Spring Open Movie (2019)

I watched the last Open Movie, Spring, from 2019, for the first time today; I had put it off because I was afraid of being disappointed. From what I had seen of the promos (mostly the main character and logo), it looked more like a Pixar or DreamWorks film.

The character of Spring (who looks like a young girl) is wide-eyed but full of inner turmoil. She comes from the mind of David Revoy, a popular French illustrator who seems to specialize in cute young girls and adorable creatures. We also get the original design of Autumn, a terrier-like puppy dog surprisingly intent on playing fetch.

Spring has a magnificent musical score that, when it starts, makes me think of the rural Scottish countryside. It progresses into a storyline that has overtones of Mononoke or other Ghibli hits. A classic nature-driven tale maintains some mystery till the end. The landscape was inspired by the director’s trips to the Alps during the time he lived in the south of Germany.

In fact, the music does such a good job of continually driving the story that I didn’t notice that there is not a single word spoken throughout the whole film. And entranced, score after score, the movie ends rather quickly, after a couple of major plot points and a suspenseful chase sequence.

But when it comes to risks, the film doesn’t take enough of them. I knew it was going to be a good production, with all the attention Blender is getting, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good the music and environments were, but I wished there was more to help it stand apart from any number of Pixar or DreamWorks productions (starting with the title; e.g. Brave, Frozen, etc.).

The dog character was not a good part of the movie for me; he was very small, funny-looking and had no real defining characteristics other than pretty generic dog behavior. Honestly, I can completely imagine the whole movie with just Spring, and no Autumn, and no parts would have to be majorly rewritten. From what I saw of the production logs, I appreciate the work the animator did on Autumn’s walk/trot/run cycles, but they shrunk down the dog’s body so much that he looks silly, but at the same time not being very distinctive. Maybe if he was a ghost dog… something more creative.

The second part I thought could be improved was Spring’s eyes and skin. Her babydoll eyes and perfect skin made it seem like she could never inhabit that harsh environment of ice-cold frozen winters and windy mountaintops. Once the production team ran into so many problems with the gigantic eyes, they should have scrapped the idea and not been afraid to hurt the designer’s feelings. There is nothing about the film as a whole that necessitates that the main character should have anime-influenced eyes. And I don’t know whether that perfectly smooth, little bit plastic-y skin is something to be expected for cartoon CG animation, or just a side effect of subdivision surfaces and skin subsurface scattering without anything extra. Either way, it makes the character feel less real to me than the characters in Elephants Dream or Cosmos Laundromat.

The final “Spring” logo is nice, and it matches the main character OK, but it still feels out of place (it would go naturally into any Disney film). The credits, meanwhile, are beautiful and done with great taste.

Also, the movie is a little too short. It should have aimed for the 10-minute mark like Elephants Dream, Cosmos Laundormat, or Sintel. The actual feature ends just shy of 7 minutes, so it is about 2/3 of what it should be. Since it feels like it naturally wraps up at about that point, it means more story is necessary. Put like 1:30 into character development at the beginning of the film (such scenes as the house, which was shown to have been cut early in the production logs) and another 1:30 into another drama sequence in the forest.

Now that the Blender Foundation has proven that it can make movies that would fit in—in feel and appeal—alongside any of the big studios, I hope it goes back to taking more risks, rather than just going for a sure thing. However, the whole no-speaking thing was a little risky… and the scale and detail of the environments and cloud creatures were pretty epic. The movie might get an A, but all A-grade movies I watch don’t stand out. There needs to be separate criteria for what makes a movie good. There needs to be more of what makes Blender unique in these projects.

So, did you watch Spring Open Movie? What’d you think?

I realize my viewpoint is quite primitive compared to your analysis, but though to share anyway. I first heard of Blender only 8 months ago, and at that time I was burning with questions like ‘Is Blender worth getting into?’ and ‘What can Blender do, what are its possibilities?’

The Spring movie was one of the very first things made in Blender I saw, and in under 5 minutes it fully answered my questions. Namely, that Blender is indeed worth getting into and that it can do pretty much everything I as a beginner would need for the next few years at least.

Everyone has their own taste for plots, environments, character design etc (I am not a fan of dogs and spiders for that matter, lol), and I agree with you that many movies can be improved in various ways as you have pointed out. But I think (I may be wrong) a very important mission of these Blender movies is to showcase the possibilities of Blender to beginners like me and even those who already work in Blender, but still have a room to grow.

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I politely dissent with this assessment: I thought that Spring was one of the best movies yet. Not only for its stunning showcase of what Blender was then capable of doing, but also for its "pure art-driven storytelling."

In my opinion, certain previous Blender-movie efforts – which I will not name – focused too much on duplicating Hollywood science-fiction special effects shots and in so doing neglected story and character. The graphics were strong but the movie was weak. Technology and visual wizardry must be secondary to story and characterization. It all must start and end with an excellent screenplay. And then, an excellent musical score.

The first movie to really successfully do this, again without a word, was Big Buck Bunny, in both its original and its subsequent renderings. It very definitely hinges on both the staging and on the acting performances given by every character … and the music. The cinematography is also excellent throughout.

Spring does not use a single spoken word, so it must tell its story visually and with music. Which it very elegantly does. Both the protagonist and her dog must act. Yet, they must not be a mime. You must not miss, indeed you really shouldn’t notice, that they never talk. Even though you know that she (unlike a bunny rabbit) could do so, and you’d conventionally expect her to “talk to her dog” as a way of “explaining herself.” (That is to say, as a way for the screenwriter to explain.) To pull this off successfully requires a strong story, very strong performances, good music, and thoughtful staging.

So, I think that Spring brought all of these things together, then employed “the best of Blender at that point in time” to execute them. :+1:


the original big buck bunny was my favorite, the graphics blew me away knowing how young blender was at the time. i imagine what it must have been like to witness the evolution of blender, the day movies could be made in ones basement.

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Appreciate the response.

Yes, I think it did quite well in those regards. It says: OK, we can do everything they can do. Stylized cartoon character: CHECK. Elaborate environments: CHECK. Fluid motion-captured animation: CHECK. SPECIAL FX: CHECK.

Thanks for a contrary opinion, @sundialsvc4.

I appreciate just how much you emphasized the specialness of going the whole movie without a word. The musical score was impressive, and the sound.

Yes, I might compare it to that effort. A great sense of nature… the story of the characters all brought out through acting, not words. However, of course the tone was different.

Like I said one post up, I think both movies went for a similar goal: something with widespread appeal that people would immediately relate to some of their other favorite animations.