New Blender Open Movie: Charge

Don’t worry, I did enjoy it, for what it is. But that just doesn’t extend to ‘it’s a good story’.

I never asked for any such thing to be the case.

They have a video on ‘Charge’? :stuck_out_tongue:

Whacky storytelling is a genre now? -I’m amazed!

What’s wrong with the latter?
If people liked this (or the average LD&R-Episode, for that matter, the storytelling of which has the same issues*), would they not have liked it, if it felt like a trailer for sth. never to be produced?

I believe that works out well for game cinematics. By that I mean the kind of game cinematics which have some bare bone storytelling, not the ones which are just like ‘marvel at our ingame graphics!’.

This makes perfect sense, even assuming you know nothing about the lore and this was all you get, without any surrounding info.
It doesn’t ‘explain everything in the same level of detail as in the Silmarillion’. By itself, it doesn’t even explain who the characters are, which kingdom etc., nothing. Yet it works.
And importantly enough, it would even work, if you skipped the whole ‘cursed demonic sword’-stuff.

Same here:

And in all fairness, I’m comparing to rather dated work without numerous characters and lots of dialogue.

Not a game cinematic, but sth. like this could be stripped down to three minutes:

Me either.

greetings, Kologe

*you can take this as a compliment to the Blender Studio Team, if you like.

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Wow had to watch it again. Lots of great moments.

I am reminded of the fact that it is real hard to make 3D films. And to do it so well as this.

Just top level stuff.

A big take away for me is it is inspiring to see good work. And also humbling. I can only hope that my own work will ever reach this level.

We work real hard at my studio and sometimes it feels like it takes so long to get stuff done.

Then I see a film like this and I think. OK, it is possible. Soldier on!

Things like this are good for Blender.


Overall I liked it, but somehow plot ended up going exactly as I predicted, despite me not knowing much details before watching (wip name heist and it having old man and robot). Only surprise was other humans and police being there, I suspected post apocalypse or robot rebellion scenario.

  • Visuals were okay (very good even if you know it’s just eve).
  • Fight with robot was very well done, it had distinct phases, environment and props were also used creatively.
  • Agree with others that animation felt sort of cartoonish? Too fast? Like I wast watching it on 1.1x speed.
  • Story was okay too, but I find it hard to get invested in plot of shorts in general.

You’re confusing ‘motion capture’ with ‘reference.’

Those were just reference shots

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For what it’s worth… I thought it was GREAT! Far above my pay grade for sure. I loved the detail, animation, lighting and story.

My take on this was that in a post apocalyptic world, the robot was all this man had left, a companion to keep him company. He did not want to be alone. I honestly did not make a “wife” connection until I read another post. LOL I still found it very touching.

Very well done! :+1: :+1:

Moved by me as I posted in the wrong spot.

Yes, that is actually precisely what I had expected to see before the short was published. I only arrived at the wife-assumption since I noted the human brain inside the robot’s head. Of course it’s just an interpretation either way.

greetings, Kologe

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Take it like this: each “why” in the long list of question you put down, opens a door to an untold story.
This makes the narration deeper.


The neighbors are half-robot-half-human as he is, but unable to walk outside.
Or something different

The factory doesn’t sell anything to local humans.
Or something different…

Oh by the way… fully rendered in EEVEE ???
Are you guys joking??

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You know, I just enjoyed it for what it was, without any particular expectation, and I hesitated to criticize it in earnest because I know how much of an undertaking this sort of thing is, and I don’t really want to rain on anyone’s release parade. But if I ever do anything similar, I might want to hire somebody like you as a consultant because your criticism is in-depth and analytical. It’d be fun to brainstorm a good short.

PS, no thanks for the Schlager. :wink: I don’t think Charge is that schmaltzy. It had a tinge of corniness for me, but not so much that I rolled my eyes and dismissed it out of hand for that. I bet Einar listens to Sólstafir (depressing post-metal).

I think a lot of the questions you asked are simply open questions because it is a short, and if they were all answered, it wouldn’t be one anymore. But maybe some reasons could be hinted at, I think it might make the story stronger.

We don’t know why he waited – maybe he had to work on getting prepared, maybe they don’t even normally live near the factory, maybe something happened to shorten the lifespan of the battery. We also don’t know when his wife was transferred into the android, maybe this was the first battery and it didn’t have a full charge. (While I’ll cop to letting my phone battery run out completely quite often, my phone isn’t equivalent to my partner; I’d definitely take better care of their batteries.)

Maybe so. But, you know, if I was confronted with that choice, I don’t know how I’d decide. It would be heartbreaking. Maybe it was her wish. Maybe he just couldn’t help himself and over time this will break him. That would be a worthwhile story to examine on its own, and this is what I am most interested in.

We don’t know that he did that himself. Maybe some underground wetware hacker did it. Same with his own replacements – @Frozen_Death_Knight has some good ideas there.

Because they are greedy and evil, as large corporations in dystopian futures are prone to being, and they jacked up the price until Einar can’t afford it anymore despite working his robot arm down to the bare metal. Or maybe the batteries aren’t for sale, only the elite gets to have any.

These questions don’t bother me much. I actually like it when a short makes me ask a lot of questions about backstory; that’s sometimes my favourite part, the engagement of my own imagination in fleshing it all out – makes me feel like an active participant rather than a passive consumer. I only feel the story makes no sense if I can’t come up with a good reason for something.

He tried but fell short. He’s desperate and running out of time. The neighbours have no more money than him, everybody is poor and living hand to mouth. But yeah, the decision to steal the battery is a big question for me. Why does he have to break alone into such a dangerous facility? I’m gonna rewatch it to see if there is some hint I missed.

Yeah, this made no sense to me at all and I can’t come up with a good reason either.

These last two are in a different class for me because they’re large holes in the story, where it doesn’t hang together well. I can explain away the first, but the second one actively bothers me.

As to what the short could have been about instead – umm. I don’t generally feel that I ought to tell the author of a story that it should have been about something else. That’s not really my business.

And I am personally not very interested in pure action drama. Like, sure, that scene from Heat is well executed, produces some adrenaline, but I can’t say it works for me as a stand-alone story. There are plenty of open questions, and what’s worse, I have no clue to the motivation behind the robbery (some envelope with something unknown inside), and no person with whom to sympathize here, only faceless villains (without further information I hate them all because they kill so easily). And I am not actually interested in imagining answers to the open questions because nothing about the story shown here touches me.

Same goes for The Town, and for Internal Affairs II. Exiled works a tiny bit better because more story is exposed, but it’s still not enough. Who is who and why should I care?

I don’t think it works well to pull action scenes from feature length movies as examples because they totally miss lead-up and motivation, and without that, the scenes don’t work for me. Action alone is never enough for me. I rather have mildly corny backstory any day (I rather not have corny anything, but…).

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Oh btw, I’m pretty sure this specific model of battery, from that brand, implanted in a generic third class robot like that, should last for about 12/13 days. For those who wonder.
I got my sources you know…


Merry Christmas Eve for those celebrating!

That’s a Fireplace Holiday Loop from Charge

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Hi and thanks for the loop, nice idea.
Btw., this fire simulation looks like it were from the 90´s, not 21´s century. :slight_smile:

Cheers, mib

Thanks, but I just posted the link – the Blender Studio people did the work!

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By this logic no motion picture whatsoever could ever receive any critique at all. Movie making is always absurdly labourious.

Note my intention is not actually to 'rain on s.o.‘s parade’, my comments are basically mostly me talking to myself, contemplating weather there’s a way around the dilemma @sozap formulated:

Maybe true.
But I still think game cinematics (sometimes) may pull it off.

GoodbyeKansas’ work for whatever ‘The Walking Dead’-game might be an example:

The next is a bit clichée, but well, at least the plot works:

Those are not those kind of cinematics which consist only of senseless fight scenes (which are legion, of course), but there’s some plot to it, which importantly is understandable and consistent and makes sense and doesn’t feel like a bunch of tropes and clichées pulled from elsewhere frankensteined together.

And one other thing I’ve come to believe is this: Genres like Sci-Fi or Fantasy are not helpful for this kind of short at all.
Very much on the contrary. Sure, on the surface it may seem like such genres grant liberties in storytelling (e.g. with respect to laws of physics). But those liberties you have to pay for in hard cash ( in worldbuilding!).
And in such a short there’s no time for that. Often you see people try to dodge this problem by leaning onto other work’s worldbuilding, either by making a straight fanfilm or by hoping to strap well-known (usually pretty dull) tropes and clichées together with a bit of ducttape (which imho never really works).

I do think it’s the safer bet to stick to the world everyone knows anyway. (And while there’s no actual zombies around here, I think the above examples basically do just that.)

Interestingly enough, I believe HipHop skits (sometimes) can also be seen as an example how a story can work without feeling artificial within like 2, 3 minutes (and that’s just audio)*:

greetings, Kologe

*yes, I do realize this is heavily dialogue-based by nature and thus kind of a completely different genre.

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This is a good point. While I do lean more towards the perspective of “I don’t need all the questions answered, I like to fill in missing pieces myself”, there’s definitely something to be said for trying to present an entirely alien world in 3 minutes while also presenting a story. I think the BF did a pretty good job here, but I can fairly say that most sci-fi/fantasy shorts I’ve encountered don’t.

I think what made it work more here is that the world of Charge didn’t seem all that different from our own- it really just looked like Chicago with a healthy dash of Star Wars

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There were a few things I picked out that I thought were clever.

The bit with the hand. As a foreshadowing of the end, and then used as a tool.

And this connection to the end with the brain. I got the idea (actually from one of my characters) that they lived in this world where your organic body could be gradually replaced piece by piece with mechanical parts.

While the end is understated, it packs a punch if you stop and think of the implications. (Which for me I got immediately the first time).

If you have ever had to care for a loved one who was on the threshold of death, there is a phase of denial where you would accept the loved one in almost any state, as long as still alive.

It could have been his mother, aunt, anyone.

That last sequence and shot said all of those things without saying anything.

It told the story of this person who bit by but tried to keep his family member alive. Or even in one tragic accident, it can be filled in by the person watching.

But there is a story there. And it was shaped by this guy loosing his hand, and we see it is a robot hand. So it was nicely played.


OK, so I figured out what else* it is, at it’s core, which bugs me about Charge’s storytelling:

TL, DR: Einar doesn’t have the street cred for this kind of high profile heist. :stuck_out_tongue:

Einar just doesn’t work for me as a character. Or not as that character.
His acts (the heist as such) to me, has the spirit of some very naive, childish idea/concept of what a heist and a burglar actually are.

It’s much like what a child imagines a burglar to be like: A badly shaven dude, wearing a shirt with black and white stripes and a black Zorro-mask, who in one hand carries a grappling hook on a rope and a bag of loot marked with a large $ in the other.
Basically how a kid would dress up as burglar for halloween (you get the idea).

While Einar isn’t literally like this, his heist and the way it is shown very much breathes this spirit (that’s how I see it, at least).
So while I can maybe make myself believe Einar is desperate enough for this kind of (solo!) undertaking, I cannot make myself believe he’s competent to actually pull it off.

There may be places where people live under conditions much like Einar’s in some slum or sth., and right next to them is the mansion of some filthy rich druglord.
By the kind of naive logic Charge’s storytelling brings to the table, this would result in the hoodrats and havenots from the slum breaking into the druglord mansion and stealing a Maserati, despite the fact everyone in the neighbourhood knows the druglord’s guards are trigger-happy thugs etc.

Such things don’t happen. That’s not how the world works.

And this is also in a sense exactly what I was referring to earlier with that scene from ‘Heat’:
The crew in ‘Heat’ ooze professionalism in what they do (if ‘professionalism’ is the right word here… sounds like you can study it. Then again, you can, they just call it jail rather than university). Einar doesn’t.

Just like Al Pacino says himself one scene later:

   You recognize the m.o.?

   M.o. is that they're good.
   Once it escalated into a
   Murder One beef for all
   of them after they killed
   the first two guards,
   they  didn't hestiate to
   pop guard numbe three,
   because, what difference
   does it make, why leave a
   living witness?
   Drop of a hat? These
   guys will rock and roll.
   The shaped charge: The
   shaped charge indicates
   that they are technically
   proficient. Proficient
   enough to go in on the
   So let's start looking for
   recent highline
   burgularies that have
   'mystified' us.

So back to ‘Charge’, the bottom line is, I don’t buy it if the short wants to tell me Einar has this kind of proficiency (and courage, and cold-bloodedness).

It’s like if ‘Breaking Bad’ had made the mistake of showing us the version of Walter White we get to know in the pilot episode, and then have that exact person, the way he is at that moment, suddenly pull off the showdown from the last episode where he frees Jesse, and skiped all the transformation inbetween which is the only thing that made the Heissenberg-version of Walter believable.

Now of course that’s an unfair comparison for matters of available screen time alone, but it’s really just an example to better illustrate what I mean.

While the Blender Studio lacks the luxury of the screen time needed to make such a transition plausible, that leaves two other options to make it work:
One is showing Einar as a character in the ability of whom to pull off such a high risk, high profile heist, we can believe without major mental gymnastics, the other is make it end in a disaster, as is to be expected otherwise.

They went for neither of these options, nor kept it low profile enough to be believable (like the ‘The Walking Dead’ cinematics posted above do).
That leaves us with some sort of McGyver-clichée, being one of the most overused things anyway. How many feature length movies are there who have this kind of hard-boiled lonly wolf character who lives in some kind of secluded cabin in the wilderness and catches salmon with his teeth like a grizzly (well, something along those lines…)?
I shudder when I think about the fact the Blender Studio basically rolled with this clichée, down to the skandinavian unshaven apperance.
I know the beard was for the sake of the new hair system and the islandic setting for the sake of some geothermal power plant idea.

But still I wonder, have they (maybe subconciously even) just taken over the stuff seen in e.g. ‘Hannah’, ‘The American’, ‘No Time To Die’ (and countless other movies), which has the secluded hideout virtually always in some kind of nordic wilderness, and their hero bearded and unshaven and icefishing etc.
They virtually never hide in the Sahara** or any such place and it does make me wonder if there are some Leni Riefenstahl subtexts in contemporary action movie popular culture tropes like that (hard boiled heroic badasses are bearded and nordic and wouldn’t wear a kufya).

Back to ‘Charge’, one may argue it’s a David vs. Goliath story, but then again, even in the old testament that only ends well for David because of help from god.
Einar has no help from god so to me it all leaves the impression of the outcome of some brainstorming. Like they went with about the first cookie cutter clichées they could think of and then tried to make it work without working on it (enough).

Kind of like “let’s have a robot with a machinegun, because it’s badass”.
This way we’re full circle back with kids dressing up for halloween as burglar.

Maybe you’re tempted to tell me I should not overthink this all so much or I need more suspension of disbelieve.
Unfortunately that argument sounds like telling people they need to get drunk to like the party. :crazy_face:

But don’t worry, I only analyze all this so much because I like doing so, it’s not really about who’s right or wrong here.

greetings, Kologe

*(other than the sudden change from trigger-happy robot fight to zero danger for Einar already discussed)

**‘Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope’ gets an honorable mention for at least trying.^^

Well done to Blender Studio for this.

It sort of reminded me stylistically a bit of the Tippet Studio short Mutant Land.

As with most of the Open Movies it is beautiful visually and also has a lot of heart at it’s core. Lot’s of comments and detailed analysis on the story and world building. I think it’s a necessarily simple and direct narrative that flows quickly like a brief ethereal fever dream or a stream of consciousness short story. The broader background is obviously sketched out in the broadest of impressionistic strokes and left vague and indistinct. This is a quick and brief narrative. We are left with a very human situation and a motivation amidst a misty shadowy and mostly symbolic setting and environment.

In terms of this sort of science fiction. Two of my favourite science fiction features of all time are Silent Running and Blade Runner. These films are just full of logical plot discrepancies that cannot stand up to scrutiny In the cold light of focused analysis. I would argue it does not take away from the power and beauty of those films nor the emotional impact or the things these films are trying to say. It’s a complex subject too of course. Too much logical discrepancies in an imagined world can cause the whole thing to fall apart. Imagined worlds are also quite fragile things. Easy to break.

As for world building. I still think the best world building in a Blender Studio short was for Sintel. It feels like such a large detailed world but in such a short film and simple story which was quite impressive. I still love that movie and it is what got me fully into Blender at the time and start learning and seriously using it. And that film still stands up so well today. I think it always will. An older film and an older version of Blender. But beautifully made and designed animated films don’t really ever got out of date. It is nice to see the Blender Studio returning to this sort of subject again.


Kind of along the vein of what you mentioned about a plot, is the concept of the MacGuffin.

So you are either in the Hitchcock camp or the Lucas camp or somewhere in-between.

Who’s to say which is right? I think it is primarily subjective, and different from person to person. Some people are turned off with too much information. Some people want more.

At the end of the day, if a work of art gets the audience to “contribute”, to fill in the blanks themselves, to think and wonder, and come away with some message, then the work has succeeded.

For a short, the challenge is how much you can get away with leaving out and still entertain through some form of 3 acts. That is the essence of what drives a short of any length. So it is the art of what to leave out. But the success or failure in doing so is subjective with the audience.