“ABC of Akari” open anime project seeks $38K in crowdfunding

“ABC of Akari” open anime project seeks $38K in crowdfunding

AnigoAnimation launched a crowdfunding campaign to complete the “ABC of Akari” short anime movie they've been working on for past few years. Though technically they rely on Blender, Freestyle, GIMP, MyPaint, and a few other free tools, this is not another technical demo.

The idea is to make this first movie a showcase to establish a real animation studio and use free software for commercial projects.

Twisting the plot

Here's how the team describes the plot of the story:

"ABC of Akari" is an [...] anime film about a girl, Akari, who survived the attack that killed her father and has dedicated the rest of her life in getting revenge.

Aided by her mentor, a former spec-ops markswoman that's holding her own secrets, they are now very close to fulfilling Akari's revenge. However unexpected events will test their true limits, and something unforeseeable could hinder them from reaching their goal. Something not from our reality.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the goals of the project in a few online discussions of the project we came across — mostly, whether it's a technical demo of Blender (and Blender Foundation's movies are referred to for a comparison). Here's what Vicente Carro says:

In the case of “ABC of Akari”, maybe my comments could lead to thinking that the movie is not based in a good story. But that's not the case. A revenge story can be a good story, and our movie has a good one. You can rest assured, there will be plot twists. I love good plot twists.

The evolution of Akari

The visuals for the movie have been rapidly evolving in the past year. The demo that the project published last winter is based on some early work, and the team specifically mentions that it's not how the final movie would look.

In April a Japanese artist, Mubouou Aasaa, joined the team to work on the visuals. He's been improving the characters ever since, bringing a certain sophistication and missing details:

Here's reworked concept art for another character in the movie:

Meanwhile the other part of the team is currently building new 3D models based on Mubouou's sketches.

Technically speaking

The planned deliverable right now is a 10 minutes long stereoscopic OVA in 1080p (24fps) with 5.1 surround sound. The team promises to use just free software, thus not spending any funds on software licenses.

In fact, libre software plays a significant role here. AnigoAnimation was started by a small group of people who aimed to make it possible to produce anime with free software. For that they developed some in-house techniques, Python scripts, libraries, tricks, etc. to achieve 3D anime results with Blender.

Eventually they ran out of funds, but the expertise they got is now put to a good use by the Blender Extended Expression Renderer (BEER) project that focuses on producing new toon shaders.

In Vicente's opinion, BEER, if eventually it is included in Blender, will be a key feature that will allow a lot of studios to migrate to Blender.

If you take a step back and look again, you might fund out that “ABC of Akari”, should it get the desired funding, would become the first complete anime showcase for Freestyle and/or upcoming advanced toon shaders in Blender.

Freestyle has already been used in the production of Morevna Project demo. According to Konstantin Dmitriev, there were 6 shots rendered with Freestyle in that video, in each case — when there was a too complicated movement of the camera and no close-up renders of the characters. Freestyle was also used in few more shots, but only for the rendering of a few elements.

Hence making a complete short animation movie with just Blender would be a quite novel thing.

But is it open?

If you've been following Blender Foundation's open movie projects and/or Morevna Project closely, you know that these projects are indeed open: the project data is available for anyone to tinker with. What about “ABC of Akari”?

The AnigoAnimation team gave this topic a careful consideration and decided to release the production files under terms of Creative Commons By-Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 license once the movie is released.

Then there's the educational aspect. Around February 2013 the team considered making a training DVD about producing anime with Blender, but eventually decided against it, as it was related to the previous, failed crowdfunding campaign.

Instead they started publishing video tutorials like this one on skin materials with Blender for anime:

The plan is to produce more of these tutorials, so that's another contribution to the community.

Conclusions

So far the project has the classical free software problem of being underpromoted. As of June 26 it only got $563 of ca. $37500, and there are just 25 days to go. Needless to say, you can help fixing that.

Vicente thinks that releasing WIP pictures and videos of the new Akari 3D model should remove some skepticism that is currently held by potential fans. But what if the project still doesn't get the funding?

If we don't get it, we will have to discuss about a final re-try or start a brand new project. It could be a co-production with a Japanese production company currently airing TV shows in Japanese TV. Probably a full-length anime movie.

If you want to support the “ABC of Akari” movie, please visit the Anipipo page. You can track the project's progress on Facebook and Google+.

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13 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. I don’t know if I’d have ended up donating, but I won’t be considering it given the NC part of their license, thus the project will be non-free. http://freedomdefined.org/Licenses/NC

  2. “Moe doesn’t exist in its three dimensional form”

  3. “No hand drawing”

    Darn. That’s dissapointing.

  4. I only care if the soundtracks are made with free software.

  5. “Moe doesn’t exist in its three dimensional form” +1

  6. These are the kind of projects I really like to see get funding.

  7. This is really cool

  8. I will certainly be looking forward to donating as I am a big fan of anime and manga.

  9. This is excellent drawing!

  10. Excellent and amazing :-)
    I like the “ABC of Akari” movie

  11. Awesome post,
    I am kind of new to your blog, but the blog has some seriously nice stuff that I found very interesting as well as informative.
    Keep up the good work!

  12. Very nice blog thanks for sharing

  13. Hi,
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