New Blender Open Movie: Charge

The latest Blender open movie project has just been released!

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Happiness, pure happiness. Thanks to all the team members and of course to the most inspirational man of the millennium- Our dear Ton Roosendaal :grinning:

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Visually (esp. in the light of being rendered in Eevee) great, the cinematography is nice too, the story pretty meh (as expected).
Luckily for him, Hjalti is a much better animator than he is a writer. Everybody knew the whole storyline since the three terms ‘heist’ ‘battery’ and ‘factory’ had been mentioned, and the setting outlined as ‘Einar lives on a kind of scrapyard outside the factory’.
And a bunch of stuff just doesn’t seem to make much sense anyway.

That said, on the technical side, it’s really good.

greetings, Kologe

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Hi, I like the environment, textures and the main character but the movement is a bit choppy, he is moving like Marvel´s Flash. :slight_smile:

Cheers, mib

Haha, yes, it’s like the movie can’t decide weather it tries to cram as much action as possible into little screen time via quick montages and jumpcuts etc. (especially in the first half), or it tries to use slowmo shots and drawn out (story-) beats for a somewhat cheesy sense of drama (mostly second half).

greetings, Kologe

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I think you mean DC’s Flash :wink:

Personally I enjoyed it very much- the story was heartwarming and well told for the length, the technical side was gorgeous, and I liked that the animation was a little bit stylized

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I’m amazed at how quickly they produced this one. Sprite Fright took three times as long, it seems.

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My guess as to why is that there are fewer characters and environments involved this time. Plus, Sprite Fright was built in the middle of the geometry nodes project, while the new hair nodes system has been pretty functional for some months now and there are only two characters in the film that use the system. Also, there are no hair physics involved, so the hair is fairly static upon closer inspection.

Not to mention that Charge is less than half the running time of Sprite Fright. Still, they seem to have been pretty effective with the time they’ve been given. :smiley:

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True. Plus the necessities surrounding the voice acting probably added a good bit to time to the production.

Still, even with all the other things considered, they turned this one out surprisingly fast.

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I liked everything but the movement. Was that done so choppily by design? I saw motion capture footage during the credits, and it could’ve been done smoothly, so I am guessing yes? I found it mildly distracting; my eyes kept looking for it which I doubt was the purpose.

The old man was very well done.

No complaints about the story – it’s a short, and it’s more difficult to pack a novel story into that than it is for a feature-length film; heck, even coming up with one is a serious ask. At least it had one with some emotional impact.

Very well done overall.

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The high acceleration sudden start and stop movement caught my attention too. It was everywhere too not just on action or urgent moves. A little distracting but not bad.

Action is about action. An air tight story is not needed for an action film. This story is OK for that. Graphics good. Environment, set, character design good. Although the fighting was Action Film Fighting™ some reasonable tactics were used.

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Personally, I think that the stories pretty great for what they had to work with, and genuinely quite touching in the end.

The only thing I noticed that others have said is the movement, which just didn’t seem quite right for some of it.

But otherwise, on all other counts it’s a marvel, and really amazing that it’s all done in real-time with Eevee!

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Not so sure about the ‘real-time’ part. I downloaded the splash screen of it, which is basically a 1-2s shot from the film.

On doing a still render (so the image that is the Blender 3.4 splash screen), it used up around 27GB of system RAM and took a good few mins just to output the one frame.

I guess a fair bit of that is in the initial setup and after that later frames are likely quicker (I didn’t try it tho), but even then, meshes, etc are moving/deforming and all that, so in theory still some processing per frame.

Still, the fact it looks as good as it does but all Eevee rendered is very interesting.

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Yeah, what is kind of ironic for me is that, on my not so powerful machine, Cycles is quite smoother than Eevee when navigating that scene in the viewport (after disabling the flickering explosion that causes Cycles to resample constantly). I haven’t tried rendering it though, and here my guess would be that Eevee is faster.

Anyway, in general, I’ve loved the short. The narrative pacing was perfect for its short length, and I think it achieved everything it needed to. I also agree that the animations were weird, but that’s the only nitpick. For the rest, it looked good and it could feature without any problem as an episode of Love, Death & Robots.

Everybody praises it as ‘emotional impact’ or ‘heartwarming’, I call it corny, I call it kitsch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to stirr up a fight or something, I’m just trying to discuss this and elaborate on how I see it.

So Einar put the brain of his wife (? - I suppose) into some android to keep her alive (kind of, and I guess barely), right?

  • Why wait until the battery is down to 1%, then be like ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, now I really gotta hurry!’ but later in the factory grab the fresh battery and just stare at it marvelling, doing nothing for a bunch of seconds? If your dog could only feed on food you’d absolutely have to steal (risking your life in the process), would you really wait till the dog’s health was down to 1% (it’s a really advanced breed, digital healthbar included). Can we make a poll maybe: Whom among you waits until your cellphone battery is at 1% before recharging it, can I see some hands? Any takers?
  • Juding by the amount of livelyness wifey displays after the recharge, she’s probably hardly in a better state than the mother of Norman Bates. Tell Einar, I think he’s pretty sick and he really needs some help. And for Christ’s sake, don’t look into his deep freezer.
  • On a more serious note: If Einar is hightech-savvy enough to put his wife’s brain into that android without outright killing her, why does he have to double-check weather the primitive mechanical car jack actually works in the 4th shot? Also why does he need to assemble it in the 3rd shot?
  • Where does his robot arm come from, was he born with it and did it grow while he grew?
  • If the robot arm and the ‘save wifey’s brain by putting it into an android’ part come from the outside hightech world represented by the factory (in other words they did it, for Einar in fact doesn’t have the capacities for this advanced tech himself), why does Einar not have some sort of maintenance or service agreement with them? Did Einar not pay his bills lately because he rather spent the money on drugs, hookers and gambling?
  • If he just doesn’t have the money because reasons, why not spend his efforts on earning money, lending money, hell, stealing money, rather than risking his life on this absurd heist? People in this kind of situation go to a loan-shark, if everything else failed, they send their children abroad, whatever, but they don’t break into hightech Fort Knox.
  • From the exterior shots, Einar seems to have neighbours. Why does he not ask his neighbors for help, like everybody else would?
  • Why is the security robot’s gun belt fed, but doesn’t eject a single spent shell? Yes, there’s caseless ammunition, but if that’s the explanation, we’re grasping for straws here.
  • Why doesn’t the security robot just block the only exit? It has a ranged weapon after all, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t it just pull the wrench (which prevents the automatic door from closing) out of the door (blast it away, if you really need to do this in a ‘Cool Actionmovie Way™’)?
  • Why is Einar safe as soon as out that door (while still deeply inside the building, it would appear)?
  • If the security in the factory is as ruthless and militarized etc. to start firing live rounds by the dozens as soon as an alarm was triggered, why do they stop hunting him, as soon as he’s out the door? After all, he stole the thing, right? Also, he lives in this nearby hut, but they don’t know where to find him after his escape.

Do you really tell me this all makes sense to you guys story-wise?
Does a classification as short, as sci-fi- or as action-genre really unhinge all necessity for a story to make any sense?

There’s no debating that. Sure it’s a hard task.
Still I think they could have done better. And I mean within the confinementsof the short screen time.

It was meant to be an action short? -Sure, why not, it could e.g. have been about

  • a sparring fight.
  • a police raid (in a drug lab or what have you).
  • a prison escape.
  • a train robbery.
  • the assassination of a king.
  • you name it.

Or make it a heist short, but a good one. Look no further than Heat (1995) for a prime example:

Cut a few shots out of this (or just shorten some a couple of secs) and you could easily get this to a screentime of three minutes, hands down. I do believe everybody can at least agree with me on this.
It would totally work as a short too.

Ben Affleck can do it, too (The Town 2010):

What about something like this (Exiled 2006):

And you could probably condense the whole essence of this film’s premise (and first scene) into three minutes of length, too.

The opening scene from Infernal Affairs II (2003) could work as a standalone short too:

So if you’re trying to make an action short, my advice is to stick to that and cut the sentimental, corny backstory. In this case, it very much reminds me of something like the following, anyway:

My apologies to all non german speakers, if you can’t enjoy the full bliss of this Schlager crap. Btw., I’m sure Einar listens to this daily, sitting by the chimney with his creepy cyborg-wife.

greetings, Kologe

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My personal interpretation of the cyborgification of the wife and Einar is that they sold their own body parts to stay alive because they are too poor. Alternatively they both happened to get into an accident years ago and they both destroyed their bodies to the point that they needed to be turned into cyborgs, which in turn led to them down a path into absolute poverty. Either way it was somebody else who performed the surgery necessary to get them the mechanical parts.

My reasoning for this is mostly based on other media with similar premises. For example, in the manga Battle Angel Alita people are resorting to becoming cyborgs because of the societal influences where basically everyone is enhanced in some form, which in turn leads to some getting into poverty because of all the costs involved in having a cyborg body.

Personally I don’t see it as much of a flaw in the story of Charge since it’s open for interpretation. Not every aspect of the world building needs to be explained in great detail in a short story for it to work.

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Sounds reasonable.

You’re right on this. Still I cannot make up an explanation (even if I try really hard) for

  • why not ask the neighbours for help
  • why not lend money and buy a battery, rather than act like you watched too many cheap action movies and do sth. as stupid as Kujo’s heist plan from ‘The Salton Sea’ (2002):

Other than Kujo, Einar does not have the excuse of having been on speed and whatnot for years.

  • why does the facility’s security not try to hunt him down after his escape, if outright killing a single thief is really so important to them.
  • why don’t they know where to find him anyway, when he has been living right in their backyard for years, it seems.

So I guess my prediction from the other thread was on point.
The security bot acts exactly like an NPC from a role playing video game or some old jump’n’run: Immediately start blasting away and fighting with whatever you got upon first contact and only ever stop if killed yourself.

That’s not storytelling, that’s video game nonsense.

Shooting dozens of live rounds at a single, not even openly hostile, almost definitely unarmed man, without any warning, any order to freeze, get on his knees, get onto the floor, show them their hands, anything, no chance to surrender. And wreck havoc insode your own facility in the course of that.

Has anybody (sane enough to run a factory) ever done this outside of high security penitentiarys, concentration camps, forced labour camps and other such places?

And it’s not like that wasn’t a whole different scenario alltogether. The whole point of such places is largely to prevent any escape of inmates, be it by killing them.
But here, it’s supposedly a factory, Einar broke into and stole sth.

Now if we assume the facility’s security would actually act this ruthlessly because handwavy, argumentatively really weak sci-fi-dystopia pseudo-reasons: Then there’s no way they’d just stop bothering after he’s outside again. There’d probably been s.o. waiting in his home with a gun to cyborg-wifey’s head.

But like this? Video game nonsense.

greetings, Kologe

I feel that in order to get the most enjoyment out of the short, you need to have a certain level of suspension of disbelief…

Questioning every little story element is quite counterproductive; at the end of the day it’s an action short, and it wouldn’t be very fun if everything was explained in the same level of detail as in the Silmarillion…

If you want to nitpick every little unimportant detail, you could just watch a Cinema Sins video.

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I enjoyed it.

I would love to see this included in the next LD&R, though not sure about the licensing on that.

At any rate it is up there in terms of quality and story telling.

As a writer, I appreciate how hard it is to write a short. And the story telling on this fits right in that genre perfectly.

Great demo for Blender as well. Congrats to the team.

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I think it’s really impressive what they did ! In some ways the specifics for the movie is really close to the one from Sintel : an action short close to a video game cinematic, and there have been so much progress since then !

While of course because video game cinematic have more budget , bigger team and rock star artists , they will probably always be better. But we can clearly see the potential blender has to offer and on the overall the BF team made huge progress too.

Thinking that these movie helps shaping blender, and are also learning material on top of being super well done is really mind blowing to me.

@Kologe I find the story a bit cheesy too, but they did a great job to have something that works in such a short amount of time, without being a trailer or a sequence of something bigger.
To me these kind of short will always feel a bit artificial unless it’s 100% action but then it’s no more a story. Or if it’s more on the story then we might loose the action style that they were looking for in the first place.
When you look at many secondary story elements of course a lot of things end up being contradictory, we can unpack a lot of questions when we start to look closer, but that’s IMO part of the rules of a short like this. If that was turned in a feature film or a series, a lot of things could be made more natural , and we would have more space to connect more with the character, their goal, backstory and stuff like that.

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