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Admirable effort designed to draw other animators out of the shadows...
This little animated short is a truly admirable effort, designed to draw out other talented people willing to donate their time to help create the film and to enhance the free tools (named "Blender")used to make the movie. It succeeded wildly in that effort. Many modifications were made to the Blender tools to simplify the creation of animation and the efficiency of the workflow. In addition, the raw files that were created to render the movie are included on the DVD allowing others to experiment making their own version of the film or use the files as a tutorial in their own creations.
The story revolves around our hero the title character Big Buck Bunny and three nefarious characters: a portly, absent-minded woodchuck, a dizzy, goofy fox and their cruel leader, a mean-spirited flying squirrel. The gang of three seem dedicated to tormenting Big Buck Bunny and generally terrorizing the other creatures inhabiting an otherwise serene and gorgeous forest. After purposely crushing a butterfly Big Buck Bunny has been admiring and gently pursuing, the three ne'er-do-wells proceed to hurl various nuts and forest debris at Bunny's head. Then, the wicked flying squirrel (who is by far the most reprobate of the three) crushes yet another butterfly that makes the mistake of landing on a nearby rock. Shocked and saddened, Big Buck Bunny runs from the meadow into the forest as the gang of three throw prickly thistles at him. Angered by the gang's hateful actions, Bunny begins a humorous Predator-style vengeance preparation, which then plays out with a truly hilarious ending. Stick around during the credits for various little animations of the gang of three and an additional sequence after the credits where one of the maligned victims of the gang serves up some scatological comeuppance.
Some reviewer commented that the tools used in the making of this movie might render (pun intended) big animation studios like DreamWorks and Pixar obsolete. Nonsense. What makes a film a success regardless of medium is story and the execution of said. If nothing else, Pixar's success has taught us there is no substitute for a great story excellently told. The faulty thinking that leads to erroneous conclusions such as this is the continual underestimation of artists and the creative process in general. Each new generation is driven to push the boundaries and squeeze every little bit of functionality out of the tools they have to work with, not to mention the irreplaceable importance of performance by voice actors. This is why we will never see "push button" characters and the dissolution of big names studios with pockets deep enough to pay for such talent. Ours is a culture that all but worships famous personalities and as long as they demand large salaries, only the big name studios will be able to afford their services. The tools, however, are another matter.
The free, open-source Blender animation/rendering software puts powerful tools into the hands of a much larger section of the population with far less money at their disposal. Instead of costing tens or hundreds of thousands (or even millions) for the software and hardware necessary to make a professional-looking animated movie, open-source software like Blender brings that cost down to a few thousand or so. For the cost of a mid-level Macintosh, the free Blender software suite and a few other reasonably priced software tools, a person or group could make their own feature-length animated movie just like the makers of Big Buck Bunny did. Hopefully, after enjoying the efforts of the team that made this movie, more people will endeavor to make their own animated fare. If this film is any indication, animation fans are in for a heck of a ride.
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