximizing productivity with one of the closed-source, Windows-based apps requires climbing a fairly steep learning curve, as well.

In my opinion, that is what Mr. Roosendaal is getting at with his statement. In the Windows world, the learning curve associated with becoming productive with Maya and Houdini (and 3DSMax, etc.) is celebrated as proof of their quality and worth. On the other hand, the learning curve associated with Blender, although really no more steep than that of the closed-source alternatives, is descried as proof of it's lack of quality; lack of 'readiness for the commercial world.'

Is Ton a fscking blowhard? I dunno. He seems to have created a fairly complex piece of software that allows the user to accomplish a certain set of tasks (once they've grown accustomed to the GUI and workflow). That's more than I've done, how about you?

--
This .sig available; 50-yr mortgage, interest only payments!

Re:I interpret Roosendaal's comments differently (1)

YAMSYAMSYAMS (973117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379837)

>>Out of curiosity, have you ever created anything with Blender? I'm not trying to troll or flamebait, I'm genuinely curious.

To satisfy your curiosity: yes I've done some tutorials and tooled around with it to see how it was to work with. It has lots of really interesting features and is a really cool piece of open source software. But it's still a pain to use compared to Maya and Max. I can jump between those two pretty easily while Blender just annoys me how it does things. I definitely think Blender would be much more popular if it took the best ui features from both of those.

Blowhard or not; he made some comments that seemed pretty stupid to me. Seems like a guy who thinks he's beyond criticism and blames everyone else for making a mess of a movie. No one's beyond criticism no matter what they've accomplished in the past.

Re:What a blowhard (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379656)

Blender's interface is unintuitive to the same extent as any 3D application. None are particularly intuitive. It has a very different interface, and one that is very fast once it is learnt. Added to that, UI elements and UI standardisation are coming in thick and fast that should make blender more palatable to someone stuck in their ways. The fact is, any 3D application is going to be "extra hard to get into."

Bad storytelling? What story. The premise is not a story, per se, more of a concept. There is a 'story' that unfolds in order to convey the concept, but that's not what the focus is on. As he says, if their prime intent was a story, then it's quite easy to make a funny film with cute animals in it. It's not that difficult to work out the idea behind it, especially if you watch more than once (as it is intended to be viewed) and double-especially if you talk to other people about it.

Re:What a blowhard (1)

YAMSYAMSYAMS (973117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379944)

>>Bad storytelling? What story.

Exactly.
>>The premise is not a story, per se, more of a concept.

Let me guess. The concept is: "unwatchable mess that makes no sense". Brilliant.

>>As he says, if their prime intent was a story, then it's quite easy to make a funny film with cute animals in it.

Making something funny is not easy. It's really easy to make something incoherent and seemingly pretentious.
Look, the movie could have had the worst animation and been rendered in wireframe; good writing, direction and editing would make up for that many times over.

Re:What a blowhard (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15381703)

"Let me guess. The concept is: "unwatchable mess that makes no sense". Brilliant."

Translation: I didn't understand it, therefore it must be crap. Many people have understood it, including myself. It's not that difficult.

"Look, the movie could have had the worst animation and been rendered in wireframe; good writing, direction and editing would make up for that many times over." How wrong. You should view ED as, first and foremost, a tech demo. The main point was to improve blender. Second to that comes making a movie. Since it's not a movie that tells a story, you shouldn't criticise it for not telling a story. It's there to do something else - be pretty and tell a concept.

Re:What a blowhard (1)

YAMSYAMSYAMS (973117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15382127)

>>Many people have understood it, including myself. It's not that difficult.

This should be on the DVD cover.

>>It's there to do something else - be pretty and tell a concept.

Yeah, whatever. It still fails at being remotely interesting; which I think is a shame.

Re:What a blowhard (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15383331)

Personally, I found it very interesting. That's what compelled me to watch a few more times to properly understand it. The concept is an interesting one, and I do think that, were there the time, ED should have been a story driven movie, exploring the idea it does. That would have been more successful.

What a unintuitive blowhard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384538)

"Blender's interface is unintuitive to the same extent as any 3D application. None are particularly intuitive."

Google's SketchUp does nice for a start. Wings is harder but not as hard as Blender.

Re:What a unintuitive blowhard (1)

arose (644256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386085)

Wings is harder but not as hard as Blender.
That's what I thought when I had played more with Wings then Blender. Now I'm anoyed by the endless right-clicking...

Re:What a blowhard (1)

jdbartlett (941012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380416)

I interpreted his statement in your first quote as him saying Maya and Houdini have unnecessarily complicated interfaces. I haven't used Houdini, but comparing Maya to Blender, I agree. I didn't find Blender "intuitive", but once I read the Wikibook, it did become simple. Like learning one instrument after another, there's a learning curve, it is different, but it isn't complicated.

Great questions (4, Interesting)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378918)

I thought the questions asked were really great compared to most animation interviews I've read which usually just appear fanboyish. I'm glad the interviewer asked about the story and character animation which I felt were the films biggest weaknesses. It's too bad that Ton decided to side-step the issue and not admit flaws.

"Yeah, the challenge the artists set themselves - to use quite realistic personages - is also something that easily works against you"

yeah yeah, we all know about the "uncanny valley [wikipedia.org] " (and if you don't, there's a link :]) but that wasn't the problem that Elephant's Dream had. The animation was just bad. It was obvious that most of the people working on it were better at modeling, texturing, and lighting than animation. This is something that's fairly common in CG animation. It's usually broken down into "character animation" and "everything else." Where you'll find lots of great generalists who know about modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, particles, etc and then you have the animators who don't do the technical stuff as well but can bring the characters to life.

Re:Great questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15379141)

Sure the animation wasn't up to par with pixar et al, but maybe Ton was happy with the result given the situation? The Incredibles had 200 animators working on it for 2 years, so for a 110min movie, that's about 44 man months a minute. Assuming the 5 orange artists animated half of the project duration (3 months) for an 11min short, that's about 1.5 man months a minute. Now I'm sure you can tweak the numbers a bit in either direction, but you get my point.

http://www10.dcccafe.com/nbc/articles/view_weekly. php?articleid=207443 [dcccafe.com]

Re:Great questions (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15381813)

I took those numbers into account. But I wasn't the one to make the comparison to the Incredibles - he did. At Pixar, the animation quota is something like 2-4 seconds of animation a week but is largely dependent on the shot. On Jimmy Neutron, however, animation quotas were 20 - 45 seconds a week. Having the 1.5 months a minute, which is 10 - 15 seconds a week is very feasible to do good - great animation. At my current job, I long for those types of quotas as we're doing 20 - 30 seconds a week.

Re:Great questions (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379676)

I do wonder how much of these problems can be at least partly solved by having actors to help the animators. If you can watch what real people do as they move and talk, it would help alleviate problems of unrealistic movement, if not prevent jerkiness and the like.
That said, the lipsyncing was really poor, and I don't think there was any excuse for that. In some places it was painfully obvious.

Re:Great questions (3, Interesting)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15381195)

Any animator worth his salt studies real actors, and is a "real actor" in their own right. Acting is a huge part of learning animation, and books [amazon.com] have been written on the topic. That said, acting is also a later step in the learning process. Before that, animation teaching is usually started with the 12 principles of animation which are:
    1. Squash and stretch
    2. Anticipation
    3. Staging
    4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
    5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action
    6. Slow In and Slow Out
    7. Arcs
    8. Secondary Action
    9. Timing
    10. Exaggeration
    11. Solid Drawing
    12. Appeal

These principles were defined by the original Disney animators in the 40s and 50s, and are widely used today as the base of animation learning. You can check out a great resource about the animation process, written by 2 of Disney's Nine Old Men, here [amazon.com] .

Ton in the interview said:
...so you accept a certain level of non-realism easily. (Check the weird walk cycles in The Incredibles for example).

This kinda just goes to show that he's just spouting off a "factoid" he's read or heard about. The "weird" walk cycles in The Incredibles - while maybe not "photorealistic" - are done that way for a purpose, following the principles listed above to make the character and animation more appealing. Animation is often about getting an appealing looking movement than a "realistic" looking movement. It's just that oftentimes, if you make a movement too unrealistic, people who are used to seeing such a movement will notice that there's something wrong with the animation.

Also, whether the character is "realistic" is irrelevent. The 12 principles still apply, but are just toned down. These things weren't pulled out of a hat. They were observed in human movement and exaggerated to make those movements more clear. Nobody could deny that the original Disney animators really observed what they were trying to animate. In fact, during the making of Bambi, Disney brought in a deer carcass so that animators could study the skeleton and muscle systems in a real deer. One of my professors in school who used to work for Disney showed the class the resulting book they made out of that research.

Interesting attitude... (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379047)

It is interesting that Slashdot crowd got a little bit trollish about quality of movie and skiping it as "unimportant". I tend to disagree here.

Movie by itself is truly piece of art. Yes, technically there ARE many problems. Character's movement where out of place in lot of moments, lip-syncing was heavy problem. But in overall, I have checked out movie about three times - first time got me confused - and I say it made me think. It is quet interesting in short movie genre and I would disagree that is just "showcase" for Blender. It stands on it's own. Let's not mention that it was hard to imagine in first place that it was created with Blender.

Project is a success. It gained some serious attention to Blender - check out Blender and 3D software forums - and gain Blender some serious supporters. I think Ton achieved what he wanted - kudos to him about that.

Re:Interesting attitude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15380699)

If by artsy you mean "like every other CG artist wannabe student's final year project" then I agree.

Its the same quality of all the junk we receive by new grads who want into the industry. Nothing great here, sorry.

There are a lot of other houses and SW companies/DVD teaching aides that have done a far better job at some of the goals trying to be achived here, i.e. getting ppl/kids interested in CG.

Re:Interesting attitude... (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385741)

For interest, can you point out web adreses where I can check out those "like every other CG artist wannabe student's final year project"? I would like to check out, really.

And by the way, yeah, I consider it also a art. Bad, good - it is another, *subjective* matter.

They started anim and voice to late (3, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379101)

I was at the premiere in Amsterdam and had a chat with some of the creators at one time or the other. Allthough we all grieve a little over the jerky anims one should keep in mind the following:
1) The timeschedule for a project like this was extremly tight. Remember they didn't have *anything* when they started. Not even a basic plot!
2) They had less experience in film project management than a guy that doesn't do blender all day but watches 'making of's'. Bassam (the director) said that he learned a storyboard and animatics are really important but it's important to move on fast from there on. I could've told him that right away. Then again I don't know a tenth of what Bassam knows about Blender.
3) They got stuck in the middle and took the time for experimenting and redoing animatics, which they, sadly, didn't have. Final anim started to late. Even the extra month they added in the end wasn't enough to give them room to breathe.
4) They didn't prerecord. Very big mistake. One guy said "There was so much emotion in the voices we had to redo some anims". Would've you thunk? Actors can act. It's what they do for a living. *ALLWAYS* prerecord unless you've got an acting director who has the skill to railroad the actors into the anim stance. And even then it's still better to prerecord.
5) Blender was extended with features they needed while they where requesting them *without* having a reference to other packages. All these guys are the elite when it comes to blender. IIRC none of them has any notable experience with any other package. Matt likes to toy around with ZBrush but Andy, for instance, is a 100% Blender guy. Watching him Blendering gives you a good reason why. When he's doing a little doodling in a break at the blender conference there's allways a bunch of people crowded around his workstation looking over his shoulder with amazement. It's absolutely fascinating just to watch this guy work. Then again, whith a feature list beforehand the parallel development of Blender would've gone quicker and features would've even been there before they where requested.
6) The jerky anims are paid of with awesome details that you usually don't notice at first viewing. In fact, one could say that the '2nd unit shots' are the actuall piece of art in this. That fits the lack of experience the Orange team had with larger productions. Bassams mechanical characters just plain rock. That's a fact.
7) AFAIK they where rendering in production which took away some time. Usually you outsource that or another dept. does it. I don't think they used renderplanet, which, if not, they should have.
8) All OSS Tools. Thats the single largest obstacle. The OSS tools are impressive, but OSS NLE and Compositing is just plain no match at all for, let's say, Apple Shake or Digital Fusion.
9) The benefits of compositing only became aware at the beginning of the project and key personell didn't have enough playing time to try things out, imho.

All in all I have to say that I am extremely impressed with the results. As for the semi-finished anims: As it is entirely open, there is no one at all stopping us from reanimating the entire move. The strange background of the story offers countless oportunities to extend the original and the fact that the riggs will be published gives pure animators a chance to show off their skills. Everyone can say: If you don't like it, redo it. A true OSS project indeed. Once again the Blender Community has shown true spirit. Ton and Team Orange rul3Z0Rz!.

Re:They started anim and voice to late (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379184)

Qbertino,

good post some things though I think you might be mistaken,

"Then again, whith a feature list beforehand the parallel development of Blender would've gone quicker and features would've even been there before they where requested."

They had a partial feature list beforehand, and for instance, much of the animation coding work happened before the Orange team gathered. They ended up having a bigger list of desires than was anticipated I think though :) Ton was coding an insane amount of time and there were useful and needed features coded by others, but there are still wish lists and polishing features, and things that didn't get finished. For the next project they will be starting with software that already meets all of the critical needs for the modeling, materials, rigging, weighting, animation, rendering, and compositing - so it will be much more 'nice to haves' instead of items critical for success.

"7) AFAIK they where rendering in production which took away some time. Usually you outsource that or another dept. does it. I don't think they used renderplanet, which, if not, they should have."

Rendering was done on a render farm that was in the US. The render farm was controlled via IRC online by Toni (technical director? - not sure what his offiicial designation was, he did misc scripting work, and handled the renderer stuff and other tasks).

"8) All OSS Tools. Thats the single largest obstacle. The OSS tools are impressive, but OSS NLE and Compositing is just plain no match at all for, let's say, Apple Shake or Digital Fusion."

A big part of the coding was getting blenders NLE and compositing tools up to the needed capabilities. Blender has now a very solid basis for NLE and Compositing.

"9) The benefits of compositing only became aware at the beginning of the project and key personell didn't have enough playing time to try things out, imho."

Ton was aware of the benefits of compositing at Siggraph after talking with some of his fellow open source panelists (I recall panelists from Dreamworks, IL&M, and Digital Domain, not sure who all he discussed it with though). Basically they told him that compositing with multipass renderers was the only way to go for work destined for the big screen. He just didn't have time to code the compositing till well into the movie since various improvements to the animating (improved rigging, weight painting, curve interpolation, etc), scene management (groups system, and other things), and materials tools (first layer based then switched to node based materials) and rendering were needed first.

LetterRip

Re:They started anim and voice to late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15383566)

As it is entirely open, there is no one at all stopping us from reanimating the entire move.

Hear! Hear!

I see lotsa bitchin' on slashdot about the technical quality of this short. Wanna bet that none of them loud-mouths will take up the challenge and do any better (or anything at all for that matter)?

What a shame (1)

TommyBear (317561) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379198)

I must say... it is breathtaking in the visual department, but as everyone here with logical minds have already stated, lacks any form of coherent dialogue or story.

So.. the simple solution, seeing that the film is open-source, is to get all the source material and re-dub the dialogue to something which doesn't resemble the ravings of lunatics at a mental hospital.

Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15379246)

...a piece of OSS output not-so-really-geeks are able to enjoy without rpming or emerging anything.

Great Work!!!

a boon for teachers... (1)

lardlad (959872) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379293)

I've been teaching CG/animation in a high school for the last three years. I pushed hard to use free software so that my students could continue working on any projects they got excited about. One of the biggest challenges I faced was wiseacre kids talking smack about how much better Maya/3DS max is, as an excuse for not doing great work in Blender. (Don't get me wrong - those are amazing packages - I'm a Maya user, but wanted all of my students to have legal access to software we used).

I'll show Elephants Dream in my classes today - yes, the character animation stinks, yes, the plot is hard to understand, but the look is beautiful. It should be a nice way to prove the point that having expensive software isn't the solution to every problem.

The title (1)

azav (469988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379489)

Does anyone know what the title means?

Re:The title (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379787)

*scratches head*

Something about... pachyderms... dreaming that Wikinews is... hosting an interview with... God?

Beats me. I think the real question is : an African or an Asian elephant ?

Re:The title (2, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380094)

It's derived from the dutch way of humorously finding a quick end to a childrens bedtime story quickly. Roughly "... and then came a Elefant streched his snoot and blew the whole story away." The original title (can't remember) had the word 'dream' in it and after Ton told the team the story of the typical ending with the elefant they quickly all agreed on "elefants dream". There was a little discussion wether it would be "elefant's dream" or "elefants dream". Being educated europeans they agreed on the gramatically more plausible version without the apostrophe. These discussions took place on the many Amsterdam downtown 'dinner outs' the Team had during the production.

Re:The title (1)

azav (469988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380862)

Hmmm. If the title was meant to be "the dream of one particular elephant" then it should be "Elephant's Dream". If it was supposed to state that elephants can dream it should be "Elephants Dream".

It would suck - and be a simple testament to the fact that basic grammar and the internet do not work well together - if the title was misspelled. It's simple 5th grade English grammar here in the US. A product with such a high production value and that is a showpiece for their technology should NOT have a misspelled title. The message is "we can produce fantastic stuff but we can't punctuate at a fifth grade level".

The first thing you see is the title. It should at least have correct punctuation and spelling.

Sigh.

Open Source movie? Where's my refund? (1)

alop (67204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15382215)

Who do I see about getting a refund on my wasted bandwidth?

Seriously! I know they made it primarily to showcase the open source software, but they could have at least made an attempt to make it mildly entertaining!

Re:Open Source movie? Where's my refund? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384265)

erm, open source?
  - where's the sourceforge page?
  - how come I only find compiled binaries?
  - how can I contribute?
  - is 1.0 a full stop?

-- RandomChineseHacker

Another OSS buzz that fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15405438)

Yet we assist to yet another OSS 'art' project that fails miserably. Do Those folks at Blender really think Linux is going to be a real competitor to OSX ?
I mean, come on, are you kidding or what? Cool stuff, all those thingies trying to be animated in a half-baked wannabee movie, but not interesting at all. Add another two tons of sithe to the already populated 'opensource art' movement full of wanabee artists who don't know a thing about art or a real OS for artists.

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