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    Fight Choreography Experiment

    on November 18th, 2009, by Colin Levy

    The past few weeks Lee has been hard at work designing the Gatekeeper Fight. It’s not as easy task! We’ve been trying to figure out the best way to visualize the fight scenes, because a written beat sheet only can communicate so much, and blocky animatics can be somewhat difficult to read.

    So. To better visualize the fight, the team decided to go out and record ourselves clobbering each other with mops and broomsticks.

    Check it out.

    Fight Choreography Experiment from Project Durian on Vimeo.

    This video was shot and edited by our new documentary videographer, Ali Boubred!

    Tips for decoding the fight: Nathan is Sintel, Lee is a bandit enemy. They’re in a bunch of snow.

    Yeah, not everything is totally clear, and we didn’t get as far as we wanted to. This is meant to be extremely rough – a communication tool. It’s really helped us think things through. Hopefully we’ll be doing something similar/better for the fight at the beginning of the film. Stay tuned!


    90 Responses to “Fight Choreography Experiment”

    1. oenvoyage Says:

      Terribly fun to watch while eating dinner. Very “making-of” style πŸ™‚ Looking forward to see the fight scene.

    2. DingTo Says:

      LOL! Awesome πŸ™‚

    3. Felix Says:

      Wheres the Choreography sponsors?

      Seriously, that was sad, just sad. :'(

      I mean as far as real fighting moves go,
      I’m pretty sure you bunch just molested martial arts. πŸ˜€

      in a fun way off course…

    4. Steven Says:

      this scene is excellent πŸ™‚

    5. Felix Says:

      forgot the PS.

      nice job David. πŸ™‚

    6. Lee Says:

      Hey guys,

      I’ve been coming up with some fun moves for the fight sequences and ways it can achieve what it needs to for the story and scene, which as a first step is working well. I’ve been relying on David for his skills in staff weapons quite a bit!

      Of course this still isn’t how it will look in the final film (haha), we have 2 more stages from now.

      First, I’ll getting consultation from real kung fu guys! So you can relax Felix =). They will really push the fighting and show the best way to block, attack or anything else physical needed in a scene, while I will be able to point out the context in which the actions will happen.

      After this, it’s down to animation. We’ll have lots of video reference of the martial artists we are working with, using this and our ‘animator’ing’ skills we can add some style to the motion and make our characters look fantastic on film, while keeping smart about how they fight.

      Glad the video is bringing some entertainment to you guys, we had fun making it, and as much fun watching it back. Luckily it has also been very educational for the team!


    7. francoisgfx Says:

      lol, that was funny !

    8. Felix Says:

      yeah, don’t sweat it lee, I remembered the mention of the kung fu guy’s, is the reason I brought it up. πŸ˜‰

      the rest was more joking. πŸ™‚

    9. stvndysn Says:

      wow looks amazing but i dont think there should be more than 1 stab stroke as in that position of the body it would go straight through the heart and as soon as the knife goes in the character should be looking around in case of other attackers.

      just a suggestion guys, looking good tho

    10. kram1032 Says:

      Haha, epic!

      Kung Fu guys will have a hard job improving those stunning fighting moves. No way this could get any better πŸ˜€ xD

    11. ndee (Andreas) Says:

      Hey Guys,
      great Job. It was really fun to watch this peace!!
      Colin, I really like how you’ve made the cuts!! They underline the speed of the fight very good!!
      You are great actors!!! ^^

      greetings from Germany

    12. Hubberthus Says:

      Very funny! πŸ˜€
      The “flying Sintel” part is the best πŸ˜€

    13. Francisco Ortiz Says:

      Awesome! I agree with Hubberthus. Please DO NOT REMOVE the jump support guys in final piece :))

      Start planning the scene outside! Next time go up a tree and shoot from there!

    14. Oliver Villar Says:

      Hahahh that was amazing guys!!! xDDD (Specially the Nathan’s “flying” Kick xDDDDDDDD).

      Good job!!

    15. Hubberthus Says:

      By the way, it’s very good to act out the moves, cause you can ‘understand’ it better.
      I have never made any animations (yet), but learned martial arts, and its essential to know which part of the body should go where. Without this, the moves just don’t look powerful

    16. Lasse R. Bruntse Says:

      Is ethernet cables good for tying stuff together? hmm, I must remember that..!

    17. Jack*RED Says:

      lool that was amazingly funny!!

    18. Ian Says:

      Honestly- why are you guys even bothering with all that CG stuff? This is gold!

    19. Johnell Says:

      Here is a great flash animation featuring some cool fight choreography. It’s the Xiao Xiao series. Yea it’s just stick figures, but it’s still great stuff.

    20. RedGum Says:

      haha. Great stuff! Keep it up guys!

    21. Likki Says:

      Epic xD Wonderful method of designing choreography. Try more experiments like that, it’s pure awesomeness! πŸ™‚

    22. Robo3Dguy Says:


      Wow this is looking great guys…keep it up!

    23. blenderman345 Says:

      unfortunately, I couldn’t hear anything. …
      Got no idea why, my speakers are fine.
      Either way:
      Go Team!
      That was encouaraging…
      Now if someone asks me what’s in Durian I can say, ”
      Epic fighting, epic stuff, epic epicness, and epic movie, and uh some more epic stuff”

      and with this being a rough rough animatic for a final,

      think about it.

      there’s one long way to a movie coming.
      (And please, for me, could this one just try the 10-12 minute mark? what was the decided time anyone remember?

    24. Liocg Says:

      With this kind of reference Sintel will end up laughing and doing jokes all the film.

      Keep it up!

    25. Bramkaandorp Says:

      Great ideas!

      Have to note though, just because I haven’t seen it being brought up yet.

      When someone is walking with a cane/stick, they have the stick on their right (that is, healthy) side, so that they can walk tripod style, as opposed to having to put all weight on the stick, which only makes your arms hurt after a while, and you will be slower than in “tripod” style.

      Compare it to walking with crouches. You don’t hold your crouch on your hurt side, because then you have to lean into your hurt leg if you walk. Having the crouch on the other side makes more sense, because it distributes the weight over an even area.

      Then again, Who am I to think that the main character will be limping. It is just what I saw in the scene.

      I hope this makes sense.



    26. Steren Says:

      What software is Ali Boubred using πŸ™‚ ?

    27. nawabz Says:

      looooooooool this is really fun to watch

    28. Reyn Says:

      Hahahaha! Nathan ruled! ^_^


    29. Simon Says:

      You guys should talk to someone in ARMA, association for renaissance martial arts. They do it the medieval way. Maybe not exactly what this scene is supposed to be, but if someone know European swordsmanship it’s them. Their techniques are directly from old manuscripts.

    30. Anonymous Says:

      Heh. Once we get our hands on the production files, I’ll sure someone will change the weapons into light-sabers.

    31. D Says:

      Ali Banzai! πŸ˜€

      There’s no question, Nathan is in need of an Oscar for his clearly brilliant acting work. From tragic heroes like in Bus Blues to epic heroine like Sintel, his range and sheer calibre of performance is unquestionably Zeus-like.
      Kudos for relative newcomer, Lee, as well. He is showing untapped potential. πŸ˜€ He might well be the next Russell Crowe. Only time will tell.

    32. ivan Says:

      Hi, i just already saw what you where doing for this fight, i though that maybe you could do a closer fight with some fast moves and turn around from her when the bad guy is coming to her.

      Imagine the same scene, sintel walking like slowly when the guy tried to hurt her, aproching to her, she fall on her right or left knee but rising her arm that under the rope (sleave) she has a small shield that block the atack at that time she is taking a small blade with her other hand from her belt….and hit the guy body.

      its just an idea maybe could work

      by the way its a nice nice work

    33. MTracer Says:

      What ever happened to BanGang? πŸ™

    34. Rob Cozzens Says:

      Totally awesome!!

    35. Riboshom Says:


      I’m probably the only one on Durian to see this in this video, but the fight somehow remember me the “Chick & Swells”, a French-Canadian group, that is known to be one of the lowest-budget production of all the history of (Canadian?) cinema.

      Take a look on Youtube, you will recognize the style…

    36. Facundo! Says:

      Great work guys! πŸ˜€
      Nathan hahaha funny movements πŸ™‚

    37. tmcthree Says:

      I feel a bit sorry for the animator. All of the mood animations like assassins creed are really high quality motion capture. He’s going to have his work cut out competing with that stuff using traditional animation…

    38. ChrisW Says:

      OMG!! Sintels been Sweded!

      Looooove it guys.

    39. Domy_Graphy Says:

      it’s hard core short
      but funny work

    40. RH2 Says:

      I think I found the documentor.
      Did anyone else notice him?

    41. D Says:

      Maybe… But then who’s holding the camera?!

    42. Davis Says:

      Forget the movie, put this on the DVD instead! And make the Nathan Flying Kick slow motion.

    43. pavel Says:

      πŸ˜€ … can you imagine better job than being an character animator? IT IS AWESOME

    44. Liocg Says:

      D Said: “Maybe… But then who’s holding the camera?!”

    45. eye208 Says:

      With that yellow attire, Nathan totally looks like Uma Thurman!

    46. mmz Says:

      …people are asking why i am so happy today…..

    47. www2 Says:

      I think that your system admin are not happy with the use of hist cat5 networking cables as a rope.
      Next time use larp wapents.

      but the the idea is good.

    48. Domy_Graphy Says:

      the power of Swab

    49. D Says:

      Actually, about the choreography, I hope that Sintel in the movie would kill her enemy a bit more gracefully than Nathan had demonstrated by something like slitting his throat, motivated by the enemy’s continued attacks even while down. The repeated angry stabbing seems otherwise like an emotional overreaction to a simple ambush attempt.

    50. MadSquirrel Says:

      blenderman345 Says:
      “Now if someone asks me what’s in Durian I can say,
      Epic fighting, epic stuff, epic epicness, and epic movie, and uh some more epic stuff”

      … You forgot “Epic Team” !

      Good work !
      Everytime I see a new blog post, I wish I could be part of the team ! πŸ™‚ One day, I will be skilled enough to be part of it …. one day …………. when I am retired ? πŸ™‚

    51. Dread Knight Says:


    52. Fist of Fur Says:

      nice job !
      David, do you know about la canne de combat ?
      Your little speech about parrying with a staff made me think so.

    53. Nixon Says:

      Heya everyone!
      great lil fighting scene u made up there…creative use of household stuff as weapons, no need to talk about the acting anymore since Ton really sumed that up perfectly!
      Great to see u have a new video documentary staff, greets to Ali Boubred:)
      looking forward to each new blogpost here, they re huge fun and grant a great insight on the process!
      Best regards to everyone involved, take care! (especially with all that new weps on the premises)

    54. RNS Says:

      these guys will look back in 30 years on this and wonder,wow! that was us ?
      you guys are funny…

    55. Dan Says:

      Fun stuff!

    56. Deevad Says:

      @Fist of Fur : πŸ™‚ not really “la canne de combat” , but I practised a little year in this amazing club in Toulouse : ( french website). Btw, I would love to learn “la canne de combat”

    57. Frederick Says:

      Hey guys!

      I really appreciate what you do, but already at this early stage it is clear to me that this project takes a direction, that I dislike. Its not the fantasy I love fantasy, but its the violence. If you really want to animate people being shot, dying on the ground sobbering blood, you really lost me. I am sorry.
      There is so much violent crap out there, why add more, when there is just no commercial pressure to do so. Fantasy violence is okay to a degree but, your fight sences suggested you are aiming at a more realistic depiction.

      When I remember back, I disliked the violence in Big Buck Bunny too, not too much, as it was a cartoon, but I felt it was unnecessary. And I believe this time you are heading for much more brutal scenes. Please donΒ΄t. There is just no need to copy the bad taste of many commerical movie regisseurs.

      I hope I am wrong about his.
      And just not to be entirely negative: The artwork is just amazing. Even more it hurts when it is wasted to such violence.

      Good luck for you and the project !

    58. DwarvenFury Says:

      Frederick: If I remember correctly, the Durian team is aiming for roughly PG-13 violence levels. If that is the case, it won’t be extremely graphic.

    59. Lee Says:

      Nathan stabbed me repeatedly for fun, he enjoys my slow and gruesome death =)

      I am usually a fan of keeping most gore off-screen, and also don’t like violence for no reason. I like fighting scenes not for the death and gore, but because they are like a dance and externalize a conflict. DwarvenFury is right, we are aiming to keep this PG. So we will aim to be tasteful while keeping the full impact of the scenes theme; her survival.

    60. Sirdude Says:

      I think Nathan needs a skirt or at least a skort.

      Looks great. I’ve just started staff training(2 months) in Shaolin Kung Fu if you guys ever need another opinion on the action I can run it by my instructor and some other really knowledgeable people.

      Were taught to block how Lee was blocking though vs David’s method. I think both have advantages and would work, its more picking a style and sticking to it than anything…

    61. Linkeltje Says:

      Greaeat! fun!

    62. Saverio Says:

      LOL…someone in the neighborhood: “close to me there are VERY strange peoples acting even more strangely…” ;DD

    63. Toby Says:

      lol : ). Very funny, but also a really good idea for getting everyone on the same page with the fight sequences. Nice post.

    64. ropsta Says:

      Have you guys considered checking out kabuki.

      It’s like fight scenes in slow motion.

      Here’s an example at youtube.


    65. ITrAB Says:

      Kill me, and i will still laughing! xD

    66. Lancer Says:

      Ethernet cables are expen$$$ive!!!! I just forked out for a bundle hoping to make me a renderfarm.

    67. Niyado Says:

      Jajajaja, thats very nice, keep going guys!! I want to watch this open movie and use a great build or the finally Blender 2.5, keep going you guys are doing a really good work πŸ™‚

    68. Dusty Says:

      That was so funny! But worth effort for the sake of reference.

    69. clintgun Says:

      Great job guys! πŸ˜€

    70. eye208 Says:


      Here’s how to do proper anime fighting scenes:


    71. D Says:

      Just to put some fannish speculation-bait I had in my head out there:

      What is that seal design hidden behind the Sintel title on this website? A tree of some sort? The faint silhouette to the right implies that a dragon will be visiting the city of Ishtar.
      From the concept art board at the beginning of the video, it seems like you guys have considered a dark-haired version of Sintel? But I think you will be sticking with the red hair, and I like it better that way. πŸ™‚
      And who are these “Guardians” that Lee spoke of? I wouldn’t think the Durian team themselves would mistakenly speak “guardians” for “Gatekeepers”, nor do I believe they’ve renamed them, so perhaps they are another enemy?

      Hmmmm… πŸ˜€

    72. Torsten S. Says:

      “I think I found the documentor.
      Did anyone else notice him?”

      Oh no, that’s only me. Greetings to the Durian team, nice to see this funny piece of art again. πŸ˜€

    73. gandalf Says:

      Ouch! I love the video, it helps so much to imagine what you’re doing guys and how the whole process of creating a movie looks like πŸ™‚

      But, once again, I have to comment on the martial arts you use here… It’s very… artificial. You care so much about realism and skin textures, and cloths simulation, yet the fighting scenes (afaik it’s going to be a major take away for this movie) are shaping up to be very kung-fu I-jump-around-and-do-backflips.

      So let me just ask once again. Pleeease, consider adding a bit of “weight” to your fights. First, all the traditional martial arts, especially in the movie culture, are so overused and mashed up to “look good” that it just begins to look plastic a bit.
      Several things to notice:

      Girls who weights 40 kg cannot handle two-handed, 80kg swords, sorry. Guys who weight s110kg will not be knocked-out by a punch from a 40kg girl no matter how many centuries she trained Kung Fu, Aikido or Yoga. Sorry.
      Girl who weights 40kg will not be able to block a falling weapon with her weapon. It’s out of question. It’s absolutely not possible because of the physics.
      There are no flesh wounds. People cut with a knife in a hand will not take their weapon to the other hand and fight. They will fall on the ground, instantly get shocked and die out of bleeding soon.

      Few examples of a real fights:

      and fighting girls:

      It’s sooo far away from the made-up fights. I understand that it’s easier to make a good-looking scene with flipbacks, sticks, and jumps. But please, consider at least adding a bit of muscles to Sintel. She looks very skinny and light and the scenes you’re planning seem to go in the direction of super jumps, incredibly strong, skinny, short girl and weapons used as if they had no weight.

    74. Fist of Fur Says:

      You can find a lot of videos on youtube about la canne de combat. I recommend you watch those with Florian Adami and Jonathan Dudreuil, they are the most spectacular.
      Oh, and you can also watch : (fights start at 3min16) (starting at 1min03)
      Maybe they can help the team choreographing the fights, some of the fights are fast and quite nice to see.
      Whenever you get back to France, you’ll find Canne de Combat clubs in Toulouse and a lot of major cities.

    75. Justin Says:

      This movie is being made by such loveable dorks

    76. Bailey Says:

      Haha! This was great. BTW, when is Lee’s portfolio going to be available? It does not appear to be up yet… πŸ˜‰

    77. Keen Says:

      That was hilarious =D Just a note though, getting real kung fu guys wont necessarily make it look awesome, I’ve seen many real life kung fu fights (in videos) and they look lame compared to the fights you see in hollywood. This might be because real fighting is more efficient, while not necessarily more ‘cooler’.

      So you to get it really good, you’d need to get a good choreographer or at least an experienced stunt actor.

      Either that or you can look up for stunt actor videos on youtube or the net.

    78. Frederick Says:


      >Nathan stabbed me repeatedly for fun, he enjoys my slow and gruesome >death =)

      Ok, ok i totally get this, maybe he has good reason ;-P

      I am glad that i just misinterpreted that video, so there is nothing in the way of totally enjoying the creation of this film.

      Thank you guys

    79. TheANIMAL (marcus) Says:

      I want at least a hundred chopped off limbs in this film or i will be angry.

    80. creek23 Says:

      you guys should watch some Jackie Chan movies for some kickass choreography. These 2 are just some of his best:

      * The Medallion —
      * Forbidden Kingdom —

    81. howell Says:


      * Jackie Chan’s – Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow –

    82. MacSlow Says:

      Just for everbody to know. We (banGang) will help out with fight/acrobatics/stunts for Sintel. I’m on contact with Ton and planning it all is underway. Just a bit slow news-wise from my side as I just literally returned from a two-week Ubuntu-sprint/UDS in Dallas, TX.

      Best regards …


    83. creek23 Says:

      @MacSlow: hey, what an opportunity.

      Again, if you guys could put a ’story’ from the fight scene like Jakie Chan fight choreography does, it would be pretty awesome fight scene to watch.

      In Jackie Chan movies,
      1. he always have this dodging/attacking while trying to protect something. (ex, a large old vase in Rush Hour) β€” sends you at the edge of your seat hoping for the jar not to break.

      2. he projects emotion when he’s being hit, unlike other kung fu actors who acts so tough.

      3. his choreography usually doesn’t require flying like other kung fu superstar. he displays a fight of an ordinary fighter in an entertaining way.

      [can someone please delete the earlier post? thanks.]

    84. cook Says:

      miren este trailer

    85. accorte Says:

      Lol xD
      Forget the 3D Animations! You should make the whole movie in this style.
      The jump attack at the end rocks! xD

    86. Marcus Rasseli Says:


    87. Arne Babenhauserheide Says:

      For a short view how a people can fight efficiently without having to resort to steroids / raw muscle power, here are three examples from wing tsun, though only one of them with staffs:

    88. Willie Pierce Says:

      For ways to look at fight scenes see if you can find a group of SCA in your area. they do heavy fighting with historic acuracy and historical fencing so you can get an ideal of how it would really play out. then build off that. you could probably get them to let you record it. (SCA doesnt do any staff fighting but does do some hand to hand stuff)

    89. Willie Pierce Says:

      gandalf.. Gandolf I weigh about 230ish lb… Ive been knocked off my feet and about 5 foot back by a girl weighing about 100-120. and yes I would lay money that if she would have ever wanted to lay my happy but out she would have without an issue. she had been training for like 10 years.

      I dont know about an 80kg sword… thats like 170 lbs (roughly)… my big ass sword (2 handed fantasy great sword) only weights like 15-20 pounds at most… but ill admit that I get wore out quick with it. swinging 15 pounds around isn’t fun… get a punching bag and try to punch it at about half power for 3 minutes. that will wear you out.

      I broke one of my friends arms and it was about 45 minutes after we got done that he noticed. In combat sometimes you dont notice things. I was wrestling around with him working through various holds, escapes trying to get him to submit while he did the same to me. I broke (i dont remember which) one of the 2 bones in his forearm. btw he ended up getting me to tap. he used his arm enough that he had muscle damage including the bone. the only reason he went to emergency room was he had a massive knot on the side of his arm.

      Adrenaline will help out some.. getting into the moment… and if your fighting for your life you will do things that you would never have thought possible.

    90. Gopinath Says:

      Hope in the Cds there will be better Tutorials. Like using video reference etc;
      and not like the Big Bunny Cd which contains onle ONE tut.