Project Mango kick-off

by - 2011/10/01 125 Comments Production

Ian in Amsterdam

Project Mango is going to happen for real! Little is known still now, but that only makes it more exciting :). A summary of what we do know now:

  • Ian Hubert – Project London fame – is going to be director-writer.
  • Short film of 3 to 5 minutes with as theme “Sci-fi in Amsterdam”
  • We’re going to explore and improve the Open Source VFX pipeline with Blender.

Ian is in Amsterdam now, for a week’s visit to explore the city and figure out what’s “Dutch” really (or how to avoid it). In the coming month he’s scheduled to get a concept and a preliminary script drafted even.

In the meantime we also will get ready for a call-for-participation. Check the Join the Team link above. We already decided to get early involvement from two great artists to help setting it all up: Jeremy Davidson and Sebastian Koenig!

What we like to see help with now is to help out us with crazy cool inspirational concept art! Get pictures of Amsterdam and show us how to get this cute cuddly city convincingly merged with a sci-fi concept. Post links here, best stuff we’ll add to the gallery here.

More soon,


  1. DingTo says:

    Awesome news, looking forward to another awesome Open Movie film! Go Durian team! :)

  2. Alex Delderfield (AD-Edge) says:

    Awesome, looking forward to following this project, as with the past BF projects :)


  3. Lee says:


  4. Velmont says:

    * Does his little anticipation dance. :D

    I was just in Amsterdam for the 3rd time, and boy did it struck me as immensely beautiful and nice this time. I think it is because this time I rented a bike, and suddenly I saw the city in a totally different light. Gotta love that :D

  5. Julian H says:

    Great news!

    Interesting to see Google in the sponsors list at that early stage.

  6. Dan Brickley says:

    Maybe premature, but for visually striking Amsterdam (indoor) locations, is hard to beat…

  7. Kamen says:

    Looking forward for the movie but I´m a bit worried about film lenght… It could be a bit longer than sintel…

  8. ton says:

    Kamen: the shorter the better, then we can focus on getting something really good. Don’t forget: what we can invest in time/budget for Mango is equal to like 3-4 seconds of a Hollywood blockbuster.

  9. David Mulder says:

    Hmm, got to agree that 3 to 5 minutes sounds really really short, especially because with live action stuff (which, if I understand this correctly this is going to be), it shouldn’t be too hard to stretch up a bit. But aside of that, looking forward to it really much!!!

  10. Luca says:

    Wow this is great..for the little i’ve seen Ian seems like the perfect match for this project.. those complaining about 5 minutes being too short…just check out the short “Nuit Blanche” on youtube to see what kind of CGI/live action greatness can be achieved in 5 minutes..

  11. Anthony says:

    Brilliant. Love the idea of sci in Amsterdam, it seems so contradictory or something. I wouldn’t get hung up on the duration, looking forward to seeing something special.

  12. JustMe says:

    Well, cute and cuddly cities are cities that suffer wanton destruction by an invading alien force, with much smoke, particles and debris flying about, splashing into the liquid water at the waterfront….. Except of course in the end it comes out it’s all in the mind of Geert Wilders, there are no alien invaders, and he is the one who has been abducted by aliens long ago. Something new for him to ponder as he walks across the canal bridge, credits rolling, sad music playing…

    Do I get signed up now?

  13. Wouah ! This is heavy ! That is going to be the most dense awesomeness VFX 4-5 minutes ever made. I’m ready to taste some action mango !

  14. Jan de vries says:

    Some inspiration:
    This project could go wrong, and dig up something eeevil

    This guy could have lots of friends:

    Just add boosters:

    Great amsterdam action movie scene

  15. JG says:

    Excellent news !

    Really looking forward to seeing the results both in the movie
    and in Blender.

    Good luck for this new project, keep on rockin’ guys :) !


  16. str9led says:

    I love the people of Durain project. I think that you will find artists such as in durian project. I can not wait. I wish good luck in the draft. Sorry for my english.

  17. neno says:


    It is really nice to hear about your new project – really looking forward seeing how it all turns out in the near future.

    I have a little complaint concerning the website though: does it really have to be white text on a black surface. I haven’t read almost anything at all and my eyes hurt already. I believe you have your reasons to do so, and really understand that the site itself is still in under construction, but never the less it is annoying. At least for me.

    Still, love to hear about this stuff. Going to follow your progress all the way ’till the finished movie.

  18. ibkanat says:

    Smoke, fire, and explosions dont need to be on the screen for long. So I am happy.. Actually I dont want it longer. Means more time for development of blenders toolset :P Just show me a what it can do and make me go wow a couple of times and how did they do that at least once, and I will be happy.

  19. If your theme and story line are about ‘science fiction in Amsterdam’ I would suggest the you find out who the movers and shakers in science are in that city. Are there a lot of robotics technicians, like in Graz Austria? Or is it genetic engineering, like it is for me in Western Canada? For the film to be taken seriously by the sf crowd, you’ll need to push the envelope on what kind of emerging technology exists, rather than the car chases and explosions, imho.

  20. amine says:

    let it be The best film ever created !

  21. Campbell Barton (ideasman42) says:

    I bet Ton is just saying 3-5min because he *knows* artists will push it to 5-7min!

  22. Cessen says:

    Woo hoo! Go Project Mango! Go Ton! Go Ian! Go Jeremy! Go Sebastian!

    I am so psyched about this! :-D

  23. ibkanat says:

    I have a little update to Ian’s bike photo. thanks to Moolah for the model.

  24. Luks Dm says:

    I’m so excited to see this project start, when it comes to blender open movie projects, it just gets better every time :).
    Made a little improvement to the site’s banner, cause I think it needs a little bit more of personality (?

    I hope you like it, feel free to use it if you like it, it would be great :D

    • ton says:

      That’s cool! We can really use designers to help out, the blog was quickly slapped together on saturday. :) Ian is exploring Amsterdam most of time, right now he’s biking around outside of city!

  25. Agus says:

    Nice! But the website look cooldown the excitement :/

  26. Finally! So cool! It will be fun to try out some VFX tests along with the production and development =D

  27. Thomas Brown says:


    I may be too late but I would be willing to help with the script. I have written several in the past along with short stories and would love to help if I could. Please let me know. Thanks.

    • ton says:

      For as now I prefer to give Ian the lead in concept/story development. I never say a definite “no” to help though, just mail me your contact details and some portfolio work? ton at blender org!

  28. radiant says:

    Here we go again :D

  29. Colin Levy says:

    Very exciting!! :D

  30. boyke eliza says:

    I’ll bet it won’t be just for 3-5 minutes… :D

  31. Hubberthus says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I’ve been waiting for this since Sintel! Gimme the “pre-order” button! :D

    I agree with Campbell, this is a standard that it gets longer than planned :)

  32. Coen Spoor says:

    Wow, 4K… that’s some strain on the compositor, before it’s OpenCL

  33. Cool! Great to here that it’s kicking off already!

    It’s a shame to hear that you’re considering turning down non-blender professionals who apply. IMHO, one or two objective professional perspectives would be exactly what these projects need.
    Ah well, I’m sure it’ll be great any way.

    Good luck to all involved!

    • ton says:

      I have already a list of professionals (ranging from Weta to Double Negative) who are available for advice and consultancy. Having them work here for realizing it is not going to work I’m afraid, unless they can “hit the ground running” with Blender. We can’t afford to lose time here training people or hear daily complaints how much better Nuke would be… :)

      • HAR! Fair enough. I just thought it might be a good way to iron out some of the kinks in Blender’s workflow.
        (Sometimes if everyone does it, it isn’t all that stupid after all)

      • fPaglia says:

        It’s so great that you have good artists to give advice but let me drive you through this scenario:

        Compositors stack images over images, animators move keyframes and modelers create polygon.
        You can get as many of them as you want in the blender comunity but FxTDs…
        they have to face problems that have never approached until now in the blender world.
        An experienced Fx TD could let you (developers and aritsts of mango team) pay attention to things that you wont care simply because you have not approached them yet.
        I’m experiencing this condition on my own skin, every time we start some project that involves any kind of effects it becomes a tremendous pain. We had to figure out by ourselves as much as we could how things work experimenting and trying stuff, walking like blinds pushing button and making our own (wrong) theories until we got something usable.
        We’ve spent months of our artists (that were not FX TDs) to get small results, and I think my guys are smart enough.
        In my experience and opinion there’s no one all over the world in the blender community (maybe except matt ebb) that can fill this role in a project that aims to be full of effects.

        I can go wrong but to me would be a very great and clever investment if you try to get a good FX TD that can sit next to a great blender artist and a developer in the earlier stage of the production (maybe during the developing speed up) to study problems and share his knowledge.

        hope this post can be helpful

        • ton says:

          fPaglia: that was the idea :) I already sat down with a Double Negative artist discussing scenarios like “how would you remove water from the canals, remove all boats and all cars from street”. He gave great examples of what he did on Harry Potter too. I don’t underestimate Ian’s capabilities either, he’s really good and has a lot of experience!

  34. Yves Bodson says:

    Great! I will wait november to apply for a position in animation / sculpting / modeling / doing coffee / even washing windows to be part of it…
    I met Toon in SIGGRAPH in 2004 where I presented a project that I am still working to get realized, that is Live Virtual.
    I have made progress and in November I will know if I get the grants to produce the first Live Virtual show on the net.

    • blendercomp says:

      That was my feeling too but I’m not that skilled in many areas and, regretfully enough, have other commitments!

  35. Yves Bodson says:

    I forgot to mention that I am back in France, in the south near Perpignan where I have started a digital arts gallery like the one I had in LA

  36. Deevad says:

    All my encouragement for this start Mango team
    And as a famous sci-fi quote ; “May the force be with you”

  37. blendercomp says:

    Wow! :)
    This is *great* news!
    Congrats with the launch.
    Really looking forward to the project and the improvements it will bring to Blender!!!

  38. blendercomp says:

    Sebastian in the production team?!
    Two words: wow!

  39. Marcos Freitas says:

    The best for mango team.
    I don´t care about the time (3, 5 or 10). Do the Best guys.
    BF are making a great Job. Go on Ton.
    I believe mango with blender dynamic = (?) boom. no words looking forward. (be surprised)
    Thanks to open this blog and start sharing knowledge, contributing to our (super)learning about blender, thanks to all people around the globe developing and contributing to.

    Greetings from Cape Verde.

    A word for the director: Surpass project London fame.

  40. Agus says:

    Why Campbell Barton is not in the Development Team?

    I Would really like to know.

    • ton says:

      Agus: this is not decided yet, he’s been in Amsterdam for Peach, Apricot and Durian already. There are lovely people in Melbourne who’ll miss him a lot! :)

  41. Blenderman_cuban says:

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!! yeah go ahead Mango!!

  42. J. says:

    You also want to develop an open source workflow for working with/grading Red Epic footage, I read?

  43. Lace Williamson says:

    This just made my day!!!

  44. Mägi says:

    I am so excited
    I could vomit.

  45. DWray says:

    Just as I’m about to start a thesis on Blender in a visual effects pipeline.

    I’m guessing I’ll be getting a lot of goodies to play with as a result from this project!!

  46. zomby says:

    I propose extend project to 7 years, and create 30 min film. it would be worth to wait i think.

  47. Thiago Kolb says:

    Go Project Mango! [2]

  48. Michele Carbone says:

    Awesome news!!!
    Good luck to Ton and the Mango Team.

  49. Travis Gatlin says:

    Oh yes! another open movie! I haven’t seen one yet that i disliked! Great news to hear and I’m certain it will be just as good if not better than the last movie!

  50. Sam says:

    Oh my word this is exciting! I am so glad that the aim of Mango is to improve the VFX pipeline in Blender. I am hoping to be able to scrap After Effects completely and use Blender for all of my video work. Awesome!

  51. Djinn says:

    Amsterdam was metonymical of a generation’s hope for a better world. Why not explore the question of whether or not it became the very thing it hated rather than yet another science fiction short which effects taken out, are for the most part just a waste of eyesight? You could still chuck in enough effects, etc to show off Blender but this time wind up with a good short movie as well.

    • DrD says:

      Djinn although there is always space for a good story but Blender Open Projects are not really there for that, at least from my point of view, there are there primarily to expand Blender as a tool and to develop Open Source pipelines which then can be leverage by the industry to expand the use of Blender. If a good story is made in the process great, if not oh-well. Although I think as this is a live action short there is some space for story however in short time frame like 3 minutes you are still fairly stuck with the old formula which leads to an extended chase/battle/etc etc.. before a 30 second resolution.

      • ludopencil says:

        i can agree with Djinn… If Mango is just a technical demoreel, we loose this aspect of “the tool for the story”, “blender can realize your dream”… i mean if you see luxo jr today, do you take care about technical aspect? each year we see a new demoreel for a new soft with more realism, more effect… but we are only shocked with good story… like for “dead island ” trailer (3min)…
        so if the pipeline question is ” can we make this with blender?” to make a “demoreel” or “movie”?
        then, for me, amazing vfx to serv an amasing short story!

    • ton says:

      There’s no doubt that everyone involved for Mango will do it with a target to make a compelling short film, worth watching many times. It’s each time a surprise what comes out of it :) I can only try to get all ingredients together and shake it really hard!

  52. Ricardo Mendes says:

    What about a rss feed for this blog?

    • Ricardo Mendes says:

      ahh! There’s the rss :P Subscribed and now looking forward to this new project :D

  53. Three minutes sounds: wise, realistic, heavenly… perfect! :)
    Sci-fi is my favorite genre, I’m anxious for days to come!
    Although I don’t know much about Amsterdam I will try to make some concepts also :)

  54. Davide Maimone says:

    Congratulations for the new project!
    This is my concept, I hope you like it.

  55. Teddl says:

    3 minutes for end credits sounds about right. haha

    I want to see holograms in Amsterdam. Hologram buildings, hologram people, hologram animals, hologram trees, hologram mangos, ’cause I haven’t seen a very convincing hologram since vanilla sky.

    Best wishes,

  56. ¿What kind of “sci-fi” are we talking about?
    Future Tech: flying cars, transport pipelines, spaceships.
    Concept Tech: something like wood flying boats with seals.
    Post-apocaliptic: Bad guys with rocket motorcycles
    Post-first-contact: Many aliens walking on streets and nobody cares.
    Super post apocalliptic: People living in dark ages with old futuristics things who nobody knows who build it.

    • Ricardo Mendes says:

      If you look carefully there are basically only 3 major themes:

      There is the cyber-punk theme (blade runner, deus ex) where normally we have a very dark-mood (noir?), contrasts between clean and very minimalist architecture and the dark ugliness of the suburbs. There’s also the cyborgs or cyber-enhancements (not all is architecture :P) and a very melancholic feeling to it.

      Also very trendy is the wasteland theme (book of eli, mad max, fallout) where the environment was destroyed by some kind of disaster (Post-apocalyptic) which resulted in sparse city hubs (which may not be technologically advanced). This kind of vision is often dirty with many deserts/radioactive areas/junk piles and has a very aggressive mood in everything.

      Finally there’s the alien theme (mass effect, halo, idependence day, star wars) which normally means one thing: curves! Everything must be curved because you know… to be aerodynamically in space(vacuum?!?!?)you need curves (pun intended). Here’s where the physics fun start (or the lack of it) because almost everything seems to defy it. Floating cars, gravity in motionless space ships, etc. It’s also very common to see no dust in it (except when a space ship flies near the ground). This kind of theme is the least realistic one of them all (but also the one with most creativity and imagination potential!).

      These 3 themes are the major pillars for almost every literature and media. After that there can be some mixes. For example RAGE (game just released from id) is a mix between wasteland and cyber-punk theme.

  57. Wintch says:

    Its graeat that Ian Hubert is involved, i am expecting a very interesting story for the project. Hope first concepts will be soon available!

  58. SnowflakeBlue says:

    I’m not sure how much this is going to help but I will try. Since I live in the USA and there is no way right now for me to get to Europe, I decided to search the net for pictures of Amsterdam. The simplest way is to Google “Amsterdam” and hit the pictures link. I looked through the first 10 pictures and their links. The second picture is a link to a full Wikipedia article on Amsterdam

    All 10 links including the Wikipedia article have pretty good pictures. I won’t post those links because they are too easy to find.

    Now, what license these pictures are under is beyond me. I really don’t know how to find out but I think the Wikipedia photos are fine.

    I will however post some sites I found along the way that may interest Ian and those reading this post.
    Has a nice photo gallery and a lot of links to nice pictures of hotel interiors.
    Has lots of apartment interiors. Even if these interior photos cant be used they could still give people ideas on what to render.;label=amsterdam-lux-en-eexro2EgOwr3DB8j1RO_kgC994243194;city=-2140479;class=5;
    13 high end hotels, each having links to some pretty good interior pictures.;city=-2140479
    Over 380 pictures of hotels and interiors.

    Now I’m going to post this because I thought it was relevant but I know some of you are well aware of it. I found an article on a horror/science fiction film festival in Amsterdam. The article is in English but it links to a dutch website with an English link.

    Ton, please let me know if this helps

    (twitter) @snowflakeblauw

    ATM I don’t have my own website. I’m not very good at that kind of stuff.

    • ton says:

      Since the team will work in Amsterdam we can easily find and make images of a lot of great locations to use. Right now we’re only in the creative phase… make mockups of inspirational scifi-amsterdam setups!

      • SnowflakeBlue says:

        Also Ton, Please have the team, give the community, any updates they can on what’s going on. Any photo’s, renderings, email clips, artwork, videos, anything that can allow the community to feel it is a part of the project will be greatly appreciated.

  59. would it be good to start creating community content for the film now, like park benches, doors, lamp posts and other architecture or vehicles that you can just pick and choose from when needed? (mundane sci-fi that you know will be there but no one thinks of… parking meters and road/flight signs? )

    If someone posts a design you would like for the film, the rest of us could start creating items close to that design so there is lots of choice when its needed.

    I’d also like to create some alien gear and characters, maybe mixing organic and machanical equipment for something gross but usefull (parking meter with a built in eye maybe ):D

    Are the aliens going to be pritty (easier to mingle with humanity) or butt ugly and living in the gutter/underworld :D

  60. Hey, I’ve already posted this image yesterday, but I’ve forgotten to write a bit more so it wouldn’t be detected by the Spam filters :)
    Sorry the double posting, but here it goes again then:

    • SnowflakeBlue says:

      For some reason this picture looks better and it really puzzles me why. My best guess is that the picture of the cows grazing and the pretty windmills created an expectation of beauty and serenity. That contrasted with brazen shadowy figures with intimidating weapons.

  61. fabs says:

    YeY! =D
    so where can I pre-order and sponsor it? ;-)

  62. Rob Scott says:

    Definitely looking forward to this. I have delusions of creating my own SF live-action + CGI movie one of these days.

    One idea I had was to use Shapeways ( to create physical props. As a neat side-benefit, the original 3D models could be used in the CGI and would match perfectly.

    Shapeways would get expensive for large props, so my other idea was to use it to create molds and then cast the actual props out of resin or other materials.

    • SnowflakeBlue says:

      I’ve never heard of shapeways before. seems to shed some light on what they do. They seem to want a profit for their services. If this idea costs money, are you willing to pay for it?

      • Rob Scott says:

        Not sure what you’re asking. Shapeways is a for-profit company providing a service. If I needed the service and it fit into my budget, I would willingly pay for it.

    • ton says:

      Several Shapeway employees (including CEO) worked for Blender in past (when it was a bizz :). I already have them listed to get them sponsoring mango!

      • Rob Scott says:

        That’s very cool. I am certain the idea of using Shapeways for props has occurred to someone over there :-)

  63. Joeri says:

    Good luck and bon voyage.

    /me gets new password from paypall to start the donation.

  64. SnowflakeBlue says:

    Ton, I don’t know if this is a bug or not, but I seem to be unable to post large chunks of text on this blog. I am on a Mac book using OS X 10.6.8. If you like, I can email you the text I tried to post twice.


  65. JamesNZ says:

    This soooooo exciting! Good luck Ian!

    (P.S: Ton, please keep us posted as much as possible :D)

  66. SnowflakeBlue says:

    Some people have pictures next to their names. How do I do that?

  67. SnowflakeBlue says:

    Is it OK for me to complain about the inadequacies of this site or is it intended for it to not be improved?

  68. captainkirk says:

    So will this be sci-fi?

  69. captainkirk says:

    Never mind, I just read the about page.

  70. Light says:

    Web design: I have been reading the About page with WHITE text on BLACK background really is burning my retinas. I hope webmaster can do something about this. It’s common web design mistake. [Just passing the knowledge along]

  71. SnowflakeBlue says:

    Ton, recently you tweeted,

    Rant of day: if you think people’s competence & experience comes without having their own ideas, you are neither competent nor experienced.

    Look, if hearing every ones ideas is getting stressful for you, you can easily tell them to hash it all out, on this blog.

    Also, if you like this idea, you need to be aware that the kick off thread is getting pretty long. It would likely be a good idea to create a new thread with the title “Mango ideas”, or something like it.

    And Ton, SLEEP. If you let all this activity take away your sleep, you will not have the proper sanity to make the right decisions.

    • ton says:

      That twitter message was not meant for mango. We asked for inspiration here even!
      I just get contacted regular with people with ‘ideas’ for big projects who think that simply having that idea would make me realize it for them. :)

    • ton says:

      Snowflake: We all really appreciate the feedback and comments on blogs.
      However, posting a single on-topic response is more than sufficient. I’ve removed a bunch of your latest comments here now. (The email address you provide is not existing, that’s why I post it here.)

      • SnowflakeBlue says:

        Yes, it appears died a few days ago. You should get my new address with this post.

        I realize that not everything I post may be to your liking. Some of it may not even be relevant.

        Basically, I am back to square one. I want to help the project but I cannot help in the way a developer or programmer would.

        It seems, the way I have tried to help so far, is to try to read into the underlying functions of what is going on. If I see a problem, I try to propose a solution or try to find an easy way to fix it. If the people making the decisions are not interested in what I am trying to do, then I try to step back and let things take their course.

  72. Сергей says:

    Hi! it’s gret news!
    how i can contact with admin? I have proposal for project :)

  73. Karakasimov says:

    Great Go to project mango!

    can someone change the pixelerated background of this blog?

  74. Aman b says:

    Once again in Amsterdam….

  75. Macrian says:

    So excited for a new movie, and all of the changes to Blender that comes along with it. Amsterdam has such a frozen in time look to parts of it that I think it would really fit in well with Steampunk, since that is a form fo sci-fi that is futuristic, but also has elements frozen in time.

  76. SnowflakeBlue says:

    Ton, do not underestimate the power of the Dark Side.
    Please Ton, Please.

  77. I’d love to help out but I’ve got my school to attend to.
    I wish you guys good luck and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress.
    Sintel was awesome. I’m sure Mango will rock too.
    Ian, maybe fit in some SBFP references in there? MAKE ME A SANDWICH!
    Ton, I won’t be at this years conference. Need more moneyz. :3

    Kind regards.

  78. Mehmet PINARCI says:

    This is very nice ,Eventhough my heart burns out with desire to be on the team . I do know there are wild strong artists out there . I do love Amsterdam and SCIFI ,thats all soul .
    I would like to offer all my spaceships to this project, at this moment I am begging to be a part if , Even she (my ship) is a couple of pixels flying on screen . Thank you

    My work can be found on turbosquid under sendercorp .
    thank you all

  79. sky says:

    Here’s my first inspirational mango blender render:

    Opposite to most „rusty sci-fi“ oriented blenderheads I imagine a „glossy sci-fi“ mango world.

    The idea behind my render is that due to global warming the sea level rised and large parts of Europe incl. Amsterdam are flooded. Amsterdam as we know it today can only been seen in the history museum (the render takes it literally).

    For the mango project I image a glossy, clean rebuild „upper“ Amsterdam city (like the Upper Hengsha from Deus Ex HR) with stylish futuristic vehicles and a newly build spaceport for intergalactic travels.

    As a storyline I image a large chase through the rebuild glossy Amsterdam that ultimately ends in the sunken ruins of the long and lost original Amsterdam and leads us to the conclusion why this all happened.