Just peachy: free software, free movies

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because I only recently found out about the Blender project’s free and open source short movie, Elephants Dream, when I happened across Terry Hancock’s review of it last year on this web site. The motivation behind Elephants Dream was to create a great movie short using only free and open source tools, while at the same time finding ways to improve the quality of those tools and free software projects in general.

Elephants Dream

The project primarily used the excellent 3D modeling and animation software, Blender, along with many other free software programs, including The GIMP, CinePaint, and Inkscape. The credits page notes, “An enormous amount of improvements in [Blender] were a direct consequence of the movie project taking place”.

Figure 1: Elephants Dream

Most of the movie content is freely available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, with some exceptions including the music which is CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Well, I was impressed. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as a “movie”, but as a demonstration of the capabilities of free software and the possibilities for free 3D animation, it is stunning. As a statement in favor of free culture, and showing what a talented group of people can achieve in support of free culture, the movie and the project web page are loud and clear. With free tools like this already available today, I can imagine a future where small groups of people with limited budgets will be able to make Pixar-like movies.


Although my artistic talent is probably in the low one percentile, after watching the movie I went to the Blender web site to see what was there, and was thrilled to see another open movie in the works: Peach. And it’s just getting geared up for production. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link to pre-order the movie, and perhaps impulsively decided I wanted to support this new project.

Figure 2: Peach concept sketch

Now, I’m in no way affiliated with this project other than that I’ve spent my $40 U.S. on the DVD well in advance of the work being completed. I don’t want to make this post a big sales-pitch, and maybe I have a conflict of interest in that the more people send in money, the better chance I have of getting a good return on my investment, but I’d urge you to do the same if you want to support free software and free culture development models.

Eventually we’ll use other kinds of methods to hold our money in escrow until a project like this is successfully completed, but for now some additional trust is required. Their goal is to have 1000 pre-orders by the end of September, and they’re at 900 now. All orders paid before October 1 will get the buyer’s name on the movie credit roll. I know $40 is kind of steep, but it actually does take money to produce great work, so give it a thought. Not only will we get a great free movie, but this project will contribute to improvements in the free software tools for making even more great free stuff.

From the home planet

Please visit my web site, MovingToFreedom.org for more on free software and etcetera. Recent posts include "Celebrating Software Freedom Day: Check out some newly emancipated AI Java code" and "A Silly Post Brought to You by the Letters E and F." (Warning: it really is silly.)


Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (CC-BY-SA-3.0). Reusable with this attribution (including hyperlinks): Copyright © Scott Carpenter, 2007. Originally published in Free Software Magazine.


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