Over the years Blender has been used to create many short films which proved that it is capable of generating high-quality results.
In this article, we will present you a list of 12 short films made with Blender. To clarify, it’s also an opportunity to review the way this 3D software evolved through the films that it was used in from its early stages until the current Blender we have now.
12 – Elephant dream
Our first entry on this list of short films made with Blender is “Elephants Dream”. It’s a 2006 Dutch computer-animated science fiction fantasy experimental short film produced by the Blender Foundation.
In May 2005, Ton Roosendaal announced the project. And The primary piece of software used to create the film was Blender in addition to several free and open-source software. The project was funded by the Blender Foundation and the Netherlands Media Art Institute. The Foundation raised much of the funding for the project by selling pre-orders of the DVDs. Production began in September 2005, under the code-name Orange by a team of seven Blender artists and animators from around the world. It was later named Machina, and then finally renamed to Elephants Dream.
The primary purpose of the project was to field test, develop and showcase the capabilities of Blender. Demonstrating what can be done with the software in organizing and producing quality content for films. During the film’s development, several new features (such as an integrated node-based compositor, hair and fur rendering, rewritten animation system and render pipeline, and many workflow tweaks and upgrades) were added to Blender specifically for the project. The film reportedly took 125 days to render, consuming up to 2.8GB of memory for each frame.
Elephants Dream received the award for “Best Short Film” at the first European 3D Film Festival in 2010. In 2008, Elephants Dream was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA’s) Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit. In other words, this is what comforted the choice of putting it among the best Blender short films.
11 – Big buck bunny
Among the famous and successful short films made with Blender, we also find Big Buck Bunny (code-named Project Peach). It’s a 2008 short computer-animated comedy film featuring animals of the forest. Unlike that earlier project, the tone and visuals departed from a cryptic story and dark visuals to one of comedy, cartoons, and light-heartedness.
Following Elephants Dream (2006), Big Buck Bunny is the first project by the Blender Foundation to be created by the Blender Institute. Which is a division of the foundation set up specifically to facilitate the creation of open content films and games.
Work began in October 2007. The film was funded by the Blender Foundation’s donations from the Blender community, pre-sales of the film’s DVD and commercial sponsorship. Both the final product and production data, including animation data, characters and textures are released under the Creative Commons Attribution License.
As in Elephants Dream, Blender developers worked extensively to improve the software in accordance with the needs of the movie team. Improvements were made in hair and fur rendering, the particle system, UV mapping, shading, the render pipeline, constraints, and skinning. Also introduced during the project was approximate ambient occlusion. These features were released to the public with Blender v. 2.46.
10 – Sintel
Sintel, code-named Project Durian during production, is a 2010 computer-animated fantasy short film. It was the third Blender “open movie”. It was produced by Ton Roosendaal, Chairman of the Blender Foundation. It was made at the Blender Institute. The plot follows the character, Sintel, who is tracking down her dragon pet named Scales. Just like the other Blender “open movies,” this is one of the short films made with Blender.
Work began in May 2009. And As with the previous Blender Open Movie Projects, Blender developers worked extensively to improve the software in accordance with the needs of the movie team. Improvements were made in the user interface, the particle system, sculpting, shading, the render pipeline, constraints, and smoke simulation. These features were released to the public with Blender v. 2.50 alpha through 2.54 beta.
The film was officially released on 27 September 2010 at the Netherlands Film Festival.
On 5 April 2014, Sintel was temporarily blocked from viewing on the Blender Foundation’s official YouTube channel after Sony Pictures issued a takedown notice to YouTube falsely claiming it owned the copyrights to the film.
Dutch daily newspaper featured a capture of the film on its front page, along with a short review describing it as “darker and less accessible than its child-friendly predecessors,” but also stating that in “image quality, detail, and characters, the film is on par with Hollywood animation”. It definitely makes it one of the best Blender short films out there.
9 – Tears of steel
Tears of Steel (code-named Project Mango) is a short science fiction film by producer Ton Roosendaal and director/writer Ian Hubert. Work began in early 2012. The film is both live-action and CGI; it was made using new enhancements to the visual effects capabilities of Blender. Set in a dystopian future, the short film features a group of warriors and scientists who gather in Amsterdam in a desperate attempt to save the world from destructive robots.
Tears of Steel is the fourth film from the Blender Foundation, following Elephants Dream, Big Buck Bunny, and Sintel. It was created by the Blender Institute,
like the previous Blender Open Movie Projects, the Blender developers and community worked together to provide a movie studio-style production workflow for the team. The results are a complete open-source pipeline for visual effects work in Blender including but not limited to camera tracking, rotoscoping, compositing and color grading.
8 – Caminandis
Next, we find Caminandes among the short films made with Blender. It’s an independently produced series of computer-animated short films produced and released by the Blender Foundation.
The films, inspired by the cartoons of Chuck Jones, are created using Blender, FLOSS (Free/Open Source Software), GIMP, a free and open-source raster graphics editor, Krita, a free and open-source raster graphics editor.
The film won the 2014 Jerry Goldsmith award for “Best Score for an Animated Short Film” at the International Film Music Festival in Córdoba, Spain. Obviously making it one of the best Blender short films ever created.
7 – cosmos laundromat
Cosmos Laundromat, developed under the code name Project Gooseberry, is an animated absurdist sci-fi fantasy short film produced by Ton Roosendaal. It is the Blender Institute’s 5th “open movie” project and was made utilizing Blender. It was released to YouTube and it was also intended to kickstart a feature-length film or series.
The story is about a desolate island, a suicidal sheep named Franck meets his fate in the form of a quirky salesman named Victor, who offers him the gift of a lifetime.
In January 2010, Ton Roosendaal announced By January 2014, thirteen animation studios from all over the world (including the Blender Institute) were set to make the film. The goals of the film, according to Ton Roosendaal, were to raise the bar for the Blender Institute with the idea of making a feature-length animated film using completely free and open-source software, investigate the use of cloud services for open-source projects, and to create a new business model for the Blender Foundation. Through the funding raised for the production of the film, the Blender Foundation was able to improve on existing and add new features to Blender.
Along with other short films made with Blender, Cosmos Laundromat has received positive reviews from critics and animators alike.
At SIGGRAPH 2015, various people from Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic, and Sony Imageworks praised the film for the storytelling, the character animations, and the visuals. However, two main critiques it received were about the beginning scene where Franck tries to hang himself and the use of inappropriate language.
6 – glass Half
In 2015 the Blender Institute produced a new 3 minute cartoon short with a simple story, snappy animation and rendered in a non photo-realistic style. The focus was on short form storytelling, good design and clear animation.
Two amateur art critics meet in a gallery and argue passionately about the pieces they see, causing chaos for everyone else, until finally they find a piece on which they can agree…
The short was in pre-production for July and August, and full production took place in September and October.
5 – The daily dweebs
The Daily Dweebs’ is a pilot episode of an animated series revolving around the pet Dixey and his shenanigans in 1950’s American suburbia.
The title is referencing amongst other things “the everyday silliness” that the characters constantly find themselves in.
This pilot episode was created by the Blender Animation Studio in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and made possible with support from thousands of people from all around the world via subscription to the Blender Cloud.
4 – Hero
Unlike the previous short films made with Blender, Hero is a showcase for the Grease Pencil in Blender 2.8 and the 2D animation using Blender in general. To clarify, it’s the 6th short film funded by the Blender Cloud.
The original Grease Pencil technology has been in Blender for many years now, and it already got the attention of story artists in the animation industry worldwide. The Grease Pencil is meant to push the boundaries and allows feature quality animation production in Blender 2.8 and beyond.
The Hero animation showcase is a fruit of the collaboration between Blender developers and a team of artist based in Barcelona, Spain.
3 – Agent 327
Blender Institute is going to develop its first animated feature film, based on the celebrated Dutch comic character Agent 327. This adventurous comedy is targeted at an international market.
Blender Institute seeks additional funding to kickstart the production in the Netherlands of a high-end 3D animated CG feature film.
Agent 327 – is a secret agent working for the Netherlands secret service agency. In the twenty comic books that were published since 1968, the writers created a rich universe with international conspiracies, hilarious characters and a healthy dose of Dutch humor. It’s certainly an additional hit among the already successful short films made with Blender.
2 – Spring
Spring is the story of a shepherd girl and her dog, who face ancient spirits in order to continue the cycle of life.
The Spring team used the development version of Blender 2.80 for the entire production, even before the software was in official Beta. In other words, this is one of the short films made with Blender relying on the extensibility of the 3D package.
Spring won the Best Short Film award at the Mundos Digitales International Animation Festival. It’s almost a no-brainer to feature it among the best Blender short films of all times.
1 – Next-gen
NextGen is a 2018 computer-animated science fiction action film that is based on the online Chinese comic 7723 by Wang Nima. This is actually not a short film but it was created with Blender so here we are. It tells the story of Mai Su, a lonely rebellious teenage girl living in a world where sentient robot technology is commonplace, and 7723, a top-secret weaponized robot, who, through a chance encounter, meet each other and form an unlikely bond that they must use to stop a vicious threat. The film was released on Netflix in September 2018.
In May 2018, it was announced that Netflix had purchased worldwide rights to NextGen for $30 million.