Cartoon fire effect

This article is part of a series on the making of the museum of Lodève. In the movies, there were scenes taking place in caves or at dusk. So we had to create a fire effect, with a cartoon render to suit the art direction, and that could have a torch-like movement.

We have tested many techniques in Blender or Fusion:
– mesh displacement,
– 2D texture with UV distorsions,
– particules with metaballs
– mask particules
– alpha additive particules

This exploration allowed us to find the most efficient ways of making fire according to the case, knowing that Blender was our main tool from layout to lighting, except for the compositing where Fusion was used.

2D Camera Rig

As you may have heard, we at Les Fées Spéciales have been using cutout animation techniques extensively on our previous projects. Some aspects are explored in other articles, but the film layout is one of particular interest to us. A problem commonly encountered during layout of a 2D film is that of getting nice and smooth camera movements when your camera is zooming and panning, that is, rotating about its center.
This article demonstrates a camera setup we created to solve this problem.

Opening the Museum of Lodève

In january 2017 we started working on the ambitious reopening of the Musée de Lodève, Lodève’s museum, a small town in the south of France. The project was already years in the making, and we jumped onboard to create more than an hour of movies for the three main themes: Geology (540 millions years of life and tectonics), Archaeology and Beaux-Arts (fine arts). In the near future we will be releasing some tools and making of made for that production. In the meantime, allow us to introduce the project and the grand opening which took place early July. Nothing technical for now, but the production background of that project which took us so much energy.

This article is available in French on the studio’s website / Cet article est disponible en français sur le site web du studio.

Image background transform

If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you had to correctly place a background reference image in Blender, as we have, you may have felt frustrated by the limited controls offered by the Background Images panel. We couldn’t find an add-on to facilitate the process of correctly placing images, so we wrote one. It uses controls close to Blender’s own transformation tools (Grab, Rotate, Scale, etc.). You can move multiple images at once, rotate and scale around the 3D Cursor, or around each background image’s center.

You can download and test it right now on our GitHub repo.

Art © David Revoy 2009, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

How to Choose a Software License for my Blender Scripts

One of the stated missions of Les Fées Spéciales is to publish as much of the code we use in production as possible. Publishing these scripts and programs falls under the copyrights laws—or author’s rights laws in our case, since we operate in France, a country under a civil law system.
In order for the community to use these scripts, the scripts need to carry a software license. Writing an overview of the history and inner workings of software license, and free software in particular, is way beyond the scope of this article, however it seems useful to remind scripters what they may do with their scripts, should they choose to publish them, particularly in the context of Blender scripts.

2018, An Exciting Year for Free Software

Dear Visitor, the Technical Department wish you a happy new year!

And this incoming year is a very exciting for a lot of reasons!
Let’s start in terms of projects for us. Next October will be released the feature film Dilili in Paris for which we worked hard for the past two years. Hopefully you will see it in festivals before then. And you’ll have more articles about that production soon.
This summer will be seen the opening of a very nice archeology and geology museum. The museum is located in Lodève, next to Montpellier in France. We are currently creating more than 45 minutes of animation, interactive programs, and multiple 3D reconstructions for the museum. It’s improving a lot our tools, methods and pipeline and we will share more on that too, later this year.
And we have other nice projects. So we are very busy, but we have a lot of things to share along those works, so stay tuned.

But it’s not only about us, it’s about huge releases in free software too!

Mesh To Bone Shape

When rigging, you usually want to add custom shapes to your bone controllers. It helps to simplify the selection of these bones and moreover it gives information to help the animator to understand quickly what a bone can do. In Blender, the default procedure can be really tedious so we have created a script to help handle adding and editing custom shapes to bones.

Cut It out: our talk at the #bcon17

We attended the 15th Blender Conference and it was a blast! Every year we gather so much energy and ideas during those 4 days. Kudos to the organizers for this hard work. And this year we were invited to present part of our work on the feature film Dilili in Paris.

Damien took 20 minutes to present the solutions we had to develop to handle this 90 minutes feature film. And more particularly, the creation of the 500 characters needed to populate the early 19th century Paris. Those characters were built using an old cut-out technique, like flat paper puppets but in a digital process. For more explanations, we’ll let you watch the talk, for which we were kindly authorized to show the very first shots of the movie, which is yet to be released in October 2018.

We will go back more in detail on the processes and other solutions we deployed in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Making Of Antarctica

Antarctica is a documentary directed by Jérôme Bouvier and Marianne Cramer co-produced by Arte France, Paprika Films, Wild-Touch Production, Andromède Océanologie. It depicts the expedition led by Luc Jacquet to show and raise interest in the effects of climate change in the polar regions.

We produced animated sequences to illustrate the two films with cartographic images, to show natural phenomenons about the oceanic current, circumpolar current, ice melting, etc. We have also made “overlay graphics ?” to show how the fauna is adapted to the harsh climate.

In this article, we show two experimental processes using scientific data to make our cartographic animated sequences, with art direction by Eric Serre.

How to install python libs in Blender (part 1)

EDIT 2020: This series is now obsolete since Blender 2.80. Please see this answer on StackExchange. Here is a possible function to install modules inside Blender, provided you can modify the Blender directory:

import subprocess

def install_pip_dep(module_name):
    python_path =
    subp =[python_path, "-m", "ensurepip"])
    if subp.returncode != 0:
        return False
    subp =[python_path, "-m", "pip", "install", module_name])
    if subp.returncode != 0:
        return False
    return True

if __name__ == '__main__':

In this article, we share some tips to install third-party python libraries for your scripts and add-ons. This is the easy way, when the library exists on repositories accessible to package managers such as pip.

Making Blender tools outside of Blender (part 1)

Two years ago, when I started working with Blender coming from Maya, I was very frustrated by Blender’s GUI limitations for TDs. The options for creating tools looked too limiting, and still are as far as I’m concerned.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great designed features for TDs. Creating an operator is easy and then you can use it everywhere you need, the API is strong and I like it. My complaint is more about windows and widgets. And I had to find solutions.