Big Buck Bunny: CC-licensed animated short made with free/open animation tool Blender

Mike sez, "To show off the open-source animation program Blender, a small team just finished a great ten-minute cartoon, 'Big Buck Bunny.' They were funded by foundation support and pre-orders of the DVD by the Blender community. What's more, the whole thing is Creative Commons-licensed, and all the files for the animation are available. Here in Worcester MA, our local TV station took advantage of the licensing and broadcast the thing last night in prime time." Link (Thanks, Mike!)


  1. It’s pretty cool. No dialogue, so the plot is pretty simple, but I suppose no words makes it more universal, too.

  2. could have been Pixar, which says a lot. Stuff like this gives me hope for the future – that you can make stuff for kids that isn’t occult marketing.

  3. Hm, it says 7 people worked on the project for 6 months to make the 10 minute movie. I wonder if the workload scales and if the economics would allow a free/libre full length (90 minute) movie to be developed.

  4. fantastic stuff, just go’s to show you can make wonderful films without big studio dollars.
    i struggle with blender though iv’e wanted to have a crack at 3d for ages but the learning curve is just a little too steep

  5. I thought the technical visuals here were amazing. Really well-animated, that’s for sure. The characters were not really cute, tho (and perhaps that was the filmmakers’ intention) — kinda felt like an anti-Pixar at points. :)

    This is a testament to Blender, that’s for sure. Hopefully it gets more people interested and aware of the goodness in open source; I wanted to use Blender awhile ago but found the UI quite frustrating and near-impregnable, alas.

  6. Though it still has somewhat of a mainstream look, in a way, this is the animation counterpart of the mumblecore movement.

    Six people have proven that they can made 1/9th of a major studio quality animated feature in 6 months with free software on their PCs. As someone mentioned earlier, The next step is a full length feature.

    In the 80s there was a huge backlash to what was perceived as 70s excess in the film industry. Everything had to be a blockbuster. It was the worst period for film in history. This trend is unfortunately returning. But that was before Al Gore invented the internets.

    As Hollywood becomes more conservative in what they choose to advertise and distribute there seems to be an increasing trend towards making and distributing movies without Hollywood’s permission. Shoestring homemade word of mouth, internet and Netflix distributed movies are on the rise. When people can make movies on their PCs and in their backyards that are better and more daring than what Hollywood has to offer it’s going to level the playing field in a big way. It’s no longer going to make sense to spend 100 million dollars on a movie. Soon the long-tail market will apply to film as well, and it’s going to make more sense to make a greater variety of less-expensive productions that appeal to smaller audiences.

  7. Wait, Worceser has a local TV station? That’s news to me. All I know of is the public access channel (which is not broadcast OTA), and Charter Cable’s TV3 (which is also not broadcast OTA).

  8. When the bunny was making all the contraptions at the end, my first thought was, “when will he post this in MAKE?”

  9. @#8 jed alexander:

    as an 80’s kid, I think the movies (and music) of that time were something pretty unique. Seeing them from an adult eye now, they are pretty cheesy and such. But I can really remember walking out of the theater feeling really good and inspired, perhaps because they made it look like accomplishing things was really easy (all you need is a montage!).

    Just to name a few off the top of my head: indiana jones, the neverending story, the princess bride, breakin 2: electric bugaloo, the goonies, uhf, spies like us, caddyshack, the karate kid…

    I think the past 10 years have been pretty crappy for movies except for the fact that with the sheer volume quite a few have been the good exceptions.

  10. @11 TravisPulley:

    I think the past 10 years have been pretty crappy for movies except for the fact that with the sheer volume quite a few have been the good exceptions.

    I think you could probably say the same thing about movies of the 80s – for every one of those movies you mentioned, there were probably 20 shitty, shitty movies time let you blissfully forget.

  11. Sturgeon’s law applies: 90% of everything is crap. Thus the more variety, the more possibility for good stuff, as you pointed out. More movies are made now than ever before, thus a bigger 10%. And many of those movies are independently produced. The more people making movies, the greater potential for awesomeness.

    In the 80s their were few independent film in general. For the most part The low budget, non-star driven small film hardly existed in the U.S.. All the films you mentioned aside from, uh, Break’in 2 are mainstream comedies and blockbusters. Even Karate Kid was a small movie with a star (Machio was already known from the Outsiders) with a proven premise (essentially, Rocky).

    There was little risk-taking, and progressive film-making, auteur film-making, much of what was exciting in the 70s had screeched to a standstill. A new trend–judging a movie’s success by it’s first week’s performance–a trend that continues today–replaced the old method of running films in theatre’s all over the country for months as they slowly picked up steam and popularity. Even film makers who used to take risks, like Mike Nichols, were reeling it in.

    The most progressive popular movement in music was New Wave. New Wave.

    It was the birth of the strip mall and of the uniformly beige colored housing development. It was Reaganomics.

    And movies, for the most part, sucked. I’m not going to criticize your choices or taste, but there was less variety and less experimentation. It was a sad time for film.

  12. oh yeah, just get a compendium of film for any given decade and marvel at all the sheer, utter drivel and crap you blessedly never heard of, much less saw. The ratio fo feature films that were made and you heard of is about one hundred to one. With luck, many will stay in the can and never emerge to torment humanity.

  13. I liked the story, and the animation is painstakingly fluid. But the models aren’t really as well rendered as their Pixar counterparts.

  14. I’m sure you’re right. But I can probably name more well-critically regarded and enduring American films from just about every other decade BUT the 80s.

    Now what you consider a “good” or a “great” film to be is subjective no matter how you look at it, but the 80s was the absolute apex of the blockbuster mentality. It was a very conservative, bottom line period for film and fewer small movies and auteur movies were being made.

    Even during the time of the studio system there were more small movies, what they then called “b” pictures (and “b” didn’t mean what it means today). Not surprisingly, most of them were god awful genre films, but there was more opportunity to make an interesting small film that didn’t have to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and short subjects actually got distribution.

    The 80s was a unique time when the public didn’t have the same access to small, occasionally personal low-budget productions that they did in virtually every other decade since the golden age of film.

    The bigger the budget, the less formal and narrative risk is taken because studio dollars are on the line. Studios were not taking those risks in the 80s and less independent and small films were getting made and distributed. The blockbuster mentality declared a film dead in the water in it’s first week if it didn’t make a substantial amount of money. Independent film festivals didn’t exist.

    I recommend checking out Robert Altman’s film, the Player, a film that couldn’t have been made in the 80s about the 80s blockbuster mentality–a mentality that still applies today.

  15. this short is jingoistic allegory about the war on terror.

    the bunny is the united states, and the rodents are terrorists.

    the bunny even gets the final terrorist into a “stress position” at the very end.

    or maybe not. make up your own mind.

  16. So what’s the butterfly? Oil? WMDs?

    In the sequel, the rodents’ families drive cars full of acorns into the bunny’s hole…

  17. First, there’s nothing “jingoistic” about the bunny; there’s no hint of bunny pride, nationalism, or even a greater community of bunnies.

    Second, I think it’s more likely that both BBB and the general “war on terror” narrative draw from the same basic story than that BBB was inspired by current events. People “mess with the wrong guy” every day in real life, no allegory required.

  18. @Jed Alexander: “But I can probably name more well-critically regarded and enduring American films from just about every other decade BUT the 80s.”

    I understand what you’re saying, but it’s a matter of taste and does not apply solely to the 80s. I know a lot of people who would say the same about the 90s, for example, and would say that 90s indy cinema led by Tarantino destroyed American cinema for a few years.

    That doesn’t mean they’re right. For example, check out the following 80s classics:

    Raging Bull, An American Werewolf In London, Amadeus, Robocop, The Fly, The Shining, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Beverly Hills Cop, The Last Temptation Of Christ, Aliens, Back to the Future, Thief, Beetlejuice, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, WarGames, The Untouchables, The Thing, This Is Spinal Tap, The Terminator, Gremlins, Witness, Star Trek 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Stand By Me, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Blue Velvet, Ghostbusters, The Breakfast Club, Blade Runner, Highlander, The King Of Comedy, House, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Manhunter, The Man With Two Brains, Poltergeist, Planes Trains & Automobiles…

    Those are just off the top of my head (so a little heavy on genre flicks), but all of those movies are considered classics and the best of their respective series if there were sequels.

    Many of them were also not “blockbusters” – even movies we think of as massive successes today (such as The Terminator) were actually low budget and perceived as risky at the time. Others (such as The Thing and Blade Runner) were downright flops on their first releases. I could probably name 200 more great 80s movies if I spent more time.

    Also, do you just mean independent movies? A few of those above count but what about Paris Texas, Blood Simple, The Evil Dead, Sex Lies & Videotape or Stranger Than Paradise (or anything else by Raimi, Jarmusch or the Coens in that period)? Redford and Tarantino may have revitalised the US indy movie scene in the 90s, but it certainly still existed.

  19. Philosophically I think this is great, and the animation itself looks pretty good, but this cartoon overall is fairly dumb and unimaginative. In other words, despite all its behind-the-scenes innovation, Big Buck Bunny isn’t actually any good.

  20. I disagree. It’s a light story, appropriate for a short, with lots of well-done characterization. I enjoyed it and have already recommended it to friends. And it accomplishes it’s other purpose as well; it’s a strong demo for Blender.

  21. PAULT:

    You bring up some excellent examples. Some of the examples you bring up seem like typical commercial genre films, but you bring up a good number of notable exceptions. I’d add Ghandi to the list. Swimming to Cambodia, The Killing Fields, Videodrome, you’ve got a point.

    However, I do think it’s fair to say that low-budget, (heaven forbid) no-star or independently produced movies that weren’t genre films were very rare. The independent film movement existed but it was just coming up for air. In the 70s great small movies produced independently, and more non-genre films in general were being made and were given more of a chance to find their audience. In the 90s this was starting to happen again, with the new idea that a small film could succeed on video where it might not have in the theatre.

    Interesting you mention Terminator–it too dropped out of sight from the theatres because of this first week, sink-or-swim attitude, and was one of the first films to find a greater and more significant audience on video. I wouldn’t call it “risky”. It was a low budget horror/sci-fi film, what I’m sure they thought was a pretty guaranteed way to make a buck, but it started an interesting trend. Movies didn’t have to be a success in the theatre to be commercially successful. This had been proven earlier on a smaller scale with primarily horror films, but nothing you’d call a blockbuster.

    Of the larger studio films you mention, only a few squeek out as genuinely daring and risky–Blue Velvet, Last Temptation of Christ and King of Comedy, all from directors that had made at least one big hit for the studio. Arguably Blade Runner, but I doubt the studio had any idea what they were getting into with that one. To them it looked like another sci-fi action movie by somebody who’d already scored a huge hit for them in the genre. Everything else you mention, aside from Witness, is an unusually imaginative genre film, and a few, memorable more for nostalgia than for actually being good films.

    Your list of actual independent non-genre movies that were able to get distribution in the 80s is pretty small, and not likely to get much bigger.

    As for previous decades–they were just making more movies then, at least until recently, so more movies in general resulted in more good movies, but admittedly, it wasn’t till the 70s, post Easy Rider, that you saw the risk taking and experimentation that you see today. The 80s was an unfortunate back turn.

  22. I forgot to add Raging Bull in the “daring” category, but it just squeeks in, having been released in 1980. It was still technically produced in the 70s, but this is of course, splitting hairs.

  23. @Jed: Yeah I thought that might be what you were saying regarding genre, etc. But then, how is it really any different from any previous decade? The poster boys for 90s independent cinema were Tarantino, Rodriguez, Linklater and Kevin Smith. Apart from Linklater, all those directors were simply putting fresh spins on existing genre material (yes, I’d term comedies as genre).

    In the 70s, there were 2 big things that worked for filmmakers. The first is that the studio heads really didn’t know what they were doing. They had been completely blindsided by the success of Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy, and so financed a lot of terrible attempts to make “hip” films – Myra Breckenridge, Candy, The Harrad Experiment, etc. To put it bluntly, those films failed to capture the young audience they were after. So rather than financing new films by established talent, they financed a lot of projects by younger directors.

    Many of these were risky, and it’s only be sheer luck that some projects worked at all (e.g. Jaws could have been a major disaster if Spielberg hadn’t worked out how to make the movie without the non-working model shark). There were flops, terrible movies (does anyone talk about Airport, Love Story or the Billy Jack movies any more?) and outright disasters (Zardoz?). Many of the big successes were essentially souped-up genre movies (The Godfather, The Exorcist, Dirty Harry), as were many of the independent successes (Texas Chainsaw/Halloween, blaxsploitation and kung-fu). Remember, the shift from 70s to 80s in Hollywood can be summed up in 2 movies – Star Wars and Heaven’s Gate. Besides, downturn in independent production in the 80s had as much to do with the distribution methods (e.g. the death of drive-ins and double features) as any change in production tactics.

    “Interesting you mention Terminator–it too dropped out of sight from the theatres because of this first week, sink-or-swim attitude, and was one of the first films to find a greater and more significant audience on video”

    IMDB disagrees. According to that, it made $38m theatrically in 3 months on a budget of $6m. Anyway, my point was that while this is the kind of film that seems a no-brainer today, it was by no means a guaranteed success back then.

    “Blue Velvet, Last Temptation of Christ and King of Comedy, all from directors that had made at least one big hit for the studio.”

    The last film David Lynch made before Blue Velvet was Dune, a spectacular flop. Scorcese was not considered a real moneymaker at that point though most of his films did turn a profit.

    I could add other independent movies – Do The Right Thing, Knightriders, Repo Man, Liquid Sky, Basket Case… Damn my genre-focussed brain but those were all extremely unusual movies that found some distribution (even if in the case of the latter two, it was mainly in underground theatres rather than wide releases – they were still successful though in some way). You dismiss genre movies but horror movies were pretty much the lifeblood of independent production and they led to a lot of future projects – some of them were even good films. For example, the Weinsteins’ first production was The Burning while everyone from Johnny Depp to Kevin Bacon to Meg Ryan appeared in them early in their careers, no doubt helping pave the way for future work.

    “I’d add Ghandi to the list. Swimming to Cambodia, The Killing Fields, Videodrome”

    I deliberately left off Videodrome and Killing Fields (being Canadian and UK productions respectively, and you originally referred to US productions). If you want to extend the definition to non-US productions, well we have many more to choose from – The Last Emperor, Mephisto, Fanny And Alexander, Wings Of Desire, Betty Blue, Nikita, Atlantic City, Hellraiser, Bad Taste, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, a bunch of Merchant-Ivory productions, Kiss Of The Spider Woman…

    Anyway, overall I see the points you’re trying to make. I’m just pointing out that there were as many good movies – independent or otherwise – made in the 80s as any other decade. The original point I was responding to – “But I can probably name more well-critically regarded and enduring American films from just about every other decade BUT the 80s” – is false in my mind, I just wanted to point that out. Sorry about the wall o’ text way of doing it :)

  24. I think you make a lot of terrific points, and there were a lot of good foreign films at the time, and I didn’t realize Killing Fields was a Canadian production.

    I concede that there were more notable films in the 80s than I gave credit for.

    You focus a lot on successful films. The good ones were not always successful, and some of the best weren’t successful at all. John Cassavettes is my favorite director and I don’t think he had a single mainstream hit. I’m not even sure if any of his movies made money. It was because Hollywood didn’t know what they were doing that so many compelling films were made in the 70s. Maybe it was a happy accident that they were so clueless, but it was probably the most progressive time in American cinema. The 70s hits that you mention (aside from Midnight Cowboy) aren’t what I consider the best films of the period.

    I wouldn’t by any means dismiss genre films. Some of my favorite films are genre films (some of the ones you mention in fact), but it’s harder to get a non-genre film made, and was even more difficult to get a non-genre film made in the 80s.

    If the studios “knew what they were doing”, I suppose they had a better grasp on how to make a movie that made money. They were taking fewer risks in general.

    I think Dune was a flawed but important film by the way, flop or not.

    It’s really hard for me to narrow down what was going on in the 90s. I think of it as a transitional period in independent film. More film festivals and more opportunities to make interesting movies. I’m not doing a very good job at coming up with examples, but I don’t think the Tarantino, Rodriguez, Linklater gang by any means sums it up. Those were the most successful, I grant you, but there were more opportunities in general for small film makers opening up during that period.

    I think you’ve countered me with some very compelling arguments, and I do think my ideas about the 80s are worth revising.

    On the subject of independently produced no-budget films–I think a revolution is happening right now. The mumblecore movement is a great example of where we’re headed. They don’t need anyone’s permission to make a movie, promotion and distribution is much less of an issue when whatever money you make is a bonus (DV is virtually free), and they keep making movies on their own terms. Most of all, they keep making movies. There’s nobody to tell them the last film they made didn’t make enough money.

    Hopefully they’ll be some great genre films as well that appeal to smaller audiences who have less mainstream tastes. I’d love to see more movies like Primer. I think the future for movies and TV shows (I’m looking forward to hand-made internet distributed TV series in the future) is headed in an exciting direction.

  25. “They don’t need anyone’s permission to make a movie, promotion and distribution is much less of an issue when whatever money you make is a bonus (DV is virtually free), and they keep making movies on their own terms. Most of all, they keep making movies. There’s nobody to tell them the last film they made didn’t make enough money.”

    and that is why they must be destroyed, why the web must be metered and censored and why totalitarian copyright must be ram-rodded through.

  26. The storyline centers on slapstick and phsycial one-up-man-ship. It’s not much different than a Bugs Bunny cartoon as far as physical violence goes. Course, they censored a lot of the violence on Bugs Bunny for a while, and then they canned it completely. Whether that’s right or wrong, is a different conversation.

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