Blender Foundation Releases 4TB of 'Tears of Steel' Sony F65 4K Footage & Demonstrates Post Workflow

The Blender Foundation is constantly pushing the boundaries of availability, openness, and access to the raw materials it uses to create its 'proof-of-Blender' animated shorts. This type of access is usually more associated with open source software than filmmaking, but especially since the Project Mango live-action CGI/VFX-heavy  Tears of Steel was realized, that distinction has become increasingly blurred. Now filmmakers, animators, or compositors looking to cut their teeth on professional-grade material have access to the entirety of Tears of Steel's footage, in 4k OpenEXR (in the ACES color space), courtesy In the meantime, the Foundation has also made available a number of resources concerning their post-production pipeline, which allowed them to transcode 4K Sony F65 footage to those Linux-workable OpenEXR frames. Check below for more details.

4TBs of Free 4K

Here's the full Tears of Steel film which we've featured previously -- followed by words Ton Roosendaal, Chairman of the Blender Foundation, on the release of the footage, courtesy Project Mango's homepage:

Thanks to our friends at we now can offer everyone access to the original source footage of Tears of Steel.

You’ll find something like 80,000 frames, each in OpenEXR half float files, in [16-bit] 4096 x 2160 pixels. This is 5 times more footage than used in the film, including unused shots, but mainly it’s because of long lead-in and lead-outs, and of course we’ve been cutting shots sharp.

Pictures have been shot using the (4k native sensor) fantastic Sony F65 camera. The raw files were converted with Sony software to OpenEXR, using ACES color. We then converted these with OpenColorIO to Rec709 “scene linear” which we further used for the movie pipeline.

Before we started with this VFX project we already noted a huge lack in available free high quality footage for motion tracking, keying and cleaning testing. With this huge data set this problem now belongs to the past forever!

There are some very reasonable licensing restrictions -- proper attribution as always is a must, and actor's personal privacy rights amount to strictly non-commercial usage privileges, basically. Be sure to check Ton's post at Project Mango,'s Mango download page, and the CC guidelines that Ton points to.

Trans-OS 4K Imaging Post Pipeline

The Blender shorts have historically kept the heart of their workflows within the open source software realm, churning out the brunt of work in the GIMP and of course Blender itself, all within Linux (the "OS OS") workstations. The use of Sony's F65 in shooting Tears of Steel necessitated a bit more hopping around -- in this case to and from Mac OSX -- in order to convert 4K RAW to a Linux-workable, ILM-developed OpenEXR format. OpenEXR, in its arranging of footage into series of high-res still frames, doesn't seem too far off from Adobe's CinemaDNG format. Here's a video demonstrating the gist of Project Mango's pipeline, plus a flowchart view of the originally proposed workflow courtesy the Blender Foundation's wiki:

This type of workflow will certainly remain relevant as more and more of the heavy lifting, processing, and transcoding of hi-res projects comes away from the local machine and becomes the responsibility of the dedicated server, à la Adobe Anywhere. Those of us less literate in command prompt and any kind of scripting may recoil in wide-eyed confusion, but these core principles will likely be seeing more and more play -- though perhaps with prettier graphical interfaces -- or maybe they'll just happen in the background, again, like the case will likely be with Adobe Anywhere.

In any case, there's like 4 terabytes of pro-shot 4k material at your disposal, to play around with in anything from color correction to 3D compositing and rotoscoping -- so head on over to Mango and to check it out!

All materials used courtesy (CC) Blender Foundation |


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Stunning color and dynamic range.

April 3, 2013 at 3:23PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Mark Weston

That is fantastic - if I had 4TB worth of space left and uncapped Internet, I'd definitively get all that.

I'm currently deciding which tools to learn - Blender or Maya/Mudbox. I'm a teacher and can get Autodesk software for free so cost isn't an issue. I'm also not going to do tis professionally - I'd just like to yeah myself 3D modelling and compositing for fun. What do people recommend?

April 3, 2013 at 4:42PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


If cost is not a problem for you, I can say Maya is the standard in the industry.

April 3, 2013 at 7:36PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


If you're not doing it professionally Blender is probably a reasonable choice. Blender's interface has gotten much, much cleaner since the old version 2.4, so much so that Maya's learning curve might actually be steeper at this point.

Maya is of course the "industry standard" but unless you're trying to work for a big animation studio, this doesn't really matter. I've done payed work with Blender and it's never failed me. With that in mind, I'm not as familiar with Maya as I should be. Most skills transfer pretty well but there are definitely aspects of Maya that I'm not familiar with. Maya's rendering engine is also stronger than Blenders' (both Blender Internal and Cycles have their problems) although it's possible to plug other rendering engines into Blender.

As far as sculpting goes, I think ZBrush is a more powerful program than Mudbox. Blender's sculpting tools are actually quite strong as well, though (dynamic topology was added within the past year).

One other consideration is the license of Maya; students can get Maya (and other products owned by Autodesk) for free but only with a pretty restrictive non-commercial license; it might be worth seeing if there are such restrictions for you and whether you are OK with them.

April 3, 2013 at 9:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Hi Guido,
I wrote about my opinion here:

Summary: If you want the industry standard, go for Maya (comming from 3dsMax I used the trial for a week before I gave up). But if you want to learn a great lightweight (170MB!) 3D software/compositor that can do almost anything try Blender! The obstacles in Blender is the very logic (after a while) UI and the key-board short cuts. It took me a week to be able to do the most basic things. Blender also features nodes for both materials and compositing, radiosity, character animation, GPU-rendering, physics and fluid simulator. I currently use it for planned short and running it without any problems on my mac book air!

April 4, 2013 at 1:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I've been using linux for the past 4 years. Already migrated all my audio production workflow there and as soon as lightworks gets a stable release I'll do the crossover. Currently learning blender, the "track, match, blend" series are great help.

April 3, 2013 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Emo... Emo what do you see? What do you see, Emo?

April 4, 2013 at 5:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


F65 is boss.

April 4, 2013 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


As a teacher (multimedia prod.), i always say that 2 elements are needed to produce good quality contents, especially in video/3D anim., you have the software and its list of features and the skill of the user.

I've seen both, Maya/Blender user at work, and i would say that there is no difference in term of workflow and usability. My preference goes to blender of course for its community support and the good mood of the open source world. Then, Blender is powerful as Maya is, but for commercial purpose, it's better to sell a software to limitate the concurence, from private schools to companies... so the choice is in your hand, and actually, it's true, because the "artistic" quality is the most needed, cheers

April 26, 2013 at 4:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM