In September 2012, the Blender Foundation released their fourth open movie entitled Tears of Steel. Otherwise known as Project Mango, this open movie had the technical purpose of developing visual effects and realistic rendering in Blender. Made at the Blender Institute in Amsterdam, Tears of Steel was a very different project to the previous open movies of Elephant’s Dream, Big Buck Bunny and Sintel. The aim was use real actors and real footage for the movie, imposing visual effects and animated objects into the scenes. The previous three were entirely CG and animation.
As usual, the entire creation pipeline for the project was to use only free/open source software. Of course Blender, and it’s relatively new render engine cycles were used, along with programs such as GIMP, MyPaint, Krita and Inkscape. This was not the case with the music and sound effects as external providers were used.
Watch the Movie
A Quick Review
I will begin by saying that once again the Blender Institute have produced yet another top quality short film. With a very heavy sci-fi theme and such a short duration, they’ve even done a great job to ensure that the story still meant something and still had a structure. It’s very difficult to generate action, emotion and drama to a meaningful standard in just 10 minutes, so plenty of credit should go to the story writers and script writers here.
The content of the visual effects was very dense and detailed; I would certainly recommend several viewings if you were to notice all the different parts. The visual effects themselves were nothing short of impressive on the most part. Merged with the live action footage, it resulted in a very slick production such that the visual effects did not stand out as being out of place or clearly ‘fake’ at any point. The machines’ interaction with the real world made this even more of an achievement.
Tears of Steel was also thoroughly well edited and sequenced; you could not question the shot selection and camera movement for the way it captures the action. And yes, though it was not produced by the Blender Institute, the music and sound effects definitely enhanced the viewing experience.
Also, though it wasn’t the focus of the project, the acting was also of a very high standard. Even though they were working with what was essentially objects, scenery and effects that weren’t there in real life, there was no chance of the acting lowering the quality of the finished movie. Overall, I am sure that you could show this to someone and tell them that it was an excerpt of the latest science fiction blockbuster, and they would not question you after watching it. As such, it appears that the goals of focusing on visual effects and realistic rendering have been realised.
Tears of Steel in 4k
Tears of Steel is due to be re-rendered in 4k and is expected to take approximately 2 months to do so:
The format we’ll use is 4K CinemaScope cropped, 4096 × 1714, in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. That will become available as DCP as well.
Find out More
The official Tears of Steel website contains much information about the move, the production of it and ‘behind the scenes’ features. You can also watch the movie and download it (released under a Creative Commons license).
Find out more about the other Blender Open Projects: http://www.blender.org/features-gallery/blender-open-projects/