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Mango: Open or Closed?


Ton Roosendaal wonders just how much the Mango crew should share in their (almost daily!) blog updates. Do you want to be fully aware of what's going on, or would you rather be surprised?

Ton writes:

In a previous post people mentioned they’d hate it if we would give too much away here. I realize there’s a certain level of fun getting a surprise when you watch a film. However, this is also a making-of blog… so how will we balance sharing here? Here’s a couple of suggestions to promote more openess for Mangfo than previously for Durian/Peach/Orange.


About Author

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. Comeinandburn on

    I personally think I'd like to wait for Xmas... too much info will ruin the surprise.  However I'd love to see vague info regarding technical challenges/solutions that come up along the way.

  2. Maciej Szczesnik on

    I would love to be surprised with the movie, but It would be great to know where Blender is going in it's development regarding Mango project. What new tools are planned and so on.

    • Colin Griffith on

       I have to agree. I personally think they should blog something whenever it involves the use of a tool or other Blender development - like the 'digital makeup' video. However, when it comes to HOW they use it, and especially with plot and so forth, KEEP IT 'TILL RELEASE! We loves surprises :D

      The digital makeup video was great, because it showed off a new Blender feature and even a little of how to use it... But they only really did silly stuff with it, instead of like, showing it in context of the movie itself (which could contain spoilers).

  3. I vote for openess! If you give me more information every day, I will feel almost like being part of the crew :). If you publish all the information after the movie is finished, i will probably not read it at all.
    Btw. you can mark the posts containing "suprises" to warn the people, who want to wait for Xmas ;)

    • I agree. Personally, I much prefer having a lot of posts to read during the production than not. I have really liked seeing the frequent updates to the mango blog so far. If they can just post whatever they want without having to worry about whether they are revealing the story and stuff, that would be great.

  4. You could have two feeds, one vague and one open. People could choose to view either, or optionally you could unlock the open posts after the movie comes out to allow people to read back through. or maybe have a spoiler post once every month?? 

  5. Too much story information will dull the 'zing' of the final product, but I would absolutely love to be kept up to date on what the software folks are cooking up for Blender along the way. ;)

  6. Why not just put SPOILER ALERT before certain posts so people who don't want to find out can skip them? That seems reasonable to me.

  7. Michael Dawkins on

    I don't want to know about the movie before it's done.
    But I want to know about any technical detail / blender related improvement and plans :).

  8. Open, OPEN,  OPEN IT!!!
    If some would rather be surprised, they can simply avoid visiting or viewing the progress.
    But how does anyone contribute when it's all kept within esoteric standards?  blahh... 
    OPEN IT at least for a pool of suggestions that the team can thumb thru for ideas.  Post the story board in detail... lets see the keyframes... the breakdowns... the shaders... the detailed schedule, etc...  You have such huge talents at work on this project but there are manny others out there who can enlighten them with even a simple suggestions.  Make it truly open and TAP our community, Please!

  9. The story of Sintel was never ruined for me, and I followed its development semi-regularly. In fact, by reading the blog I think I learned more about what was cut from the movie than what was finally used.

  10. As I said in the Mango post, it would be handy to have spoiler tags like those you see in some forums.

    That way you hide away information and if someone is really keen to know it all, they can just click the spoiler link and see what's there.

  11. José Ignacio Perea Sardón on

    Maybe including some like "Spoiler alert!" could do in entries that reveal something that may ruin the surprise of the launch day.

  12. Open source movie should be made in open not closed fashion. Period. Those people who don't wanna see spoilers should simply not follow production blog. It's that simple. But most of the storyline should be kept as secret.

  13. I liked it was on Sintel. I discovered the story, but I could follow your work.
    Otherwhise a big "SPOILER" warning would be ok.

  14. I think, as a few others commenting here do, that a Spoiler system would be a great idea. The blog could hide the full "Open" content, either by linking to another page with the full details of the blog update - or have a sort of collapsible table to hide the content which would open when a user clicks a "Spoiler" button - and then perhaps have a short update about the "Closed" content with very vague details.

    It is then up to the audience whether they want to read the "Open" story or the "Closed" story. I personally like surprises of this sort, but at some point I may change my mind and like to see "what's up" with the project.

  15. A bit of both would be good, I think. Enough information to keep interest up  and get a sense of the team spirit (bit more than a commercial teaser campaign), but perhaps with a bias to 'challenges and how we did it' at the wrap-up in different media to accompany the release, which would put the valuable information into some sort of useful context. Great to see the team up to 'something' along the way, but personally I would rather the team had a degree of ring fencing so that their energies and morale are focussed on creation - constructive criticism can come afterwards with useful armchair hindsight, like it does for commercial projects. Perhaps the completely open approach, while laudable, adds an additional pressure which isn't necessary and might even be counter-productive. Just my penny's-worth.

  16. I think, that Mango-Team and Ton can play with us... !!!! ;-) What will be TRUE and what will be False when the complete movie will be finish and downloadable !??

    I think, that Mango-Team is too clever and make us a BIG Surprise.... !!!
    We can see images but we will don't know nothing about the finished-movie !!!


  17. I'd rather it be very secretive :P I really hope that the story/plot isn't sploiled before I watch it, from the little I accidentally read, it sounds like it'll be an awesome film.

    If you have it mostly secret, after the release people will think "Wow that was awesome".
    If it's too open, people will think "Yeah, just as I expected"

  18. You can easily show different characters, scenes, nodes and even short bits of animation without revealing the story line.
    Everyone knows what's going to happen in today's films anyway...

  19. I vote Open.  It is very rare to get an in-depth look at how production of a large scale project works: what challenges they face, how they overcome them, how they build out the software to assist the process, their thought processes along the way, etc. I am certain I am not alone in wanting to one day be a part of a team making great things in Blender (or in any medium for that matter), and this project could be an unrivaled way to get a deep understanding of what it takes to do the spectacular things the Blender Foundation seeks to do.  A nearly day-by-day account of the production could provide insights that up-and-coming film makers and artists could find invaluable.

    In terms of how to go about it without spoiling movie for those who do not want the details in advance, I like the aforementioned idea of being able to tag posts as "Plot Spoilers" so readers can avoid them at will.  Perhaps when a user first views the site they are prompted to choose a "Complete" or "Spoiler Free" version to look at.  The "Spoiler Free" version automatically omits any post with the "Plot Spoiler" tag so the user is not even aware the posts are there.  The site could use a cookie, so a user only have to choose once, but an option could be provided to switch from one to the other at any time.

    In my opinion, a great story is not ruined by knowing what happens.  There is a certain magic to watching it come to life and I don't think that an Open production environment will ruin that.  I doubt that no matter how much I know about "Mango", when I watch the final version for the first time beginning to end, I'm going to thoroughly enjoy it.

  20. I suppose you could have ... two blogs?... one for big news and then a dev blog for daily updates. I prefer daily updates, but I know others would rather be surprised and that's fare. 

  21. Open! Majority of Blender users are hobbyists and if they get a chance to see how much effort you are putting together to create this movie it will inspire them(read us) a lot.

    That said, I still hope you find some way to keep us updated without spoiling the surprise! Thanks a lot for the frequent Mango updates.

  22. As this is a live action short movie, posts should be tagged as "blender dev", "simulations", "props", "storyboard", etc. And then the mango team could make posts in these categories. What are spoilers should be pointed in the paragraphs where they're mentioned. So we can choose what to read: production news, blender improvements, artwork, etc. And while reading, we could be aware of what are spoilers or not.

    The blog is already awesome, btw. !!!

  23. I will answer first, then read what other had to say.

    I think I'd like (like in any other potentially good movie to come) to have info similar to a trailer. But since the movie itself won't be much longer then a standard movie trailer, I wonder how much I'd like to know. 
    In my own experience, when I read a book novel and then I hear that a movie was done base on the same book, I want to see it. Although I know the story even how it ends I like to see visually specially if its an action movie.

    So I say show us all you want except footage of the movie. i.e. You could show us pre-prod art, script, character/vehicule test/etc
    Maybe even teasers in the form of tutorials of some what not new function related to the VFX pipeline using a movie scene.


  24. I say split the difference. Make us wait for plot details, but keep us in check with the tech updates. I want the film to surprise me, and I want to get excited about new features.

  25. Keepitsimple on

    The Sintel production blog was quite nice.
    Just don't put too "early" thing or you'll get all the flames from some frustrated guys :).

    My last humble opinion, don't "tease" too much, show if you have something to show.

    Mango is already a challenge, you don't need to maintain a TV show too.

  26. i like openess
    revealling yours full talent
    trusting yourselfs and team
    interacting with us or not 
    but don't know whats the best for doing

  27. I kinda like both ideas. Perhaps keep the official page as restricted and make another blog going in depth about it and where people could throw in some ideas.

    Or have technical detail completely available but keep the story and most of the scenery hidden. Watching the final thing should be enjoyable and I think spoilers would really dull the experience.

    I liked how it was handled with sintel.

  28. I'd like to see the process, the challenges, the answers to those challenges, the pipeline, a few screen shots, babes ;), etc. I don't need spoilers.

  29. What we are really asking is if the script should be released for review.  I got more question than answers.  Here are a few of my thoughts.

    Most people knew that Darth Vader was Luke's father before watching Empire Strikes Back.  Did this 'spoil' the movie experience?

    Sintel have the same emotional impact if you had known that the big
    dragon was Scales?  Would people have figured it out if it was mentioned
    in the blog that there was going to be a big 'dragon fight'?  Big plot
    twists should *probably* be kept secret.

    I'm more concerned with
    the writing of the script.  Especially if there is dialog.  Everything
    else will take care of itself.  Should the script be released for
    review?  My first thought is NO.  But, maybe this time it should be open
    . . . maybe.  I'm going to vote yes this time.  See what happens.

    •  Keep the actual script as a surprise and the process open. I wouldn't release the script for review though. Most of the people that follow Blender are not writers and the comments will not be worthwhile until you have actors. Perhaps an open casting would be cool though?

  30. I would try to balance it out, give us all the information that you think you wouldnt want to ruin your own experience with the movie, if someone else was making it. 

    But please do keep up these great updates, i look forward to them..

  31. Revealing too much info attracts pseudo artists suggesting all kinds of silly things. Things get slow down if you listen to them all. There's such a thing as point of view. The director and producer have that privilege. It's their movie, not yours.

  32. Open I would prefer it if we as a Blender community were making something collectively for the rest of the world. Once the film is released I loose interest in the details of how it was made. While it is being made I check the blog all the time for updates. I would love to be able to see the animatic and storyboard as it develops. That way you get more of a feel to the timing of a project.

  33. Giovanny Arce on

    I really love the way you guys manage Sintel, I remember lots of blog updates, but when I wash de film, I really got surprised. So I think having a balance can be really nice.

  34. Like Sintel please! I loved watching the whole process, Just watching talented artist messing about having a laugh while they work did it for me, think i have a soft spot for reality TV :) (so lots of Video footage)

  35. Sintel wasn't a good example of doing things the right way when it comes to exposure. I would prefer that they keep a lot of things secret this time and just put everything in the DVD when it's all done. There are too many know-it-alls that want to get credited for giving unsolicited advice. Some wannabe's even get mad for not following their suggestions.

  36. Anon time. To be blunt I felt like being so open really damaged Sintel. Your production flaws although somewhat masked bled through quite apparently to the observant. You should be careful about such things, and not crowd-source so much. 

  37. We are 3D artists, and SHOULD see the flaws, and think about how it could be done better.

    Watching the finished product is just one part of the experience.

    If you just want to watch flawless movies, turn on the TV and good luck finding them.

    The LOD blogs (one low-detail one high) is a good idea, or some other spoiler-alert setup.

  38. Gustav Nilsson on

    Wait with revealing the plot and all the big suprising elements etc but give us instead a lot of fine detail. Not the big picture stuff but technical information about small parts here and there, and lots of it :) That way, you won't ruin the movie, but we still get to see how it is done.

  39. I think it should be OPEN as much as possible, as long as the story is not spoiled. It would make the experience so much better when you finaly watch the film, if you followed the processes in detail. To me, that was the best part of Sintel following up the progress, and seeing the team share what they did, and it would have been even better if more frequently updated.

  40. I like the idea of making the first minute completely open (ie share concept art, script, storyboards, animatics, raw footage, edited footage, renders, effects, final composits, etc), but being more careful about what you release about the rest, so you have the best of both worlds and there is still a surprise when we get to see the finished project. I believe this was the original intent with the Sintel project, but as the project got going, we didn't get to see much detail of what was being developed, even from the first minute.

    The problem with having posts marked as spoilers or a developers blog vs a fan blog, is it would hard to guarantee that people wouldn't accidentally bump into the info elsewhere on the net.

  41. If ultimate goal is to advance blender and its use then the more open they are the better.  Especially with the day to day decisions, when choices are made for any kind of constraints, time, money, software or hardware limitations, things that would allow real time discussion about future goals. I'm sure they could come up with a decent SPOILER system. The only real challenge I see is how to stop the discussion from devolving to arm-chair-quarter-backs hijacking it; just picking apart every artistic decision rather than focusing on the main goal.

    I think open is the way to go, but they will probably want to find a bunch of volunteers with moderating experience just to handle the public interaction, someone who will moderate with an iron fist and keep order.

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