Blender: Tears of Steel

If you can stomach the acting, there’s some impressive CG work in “Tears of Steel,” the latest open source short from the Blender Foundation.

Like the other open source shorts before it, the complete “Tears of Steel,” along with supporting material created by the Blender Institute, will be released under a Creative Commons license. The production was crowd-funded by the Blender community and supported by the Netherlands Film Fund.

By creating a live action based project, the team set an extremely ambitious goal for themselves. The Blender Foundation’s previous films were entirely CG.

Although one of the goals of “Tears of Steel” was to show off Blender’s new “Cycles” render engine and improved compositing tools, the vfx work doesn’t always hold up to close scrutiny. In the above still, for example, the integration of the robotic claw with the talent needs a bit of work. But since all the assets will be released online, anyone willing to re-composite the shot is welcome to do so.

Regardless of this nitpicking, everyone involved should be immensely proud of themselves for pulling off such a Herculean feat.

What is Blender?

If you haven’t heard of Blender, it’s a free and open source 3D software package. It’s come a long way since its initial released under the GNU General Public License in 2002.

The application suite includes everything needed to create film quality CG, including modeling, uv-mapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animation, particle and other simulation, scripting, rendering, compositing, post-production and even game creation.

It’s an impressive testament to the power of open source development and the dedicated community of Blender users.

For more information on the “Tears of Steel” site.

Tip o’ the hat to Noah Norman.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



If you can stomach the prose style, there’s an impressively condescending opening sentence in this article.

Justin Cone

Fair enough. But did you watch it? I wanted to ignore the acting, but it’s incredibly distracting.


Yes, I did watch it. The acting is not bad. At least not nearly as bad as a first sentence mention would merit. You make it sound like Ed Wood levels of badness. The acting in this isn’t any worse than a series you’d see on the Sci Fi channel.

Justin Cone

“The acting in this isn’t any worse than a series you’d see on the Sci Fi channel.”

I rest my case.

Ruoyu Li

any acting is better than the acting in “the room” If you haven’t seen it, then you haven’t seen bad acting. On the other hand. The vfx is great, unfortunately thats all I can say about it. Kudos to all those who were involved though. I commend the effort to do something original, hope to see more indie efforts like this in the future.


Well I think the acting style is aware of itself (classic for that part of the world) It is tongue in cheek, taking the mick out of US movie acting, like a terry gillingham film cast or a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. dont take it too seriously and the acting matches the visuals imo


The acting was deliberately corny you twats – pull your heads out of your asses


To be fair to the actors, English isn’t their first language, and the aim for the film was to improve/show Blender VFX tools.

Although I don’t think it’s the foundations best movie to date, I think of the ethos releasing the files used in the movie for general Blender users to learn from is a great idea. I think we should watch all 4 films they’ve produced and judge them as a body of work produced by the foundation with the sole purpose of improving the software for it’s community.


Solid comment. You make a good point regarding the second language issue, too. Thanks for contributing here.

After thinking about it, I really wish they hadn’t decided to do a VFX-driven short. I’m a big fan of the other shorts (especially Big Buck Bunny) and feel they show off the capabilities of Blender better than this film. All the compositing required for “Tears of Steel” actually distracts from the capabilities of Blender, I think.


the magic is still Big Buck Bunny


bad acting = bad directing. period.


It is certainly impressive what can be accomplished in Blender these days. It used to be quite a runt of a package. I’ve never used it but I often find myself randomly watching some random Youtube clip of a far-off programmer writing a mind-blowing fluid sim or rendering add on for it.


Acting aside, it baffles me that the Blender guys choose to make a 12 minute ok-ish showcase instead of 4 minutes Blender-awesomeness.


I’d say typically Dutch film acting and directing… The film and vfx look good, but from the pieces and bits I saw, the acting and directing would irritate the hell out of me.

Martin Lindelöf (@martin_lindelof)

Some of the stuf was the old scanline renderer. Mostly the HUD stuf, but yeah Tears Of Steal or Project MANGO took blender really far into VFX. And Cycles is just a pleasure to use.

Carter .R

i loved it. i would love to see more. the acting was GOOD :) the VFX were amazing

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