re:Xing movie


To save downloading, you can preview the first 6 mins (of 17 mins) on YouTube.
But slightly blurred, even at full size 1920x1080

2020-3-23 Replaced snapshots by animated GIF & YouTube

Once upon a time, I thought I’d make a new, different kind of computer game, but soon saw I’d need help. The game’s intro movie seemed a good way to enroll volunteers.
Only 2-3 months work, I guessed.
That was in 2007.

My little movie grew - um - a bit. Luckily it also grew much better. The game idea died and the movie took over my life.

After only a decade of almost full-time effort, the game is forgotten but the movie is Finished.

Much learning:-
prolly the best was that even my obsessive perfectionism does have limits. Thank God!

Complete movie with all extras.
I recommend full size HD on a big screen with good loudspeaker stereo.
reXing_full.webm             HD 1920x1080 1.0 GB
reXing_full_75%.webm 3/4 size 1440x810 708 MB

Bare movie as seen at start of new game
reXing_bare.webm             HD 1920x1080 440 MB

First sketch/storyboard for a laff :slight_smile:

If anyone wants, I’ll upload all blend files & resources, except copyright music.


So I do love this. I love the ideas, the adherence to old school sci-fi concepts and it has a great feel to it. A full decade to do this you say? With near full-time effort? How many hours would you say you worked on this a week? I too love all open source programs and I am looking to make my own short animation film over the course of the next 4 years. I have so many ideas for short films I want to open up a production studio, and eventually enter a film festival with the results, but I expect it to take a lot of effort. I am currently working alone, and I saw this and loved your passion, and the science behind it all. But I was dismayed a little at how long it took you to do. So my questions were in regards to your process, and how many hours you think you might have put into this whole thing. Did you have an over all plan when you started out? Did you work on a scene by scene basis? This has all the makings of a great animatic, and I think it could be made into a stellar final polish movie if it was re-written to form a more fluid and cohesive script. If you have any information about how you originally got from the first thought to the final movie I would be interested to know. It is obvious you put a lot of effort into this.

Thank you, Michael. I am delighted that you liked my video; appreciated my passion; noticed the science. Did you also notice the various messages/morals on different levels? They are why I made it.

Like most book-reading enthusiasts of science fiction, I dislike the “sci-fi” abbreviation. SF fans use “sci-fi” - pronounced “skiffy” - as a term of contempt for the mindless nonsense churned out by TV & Hollywood.

SF is the literature of ideas, logic, science & solving problems by THINKING. “Sci-fi” is the direct opposite, deliberately mind-numbing.

Odd that you want to make a production studio, yet have little idea how much work is involved. Why? Do you want money, power, status, fame? Or something better, more worthwhile?


Under “Work in Progress” @ BlenderArtists you should find “Ara’s Tale”. Its maker logged all hours spent on it. In a comment, somebody calculated how many hours per week.

Look at professional computer-animated movies: count the number of people in the credits, multiply by 2 or 3 years. From the length of the movie you can calculate how many man-years to make each movie-minute. The director of “Wall-E” mentioned that the whole movie needed 442 man-years for an experienced animator - no mention of matte-painters, model-makers, lighting & other skills.

Buy the dvd of “The Incredibles”. It has several fascinating videos about how the film was made. Also worthwhile are dvds of “Moanna” and “Wall-E” with their videos about research, cut scenes, etc.

I started “re:Xing” as a complete beginner. I quit work as a 6 month experiment to try making a game, but the “quick” intro movie took over my life. Subtracting 2-3 years for major life-changes during 2007…2020, I worked full-time for a decade = 1.5 minutes/man-year. It took me 1 or 2 years to gain basic competence of each new skill:- using Blender; modelling; texturing; lighting; … (Sad to recall that, in my prime as a software developer+designer, it took only 2-3 weeks to learn - and become competent in - a new programming language.)


The GIF @ BlenderArtists shows my original plan, excluding actual rendered images added later.

Original inspiration?

Keen on playing computer games, I noticed that huge amounts of time were spent but nothing real gained at the end. I thought it should be possible to make a game that was both fun and useful. Escher’s sketch “Relativity” was an inspiration (as my movie says). How these evolved into the basic concept is long forgotten. Then I made it up as I went along, often going back to improve previous scenes. Most of the important themes/messages were inspired after the basic intro movie was sort-of “finished” (I changed parts later. Landing on Xing was completely re-done.)

See the “making of” videos on the dvds recommended above.

(If you get the later blu-ray version of “The Incredibles”, there is a retrospective review of its making. I’ve now watched it again to refresh my memory. The technical director says that they only succeeded in making impossible shots because they did not try make scenes perfect & visible from any angle.
Ha! In my ignorance, I made exactly those impossible full 3D scenes. No wonder they were so difficult! Suddenly I feel rather pleased with myself.)

Notice that most of their new ideas come from “storyboard artists” and the director picks which ones fit the movie. Working alone, I found it hard to kill pretty rendered scenes which did not fit. But see:- even professionals struggle to drop cut scenes.

For a book of theory about creativity, I highly recommend “The Mind of the Maker” by Dorothy L. Sayers.
This made a huge impression me, resonating strongly with my own experiences. I’ve read it again & again.

As she says: when creative inspiration strikes, you do not count the cost, you just follow it regardless. If I’d realised that my “little” movie would consume a decade of my life, I prolly would have abandoned it. But now, I have no regrets at all. If “re:Xing” video changes some attitudes; if a few people are inspired to do their own creativity, then I am content.

Sayers explains why creativity is not straightforward, following a complete plan. As you make each part, it clarifies the original idea. Viewing the results then changes both the original idea & the making.
You can see exactly that happening in the dvds above.

Inspiring Others

What a surprising, fascinating idea you have - to make “re:Xing” into a proper, full-length movie !
I do not recall ever seeing a film shot in the first person (“I”); from the viewpoint of the hero. Sometimes books are written from the “I” or “You” viewpoints but they are rare.

The whole point of my video is to make the viewer feel that HE is the person learning new things, making friends, building a team and saving countless people in a doomed city.

If you want to give it a go, the results could be amazing !

But funding will be a problem. The money men will insist that it be turned into mindless nonsense “sci-fi”. I heard that’s what happened to “The Matrix”:- the directors planned it as proper SF; the money men forced in all the un-scientific rubbish.

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First and foremost, Thank you for the reply, Cuthbert.

Life can be busy and people don’t always have time to write out such thought out answers as the ones you have provided me, so thank you for that.

I apologize for the use of ‘sci-fi’. I mostly did it because I am somewhat lazy when it comes to typing things out, not because I wanted to associate your works with any of the contemptuously mindless drivel I have seen from TV & Hollywood. I will definitely take more heed of this in the future.

I do understand a lot of the processes involved in making animated films, and the colossal amounts of work necessary. I am not in it for the greed of wealth,or power or fame. I am in it because I was having a long think about what I have done with my life up to this point, and I have found my existence wanting.

I want to tell stories. I want to inform people. I want people to be able to escape the pains of their lives and escape to a place that is fulfilling and wondrous. I want to make people think. I want them to feel. I want them to hope and dream. I want them to learn , not just about other perspectives, but something more about themselves. I want to open minds, and be the catalyst that spurns other artists, and scientists and dreamers in to the act of creation, and creativity. I do not want to be remembered when I leave this world defined by the mistakes and self-destructive behavior of my past. As ancient civilizations left statues, I want to make animated films for the same reason. To say ‘I was here.’ I want something to leave this world when I eventually no longer exist., even if it is something so small as a short animated film, probably to disappear in the multitudes of blockbuster hits and other short animated films which required the participation of many people to create. I perhaps was a little ambitious in saying I wanted to open a production studio. I do still have much to learn, but I am touching every section of Blender as a program, and learning as much as I can on my quest for knowledge.

Thank you for bringing “Ara’s Tale” to my attention. I have yet to read the whole thing, but what I have skimmed through looks fantastic, and like it will be a grand journey in itself to read. And it is very specific to what I was looking for in terms of my questions posed to you.

I have watched many behind the scenes on animated movies, and own almost every Open Blender Project DVD where they go into the making of many of the Movies, one of my favorites is ‘Sintel’. I also love ‘Wall-E’ and the mention of 442 man-years is staggering, daunting, yet does make sense, given how many people worked on the project, and all of the facets of computer animation.

I also understand a film, no matter the length, is a living, breathing, and constantly evolving thing. It will change at all stages in the process as it gains its own identity, and I too have a hard time cutting parts out of my stories, but understand that it must be done in some cases to make the final completed version producible. Thank you for the suggested reading, I will definitely take a look when time permits, and I am not on a constant state of study and work.

On the thoughts of making your project into a full length film, there are very few films shot in first person, but one that comes to my mind is “Hardcore Henry”, which I found great if not a bit over the top. Very well done if you want to give it a look.

Funding is always a problem, that is why the team would have to be small, and there would be little reward in the long run aside from possible notoriety for their work and something to put into the laborers portfolio to help them apply for future positions in the industry.

I have gleaned many things from your reply, and it has been very helpful in many ways. It was good to have a conversation with you, and I will definitely remember what you have said to me moving forward. I hope your life is going alright, and I hope you are staying productively occupied and content. Again, thank you, and perhaps we will speak more in the future. Take care out there, and never stop learning, dreaming, and being creative.

Sincerely yours,

Michael J. Gratis Jr.

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What an interesting video! I loved the cute starfish-looking creatures.

Groovy !
You, my first commenter, are a kindred spirit - creative like me !

Does your creativity have a purpose? Are you satisfied making mere entertainment?

One of several purposes of “re:Xing” is to encourage viewers to think for themselves, instead of believing all they hear. That is a basic principle of science.

Thanks for "Hardcore Henry”. I’ll take a look, tho I fear it is mindless action.

But we’d best continue by email. My email address is in my video’s Credits.

Thanks for your comment.

They are Pentemmets - their hue, and their subtitle hue, match the name under “New Adventure?”.

I’m glad that I made them blink. Surprisingly effective.

As I worked, each alien species developed its own distinct character.
Another unexpected pleasure of creativity.

Yes! I could tell that each one was distinct. How did you achieve that?

Which “one” do you mean?

There are 4 species of aliens (Tetra, Pycrab, Hallucigenia & Pentemmets), originally from different planets. They are all ‘alien’ to each other.

Pentemmets have a numbers of castes. This group has Workers, Eyes, Legs and a Coordinator.

Very cool.
If you are into alternate scientific universes you must check out the work of “Refractorian” on Instagram.

Tons of cool original logical stuff!

Ps my question was asking how you were able to differentiate pentemmets via animation.

Easy. I built a basic Pentemmet (prolly worker) then copied & varied mesh+bones to make other castes. Dunno that I did anything deliberately different in animating them.

Actually Pentemmets highlight my bad animation. They should all do big, slow jumps like the Leg stacks, cos they have low gravity on their wall. However, a decade is enough. Not willing to spend another 5 years learning proper skinning, rigging & animation. Especially not animating every single frame like the professionals !