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Northern Lights


northern-lights.jpgBlender Master Shigeto Maeda reports on the graduation project of one of his students: Northern Lights.

Shigeto writes:

This movie was made by Ayako Segawa, for graduation work of Tokyo Kasei University. She used Blender, and it took about 9 months for making this. And She uses Blender only one and half year! So, this movie is her first big project.  

High resolution version (640x480 Quicktime).

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Great work Ayako Segawa. I mean I agree the animation could do with more work but it is an interesting story. And nicely told.

    @coodle I will try an translate what it says. I maybe a little off but it goes like this.

    Leily says "'Riito' your not going to watch the aurora? You promised you would."
    Riito says "I will once the snow stops."
    Leily says "The snow has stoped, you can see clearly now"
    "The snow has stopped, you can clearly see the aurora" Then the title Northern lights.
    When the two are reading the books
    Riito says " There are many different types of aurora's. It's written here that the aurora is a light path for those who have died!"
    Leily says " I wonder if that is for real..."
    " well why don't we both go and see it?"
    Riito replies"Just the two of us? Isn't that dangerous?"
    Leily answers " No it's not dangerous, everything will be o.k."
    Riito thinks about it... and promises to go. ( In japan, people promise each other by intertwining their little fingers)

    Then they are in the snow... after waking up

    Riito asks" God, why?" "Why did you let leily come along with me?"
    Leily turns and asks "Riito, whats the matter?" " You promised that we would go to see the aurora together!"
    Riito then says " Because Leily is dead!"
    Leily then says "me...."
    Leily then says " but Riito we are together aren't we?"
    Riito replys " It said that the auroras light was the path for the dead. Therefore, where ever there is an aurora, there I can see Leily! And we can watch the same Aurora together "
    Then Leily says " Tobe watching this aurora with you riito, is far, far better then seeing it in a book." And touches Riito's hand. After Leily's dissapearing Riito turns and says " Leily where are you?"

    In Leilys room scene, Riitos parents say" Riito we had better go, we can't keep the mourners from paying their respects."

    Riito replies "O.k." Holding Leily's photo she says "Leily..." puts it down and leaves the room.

    Leily standing behind her then says the concluding words, "Riito, even though I had to go, I will never forget that you and me could get to see the Aurora together... Thank you"

    That's it anyway, I maybe off a little with translation but it is fairly close to what they are saying. I am not Japanese though, but I lived here for years, so correct me Shige if I am wrong.

  2. @coodle:

    Hehe. Although my Japanese is only quite lower intermediate level at least I could try to understand the text with my dictionary ;)


    Thanks for the translation... I've only been here for 5 months and sadly I only have another 5 to go to improve my Japanese.


    Thanks for the higher quality version link!

  3. No problem guys, I am glad it helps. @shige, glad it was satisfactory.

    Actually by the looking at what I wrote down, I should study my native language English again, as it is sort of ... well, weird... Anyway, I am glad to help. The Japanese font used was a killer to figure out sometimes as youtube distorts things pretty badly. @Max, where ya hangin, I'm, in Fukuoka. Anyway, good luck with your studies.

  4. Ok, I just tried to translate the introduction text. Though poorly done it would be a waste to not post it:

    There are indeed various legends about the aurora.

    Before the aurora appears one can sometimes here the voice of ghosts.

    Because the aurora is a living thing, one must be careful (so) that it doesn't get swept away (before one's eyes).

    If there also is a theory saying that the aurora (itself) is a ghost, places where the aurora can be catched like an animal are also scarce.

    According to a legend by the former (native) inhabitants of Alaska, the aurora is the light of the torch that guides the deceased to paradise.

    I'm in Tokyo, might travel around for a while until the summer term starts though.

  5. (writting for Ayako Segawa)

    Hi! I'm one of the few peoples that really understands the dificulties of making a this long animation movie alone ;)
    I loved the story and the idea!
    It's true that it could be improved in many aspects, but you completed it, that's the importante thing.
    In the tecnical part my favorite aspects are the character and scenerys design/look/mood. the lighting is also excelent and all the atmosferics details look awosome, creating a very cinematic enviroment.The camera is also nice.
    Regarding to the animation... well, there's allot work to be done in this area :P but even so you made it in a way that looks and feels good to watch :D

    I'm looking forword to see your next project :)


  6. I love the look of the winter scene. The npr shading works perfect. It's beautiful. The animation doesn't work for me. The reason is because there are too few keys placed by the animator, so the computer interpolates between those few keys in it's own "swimmy" way. She might need to go back and set the keys so that there is no computer interpolation between them, and then animate from there.

  7. Animation itself feels stiff.
    Music is nice and dreamy.
    The aurora looks great.
    The story is moving and can be understood without any japanese knowledge.

    There is some sort of "Final Fantasy feeling" in the movie.

    T_T I wish I had such a first animation project in my portfolio to brag about...

  8. I've noticed Japanese animations are a bit slower, I though maybe you were keeping with a style. Yet, some positioning could be tweaked and polished. Although it is very good. Nice models and textures. Great Job!

  9. I like this one because it focuses on telling a whole story and engaging the viewer emotionally. I think it's easy to get hung up on technique and forget *why* the techniques are important. Perfecting all the details of animation, etc, can take years, but the artist is off to a really terrific start. I hope she continues!

  10. Beautiful story. So delicate, and feelings are transmited even if you don't understand the language. Amazes me how so simple facts can be so touchy, so emotive. The quiet simple beauty. The beauty of crystal feelings. How so simple things can move more than all the complexity we may think we need.
    The beauty of asian culture.

  11. That someone with only 6 months experience in blender and a deadline can make something like this is very impressive. Obviously the animator was more concerned with the "big picture", which in light of the project was more important than trying to figure out all the nooks an crannies in what has become a very sophisticated program.

    I had a similar experience when I took a Maya course at SVA in NYC years back and had to put a project together in the semester I had to do it in. I too cut out all the finesse and concentrated on the big picture. It was crude, but it was done on time!

    Her project was more complicated and longer than mine, and I think it's much better than what I did. My hat's off to her.

  12. Arigato Ayako Segawa-san, Typical to anime. So what, the animation is slow, but the attention to detail, and the story is awesome. Congratulations on such a wonderful first project!

  13. Hi, everyone. I got a message from Ayako Segawa.
    Hello, nice to meet you and I am Ayako Segawa.
    I'm complete beginners for Blender and video works in the film, there are many strange points I think, but so many people watching my work, and I got many comments, very great. A variety of opinions and suggestions and feedback I have also read. This works both uplifting and more from the various expressions that have the potential to learn about the very study. The success of this works, great experience for myself.
    Finally once again, thanks to everyone. Blender is a very interesting tool, and I express the possibility of broadening the width of me.

    I hope she would continue to blending. :)

  14. nice animation, it kinda reminded me of Final Fantasy's cut scenes, keep up the good work!

    Since currently i'm doing something pretty similar (a short animation), and the idea is to learn to use blender on the way, this gives me a lot of hope (right now i'm modelling the fonts i'll use for the introduction, so i can get a grip on modelling and uv mapping).

    So far so good, blender is pretty intuitive.

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