Open-source film

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Open-source films (also known as open-content films and free-content films) are films which are produced and distributed by using free and open-source and open content methodologies. Their sources are freely available and the licenses used meet the demands of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) in terms of freedom.


A definition of an open-source film is based on the OSI's open-source software definition[1] and the definition of free cultural licenses.[2] This definition can be applied to films where:

  1. The license of the movie is approved for free cultural works. Specifically this is true for the Creative Commons licenses by and by-sa.
  2. The materials used in the movie (sources) are also available under a license which is approved for free cultural works.
  3. The movie and its sources are made publicly available via an online download or by other means that are either free or with a cost that covers reasonable reproduction expenses only.
  4. The sources should be viewable and editable with free/open-source software. If this is not the case they must be convertible into such a format by using free/open-source software. The same applies to the movie itself.
  5. It should be possible to re-create or re-assemble the movie using the source materials.

Films or film projects which do not meet these criteria are either not open source or partially open source.

List of open-source films[edit]

Name Type Released CC License Sources Comment
Dancing to Architecture – a motion picture about TINA Documentary 2002 by 2.5 AU Collaborative production. Vital Focus 2002.
Route 66 - An American Nightmare road movie / gonzo-documentary 12/2004 by-sa 3.0 link streaming torrent Became popular as Germany's first open-source film. The license changed to CC by-sa in July 2009.
Elephants Dream animated short 04/2006 by 2.5 Created with the Blender open-source software.
Stray Cinema Short Film/ Remix project 2006 by 3.0 Collaborative project
.re_potemkin contemporary art project 2007 A remake of Sergei Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" using crowdsourcing / peer production method.
Big Buck Bunny animated short 08/2008 by 3.0 Created with the Blender Open Source Software.
Jathia's Wager short film 02/2009 by-sa 3.0 Sources only consist of the movie without music score.
Sita Sings the Blues animated musical of the Indian epic the Ramayana 2009 CC0 1.0
Valkaama full feature 01/2010 by-sa 3.0 Collaborative project. HD download available (720p and 1080p)
The Digital Tipping Point documentary in production by-sa Collaborative project.
Sintel animated short 10/2010 by 3.0 Created with the Blender Open Source Software.
La Chute d'une plume (pèse plus que ta pudeur) animated short 10/2010 by-sa 3.0 Created with the Kdenlive Open Source Software.
original source footage of Tears of Steel reference material for easing technical development of movie technology 2013-03-15[3] CC-by
(no usage of actor footage for commercials)
This is a first time addressing of the huge lack in available free high quality footage for motion tracking, keying and cleaning testing. The material was recorded with the Sony F65 camera (4k native sensor, see also Ultra HD) and is formed by roughly 80,000 frames, each in OpenEXR half float files, in 4096 x 2160 pixels. This is 5 times more footage than used in the film. For the movie production the format encoding Rec709 “scene linear” was used in the processing pipeline.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cassarino, I.; Richter, W. (2008). "Swarm creativity: The legal and organizational challenges of open content film production (DIME Working Paper No. 45)". In Andersen, B. (ed.). DIME Working Papers on Intellectual Property Rights (PDF). London: Birkbeck College.

See also[edit]