If you're looking for a quick blast of inspiration to spur you on, a beautifully crafted short film can do wonders. Here, we've put together a list of awesome 3D short films, released in the last few years, that will make you laugh, cry, and in some cases, shudder.
- For more 3D goodness, see The 20 best 3D movies (opens in new tab) for 2012.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy...
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
This gorgeous short film, directed by the two of the founders of creative agency Moonbot studios, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, recently won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. And it's easy to see why as the film's narrative and visuals are expertly crafted.
The short tells the story of Mr Lessmore and his love of books. While quietly writing one day, Mr Lessmore finds himself in the middle of a freak storm, which literally uproots him, his city and even the words from his page. As he goes about recovering from the disaster, Mr Lessmore comes across a friendly book who leads him to a new home and life.
The popular, enchanting story has also been turned into an interactive iPad app, which just like the film, allows its audience to get completely lost in its magic.
3D software used: Maya
It's all about the thrill of the chase in this eight-minute CG sequence created by Wes Ball and his studio Oddball Animation. The amazing quality of the graphics and animation in this short film is reflected by the number of YouTube hits it's accumulated in the month since its release, which at last count was just over 450,000. Not to mention the 150,000 Vimeo views it received in just 48 hours.
The sci-fi adventure, set in a post-apocalyptic future, is a simple story. Guy finds something he shouldn't, bad guys realise and the mother of all chase sequences begins. Everything about the film, from the choreography and composition to the CG, animation and musical score is absolutely spot on.
Some of the film's most impressive effects happen toward the end so keep an eye out for the truly stunning dare-devil motorbike jump at the close (not that you'll miss it!). All we can say is 'More please!'
Continuing with the post-apocalyptic theme is ROSA - an epic sci-fi short film created by Spanish animator Jess Orellana (opens in new tab). There are two things that make ROSA especially stand out; firstly, the fact that it took this young solo artist just a year to create and secondly, the thorough quality of his work.
In this 10-minute short film, the world and all natural life as we know it has disappeared. From the destruction awakes ROSA, a cyborg deployed from the Kernel Project - mankind's last attempt to restore Earth. But ROSA quickly learns that she is not the only entity to have awoken and must also fight for her survival.
When ROSA was first seen back in 2010 it immediately created a buzz within the film industry, which has resulted in a feature-length version of the short being developed. And we can't wait to see it!
Sintel finds it way on to our list for two reasons. Firstly, because it's awesome in every aspect and secondly, because of its unique development story. The short film was started in 2009 by CEO of The Blender Foundation, Ton Roosendaal, as a means to further improve and validate the company's free/open source 3D application, Blender. After generous donations from the internet community and the recruitment of 3D artists keen to get involved, the Durian team responsible for Sintel was established shortly after.
The 15-minute film tells the story of a girl named Sintel who is searching for a baby dragon called Scales. Subsequent flashbacks reveal that Sintel found Scales injured and nursed him back to health, forming a very close bond in the process. But during the recovery, Scales is caught by an adult dragon and Sintel embarks on a quest to rescue him.
The film itself was successfully released late in 2010 and continues to grow in popularity, proved by the short's YouTube page alone having over 3 million views.
3D software used: Blender
This little gem of a short is the product of Korean creators Sticky Monster Lab aka FLA. The film debuted at Seoul's first record and CD fair late last year, using the soundtrack of feel-good indie rock band The Freaks. But the film itself far from feel-good, instead delivering a dark take on friendship.
The short tells the story of The Loner, who sits about all day gazing at his knees while society passes him by. Starting in his messy bedroom, he soon relocates to the curb outside where he meets a tiny pink dog, Ke, who is keen to befriend him. But will The Loner accept?
This sad but truly gorgeous tale provides a refreshing new take on the subject narrative and presents a gorgeous bold graphic style. The film is produced and directed in a way that will leave you feeling mixed-emotions, although the overriding one will undoubtedly be admiration for its creators. Sad but beautiful.
Although Oscar-winning studio Aardman have made their name through claymation, this is by no means the extent of their talent. And Pythagasaurus is a perfect example of the awesomeness the Aardman team are capable of. Give creatives free rein and this is the kind of quality narrative, characters and set designs they come up with. Hurrah!
Pythagasaurus tells the tale of a crazy dinosaur who loves math. Naturally. The comedic story is led by two villagers keen to ask the genius mathematician if a volcano that has just arrived on their doorstep will destroy their home should it erupt. After finding Pythagasaurus, the villagers get an answer. But was it the one they were looking for?
While Aardman usually concentrate on animations suitable for the entire family, this short is aimed at a more mature audience with casual profanity and the occasional bloody death. And we love it!
3D software used: Maya
Loom is a prime example of some of the talented 3D artists that have emerged in the last few years. The short film was created in 2010 by four students - Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Csaba Letay and Regina Welker - as their last project at film and media training facility Filmakademie.
The ambitious project is a fully photorealistic sequence depicting a moth caught in a spider's web. The five-minute film includes a number of truly jaw dropping, detailed close-ups of nature taking its course, which you'll find hard to believe is not live-action. And the quality of production will leave you simply watching in awe.
Since the film's release, the student quartet have gone on to form successful production studio Polynoid and the short has won many recognised industry awards, including Best International Animation Short Film at the Monterrey International Film Festival.
Just. Plain. Awesome.
3D software: Softimage
It's not easy being a wolf. This funny short film was created by Valencia-based school of animation PrimerFrame's founder Jaime Maestro and enrolled students, proving that it's not just professional studios creating high quality 3D films. This traditional fairy tale model takes a corporate twist and does so with serious amount of style.
The story tells of a window cleaner wolf who, while working, comes across an office full of succulent sheep. Unable to resist the lure of his favourite meal, he lands himself a job on the same floor with one thing in mind. Dinner.
Although only released a few months ago, the film has already gained recognition within the industry, winning public votes for best short film and award nominations. A brilliantly executed and hilariously funny film.
The Backwater Gospel
In a complete change of mood, the last thing you will feel like doing after watching Backwater Gospel is laughing. Instead you'll shudder as the Grim Reaper waits for the residents of a small town to turn on one another so he can claim his next victim. The film is brilliant example of the crazy amounts of talent currently coming out of the world's animation schools - in this case Denmark's renowned institution The Animation Workshop.
The original, macabre animation tells the story of a small isolated community in the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. The town is seemingly doomed by the regular visit of the undertaker, who always precedes death. But one day, the grim promise fails and tension builds as the fearful townsfolk of Backwater wait for someone to die.
This chilling tale is a gorgeous work of art, also recognised by over half-a-million people on its YouTube page. Truly sublime work.
3D software used: Maya
Our last entry is creation of Team Cerf - a group students who graduated from the highly acclaimed French animation school Supinfocom. The quality of work is clear in the four-and-a-half-minute short, which is fun, stylish and sure to have you grinning from ear-to-ear.
Buck is in fact a cool, dear-headed teenager with an incredibly adoring and affectionate girlfriend. However, while his somewhat odd head doesn't bother his other half, it certainly bothers her deer-hunting father. He pulls out a gun, Buck finds the door and the chase is on. Literally.
The cartoony, madcap animation has gone down a storm since it was released so if you haven't seen it yet check it out!
3D software: 3ds Max
And that's it for now! We do our best to find the top work out there but is there something we've missed? Or is there a short film you think deserves to be included? If so, let us know in the comments box below...
You can also check out more indepth stories on short 3D films and industry insights at our sister site 3D World.
Written by Kerrie Hughes