Wires for Empathy unites more than 76 artists working from 22 countries in a production drawing on the world's oldest, most universal story. Wires is inspired by the Gilgamesh epic, which comes down to us as an incomplete, conflicting set of fragments and variations, the clay tablet remnants of more than a few ruined libraries. But in this version, Gilgamesh is a woman with a military past who seeks out a cure for death, and becomes the animation's own frames.

Elephants Dream, the original open movie directed by Bassam Kurdali, proved it possible to make high quality 3D animated films using free/libre tools in the studio. Wires for Empathy is a new experiment, this time in distributed collaboration—a love letter to free software and open culture that marks their convergence with digital filmmaking.

The finished film and its mountain of data assets will be released under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike and the GNU General Public License, meaning you can use them for anything—even commercial appropriation—at no charge, as long as you allow others to reuse your work on the same terms.


Call for Sponsors and Donors

The award-winning Urchin collective invites your support!

The team behind Wires for Empathy have been recognized by the Museum of Modern Art, Venice Biennale, Prix Ars Electronica, and Academy Awards. Their internationally lauded work ranges from indie projects to blockbusters.

A notable project in a popular medium, Wires comes with buzz and an in-built audience. Our previous indie work has screened widely in festivals, and been seen online by millions. Its liberal license allows it to travel freely and also appear in less conventional settings, as a staple demo tool of new technologies, stores and trade show floors. And since its only license caveat is attribution, your sponsor credit will show in every one of the innumerable screenings the film continues to have over time.

Patron Sponsors — $7500: Logo acknowledgement on film and website
Sustainer Sponsors — $2500: Prominent named acknowledgement in film credits and website
Maintainer Sponsors — $500: Credited with special thanks
Contributing Sponsors — $250: Credited as a contributing sponsor
Backers — $50: Get your name in the credits as a backer

Your support can be tax-deductible in the US through a 501C3 fiscal sponsor. Please contact us for more information.



Production Blog


Wires for Empathy website update

We’re gearing up for the summer (more on that soon) and decided to update the Wires for Empathy official website. Here are some things to look out for: Updated teaser! Lots of new shots, updated some older ones. This started as a an excerpt reel for Libre Graphics Meetup, and got edited down from 3 […]

We’re gearing up for the summer (more on that soon) and decided to update the Wires for Empathy official website. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Updated teaser! Lots of new shots, updated some older ones. This started as a an excerpt reel for Libre Graphics Meetup, and got edited down from 3 minutes to a more appropriate trailer length
  • Credits! Please check for your names on the credit list and yell at me if I missed you or got it wrong
  • Updated images! some of the images were from old renders – FIXED
  • Lil’ tweaks to the readability of the blog previews embedded in the site

Ok that’s about it! More soon on our summer plans!

Type in Wires for Empathy

Hi folks, I’m currently continuing the work you saw in the last update – building a library of time-lapse assets and tools. So far I have posters, aging tiled walls where the tiles break and fall out over time, security cameras, a guard tower, and various types of ‘wirey’ messes, like the stuff that is […]

Hi folks,

I’m currently continuing the work you saw in the last update – building a library of time-lapse assets and tools. So far I have posters, aging tiled walls where the tiles break and fall out over time, security cameras, a guard tower, and various types of ‘wirey’ messes, like the stuff that is tucked away under the platform (but is visible in shots) and the wires feeding into lights, etc. I’m currently working on integration and interaction: creating tools to easily put them into shots, and methods they can ‘talk’ to each other, so that, e.g. a falling tile rips out the posters in front of it. All of these result in ‘normal’ blender animation curves, even though many are using animation nodes to build.

In the meantime, I’d like to show some earlier work we did, namely, our imaginary language/font we’re going to use in the film:

Early on we decided the film would be wordless – no written or spoken words – and we would rely on images, shots and animation rather than language.

Our location is everywhere and nowhere – but it still needed diagetic written words: signs, advertisements, propaganda, etc. Not as language but as texture.

We want the dream to be universal – inspired by specific events, specific places, and deeply colored by them, but not speaking ‘only’ to one group of people. So instead of betraying that desire by using a specific language, it became more obvious that we should use a unique typeface with glyphs that don’t really correspond to an existing script. Since our film is based on the epic of Gilgamesh, we thought it fitting to imagine a modern Sumerian language, evolved from ancient writing over thousands of years to the point of unrecognizability.

Initially I came up with some rough designs, mostly jokey references to 3D graphics elements (axis, cursors, rotation icons, nodes, etc.) mixed in with slightly corrupted versions of letters in English and Arabic, languages that I understand. Last summer, one of our interns further made several quick variations on those ideas, experimenting further.

I spoke with a number of well known font experts in the free software world, and one of them advised me to avoid the following:

  • Difficult to read or write symbols, as those would give the feeling of an ‘alien’ font
  • Symbols too close to existing letters
  • Joined scripts as those are tricky to make work

As a result, I went back to square one (or is it zero) and tried to come up with a design that worked better with those restrictions. The result is a typeface I’m calling “Soomerian Modern” that we can use with Blender, Inkscape, Krita or Gimp to make our various 2D elements. The first instance of this is on a train ticket, visible torn on the ground in the first shot.

Look forward to stencil and other variations of the font, and to seeing it appear on the poster assets I’m now coding/noding 🙂

Propoganda timelapse dev continues

Greetings comrades! So as promised, here’s a more in-depth update, about poster timelapse . In our (hopefully just in the movie, but you never know…) dystopian future, the subway walls need to get peppered with images of successive ruthless dictators, bent on making us love them through propaganda. This effect is sometimes very close to […]

Greetings comrades!

So as promised, here’s a more in-depth update, about poster timelapse . In our (hopefully just in the movie, but you never know…) dystopian future, the subway walls need to get peppered with images of successive ruthless dictators, bent on making us love them through propaganda. This effect is sometimes very close to the camera, and sometimes in the background, throughout many shots.

Posters need to be added to the walls over time, then removed, and perhaps just have other posters put on top of them, with attention to the images (which image in the succession) overlaps (they need to be on top, rather than intersecting each other) and order of removal (posters under other posters can’t go first). In addition, the materials of the poster need to age, and posters under other posters can’t e.g. accumulate dirt, and could get ripped when the top poster gets removed… and .. and…. and…..

*deep breath*

So I’m building a poster control ‘machine’ using a brilliant blender addon called animationnodes – that also allows mixing nodes and python via script nodes. This is what my code and nodes look like right now:

Python Script NodesAll the animation node trees

And this is what they do:

There’s a lot of hidden stuff there too: they make oclusion masks using vertex colors and vertex groups so the posters “know” when they are under or over each other. This will allow me to combine it with…..

….my poster material nodes! :

Cycles poster material nodes

Lets see what those look like in animation:

Phew! pretty cool – still missing a few details and tweaks, but that’s the basic idea. the strange purple rectangle represents an occluding poster. the image is tweaked from a beautiful poster made by Michael Kalinin for the movie, and is just a ‘test image’. The text is using our custom made font “soomerian modern” which all the text in the movie is written in.

So what’s left? well, combining the animation nodes for the posters with the poster materials.

In addition I have similar systems (not shown here) for the wall itself, that have to interact with the posters, so for instance, the posters change the dirtiness levels of the walls, and falling tiles rip out the posters.

Hope you enjoyed this mini update!

Summer 2016 Interns

This summer’s interns have been selected, so I would like to give a short introduction for each of them to familiarize everyone with our new team members. Shown below each one is an example of their work as well! Lamont Robinson, 17, currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and is interested in studying 3D animation. Having […]

This summer’s interns have been selected, so I would like to give a short introduction for each of them to familiarize everyone with our new team members. Shown below each one is an example of their work as well!

Lamont Robinson, 17, currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and is interested in studying 3D animation. Having watched a lot of 2D cartoons, he was heavily inspired to pursue 3D once he saw what it could do. Lamont especially enjoys sculpting people, and objects like vehicles and robots. He found out about the Tube project through BlenderNation, and is excited to learn more about the process of rigging, materials, and character animation.

Lyndon Daniels lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa, where he has participated in many different projects and taught at the University of Cape Town. Having worked in 3D animation for several years, Lyndon has created a wide range of work, including models, applications, and animated shorts. He was inspired by the open movie Elephants Dream, and became interested in the world of open source software and animation. This interest eventually led him to find out about Tube.

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Alice Langois lives in Belchertown, MA and just finished her freshman year at the Rhode Island School of Design. She has worked in a wide variety of media, but hopes to pursue 2D and 3D animation. She has also gained increasing interest in stop motion, and creating models from found materials. She discovered Tube through BitFilms after seeing the short Caldera. Interested in the free culture behind Tube and Elephants Dream, she hopes to learn more about the use of open source software and the community behind it.

IMG_1694

Congratulations, and thank you for your help!

Summer Internships for Wires for Empathy

We’re happy to announce a new round of summer internships through bitfilms on Wires for Empathy aka the tube open movie project. Read the details in this document – it should contain everything you need to know, deadlines, how to apply, etc. In brief we’re going to be working on two exciting main areas, timelapse […]

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We’re happy to announce a new round of summer internships through bitfilms on Wires for Empathy aka the tube open movie project.
Read the details in this document – it should contain everything you need to know, deadlines, how to apply, etc.
In brief we’re going to be working on two exciting main areas, timelapse animation and lighting. In the run up to the internship period I’m working on documentation for our lighting pipeline and timelapse animation workflow and tools – so if you’re into lighting with cycles, would like the chance to work on our color-managed lighting pipeline, or if you like the idea of animating things changing over time, or modeling snapshots of aging objects, this could be a good fit for you.

Images

All images may be used under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license

Credits

Director: Bassam Kurdali
Producer: Fateh Slavitsky-Osment
Writer: Fateh Slavitsky-Osment
Animation Supervisor: Chris Bishop
Environment/Texture Lead: Nicolo Zubbini
Modelling Lead: Dimetrii Kalinin
Sound: Thomas Vechionne
Music: Jan Morgenstern
Animators:
Gianmichele Mariani
Sarah Laufer
Tal Hershkovich
Luciano Muñoz Sessarego
Karen Webb
Virgilio Vasconcelos
Jarred de Beer
Jeanhye Kim
Carlo Serra
Matt Bugeja
Nathan Vegdahl
Oscar Baechler
Bassam Kurdali
Chris Bishop
Francesco Siddi
Beorn Leonard
Roselyn McMurray
Samantha Luo
BingRun Jiang
Aslynn Kilgore
Pipeline/Technical Artists:
Paolo Acampura
Jake Wisdom
Bassam Kurdali
Josh Wedlake
Lighters/Compositors:
Pablo Vasquez
Hanny Lu
Christine Stuckart
Francesco Siddi
Ivan Cappiello
Timothy Miko Carol
Bassam Kurdali
3D Generalists:
Lukas Zeichmann
Hanny Lu
Henri Hebeisen
Pablo Lizardo
Josh Wedlake
Samah Majadla
Ike Ahloe
Jamal Coleman
Benjamin Sohn
Davide Maimone
Connie Hildreth
Timothy Miko Carol
Dan Finnegan
Hassan Yola
Kursad Kuratas
Jonathan Williamson
2D Artists:
Becky Tang
Juan Angel Redondo
Lisette Lopez
Malefico Andaur
Astro Leon-Jhong
Pere Balsach
Marcel Mars
Jimmu Bohall
Chris Bishop
Warren Belfield
Alice Langois
Michael Kalinin
Bassam Kurdali
Developers:
Lucas Toenne
Chris Webber
Ahmad Abdelhamid
Shantanu Choudary
Daf
Bassam Kurdali
Chris Perry
Interns:
Andreu Cabre
Alvaro Luna Buatista
Andre Souza De Silva
Arindam Mondal
Nathanael Gaethers
Gatis Rathko
Alejandro Cruz
Nora Jenny
Milan Stankovic
Lyndon Daniels
Lamont Robinson
Raphael Sousa
System Administration:
Wm Josiah Erikson
Jason Van Gumster
Executive Producers:
Barbara Elizabeth Bolles
Michael Tiemann
Kÿra
Philippe Casteleyn
Co-Producers:
E. G. Ellis
Chris Perry
Spirit Animal:
Dan Gilbert
Special Thanks:
Stanley Kowalski III
Matteo Gloyer
Ed Ellis
Backers:
Colin Levy
Jonathan Williamson
Ethan Time
Jeroen Bakker
Maria Figueiredo
Will Kahn-Greene
Rob Myers
loglow
Rodney Dawes
Ian Lilkendey
Rock Shaink
Jake Blais
Mike Sheldon
John Pointer
solstag
Riccardo Giovanetti
Tero Pajunen
Martin Preisler
Tony Mullen
Andreu Cabré
Andrew Heaven
Cliff Garwood II
Timo Munnukka
Ben Hagen
malefico
Xesus Garcia Alvarez
Scott B. Hamilton
Carsten Fisch
Blaine Landowski
Lars Brubaker
Alan Ferguson
David M. Cotter
Andrea Weikert
Michael Langford
gnumpen
Ren-Wei Yang
Julian Gall
Grá Linnaea
Jelmer Vernooij
Andrew Mike
Trevor
Alexander Pierce
Geoffrey Lehr
Andrew Buttery
David M Driggs
Louis S. and Tammy D.
Fred Benenson
Daniel Tompkins
Christine Pedersen
Chris (deleted)
twmffat
David REVOY
Julius Tuomisto
Simon Haller
GenX
James Pierechod
Jamie Brandon
Lancalot
Bensn
Andrew Jones
Goofy Goober
Edward
Thomas Dudziak
Lance Conatser
Sean Kennedy
Matthias
Joshua Kratovil
Dirk Siegel
Marek Belski
Anthony Barone
GiantRabbit
Stephen Paul Weber
Chris Van Vranken
Ryan Sayre
Mike Sayen
Srinivas Sirigina
Robert von Burg
Jeff Elmer
Jason Canty
Sarah Jane Pell
Cheryl Court
Dale Rooney
Doha Marzouk
Matthew Nash
Jules Beulen
Gordon
Matija Nalis
Rana Hobbs
Angie Kalea Ho
Robyn Ellis
John C
Shadi Sakr
Alexander Kvartz
Hawyee Auyong
Lallemand
Alain Marion
Donald Thompson
Joshua S.
Bojan Orlovic
mads simonsen
Aurélien Sacaze
Ivan Kapovic
rmellin
Peter Kropf
Richard Perry
Sébastien Jomphe
Stephen
BAIL
Adam Kasanof
Erik Möller
don snover
david joyner
Pascal Bach
Goran B.
DarthOdorous
Benoit HEBEISEN
Omnifarious
Bradley Cathey
Kc Michael Martinez
acro
Tristan Louis
David Mason
Tom James Allen Jr
Thies Schulz-Holland
Thomas Hahn
Andreas Mattijat
Erwin Vanderhoydonks
Steve Clement
Aniline
Giovanni Gallo
Oliver B
Duy Kevin Nguyen
Daniel Yanez
David Hickson
Andre Hugo
Yannick Croissant
Frank Anes
Carlos Muriel
Ain Anepaio
chaitanya krishnan
Joar Wandborg
JayMon
kokomo_joe
André Kishimoto
Lexicus
artleast
Eric Harris-Braun
Andrew Kwon
Peter de Castro
Philipp Oeser
Johnell Malone
Dan Cundiff
Leandro Simonetti
Matt Koons
Marius Slavescu
Julian Mulvey
Jonathan Masters
Dylan Cole
Jánvári Bálint
Horia Ardelean
Ace Gopher
Travis McHenry
John Urquhart Ferguson
Erick
vagn scott
Sjako ten Haken
Todd Gross
Ejner Fergo
Anthony Ray
Mathias L
Hugh Fitzgerald
Yves Bilgeri
Adam Ziegler
Amer Rahmani
John Burak
Jason Burns
Steven Bible
Emanuele Olivetti
Kristian Egdamin
Brett Truett
Logan Scheel
Jonathan Brier
Todd Yurkovic
Luca Rossetto
Rui Nóbrega
SHAMISEN
The-Wise-Cat
Sylvain Racicot
openstandards
Ignacio Fiallos
Autumn Laraine Mackey
Gordon Milner
William Welton
John Knight
Thomas LeBlanc
Yannick Warnier
Flavio Perez
Adam Lyall
melissa
kamereon
Malachi de AElfweald
Pat Heiden
Denver Gingerich
Steven Zakulec
Admiral Potato
James Weeks
Brenton Buchbach
Johann
mike interbartolo
David Seguin
Adrian Giddings
Kristoffer Strömblad
Greg Fischer
James R. Hall
Peter Carrero Provenzano
andrew brennan
chad
Rein de Waart
Kaliatech
Campbell Hore
Will T.
Wesley Hirsch
Tom M.
Jiri Hnidek
John Wisdom
Mike Linksvayer
Terry Hancock
Brett McCoy
Max De Marzi
Farida Majadla
Mohammed Majadla
Michele Hardesty
Lucas Scavone
J. Piscioneri
Florian Berardi
Colin Reynolds
Nick Bastin
abhay toshniwal
Jason Ward
Brian De Wolf
Coucouf
Carl Richell
Matthew Muldoon
Houda Kurdali
Steve
Nelson Goncalves
Christopher Webber
Devi Hart
Chris Perry
S J Bennett
Troy Sabotka
Scott Wilson
ton roosendaal
Joseph Annino
paulthegrouch
Michael Mellinger
Simon Haegler
William Leu
Jake Mazonson
CapyBaron
Vandré Israel Brunazo
Ryan Gordon
Brian Kierce
Jean-Sebastien Guillemette