Public Domain Animation: New and Notable

When you think of cartoons and animation available in the Public Domain, you probably think of Betty BoopPopeye, and Superman. But there’s a number of people working today who have put their films out into the world for FREE, and you should check them out.

The following is a round-up of a few films created with Blender, open-source software that is, according to the organization’s page, “free to use for any purpose, forever.”


A girl who befriends a young, injured dragon embarks on a quest to find it after it is snatched by a much larger dragon. The ending is unexpected and rather sad, with a little slice of hope.

The film has some scenes are more completely rendered than others, and the travel sequence seems like a test pattern for scenery and weather algorithms, but the settings sure are pretty.

The film was directed by Colin Levy, and runs about 15 minutes (including the end credits)

big-buck-bunny_editBig Buck Bunny

This film was written and directed by Sacha Goedegebure, with the collective talents of the ace Blender crew. It is a little more polished (and far more humorous) than Sintel. In it, Big Buck Bunny gets harassed by a gang of not-quite-right forest creatures, led by a particularly evil flying squirrel. He plots revenge, and gets it.

Running about 10 minutes, it’s a good laugh. Do watch through until after the credits for a little extra giggle.

Elephants_Dream_s2_bridge_editElephants Dream

Directed by Bassam Kurdali, this 11 minute film is the strangest of the bunch. Proog, the old master of a giant machine, is giving a tour to his protege, Emo. Imagine if H. R. Giger had a bad trip in an old-fashioned switchboard office while trying to play an Escape the Asylum game. Now animate it. Congratulations, you have this film.

If you want to see more FREE animated short films, go visit the Internet Archive’s animation and cartoons collections.

To keep up with the great open-source work Blender is doing, you can follow chairman Ton Roosendaal on Twitter.

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