Big Buck Bunny in CG magazine from China

Posted in Peach Press by Margreet

Today we received a copy of the CG Magazine -July 2008 #81- all the way from China. There is a review of BBB in it, as well as an interview with Ton. We can’t read it, but it must be quite impressive, because we got even two pages more than the article about Kung Fu Panda!

Download the article here.

29 Responses

  1. Dusty Writes:

    Anyone fancy translating this for us?

  2. bb Writes:

    I thinking being fancy and then do the translation is not nesseary.

    The Magazine keep people’s English name, so most of you can guest it’s saying about the peach project and the people behind this.
    It’s just a full intro to the Chinese reader who don’t read Eng$%^.

    All things all, you are doing great!

  3. bb Writes:

    OK, translation of the frontpage title:
    start from zero, making a career when you’re poor.

  4. Felix Kütt Writes:

    pretty darn cool! :)

  5. blenderman345 Writes:

    I hear that Kung Fu Panda’s good……but BBB’s moe impressive.

  6. zombiej0hn Writes:

    bb: ‘fancy’ here is actually a verb. To fancy something is to take an interest in it, so what Dusty means when he says ‘does anyone fancy translating’ is actually asking is ‘is anyone interested in translating’

  7. pKrime Writes:

    There’s also a shot of the Italian moka… wow!

  8. Randalf Writes:

    My attempt at a translation Page 1.

    Big Bucks Bunny – Heavyweight Punch from Open Source Animation

    Blender 3D is a completely free, open-source 3D animation software. Its installation on Windows takes a mere 8 Megabytes – almost toy-sized compared with the gigabytes of other 3D packages. But from this software emerges a surprise in the form of “Big Bucks Bunny”

    It is hard to believe that BBB is entirely created with free software: It originated as an animation project ,“Project Peach”, supported by the Blender Foundation. The film is 10 minute in length, and its title means “big male rabbit”

    (The following paragraph is too dark and blurred to read)

    Behind this film, “Project Peach” represents a new concept: Open Source Animation. Open Source Animation entails, essentially, creating an animation with Open softwares (like Blender 3D) and then releasing it under Creative Commons Attribution. Under this license, everyone can download the film and its source documents absolutely free of charge. They can even modify the film and put out a re-done version of it.

    Of course, “Project Peach” is more than a free lunch. Its principle aim is straightforward: by putting Blender through a complete animation creative sequence, the project serves to realise the potentials of the software, and identify rooms for improvements. The project will share with other users of Blender tips and tricks of the software, and the 10 minute film (unreadable)

  9. Randalf Writes:

    Page 2 (in addition to the crew)

    About “Project Peach”

    It started at the beginning of 2007, when the Blender Foundation released an open-source animation short “Elephant’s Dream”. That projecte was dubbed, whimsically, “Project Orange”

    The quality of “Elephant’s Dream” garnered good reviews in the animation circle, hence a second project quickly followed. The new project was name with another fruit ‘Peach’.

    “Project Peach” is Blender Foundation’s brave move towards commercial-grade animation. It is said they’re preparing for another Open Source Animation “Project Durian” (translator’s note: I think the author made this up). Fruitiness, it seems, will conquer all.

  10. Randalf Writes:

    Page 3
    [Main Text]

    It All Started from Zero

    As the originator of the project, Blender Foundation chair Ton Roosendall naturally became its chief financier. A key figure in European animation, Roosendall saw to the adminstrative aspects of the project: financing the animation crew’s trip to Amsterdam through DVD pre-sales, making sure they had their office, and equipment, and that their bills were covered

    August 2007, two months before Peach’s inauguration. Five early birds — Andy, Lyubomir, Enrico, Sacha, Nathan and Brecht – started a week-long trainning under Disney’s Arno Kroner. They studied storyboarding, camera, setting, scene-changes and action. (specialised film language, I’m not sure I got the terms correct)

    At the same time, Ton, cell-phone in hand, was busy soliciting sponsorship. His efforts paid off: DigitalPioneers of the Netherlands and Maqina! offered support. DigitalPioneers will shoulder the cost of the project with Blender Foundation, while Maquina! promised ultra-low prices – lower than cost, in fact – on hardware.

    Ton’s relentless hammering eventually moved Sun Microsystems, who provided 50000 rendering hours on the hunderds of nodes in network.com. With each node consisting of a 64-bit CPU and 4 Gigs of RAM, no one needs to frown over even the most complicated scene.

    [Caption 1]

    Eizo really makes surpreme LCD monitors: extremely sharp colors across the band. Two monitors – a 24-inch widescreener and a 20-inch 4:3 – are hooked with one nVidia card. Together they give a resolution of 3520×1200. Of course, no animator can do without a Wacom pad.

    [Caption 2]

    The workstation provided by Maquina!, absolutely free of charge: a dream machine with eight CPU cores and a colossal amount of RAM. This is an extremely silent gear; there is no noise to distract you deep in the small hours.

    The operating system is 64 bit Ubuntu Gusty (Linux). Each user can personalise his own desktop and config, and the settings are stored in the server (run on NIS and NFS)

    [Caption 3]
    Sun Microsystems’s network.com, providing rendering over the internet.

    [Caption 4]
    The Peach’s office, furniture from Ikea. If you think of starting your home-based CG business, this could be the set-up you want.

  11. Randalf Writes:

    [Main Text]

    Storyboard and Animation Samples

    With the arrival of the rest of the crew and the finalisation of the script, Project Peach officially commenced in October 2007. The film, whose working title was “A Rabbit’s Revenge”, was to be seven minutes in length and has a cast of four: a rabbit, a chinchilla, and two squirrels.

    A good story does not a good storyboard make; neither a good storyboard a good film. The actual completion of the board, the work of Sasha and Enrico, took weeks. The board was passed on to Willam, who produced samples of animation. Then, the Peach crew spent one whole day fine-tuning the animation, tighteing the time line and making changes in the details.

    Project Development

    Bracht van Lommel, Ton Roosendaal and Campbell Barton developed the software system required by the project – physical simulation of clothing, deformation, fluids and particles. Many physics alogorithms and solvers have been merged together, and are now available in the newest version 2.46 of Blender 3D. They also improved the API of the software, and added features that makes workflow easier.

    1.The storyboard on the wall consists of more than 170 drawings
    2.Enrico draws on the new copy-desk
    3.Sacha creating animation samples with Blender 3D

  12. RedBirdiii Writes:

    Thanks very much for translating this!
    Your translation is very good.

    BTW, are you Chinese or something?

  13. Randalf Writes:

    Page 4/5

    [Main Text]

    Color Test

    Based on the director’s intention, Andy created character models. The rendered 3D models are then colored by Enrico (bunny) and Andy (squirrels)


    Nathan was responsible for 3D binding of the characters. He used various binding methods to suit each character’s physique and mode of movement.

    To bind such chubby characters is a challenge. A skinny model can be adequately manipulated after defining the skeleton, but these portly guys – especially the bunny – need an enormous amount of accessory skeleton and deformation fusion (trans. Note – not sure about the terms). To save the team from this tedious task, the project decided to develop a new form of lattice deformer.

    Lattice deformers are needed to smooth out joints like the elbow. Almost all 3D packages have lattice deformers; they just go under different names. Lattice deformers are convenient to use, but are limited to deform a regular geometric lattice, and as such cannot be used on a whole model. The newly developed latice deformer, however, can manipulate any arbitary lattice, in the same way as traditional deformers.

    Nathan was able to manipulate low-polygon grids with the skeleton, then use these grids to change the shape of the whole model. In other words, an additional layer of lattice deformation was inserted between the skeleton and the actual model, smoothing out the shape changes of those body parts with complicated skeletons. Of course the new lattice deformer was not perfect; at times Nathan still have to resort to deformation fusion, just far less frequently. What’s more, the points of the grid lattices are useful in animating facial expressions.

    The Planting of Trees

    “I wish I had a no-brains tree generator: creating whatever tree I want with a pop of button!” This is surely the dream of many artists.

    To speed up the creation process, Campbell specially wrote a tree generator. However, lots of works remains to be done before they could have beautiful trees.

    Campbell’s tool differs from most tools in that it won’t finish the job for you: an artist is able to incorporate much details to realise their vision. The main features of the tool include:
    UV texture wrapping
    Blended bark textures
    Generating branches from the stem
    Twig filling within a defined volume
    Generation of leaves
    Adding random changes
    Animation of textures
    Saving curve settings.

    A Meet a Week
    Each Friday night, the Peach held a weekend conference, where each member reported the week’s progress and discussed the future schedules. They also discussed matters such as story, art style, motions. These meetings were sure to be long and tedious, but the Peach apparently relished in them.

  14. Randalf Writes:


    Yes, I’m from Hong Kong.

  15. Randalf Writes:

    Page 6


    Approximate Ambient Occlusion

    Nowadays, approximate full-field illumation is widely used in films: Ratatouille by Pixar (AmbientOcclusion); Shrek 2 by Dreamworks (Single Bounde Indirect Lighting); Pirates of the Carribean 2 and 3 by Industrial Light and Magic (Ambient Occlusion). Hence, the Peach decided to use ambient occlusion as the way to light up their scenes. However, even not counting leaves and hairs, there were still millions of polygons. Average ambient occlusion algorithms, while efficient, tend to generate obvious noise artifacts – fatal to the animation project. Also, the ray-tracing would require many rendering hours.

    Brecht, taking a leaf from how ILM dealt with high-polygon models in their Pirates of Carribean 2&3, arrived at a compromise: Approximate Ambient Occlusion. This method has the avantage of not generating noise, but is not precise enough.

    The principle is simple: treat a group of points as a disc, and then calculate the shadow of the point by calculating the amount of light obscured by the disc. To calculate all the discs in a scene is still too time-consuming, so they cluster many discs into bigger disc units.

    Some noise may be present, but by fine-tuning the amout of lights passing through the discs, noise can be minimised.

    This method is remarkably similar to how Blender 3D calculates surface scattering of an object: by grouping smaller elements into larger ones. In physics this is known as the principle of overlapping (trans: not sure). What is different is that ambient occlusion is directional, while surface scattering entails only a decay in intensity. Regarding illumination Brecht was happy about approximate values – as long as the result looks OK.

  16. Randalf Writes:

    Page 7: Text

    Hair and Texture

    Among the fruit of this project was the improvement in the particle system of Blender 3D, enabling excellent rendering of hair strands. Real-time hair rendering is supported, and up to 2 million strands can be rendered at high resolution.

    The first model that was passed on to Andy was that of the chinchilla Gamera. Andy created a system of parent particles on the surface of the model, and by manipulating these parent particles, he strived for an ideal distribution of hair. However, in most instances the result still came short of satisfactory, and additional particles needed to be created manually.

    Then, the parent particle systems had to be converted into a editable form for baking, and individual parent particle must be further edited with particle brush. When deciding on which direction the strands should grow, one has to take into account how hair stands are affected as the model deforms.

    Each editable parent particle has under itself a number of children particles (i.e. individual hair strands). During the preview phase, one may set the number of children per parent to 10, in order to conserve RAM; while increasing the number to 1000 during actual rendering. Children particles are created by interpolation, yet each carries distinct attributes such as entanglement, random lengths, curving and crumpling.

    At the same time, Andy drew the textures of the model, envisaging how the final model should look like. Textures came in many layers: background color (skin), lip color, convexity-concavity, highlights and grey-scale transparencies. A layer of programmatic texture was added for random effects. All textures are created as png files, with a resolution of 4096 pixels.


    CGM: What is the difference between “Project Orange” and “Project Peach”?

    Ton: We founded Project Orange in 2005, as a collaboation with an arts institute in Amsterdam. As our first attempt at an Open Source arts project, Orange was more experimental. We make a showcase of Blender in the form of an animation short “Elephant Dream”, establishing the software as an equal to commercial 3D packages.

    As Orange was so successful, I’ve decided to set up a long-term workshop in Amsterdam, developing and perfecting Blender, and organising a series of creative projects.

    Project Peach was the first project of our workshop “Blender Institute”. This was also our first self-funded project, thanks to the suport of Blender Foundation and the Blender community.

    CGM: How was Peach financed?

    Ton: About half of our budget came from pre-sales of the BBB DVD; the rest was from the Blender Foundations and various sponsors.

    CGM: What are the advantages of Blender versus mainstream DCC softwares in the market?

    Ton: Blender was developed with individual artists and small workshops in mind, as opposed to the big firms in Hollywood. As an open software, Blender was co-developed by volunteers all over the world, and hence we have the biggest team of developers.

    Feature-wise, Blender does not come short compared with commercial 3D software, as you can see in BBB. We’ll continue to prove this point with more film and game projects.

    Of course, Blender has no competition when it comes to price! Most professional 3D packages cost far more than the yearly wage of average person in China or India. Free softwares like Blender are an ideal way to lower production costs.


    Rinky has 1.4 million hairs (800 hairs per parent particle)
    Gamera has 1.5 million hairs (400 hairs per parent particle; up to 1000 on the tail)

  17. Randalf Writes:

    Page 7 interview continued

    CGM: What new functions and improvements did Blender gain through Peach?

    Shortly after BBB finished, Blender released the 2.46 upgrade. Lots of new functions in this half-yearly upgrade were gained through Peach. These include: hair tools, advanced character binding and mesh deformations, cloth stimulation, quick ambient light occlusion, tree creation tools. Also we have a new image browser, and improvements on rendering speed. For details, please visit http://www.blender.org/development/release-logs/blender-246/

    Page 8/9


    The set was a time-consuming and laborious task. Millions of leaves are present in a forest scene, together with flowers, grass, mushrooms, bees and birds.


    Rendering the sets were simple: The characters and the backdrops were rendered separately (under illumination), separated by such elements as alpha, depth, ambient occlusion and ID numbers. After rendering, everything was incorporated into the Blender for synthesis and color correction. The final outputs were in the openEXR format.

    Rendering Farm – network.com

    Rendering of BBB was performed on network.com, the network rendering farm by Sun. Sun charges US$1 per CPU-hour. After purchasing, you can send multiple rendering tasks to their system to be processed simultaneously. The farm consists of about 600 CPUs, each rendering node comprises a dual-core AMD Opteron processor and 8GB RAM. At any time BBB at most employed about 240 CPUs.

    Given that Sun had offered 50000 CPU-hours for free, each frame in BBB was entitled to 4-5 hours. Of course, sometimes frames had to be re-rendered, because of artistic second thoughts or because of Blender’s bugs. So the ideal time was 1-2 hours per frame. There was no special tricks in rendering BBB: each node on the rendering farm worked on one frame, until everything was done.

    The biggest advantage of Sun’s system is that they use a 64-bit system, allowing the use of more than 2 Gigs of RAM. This really helps when you want to render millions of hair strands.

    Before rendering, Campbell first needed to install in his computer Solaris, the Unix flavor by Sun. Solaris should be familiar to anyone who has ever used Linux or BSD, and it can run almost any programs written for Linux including, of course, Blender.

    Then, some basic libraries in Blender must be recompiled, these include freetype, zlib, libsdl, openexr, libjpeg, libpng and python. The makefile of blender also needed to be edited, so as to allow Blender to run on 64-bit Solaris.

    The interface of network.com was convenience itself: pack your software and documents, upload, make your commands, and press Go. It will tell you how long the task will take, and return your ouput to you in one package.

  18. Randalf Writes:

    Page 10


    The node compositor in Blender is a powerful tool, enabling tight integration between elements in complex scenes. It also supports motion blur, field depth, coloring, special effects and anti-aliasing.

    Each composed scene in BBB was individually saved in Blender, so that it might be reused later.

    There were four post-production procedures in Blender:

    1. (usually at the same time as illumation) separate rendering of scene elements (characters, foreground, background)
    2. Preliminary composition of the elements through AlphaOver nodes.
    3. Adding field depths and motion blur – Blender supports the most advanced 2D vector motion blur and motion blur along curves.
    4. Finally, incorporation into pre-defined node-trees. The effeciency of the composition process can be increased by careful definitation of elements and scenes.

    35-mm Transfer and Dolby Digital

    Sponsor Filmmore did Peach a great favor by offering 3 copies of 35-mm transfers. This allowed Peach to participate in film festivals all over the world, and for the film dubbed in real Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Before you can have this, you have to:

    1.Find an authorised company to make the sound for you
    2.Contact Dolby Labs for authorisation
    3.Pay. The authorisation charge for a 10-minute short film is USD$600.
    4.Finally and most importantly, The sound company need to test the sound mix in a real theatre. Hence you must have a copy of the film in hand. This is to ensure that your film will sound the same in any theatres authorised by Dolby Digital.


    This article may soon come to any end, but not Peach. The team had achieved the goals they had set out in the beginning – improving Blender, putting the software through a creative cycle, and sharing their experiences – but there are still tasks ahead of them:

    – Releasing a special 2-DVD set (including interviews, making-of, deleted scenes and drafts)
    – Tag the bunny along to SIGGRAR
    – Ton and Sacha plan to write a full-color, magazine-style Blender guide book, featuring lots of examples, explanation of Blender documents, and how-tos. The book will include a detailed break-down of the project, making it an invaluable reference book of an open source project.
    – A game project is currently under way, and a third film is in the air.

    Not only was BBB an outstanding film, it was a breakthrough in open source animation project, a new idea in the field of animation. Finally we would like to send our regards to these brave young pioneers in the Netherlands: we wish they will continue to bring the world surprises and new hopes.

    – End of Translation –

  19. Phil Writes:

    Is not all content open content in China?

  20. Joe Yan Writes:

    Nice men! you are the best!

  21. Ray Writes:

    [[Is not all content open content in China?]]

    Only law China do not like are bad words/items in content of books, internet, magazine, etc. Therefor CG Magazine can be legal print and approval by the China agent.

  22. jmontana Writes:

    thenks gays

  23. hytar Writes:

    After turning my monitor to the brightest setting, I try to distinguish those words in dark background at Page 1. Instead of just translating the affected section, I copied/adapted the translated text from the top and made a more complete translation of the first page. Hope you don’t mind, Randalf. BTW he did a great job in translating (my vocab isn’t as good as him).

    Big Bucks Bunny – Heavyweight Punch from Open Source Animation

    Blender 3D is a completely free, open-source 3D animation software. Its installation on Windows takes a mere 8 Megabytes – almost toy-sized compared with the gigabytes of other 3D packages. But from this software emerges a surprise, in the form of “Big Buck Bunny”.

    It is hard to believe that BBB is entirely created with free software: It originated as an open movie project, “Project Peach”, supported by the Blender Foundation. The film is 10 minute in length, and its title literally means “big male rabbit”.

    In 2007, the Blender Foundation in Amsterdam has selected 7 artists and other developers from all over the world through its online forum. The team had collaborated for half a year, from October 2007 to April 2008, to produce this visually-appealing animation.

    Behind this film, “Project Peach” represents a new concept: Open Movie Project. Open Movie Project entails, essentially, creating an animation with open source softwares (such as Blender 3D) and then releasing it under the Creative Commons Attribution. Under this license, anyone can download the film and its source documents absolutely free of charge. They can even modify the film and put out a re-done version of it.

    Of course, “Project Peach” is more than just a “free lunch”. Its principle aim is straight-forward: by putting Blender through a complete animation creative sequence, the project serves to realise the potentials of this software and identify rooms for improvements. The project will also share tips and tricks of Blender with other users of the software, and the 10 minute film is just the result of …(unreadable, difficult to guess in context)

  24. cgthinking Writes:

  25. Jadd Writes:

    That’s really cool! You know, when I was in Switzerland, I saw a magasine in german featuring BBB and including it on their DVD. Unfortunately, I don’t speak German, so I didn’t get it.

  26. burcu Writes:

    hello…my name is BURCU…

    ***fraternal for world***