Open Source Animated Movie Shows What Can Be Done Today

from the just-think-what-comes-next dept

I had another story planned for our new "case studies" series (see last week's if you missed it), but with the release of Sintel late last week, it jumped the queue, and I put together this quick case study

For years, one of the points we've raised in answering the movie industry's $200 million challenge to us (i.e., "how do you keep making $200 million movies?") is that, in part, it's asking the wrong question. No one asks "how do we keep making $10,000 computers?" Instead, they look for ways to make them cheaper (and better, at the same time). But in the world of Hollywood accounting, there's little incentive to make cheaper movies (sometimes the incentive goes the other way). And, we keep showing how the world is reaching a place where it's cheaper and cheaper to make good movies. We've pointed out nice examples of people making high quality movies for next to nothing. The idea is not that movies should be made for nothing, but that the technology is making it so that movies can be made for less. In fact, with two of the examples of cheap movie making we've highlighted, the makers later went on to score deals to do higher end movies for more reasonable budgets.

Now, lots of people are talking about the excellent new open source, partially crowd funded, computer-animated short-film Sintel:
There are so many important points to make here that relate to stuff we talk about:
  1. The technology keeps getting better and the cost to do such high quality work keeps decreasing. This movie did cost $550,000 to make -- involving a 14-person team. But, that's a hell of a lot less than it would have cost not so long ago for anything of this level of quality.
  2. The creators used some crowdfunding: They offered up a bunch of reasons to buy as a way to get people to preorder and pay up front. Note that they didn't just say "please give us money," but provided a bunch of benefits for doing so.
  3. The release is totally open source: They're using a Creative Commons license that only requires attribution. That is, they have no problem with commercial uses.
  4. The movie itself is also promoting something else: The movie comes from the Blender Foundation, and helps promote their open source 3D content creation suite, which is helpful for their business. This is a point that we've tried to make many times in the past. All content advertises something, and it's often important to figure out what that is. In this case, Sintel helps "advertise" Blender's tools. It's yet another example of content as advertising, and doing so in a way that's not intrusive or seen as "product placement." If you have content, it's important to realize what that content is advertising.
Definitely a cool example of a variety of neat ideas all wrapped up into one... and producing a great movie as well.

Filed Under: business models, fan funding, movies, open source, sintel
Companies: blender foundation

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Rekrul, 8 Oct 2010 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re:

    I think the key is to avoid having each funder hold a stake in the legal ownership of the film. Even having funded Sintel, I don't hold the copyright strictly speaking or have a percentage share in the film. This was made clear up front, and I'm happy with what I did get. I think the issue of stakeholders was also the issue for Kevin Smith.

    I tried suggesting that, such as having people sign a disclaimer when they donated their money and I was told that it still wouldn't be possible and that the only way it could be done is if they were selling some kind of product rather than just asking for money to finance the movie(s).

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.