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 Xiph.org. 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 Xiph.org 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, Xiph.org'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 Xiph.org to check it out!
All materials used courtesy (CC) Blender Foundation | mango.blender.org