Smoking is Cool! (multi-language open animation project)


Yesterday, I think I have successfully prevented a teenager from picking up smoking.

Today, I had the idea to transpose the content of the chat I had with that teenager into a simple animation video aimed at informing teenagers who are at risk of picking up this bad habit. See copy of blog entry below.

The video animation project is based at the project is open-source and is based on the video-wiki model. The aim is to start with a low-key, very simple and un-ambitious 2D, text based animation video, and to slowly work upwards toward more elaborate animation techniques, depending on the amount of support and contributions received by the wider blender community.

This thread here at blenderartists is created to provide regular updates about this worthy project. If you’d be interested in contributing some of your talent and time to this animation project, please register at and over the coming weeks and months, watch the following project home page:

Here is a copy of the original blog post which goes into more details about the project’s origin and what the content of the video might be:

Yesterday, I think I have successfully convinced a teenager who had started "casual’ and “occasional” smoking with her peers to quit this very bad habit right now when the addictive effects have not yet completely kicked in.

I have a good, healthy teacher-student relationship with this teenager and she trusts me. That’s why when I found out that she occasionally smoked with her friends, I had the opportunity to have a long chat with her, explaining the very real dangers of smoking. Besides the obvious, I highlighted some key facts to encourage her to refuse every single cigarette that might be offered to her:

  1. I told her about the well documented but little known fact that cigarettes are radio-active! I first learned about it about 1 year ago, and that claim was too shocking for me to trust my own memory, so we spend some time browsing the internet, looking for articles that demonstrated in no uncertain terms that tobacco is indeed radioactive! Smoking one and a half pack a day is equivalent of having 300 chest X ray a year. Radioactivity, rather than tar, is believed to be the cause of lung cancer in smokers. It is really shocking to see that this is not yet a common knowledge. There should be a prominent ‘radioactive’ warning on each pack of cigarette. I also resent the 7/11s and every other chain of convenient stores who are part of the conspiracy of racking up a profit from people’s unhealthy addictions.
  1. I explained the highly addictive nature of smoking. We spent some time discussing people in our entourage who are a bit older (in their 20s, 30s or even older), who now regret of having taken up the habit, and who are desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to quit smoking. Once she starts smoking, it’s very hard to stop.
  1. The best way of getting rid of a bad habit is not to pick up that bad habit in the first place. Now is the best time for her to decide not to smoke. At all!
  1. We discussed the peer-pressure mechanism which causes teenagers to start smoking. Most if not all smokers started smoking because of peer-pressure. A teenager wants to feel that he belongs to the group and abhors the idea of being the odd-one out. 1 So, an important part of what I was trying to achieve during our chat was to explain how peer-pressure works and give her enough understanding so that she has the strength to refuse that kind of pressure and thus avoid the long term negative consequences.
  1. Not only we discussed the health consequences of smoking, we also discussed the financial costs. Drug dealers most of the time offer free hard drugs to kids in the streets, not out of generosity, but because they hope to gain a long term customer once the kid is suitably addicted. The tobacco industry is basically doing exactly the same but in a legal way: they promote smoking via advertising and subtle product placements in teen media, hoping to gain life-long customers.
  1. Smoking kills. It’s a well known fact. But it kills slowly. We live in the democratic Republic of China where the Death Penalty is a currently hotly debated topic. We discussed the hypocrisy of the death penalty supporters. They seem to care very much about the fact that a young boy was brutally murdered this year but they don’t seem to care about the tens of people who die every single day in traffic-related incidents and also from smoking-related illnesses, both of which could be prevented (I am a proponent of car-free cities, especially in a country with a high population density). Tobacco industries can legally kill thousands of people because their victims take decades to die and pay to their murderers the price of their daily packs of cigarettes for the privilege of being killed little by little.

Anyway, after a long chat, I believe that she understood my point. She promised me that she wouldn’t smoke any single cigarette any more. I hope and I believe that she really won’t. I told her that if she indeed successfully avoids the traps of peer-pressure, a few years from now, she will look back at this conversation and be grateful to me for being there to inform her at a critical time.

Now, the reason why I post this at Overshoot TV is because I’d like to transpose most of the above into an open source documentary created with Blender and aimed at teenagers in order to prevent them from picking up smoking.

Since I am not myself very talented and not very proficient at creating video animations, I’d like to start with something very simple: mostly a text-based, 2D animation. But then the video will be open-sourced, using the video-wiki model so that interested parties can chip in a bit of their time and their talent for a worthy project.


I will use this comment here to post the latest version of the animation video.

One of the major goals of the video is to make it easy to translate everything (audio or visual parts) into a variety of languages. The first target languages would be English, Chinese and French. Any volunteer to translate the appropriate parts are welcome!

I have renamed the project to “Smokin is Cool!”, which is what teens seem to believe…

Since the video will have a lot of text and one of the primary objectives is to translate the video into as many languages as possible, I am currently studying a convenient way to have text files as input for the relevant texture images. I’m going to use imagemagick to create the texture images on the fly using the translated text files as input.

It is interesting to note that an admitedly very well done video about a robot boy based on some japanese cartoon character is currently much more popular on this forum than the project introduced here…

I have worked out the bash script to translate and generate the text texture images with imagemagick. Thus, I should be able to achieve the objective of loading a single image texture (with text) into blender, but a single variable change in the script would allow us to render the image into the specified language.

I have a problem with the world background texture.

First, with an orthographic camera, it seems that the background texture does not work at all. See:

With a perspective camera, I have managed to make it work as expected with a test file (with the default cube + added world texture). However, with my working file from our project, I get a checkered board instead of the expected background image. I have not been able to figure out what makes the difference…

If you are willing to help me solve this issue, I can try to upload my .blend file. Thanks.

I can’t stand all this anti-smoking nonsense. Smoking makes a great fashion statement, it’s sexy, and it’s nice to be able to use it as a medium of casual trade. It’s one of the best things about humanity. Only the good die young. Live short, do lots while you’re living. Better than spending your life wasting away on this Earth with nothing to offer anyone.

dude, it hasn’t been sexy since the 1960’s and in this current age you’ll find that being a smoker is the biggest turnoff that you could possibly do. the best thing about humanity? that we can coerce children into ingesting toxic substances? you really need to bring your perceptions back into the real world!

Well, I don’t advocate starting early. It should be a decision made by an adult with adult-like judgement. So I guess in that respect I can sympathize.

edit: Since the 1980’s actually. Then the 90s came around and started screwing things up with its propaganda…

hardly propaganda! i think people should be aware of the side effects of whatever they’re going to do, not exclusively tobacco. if you know what something is going to do to your body then you are making an informed choice to participate.

Well yeah, but the advertisting goes overboard, into what I call propaganda occasionally. Pictures of a woman smoking through a hole in her throat… tooth decay, that yellow crud squeezed out of your esophogus. These aren’t typical scenarios. Few people are actually dumb enough to make it that much of a habit. And I think it sends a wrong message.

The video, script and all, will be open source. So if I and other contributors go overboard into propaganda (however well-intentioned it may be), then it will be fairly easy to rectify in an ulterior version. :slight_smile:

I think I have solved the most important text translation and bash scripting problems.

Now, I am back to blender itself…

For each piece of text, there is a BI material with two textures applied to it. The first in the B&W image with the actual (translated) text. The second is a procedural texture applied to the text.

Now, I would like to be able to create a simple texture and reuse it, applying it to all the objects with text. I thought I’d create a texture in a separate .blend file and then link to it. However, when I import (link to) the texture, the Influence settings (the RGB intensity colour) is not set as in the original.

I’d like to link to a whole material, but the first texture layer (the B&W text) would be different for each object. I am not too sure how to go about it…

Advice and help would be greatly appreciated.

Smoking is bad and makes you stink. It makes you limp. It is a addiction and is difficult to stop. Just face the truth. And for Do the geek the ad is a warring and throat cancer is common among long time smokers. You smoke long enough and the doctors will need to start cutting parts of you off. Not to many smokers out there left that do not admit it is a problem.
Do not start.

Is there any thing yet we can look at screen shots, models or sketches?

This will actually be the main message of the video, as said in the introduction above.

“The best way to quit smoking is not to start at all!”

=> we’ll try to appeal to the older, wiser self of the teenagers who will want to quit smoking!

There is not much to show, yet. I am just starting with blender. Up to now, I was dealing with bash scripting (for translation), imagemagick (to prepare the text images) and the like.

I have just started making some tests for the material for the text. I’ll post some samples later.

But most importantly, I am currently stuck with the best way to reuse the same material for all text object, which each has different texture layer (the actual text). See my question above.

For the rest, you might be interested in the rough draft of the script for version 1:

Here is the development task tracker:

The upcoming version is version 1. Here is the list of development tasks related to version 1:

Big Tobacco Goes High-Tech To Convince You That Smoking Is Cool Again:

Next month, R.J. Reynolds, the second-largest tobacco manufacturer and maker of Camel, Salem and Winston, will start selling Vuse — an electronic cigarette the size of a slick, thin pen. The product is packaged like the latest release from Apple, surrounded by clear plastic and a crisp logo, set against a clean black background. It even comes with a USB charger.


Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes have been on the market for several years, raking in just a fraction of the tobacco market, $500 million in 2012. But the recent decision by all three big tobacco companies to develop e-cigarette lines has analysts anticipating up to $1 billion in sales this year, with the possibility that the next generation of smokes could even “surpass consumption of traditional cigarettes in the next decade.”


Tobacco companies have long argued that they are only competing among existing adult smokers, when in reality their products and marketing appealed to children. In the 1990s, R.J. Reynolds claimed that it developed the infamous Joe Camel character in 1988 to lure adult customers from their competitors, even though studies repeatedly indicated that the “character was widely recognized by and popular among children.” The Federal Trade Commission ultimately concluded that Joe Camel attracted underage smokers, noting that teen smoking spiked after he entered the marketplace. The company discontinued use of the character in 1997.

Consumer advocates now fear that tobacco companies are using the same playbook to market e-cigarettes, and are urging the federal government to step in and provide additional regulation.


I have asked the same question again there:

Hopefully, I’ll get more replies/help there.

Both of my grandfathers and my father-in-law died quite gruesomely from smoking. (Fortunately for me, my father quit cold-turkey when he saw what happened to my maternal grandfather.) All three of these men were “otherwise strong and healthy” and probably would have lived decades longer … but, in the end, they suffocated in their own miserable juices. And I could not do anything for any of them except to watch them slowly, slowly die like the drowning men they had become.