Laura Camellini studied Arts and CAD Design, Industrial Automation and Mechanics - she is graduated in communication design and qualified as web journalist. Now she is blogging about open source technology and giving lectures about open source interfaces for creative editing of video and graphical contents or how to use creative commons licences. Recently Laura joined the apertus° website and newsletter editor team. This article is co-published on her blog: The Drunk Stage.
As communities grow throughout the world wide web, and develop their own unique tools to create and share their visions, we are reminded that the act of sharing has always been important for artists. With the aging concept of ‘copyright’ propelling everyone to seek total creative ownership over their creations, audiences are immediately restricted by the way in which they may interact with the work. Beyond the limits of creative control imposed here, there lies an immediate need to share, a need which can drive the process of creation and social response more than we may realise. Writing about the recent history of open movie creation is difficult, but thanks to the nature of the Internet it is possible to see that there have been many projects on this front. Some of these projects have succeeded and some have not. The main purpose of this article is to explore the current state of this unique culture, focusing on 4 open movie projects, all of which have succeeded largely due to a strong community effort and the support of a well organized body such as the Blender institute. Thanks to a rise in open source awareness, many artists are now also using open licenses to share their work. This allows anyone to not only view their creations, but to also study the ‘materials’ used, modify them and build upon the original structure.
Still image from Sintel - the 3rd Blender Open Movie (code-named Durian)
The concept of open movie-making has spread all around the world thanks to the capabilities offered by Blender, a leading open source 3D creation suite.
Under this model, an audience member can quickly become a kind of co-creator if they so desire. When applied to video creation, this style of production is quite complex. Nevertheless, it has lead a niche community of artists and programmers to examine Blender’s high-end capabilities. The result of this is that the software has been developed to the point where it can be used by professionals in a (film industry) pipeline environment. Alongside a greater use of open licensing, crowd-funding has grown a lot in the last three years. Networks like kickstarter.com have helped many open movie projects start out on the road to production, but this doesn’t guarantee that projects can now survive on crowd-funding revenue streams alone. Using the blender institute open movies as a primary example, an open movie will usually share everything related to it’s production in the form of source files (accessible and editable to anyone using the same open source software used by the production crew). It is not uncommon for the crew to also share detailed information relating to their production methods, so that others (outside of their project) can attempt to recreate the final work. A great mention needs to be done about Tube Open Movie, the first independent open movie, which was started in 2010, and launched with a kickstarter campaign. This is the presentation of the Tube Open Movie at the Blender conference in 2012. Whilst you can see the crew talk about their methods here, the most interesting part is actually on their blog, where they share issues, techniques and tricks that can be useful for overcoming the difficulties involved with open source software.
In April 2012 the Tube Open Movie project managed to raise 40.000$ in their kickstarter campaign - almost 200% of their funding goal.
There is an interesting post in their blog, called “Steers of Teal” (an inversion of the title belonging to the most recent Blender Institute open movie), with production files accessible here. The open movie projects have resulted in great advances and further development of these tools. As an example, the Blender Foundation’s ‘Tears of Steel’ resulted in powerful new video editing and compositing capabilities inside blender. As Blender is open source, anyone is free to download the software and access this functionality.
For a situationist such as myself, a system of quotes and detournement that allow everyone to use the creative material for growing ideas in many direction is the most fertile terrain I could find to play my creative role. 3D creation is not the only area receiving a greater interest in openness. The apertus° community, working mostly in the field of cinema & video production, are now focusing on open hardware design. It is their intention to spread knowledge and support an ecosystem for open filmmaking, building high quality open hardware designed from the outset to be configurable and hackable by the end user. In 2012, the apertus° project received an award of Distinction in the Digital Communities category of Ars Electronica. From their progress, we can see that there is a very real desire for open tools developing right around world. The most recent news update from the Apertus community describes an evolving situation in their ambitions, with an interest in strengthening their community via the creation of a news portal for open filmmaking.