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Ara's Tale


Martin Lubich worked for a staggering three years on 'Ara's Tale', and the result is beautiful.

Martin writes:

This movie was created in my sparetime over the course of 3 years. It was produced in the spirit of an Open Movie, which means that all production files will be made available (under a CC-BY license).

I developed this short over the course of 3 years in my spare time. Which started as a simple naive idea, soon grew into something hugely complex, but in the end utterly rewarding.

Without the work done by Phil Rey (Music) and Mikkel Nielsen (Sound) this movie wouldn't be what it is today. I want to express my deepest gratitude for their work and dedication throughout the project.

This short is intended to be seen and heard. So turn on the volume when watching this short.

The movie was mainly done in blender. Blender 2.49b for modeling, animation, rendering (BI). Blender 2.60a for sculpting, texturing and compositing. Other software used was mypaint, gimp, Mari and DaVinci Resolve Lite.

This short is a accumulation of firsts for me and has brought me countless adventures during its development

  • first short film
  • first serious character development and rigging
  • first character animation
  • first vfx development
  • first serious compositing

For the curious, the whole development (starting from July 2009) is documented on my blog as well as on BlenderArtists in a WIP thread.

I also want to thank all who have given feedback and have shown their interest in this project. This gave motivation in times when everything seemed hopeless . Thank you!

The full movie is licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC-ND).It was created in the spirit of an Open Movie, thus I am in the process of preparing all the production material for release under a CC-BY license as well. With this a visuals only version of the movie with a CC-BY license will be released as well.

Enjoy the movie. Any comments and/or critique are highly appreciated and encouraged.

If you like the movie, please spread the word. If you don't, spread it nonetheless ;-)


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 ;-)


  1. wrong music wrong story wrong animation wrong model ... i do not undestand why create boring animation with sad music you shout be create great model or create short animation with quality this is too long with bugs

  2. Yes, wow. What a production from a one man studio. You must have learned a lot.
    The hair was the most stunning feature for me, so real looking.
    (As a side note, the WIP thread link is not working).
    Great job man!

  3. Man .. I'm jealous. Very nice work. Though, up until the end with the text, I was confused what was going on. It was well done, everything came together to make some sense in general. Nice work! Someday I'd love to produce something with at least a smattering of this talented piece!

  4. Breathtaking! Like a long lost 'sister' movie to Sintel. You were correct to recommend proper sound while watching - the music remined me somewhat of Tangerine Dream sound tracks, which always added so much to the movie.

  5. It was good, but there were a few small problems (hair going through shoulders, etc.)

    The rendering had some points that just looked like a video game, but the closeups looked good.

    The animation was a little rough in a few places.

    The music was FANTASTIC!

    Overall, this was enjoyable and interesting.

  6. magiciandude on

    I have a lot of problems with it (story, character animation, etc), but it doesn't change the fact that it's really impressive for a one man effort :)

    Well done!

  7. Amazing! That you could bring up so much patience to work on it for three years! You must feel wonderful now your project is finished.

  8. first short filmfirst serious character development and riggingfirst character animationfirst vfx developmentfirst serious compositing
    First of all those???

    Can't wait for the 2nd!!!
    Learn from this and the constructive criticisms and I have no doubt you are going to be a master film maker in no time!

    Bravo! can't wait for more!

  9. Wow it's here. I've been following
    Martin's work off and on for the last year and a half. His efforts has been source of inspiration and great motivation for me. I how only imagine how rewarding it must feel to complete such a huge task. Congratulations
    Martin you did it! lol

  10. Fantastic ... obviously it was already in production before Sintel was conceived so the similarity in some of the art direction is magical in it's own right. Glad you shared it ... it's a remarkable first effort. I just wish I had your commitment to such a project.

    • Martin Lubich on

      Yes, you are right. You should have seen my face as soon as I realized what sintel actually was about :).

  11. A good short movie, especially as a project done in free time. But there's one thing I miss here, and it's your (author's) own creative vision of the world, I mean something which would make it unique, unusual, rememberable. Please don't take offence, I am struggling with this myself.

    • Martin Lubich on

      I see what you mean. I think this own creative vision has to be developed over time and perfected with a lot of projects.

  12. NegativeNothing on

    i agree, very, very good, but am confused about story as well. she is basically harvesting dragon souls? what does she do with them? i would surely like to see the story developed more. i bet rendering was half of the production time. cloth sim looked amazing btw.

  13. winnertakesteve on

    lovely short, although as a tech geek, immediately my first thought was HOW is he doing hair collision?? then i saw the 2.49 bit... i really wish they could get this back into current versions of blender!

    • Actually, there were some large – but not very noticeable – errors in the hair collision. It looks like the force field repulsion technique you can do now.

      • Martin Lubich on

        Managing collision with hair was a nightmare, to be honest. Especially long hair will always intersect at some point and then your have lost, as it never will go 'out' of the object again. Also the collision only takes the parent strands into account, so all the child strands are added around and this inevitable creates the next problems.
        Force fields and extra collision meshes help a bit here, but only a bit :)

  14. Martin Lubich on

    Thank you all for these feedback and comments. Those are very much appreciated.
    What makes me especially happy is, that the movie seems to work as a movie, and not only as a technical showcase. The goal was to tell a story and that seems to have worked.
    Thank you all.

  15. I've followed (ninja mode) this project on blenderartists since day one :) What an impressive accomplishment, congratulations! Also awesome soundtrack!
    You have all the badass difficult blender stuff (cloth, hair, particles) and did great with them! Great Job!

  16. This journey was amazing and that it's finally over now is, and I repeat myself, surreal.
    It has been a long wait but that last stage went by insanely quickly. It's a breathtaking short of astonishing quality.
    It does have some flaws here or there but nothing major. I think, what probably would have needed most work still, if anything,was the animations. Especially the dragon's stable stationary flight and Ara during the singing.
    But it was very close to perfection. Way closer than I could even imagine to come over the course of three years, filled with struggling over bugs and the problems of having to develop a workflow.

    Congratulations! Your dedication and will have produced one of the best shorts, Blender history has seen.
    As you already mentioned, the next projects are planned. I'm very curious to watch your future path.

  17. Philippe ROUBAL on

    Wonderful piece of art ! Congratulations. It is a huge task for one artist, and you did it at best !

  18. I saw it two times, love it! You were right, full screen and open speakers. Thanks for the HD version. I like the twist at the end, I thought oh no, she seduced the dragon and now sue capture him, but when she put her hand in her hearth you know she is good, she is saving the dragons from human kind. Wow, you could write a book teaching HOW ARA'S TALE BECOME A MOVIE. Thank You for your work!

  19. Programador 3D on

    Amazing. Everything is perfect: the animation, sounds and music. Very inspiring. My dream is to do a short film too.

  20. While there are flaws, Martin, this is awesome. An inspiration to us all... Bravo to you and your team.

  21. Nothing more to say than: absolutely brilliant
    I'd do standing ovations in front of the screen if that wouldn't look so crazy.
    Really, i had goose pimples when the girl began to sing

  22. John D Smith II on

    OD AH VIING! JOOR ZAH FRUL!!! lol Wow... I was just thinking about this the other day wondering if it was about finished. Like a few others here, there are some things I could crit about, but you know what? Those things pale in comparison to how much you have succeeded here. This is HUGE for one person! And like everyone else I've wanted to do this too since I got into 3d. But you Sir, unlike most everyone else, did it! Congratulations! Awesome job. I really liked the close ups of the dragon's face. I won't waste a breath on criticism... What you did alone is quite inspiring! Great music too. As a hobby composer myself, I can attest to how much work and pure artistic ability is required to produce something like that. I don't know how they do it in a few months for movies. So hearty props there too. Best wishes for your future endeavors. Good luck! and good work!

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