Starting a shortfilm in Blender

Hi everyone, my name is Alejandro and during the past year my team and I( We are relative new with blender but we are professionals animators.) have been working on a shortfilm that finally will be made in Blender, the pre-production is almost ready. it could take around 3 months to start with the development and I wonder if Blender Fundation or the people from this comunity have any advice or can help in any way to reach our goal. We want to create a really funny shortfilm, pushing blender to max and creating something beautiful.


I’m looking to do the same over the next 6-8months.

I’m still waiting for features like sss and volumes to be introduced to cycles so I can really meet my vision.

I do worry about not being able to use certain features from old blender versions as new versions are made.I also keep hearing bad things about the video editor :S So I would appreciate the same advice.

and good luck to you zabander.

Be as transparent as possible during the development stages. So by the time its done people are drooling for it.

Good luck can’t wait to see it.

Zabander, I think few Blender users would presume to teach professional animators about animation projects in general:)
But if you have more specific worries and hesitations, I’m sure you can get some great feedback here. As experienced animators giving Blender a shot, you’ll have lots of forum dwellers hoping for your best success.

ng-material, familiarize yourself with every part of the pipeline before… well, bringing it into the pipeline. Not least the VSE - it has upsides and downsides, but there’s no good way to learn other than actually using it.
Start by handling test renders, just quickly converting image sequences to movies. Useful habit to establish even if you should settle for another editor in general.
Don’t judge it on the default layout. Add a properties panel, replace the graph editor with something useful. Create a new scene for your editing, so the 3d / sequence render settings are independant.

actually its mostly post prod I worry about,I too come from an background as an animator (maya)

one thing is the compositor,in apps like nuke and AE I can watch live playblack/feedback (render preview?) as i’m working in the compositor.So far all i’ve seen the compositor used for is stills so i’m not sure if I can do this,or what exactly is animatable.

I guess i’m confused because it doesn’t look like I can have a preview within the compositor.Although, I am unfamiliar with that part of blender,I guess now is the opportunity to ask,hopefully its useful information for zabander too.

thankyou,I am becoming very familiar with blender,still loads to learn though.

Blender UV/Image Editor is also a Viewer, you can have there live preview of rendering or compositing. Just use Viewer or Compo (compositing must be ON in render settings) nodes and you will be able to see the rendering. There is also Backdrop feature in Node Editor, chebckbox on Editors panel.

Or you have something diferent in mind?

Blender VSE is quite good, don’t bother people who don’t want to use is as it should. Render to image files and everything will be ok.

Start with a good script. Crappy script = crappy movie no matter how good the effects/animate is (Ask Mr. Burton about Alice in Wonderland). Other than that your post is pretty vague. Kind of like saying “I want to create the best animated film ever. Any advice?”

I’ve heard good things about this book, sounds like it’s exactly what you need:

If you’ve got the spare cash, it might also be worth going for ‘Bring your own project’ of the the BI Training:

I’m talking about playing rendered frames inside the compositor.Like if I want to add a glow effect over say ,10 frames,is their a way to play the effect back,whilst in the compositor,like nuke or ae,(not sure how many people are familiar with other compositors)

perhaps this is not the thread to ask.

Ahhh now I know what you are looking for :slight_smile:

VSE can display it’s effects real time, but this is for simple stuff.

If you want to use Nodal Comp it’s also easy and for simple stuff almost RT, here is the workflow:

  • render your animation to files OpenEXR for example
  • create new empty file for comp work
  • in node comp add Movie Clip Input Node
  • select first frame of your animation to import it to the node (active frame in time line is active frame of Movie Clip node)
  • add glow effect to your animation
  • key the effect like any other animation
  • in time line set start and end to only frames that you want to check
  • add output file node (it’s best idea to change folder for previews to not loose any data)
  • click Render Animation (the same for normal rendering) but now you are rendering only from Movie Clip node so it will be only composition calculation no 3D rendering, speed depends on complexity of node setup
  • now you can use Play button to view the comp
  • you don’t have to use Blender Playback you can use for example Djv or something you can change it in user preferences or manually open Djv and set preview comp folders.

It looks complicated but it is not, my only problem is that Blender Playback is separate window ;[ it could have more features and be dock-able editor :B

Tip: You can firstly use node comp to render your frames to smaller size for speed in compositing. Then, when you want use original res, you just have to plug Movie Clip node with this sequence and render final comp.

N-pigeon thats sounds right,i’ll have to try tomorrow.Thanks for the tips.

also,for the stuff I want to produce,i’m probably going to have to look into renderfarms for my short.

I hear good stuff about renderstreet.However I don’t have a clue about that stuff either,those resources would be nice if anyone could provide them,i’m clueless about setting things up for renderfarms.I’m look for fastest and affordable.

like I sad earleir,i’m still waiting for some features to arrive to cycles.What I worry about is modelling and rigging something in the next couple months,then I try to open it a newer version with new cycles features, and having the rig break or something (forward/backward compatibility?) and I know cycles won’t be where I need it to be until probably august.I would like to have modelling/rigging/texturing/character animation long finished before then so I can just focus on lighting/rendering and simulation.

Hi and thank you everyone for the answer. I come from a 3ds max background,and I know how to handle a project in 3ds max, the issues, the strengths, but i’m worried about how blender can handle a project, assets, bugs…even the features that are requiered to continue the project. as ng-material said, the SSS in cycles in an important feature missing. As I said, my team and I are new in blender, we are learning with tutorials, guides, docs but the experience with blender is missing.

I’ve bought Blender Production: Creating Short Animations from Start to Finish.
My team and I trust our script, we have worked on it for two years, I really know how important the script is. That’s the creative part of the production.

I wonder if blender fundation or the comunity can help during the development of the shotfilm, sharing experiences, helping with blender scripts or information, because now we are in the technical part of the process and that’s my main concern. It is important to continue with the shotfilm during this year and we are learning during the process, i don’t want to create the best animated film ever, but I’ll give my best.

I find this oportunity unique, for some reasons: I’ll use blender, an open source software, it means that if I create something good, it will make the people see how good blender is.
Second I won’t give my money anymore for any other AD software. I don’t like AD at all.
Third, I live in Ecuador, a country where the animation is relative new and I’ll be one of the first ones that make an animated shortfilm in my country.
And last, Creating a shortfilm has been my dream, that’s why I studied animation and that’s why i’m so exited about it.

If you don’t mind being open about the process, you can get fairly good quick answers by posting here. For technical issues, people are happy to help along if they can. Just be as specific as possible, so the helper doesn’t need to guess.
I’m not saying you need to be open about the story or upload your complete work files… that kind of openness is popular, but not some hard demand to get support for your project.

This site aside… I’m sure there are some experienced and talented people who’d be happy to provide more direct guidance. I’m not sure how to best find and approach them, but it’s pretty likely they’ll be keeping an eye on this forum. So keep posting and making a good impression!
What you have said this far makes it sound promising, but it’d be good to hear slightly more about your goals with the film itself, and team size / background / setup. Is there any previous work to show?
Also… if you don’t do this as an open movie (which is very understandable), your planned level of openness about the project would be good to hear beforehand.
Remember that people around here have probably seen many promising dream projects go up in smoke.

If you want to be more proactive about getting support, write a nice summary of relevant details and mail/PM it to people in the Blender community you’d want help from. Add why you think their input would be valuable, and generally make sure it’s not taken as mass-spam. Linking this thread might be a good idea.

There’s no cache in the compositor to store render preview frames, so you can’t playback faster than the actual comp-render speed. And unlike lagged viewport animation, playback won’t conform to render speed. So the playhead runs along at 24fps, and you don’t get an update until you stop.
Note that the VSE does have caching, though it’s set to barely useful 128MB by default in Preferences -> System.

One thing you can do is to have a VSE strip hooked up to your compositor output files.
You’ll have to do full comp-renders first, but be able to playback those frames instantly. Maybe even in a VSE panel in your compositing layout. So while 24 fps playback doesn’t show any updates for the comp itself, you do see the strip with your latest renders running along.
Of course, you can connect any number of comp output sequences to any number of VSE strips, to for example switch between playback of “original”/“glow added”/“color correction” quickly. Or do a VSE-comp that puts different compositor outputs on a comparison grid.
Or save overall color correction for the VSE strip - Render the glow effect from the compositor, then tweak color correction with the benefit of 24fps playback.

Googling on blender compositor cache there is a claim from 2011 that viewer-nodes should cache their content, so maybe I’m just missing something. But I have the general impression that it’s pegged as a lacking feature.

Thank you encn, I’ll begin to share some info very soon about the project, and I wonder, how does an open movie works? I don’t really understand how its progress is…?

@Zabander, hi, get in contact with blender foundation and take a look to the blender network to get support from professionals for scripting or development. You can even hire a developer for SSS for example or donate to the foundation to get it faster in blender.
You can donate for a special project iirc.
This was done with the new hardware accelerated compositor in blender and more.
Make a good detailed proposal (ton like this), with storyboard snippets for example, timeline, budget and so forth.
You can contact Ton Roosendaal via #blendercoders at every day (the Netherlands time), but be prepared.
You can even supported by the foundation if blender have profit from you. :slight_smile:

Good luck, cheers, mib.
EDIT: Ton Roosendaal is creator of blender, foundation chairman, developer and much more.

Oh, someone who really understands the importance of the story! :slight_smile: Now I really, really look forward to see the finished work later on!