In a bid to push open source 3D modeling software Blender as a suitable environment for professional 3D animation, Blender has released the results of its second open movie project. The 10-minute animated short, Big Buck Bunny, was released free on the Internet last Friday. The movie is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license -- including all production files and the contents of the film's official web site. The project, which had been codenamed "Peach," follows up the successful "Orange" project which released the Elephant's Dream short in May 2006.
Peach, which was funded in large part by DVD pre-sales, invited seven of the top artists in the Blender community to Amsterdam from October 2007 until April 2008 to create the short. The team was given housing, a studio facility, and paid enough to reimburse travel costs and living expenses.
According to Blender, the project had four main goals: create new tools for editing and rendering hair, fur or grass in Blender, improve on character animation tools to make them more suitable to "cartoonish" motion, put the software through its paces for rendering large outdoor environments, and "further validate Blender as a professional animation creation suite." Secondary to those main goals, the open movie project provides everyone in the Blender community with professional-level source files to modify, remix, and learn from.
As for the movie itself, don't expect Pixar-level stuff in terms of story, but the animation is quite good. If Big Buck Bunny is indicative of what the software is capable of, Blender definitely proves its point about being a able, pro-level animation 3D rendering tool.
Big Buck Bunny can be downloaded for free in a wide variety of formats from the official page, as well as via BitTorrent. It is also up on Vimeo and YouTube and is nearing 150,000 views across both sites. Source files can be downloaded here.
The Blender Foundation isn't sitting still. They started work on the Apricot project in February, this time attempting to show off Blender's ability in the game development field by creating an open 3D game. The game will work on "at least Linux, Windows, OS X" and utilize the open source Crystal Space 3D engine and the Python scripting language. The Apricot project will kick off production in July in Amsterdam.