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Morevna Project – Beyond Cartoons

The Morevna Project goes way beyond the original aim of creating an anime feature film using exclusively Free Software. In fact it is now the hottest bed for Open Source 2D animation in the world, located, ironically, in a cold and remote region of Russia.

Konstantin and Nikolai teach a group of teenagers design and animation techniques.

Julia Velkova recently took the trouble of visiting Konstantin Dmitriev and Nikolai Mamashev, a passionate pair of Free Software advocates, with a penchant for Japanese animation, that tutor a group of equally enthusiastic Russian kids in the use of Open Source animation tools. The trip took her three days from Stockholm to Gorno-Altaysk, population 57.000, the tiny capital of the Altai Republic, Siberia. Three days. In the 21st century. That is how remote it is.

Konstantin and Nikolai teach animation at the Adamant art school where, against all odds, the group of teenagers, using exclusively Free Software (mainly Krita, GIMP and Synfig), recycled Chinese hardware, and a spotty Internet connection, are learning how to design backgrounds, characters, and keyframes.

The Adamant art school animation teachers and students.

But what is most amazing is how such a small group of very keen users can make a difference within the Free Software world. Synfig, for example, the group’s pet project, was until recently, a very obscure piece of software. But now it is making itself into the mainstream thanks to the group’s efforts, and has been consistently under development since Konstantin, Nikolai and Ivan Mahonin started helming the project.

Maybe as tribute to that, the organisers of the Libre Graphics Meeting should maybe consider holding their next event in Gorno-Altaysk. One thing is for sure: it will be difficult to find a keener local users’ group anywhere else.

Konstantin, Nikolai and their students rely heavily on Synfig to do their work. They also contribute code (along with Ivan Mahonin) to the project and raise money at, amongst other places, Pling. Please head over and donate generously to this project and help keep the ground zero of Open Source 2D animation alive.