Unicorn Wars, a grease pencil-centric animated feature film has just hit theaters in France! The critically acclaimed war fable has been best described as "Bambi meets Apocalypse Now", and is Spanish director Alberto Vázquez's second animated feature to date, but the first fully made with Blender.
Make sure to catch it in Cinemas if you are in France, to support Blender-using studios and teams, as well as Auteur animated film-making in general!
The film's technical supervisors Christophe Seux and Samuel Bernou, working at ADV studios, built on their expertise with Grease Pencil and animated features, notably after working on the beautiful "I Lost My Body", and delivered the tools and pipeline needed to produce breathtaking visuals with Blender and relatively small teams and production, punching way above their weight. Here are a few of the impressive tools they built for the Film.
Background Plane Manager:
Everything except the unicorns in the film were drawn using Grease Pencil. With such a heavy workload in GP, Samuel developed an add-on to help efficiently and consistently manage the multiple layers each shot has.
The project's secret weapon and Christophe's masterwork, GP Tracer is an add-on that converts 3D objects into GP drawings neatly projected on a canvas accurately positioned in space and in accordance to the camera. At first glance, this might seem redundant with the existence of line art or cell-shading using Eevee. But the massive difference is in editability: the results of a GP trace can be given to a 2D animator who can easily modify it using grease pencil, on the one hand gaining huge time from not having to draw each frame by hand, on the other retaining the flexibility and editability of 2D.
In Unicorn Wars, all Unicorns were animated in 3D: drawing dozens of four legged creatures frame by frame would have proven a huge task. Having the warring races come from different animated sources also made artistic sense. GPTracer was used to convert all the Unicorns into editable 2D GP drawings, which were then further refined by 2D artists.
Another stroke of brilliance came with Samuel's Auto-walk add-on, which further cut-down on the production time for the Unicorns, and allowed the animators to focus on the acting rather than continuously re-setting up walk cycles.
Watch the team's full presentation at the Blender Conference for more details on these and other Blender production tools they built! I had the chance to join ADV Studios around the time they were working on Unicorn Wars, and helped on the film as a generalist as well :)