Australian animation studio Character Mill to help create feature film, using Blender Cloud

Character Mill, a 3D animation and illustration studio based in Sydney, is set to take part in Project Gooseberry, a new 3D feature film that will be be created with open source animation package Blender.

Unveiled at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas last week, Project Gooseberry is a full-length open production computer animation movie being created in the open-source 3D animation software program Blender.

Twelve animation teams from around the world will collaborate on the film, which is being created through Blender Cloud.

Feedback from the animations, in turn, will be by Blender’s developers to improve asset and project management, new hair and cloth simulation, advanced animation/simulation dependency handling, rendering and compositing.

Character Mill co-founder and animation producer James Neale says the studio was invited to participate as long-time users of Blender.

“We have also been vocal promoters of the open source software Blender, speaking at conferences in Amsterdam and regularly teaching industry professionals who are interested in an alternative to the established subscription-based 3D software packages.

“At the end of 2013, Ton Roosendaal, the chairman of the Blender Institute, contacted us to see if we would be interested in producing a feature film along with 11 other studios from around the world. His proposal involved an 18 month online collaboration using the newly launched Blender Cloud service as a method of sharing and delivering files.”

The film, which has the working title Project Gooseberry,is about Michel the sheep who aspires to a more interesting life. The script will be developed by French animation director Mathieu Auvray and Esther Wouda. Both will work at Blender’s Amsterdam headquarters with producer Ton Roosendaal.

Neale says there’s a strong open source focus to the project.

“Blender Institute’s main purpose is to raise open source 3D creation up to a higher support level. The heavy demands of feature animation teams will define the work for 15 full-time developers.”

The film’s production data will be available under open source and Creative Commons licenses, including working files, assets, sound effects, mix and music.

“The crowdfunding target is to get 10,000 people to subscribe to the Blender Cloud, which already offers all of the tutorial DVDs, movies and 3D data from previous Blender Institute projects. Supporters will be able to watch and share the progress of the animation teams, and those who stay on board for 18 months will receive a film credit.”

Neale hopes the project will help to redefine how animated motion pictures are made.

“The principal goal of Project Gooseberry is to bring the creators back in control. They will be the owners of the movie and will be in direct connection with their audience. No big studios are needed here, no film distributors or TV channels. It is a great opportunity for us to write our own little bit of film history!”

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