Blog Post

Open Source Animated Movie Shows What Can Be Done Today

from the just-think-what-comes-next dept

For years, one of the points we've raised in answering the movie industry's $200 million challenge to us (i.e., "how do you keep making $200 million movies?") is that, in part, it's asking the wrong question. No one asks "how do we keep making $10,000 computers?" Instead, they look for ways to make them cheaper (and better, at the same time). But in the world of Hollywood accounting, there's little incentive to make cheaper movies (sometimes the incentive goes the other way). And, we keep showing how the world is reaching a place where it's cheaper and cheaper to make good movies. We've pointed out nice examples of people making high quality movies for next to nothing. The idea is not that movies should be made for nothing, but that the technology is making it so that movies can be made for less. In fact, with two of the examples of cheap movie making we've highlighted, the makers later went on to score deals to do higher end movies for more reasonable budgets. 

Now, lots of people are talking about the excellent new open source, partially crowd funded, computer-animated short-film Sintel.

There are so many important points to make here that relate to stuff we talk about:

  1. The technology keeps getting better and the cost to do such high quality work keeps decreasing. This movie did cost $550,000 to make -- involving a 14-person team. But, that's a hell of a lot less than it would have cost not so long ago for anything of this level of quality.
  2. The creators used some crowdfunding: They offered up a bunch of reasons to buy as a way to get people to preorder and pay up front. Note that they didn't just say "please give us money," but provided a bunch of benefits for doing so.
  3. The release is totally open source: They're using a Creative Commons license that only requires attribution. That is, they have no problem with commercial uses.
  4. The movie itself is also promoting something else: The movie comes from the Blender Foundation, and helps promote their open source 3D content creation suite, which is helpful for their business. This is a point that we've tried to make many times in the past. All content advertises something, and it's often important to figure out what that is. In this case, Sintel helps "advertise" Blender's tools. It's yet another example of content as advertising, and doing so in a way that's not intrusive or seen as "product placement." If you have content, it's important to realize what that content is advertising.

Definitely a cool example of a variety of neat ideas all wrapped up into one... and producing a great movie as well.

Reblogged from



1 comment

As an interested moviegoer, this post was very fascinating. I am well aware of the high movie budgets for the big studio films (Fox, Warner Bros, etc) but the cost of animated moives and particualrly short films is something very new to me. Current animation moives are truley spitacular with the real life graphics and all the deltail used to make the movies seem as real-life as possible. Usually when I think of animation movies, the popular Disney movies come to mind first. Now those movies are in a completly different class with budgets near 150 million, however, I feel that movies like the short film Sintel could be on the rise, and seen in theateres in the near future. Now a fifteen minute film costing $555,000 dollars certainly isn't cheap, but compared to the massive budgets for other films, this is a HUGE improvement. With technology improving everyday, I can only imigine that the cost of these big studio films will start to decline, which hopefully for us moviegoers, will mean an increase of animated films in the future. Sintel is visual proof that it doesn't take ridiculous budgets to create a high end film. however, I feel we are still a long ways away from seeing these smaller budgets impact the studio films we see in theaters today.