Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

June 18 2018

YouTube Blocks Blender Videos Worldwide

Tuesday 19 June 2018, by Ton Roosendaal

Last night we received a contract from Google. You can read it here. It’s six pages of legal talk, but the gist of the agreement appears to be about Blender Foundation accepting to monetize content on its Youtube channel.

However, BF already has an ad-free Youtube account since 2008. We have monetizing disabled, but it looks like Google is going to change this policy. For example, we now see a new section on our channel settings page: “Monetization enabled”.

However, the actual advertisement option is disabled in the advanced settings:

Now there’s another issue. Last year we were notified by US Youtube visitors that a very popular Blender Conference talk wasn’t visible for them – the talk Andrew Price gave in 2016; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Artists. It had over a million views already.

With our channel reaching > 100k subscribers, we have special priority support. So we contacted them to ask what was wrong. After a couple of mails back and forth, the reply was as follows (22 dec 2017):

Thanks for your continued support and patience.

I’ve received an update from our experts stating that you need to enable ads for your video. Once you enable, your video will be available in the USA.

If there’s anything else you’d need help with, please feel free to write back to us anytime as we are available 24/7 to take care of every partner’s concerns.

Appreciate your understanding and thanks for being our valuable partner. Have an amazing day!

Which was quite a surprising statement for us. My reply therefore was (22 dec 2017):

I’m chairman of the Blender Foundation. We choose to use a 100% ad-free channel for our work, this to emphasis our public benefit and non-profit goals.

According to your answer we are being forced to enable advertising now.
I would like to know where this new Youtube policy has been published and made official.
We then had every other month a reply like this:

Please allow me some time to work with specialists on your issue. I’ll investigate further and will reach back to you with an update at the earliest possible.

Appreciate your patience and understanding in the interim.

Just last week, June 12, I mailed them again to ask for the status of this issue. The reply was:

I completely understand your predicament. Apologies for the unusual delay in hearing back from the Policy team. I’ve escalated this issue for further investigation and assistance. Kindly bear with us while we get this fixed.

Appreciate your understanding in this regard.

And then on June 15th the entire channel went black.
To us it is still unclear what is going on. It could be related to Youtube’s new “subscription” system. It can also be just a human error or a bug; our refusal to monetize videos on a massively popular channel isn’t common.
However – it remains a fair and relevant question to Google: do you allow adfree channels without monetization? Stay tuned!

Monday 18 June 2018, by Francesco Siddi

Since a few days all Blender videos on the OFFICIAL BLENDER CHANNEL have been blocked worldwide without explanation. We are working with YouTube to resolve the issue, but the support has been less than stellar. In the meantime you can find most of the videos on cloud.blender.org.

June 17 2018

Blender at Annecy 2018

The Blender theam is back from The Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018 and MIFA, the industry marketplace which takes place during the festival. Annecy is a major international event for over 8000 animation industry professionals and having a Blender presence there was an extremely rewarding experience.

The MIFA 2018

The entrance of the MIFA, at the Hotel Imperial – Ph. by Hjalti

Hundreds of people stopped by the Blender booth and were amazed by the upcoming Blender 2.8 feature videos, the Blender Open Movie reels, the Hero showcase and the live set of Grease Pencil demos prepared by Daniel M. Lara. Breaking down production files step-by-step was a crowd pleaser and got an impressive number of compliments, good feedback and follow-up requests.

Demo setup

Daniel M. Lara showcasing Grease Pencil – Ph. by Hjalti

While two years ago our presence was more focused on the upcoming Agent 327 film project, having a clearer focus on software lead to active outreach from studios currently using Blender in their production pipeline. In France alone, there are dozens of small and medium studios using Blender to produce film and TV series. These companies are often looking for artists and professional trainers, and have expressed positive remarks about the Blender Network and the BFCT initiatives.

Café des Arts

Café des Arts is where the festival happens at night – Ph. by Hjalti

Overall, this experience confirmed the growing appreciation and adoption of Blender as integral part of the production pipeline. This is made possible thanks to the Blender development team, and the Blender community, which is often seen as one of the main reasons for switching tools.

A shout out to Pablo, Hjalti and Daniel for the great work at the booth. Keeping the show running 10 hours a day for 4 consecutive days was no joke :)

Until next year!
Francesco

The Annecy 2018 Team

The Annecy 2018 Team

May 01 2018

Goodbye Kansas Studios

Goodbye Kansas Studios is a VFX studio that creates award-winning visual effects, digital animation and motion capture for movies, game trailers and commercials. Goodbye Kansas Studios main office lies in Stockholm, Sweden, but they are also located in Los Angeles, London, Hamburg and Uppsala.

Goodbye Kansas Studio

Text by Nils Lagergren and Daniel Bystedt, Goodbye Kansas

We pride ourselves in having a structure at work where we put the artists first and the administration works a lot to support the artists. This has in turn created a company culture where artists help each other out as soon they run into any CG related issue. We also have a very strong creative atmosphere where artists feel ownership of their tasks and go out of their way to achieve visual excellence.

At Goodbye Kansas Studios we use several 3D applications, such as Houdini, Blender, Zbrush and Maya. We always try to approach a challenge with the tool that is best suited for solving the problem at hand. Blender first caught our eye because some of our artists had started trying it out and were surprised over how much faster they could produce models. Even though not every artist at the company use Blender it is becoming more and more popular in the modeling department at the Stockholm office. Let’s have a look at some projects!

Characters for Unity – Adam Demo

Characters were modeled in Blender and Zbrush. The low poly version of the character was entirely done in Blender.

Blender fits nicely into our pipeline because of its powerful modeling tools. We also use it for hair grooming, which then is exported as curves and used for procedural hair setups in other packages. Blender has a very nice mix between procedural tools, standard box modeling and sculpting. Generally we use Zbrush for character work and Blender for hard surface and props/environment work. We also use it in parts of our environment workflow for scattering objects.

Walking dead – season 8

Retopology and UV-mapping of human actor scans were done in Zbrush and Blender. Grooming of hairstyles were also done in Blender.

Here are something that artists say about Blender.

“Things that are very complex to achieve in other applications are suddenly easy!”
“As a modeler it’s a program that works with you, instead of against you.”
“Suddenly I love Dutch people”
“It made box modelling fun again”
“It feels so strange that Blender is free when it’s actually better than most other modeling programs on the market”

Overkill’s: The Walking dead – Aidan trailer

“Upresolution” of zombie game assets were made both in Zbrush and Blender. Grooming of zombie hairstyles were done in Blender, and we also made a bunch of environment assets.

Along with the gods – The two worlds

The stone chamber was created with Blender. There was a lot of tedious work with placing rocks so they would no intersect in this environment. Thanks to Blender’s fast rigid body simulation system, we could simulate a low resolution version of the rocks and drop them in place. The rocks were then relinked to a high resolution version and published as an environment model. The stone characters in this scene were also done in Blender in two passes. First, the rocks were scattered onto a human base mesh and then they were nudged around by hand for better art direction. The big stone walls were also sculpted in Blender.

Biomutant – cinematic trailer

The little hero character was modeled in Zbrush and Blender. Grooming of the fur was done in Blender.

Raid: World War 2 – Cinematic Trailer

Several environments were done in Blender. We started the layout process using Grease Pencil. This was great, since we could do it very quickly, side-by-side with the art director and address his thoughts and notes. This Grease Pencil sketch was later linked into each environment artists’ scene so they had a good reference when building it. The environment artists did also link each others scene so that they could see each others work update. This made it easy to tie the separate rooms together.

Mass Effect: The Andromeda Initiative

The Moon environment was made in Blender. Being able to sculpt the ground at the same time as scattering out rocks made it really easy to iterate the shot and see how everything looked in the camera. By importing the character animation with Alembic from Maya to Blender, the environment artist could make sure that nothing intersected the characters feet while they were walking. This also enabled us to create the environment simultaneously as we were animating the shots.

April 24 2018

Blender at FMX 2018

FMX 2018 (Stuttgart, April 24-27) is one of Europe’s most influential conference dedicated to Digital Visual Arts, Technologies, and Business. This year Blender is going to take part in 3 events, featuring Ton Roosendaal and artists from the Blender studio crew.

Blender at FMX 2018

Presentations and Panels

Blender will be represented at the following events on April 26th:

Come and see us!

If you are attending FMX and would like to hang out on Thursday, get in touch with francesco@blender.org or reach out to us directly on social media!

April 15 2018

Hero – Blender Grease Pencil showcase

After a series of successful short film production focused on high-end 3D computer animation pipelines, the Blender team presents a 3 minutes short film showcasing Blender’s upcoming Grease Pencil 2.0.

Grease Pencil means 2D animation tools within a full 3D pipeline. In Blender. In Open Source. Free for everyone!

The original Grease Pencil technology has been in Blender for many years now, and it already got the attention of story artists in the animation industry worldwide. The upcoming Grease Pencil is meant to push the boundaries and allows feature quality animation production in Blender 2.8.

The Hero animation showcase is a fruit of the collaboration between Blender developers and a team of artist based in Barcelona, Spain, led by Daniel M. Lara. This is the 6th short film funded by the Blender Cloud, confirming once more the value of a financial model that combines crowdfunding of artistic and technical goals through the creation of Open Content.

The inclusion of Grease Pencil in Blender for mainstream release is part of the Blender 2.8 Code Quest, an outstanding development effort that is currently happening at the Blender headquarters in Amsterdam. The first beta of Blender 2.8 will be available in the second part of 2018.

Press Contact:
Francesco Siddi, Producer
francesco@blender.org

March 08 2018

Code Quest Campaign: A Success Story

A software project is a living thing, and every few years it needs to take a leap. A leap for survival, for innovation, to respond and adapt to new trends and technologies, to lay the foundation for future trends. This is a risky endeavour. Ambitious targets tend to significantly slow down development momentum due to complex engineering decisions, disagreements between team members or lack of outwards communication to the user community.

Blender has achieved this feat once before during its existence –the well known 2.5 project in 2010– thanks to the relentless leadership of Ton Roosendaal and a tight-knit team of developers and power users. After nearly 8 years of gradual improvements, during which Blender’s user base more than quadrupled, it was time for another jump. Enter Blender 2.8.

Blender 2.8

The main goal of Blender 2.8 is to further improve support for diverse workflows, complemented by features such as a high quality PBR viewport, 2D animation tools, advanced asset management and a powerful animation system. While Blender is often regarded as an oddity, its flexibility is being discovered and appreciated by a growing audience.

After over one year of work, the project needed a final sprint to deliver the first beta of Blender 2.8. To achieve this, the idea of a “Code Quest” was proposed: to bring together nearly all of the core developers for three months in one location, in the Blender Institute in Amsterdam.

This period would enable the team to tackle fundamental engineering issues, as well as to more efficiently focus on interface design and usability.

Code Quest Launch

How to successfully fund an Open Source project

The funding of the Code Quest, which was estimated 200K USD, has been divided between four parties.

The first was the Blender Foundation, the non-profit entity which is coordinating worldwide developers outreach and runs the official online platforms for the project. The Blender Foundation, via the Blender Development Fund is awarding grants to independent developers.

The second was Blender Institute, the Amsterdam-based Open Content powerhouse, who provided the initial funding for the campaign, public relations, communications and logistics. Blender Institute is hiring several of the Blender core developers and is funding part of the Code Quest costs via the Blender Cloud, the open production and training platform.

The remaining two parties were industry sponsors and the Blender user community, together targeted to cover nearly half of the total budget via a crowdfunding campaign.

A rocket ride

With the animation studio Tangent Animation and the makers of Lulzbot 3D printer Aleph Objects signing up as sponsors, industry support started well, and continued for the better with several other Blender-based businesses joining the effort.

However, the biggest challenge was to involve the user community. After reviewing several strategies (including using popular crowdfunding platforms) the Blender Institute team decided to focus the entire campaign on selling a memorable reward token – a space rocket shaped USB drive. Each rocket would cost 39 USD, with its price raising 10 USD within 3 weeks. Rockets would be produced right after the campaign, to give the immediate reward of having supported an ongoing project. Target was set to sell a 1000 rockets minimally.

Code Quest Rocket

And then the user community pulled off something truly outstanding. The goal was achieved in just 4 days, which resulted in confirming the official start in April and a new target of 2500 rockets. This stretch goal was set to expand the Code Quest team. The new target was achieved in less than 3 weeks.

Thanks to this additional support, almost 100K USD were raised, an amount comparable to the historic campaign that made Blender become Open Source back in 2002.

Code Quest months

The Code Quest is an unprecedented opportunity to document the development process in an open and transparent way, building up excitement in anticipation for Blender’s beta release due in July 2018. The Code Quest will be frequently covered using the official code.blender.org blog, via video logs, live streams and demos.

At the same time, two high-profile Blender Open Movies that are in production will be the ultimate stress test for the upcoming release. These are Hero, the first short film combining traditional animation in a three dimensional space, and Spring, a poetic visual journey that will raise the bar set by previous Blender Open Movies.

Blender 2.8 carries a lot of expectations. The Code Quest campaign has proven, once again, that the community is there to make it happen!

Francesco Siddi

Code Quest Landing

February 12 2018

Announcing Blender 2.8 Code Quest

Today the Blender Foundation announced the “Blender 2.8 Code Quest”, a crowd-funded event to gather the core developers to release the first version of the much anticipated Blender 2.8. It will be the first time that such a large development team will be working in one place. The crowd-funded goal is to get at least 10 contributors together for a period of 3 months, in the Blender Institute, Amsterdam, starting in April 2018.

For the Blender 2.8 project – with focus on workflow and an advanced new viewport system – several complex architectural changes are being added. The current team of core developers working on Blender 2.8 is distributed over multiple continents. Collaborating online from different places, in different timezones, using chat and emails, is not always efficient and is slowing down the process.

To prevent the 2.8 project to drag for another year – and to lose the exciting momentum – the Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute will combine their efforts to invite the core 2.8 developers to work in Amsterdam for 3 months. They will be working at the Blender Institute along with a group of artists who are using Blender 2.8 to produce a short film. This ensures we can tackle issues with enough attention, including time to provide feedback on UI design and usability. At least one of the permanent seats in the team is reserved for a designer to perform these tasks full-time.

The crowd-funding campaign is hosted on blender.org. The goal is to reach at least 1000 contributors who will pledge $39 and in return they will receive a limited edition Blender Rocket USB drive.

Confirmed participants are:
Ton Roosendaal, Sergey Sharybin, Dalai Felinto, Campbell Barton, Brecht van Lommel, Bastien Montagne, Clement Foucault, Joshua Leung, Sybren Stüvel and Pablo Vazquez. More people to be announced.

Read more about the Code Quest: https://www.blender.org/2-8/quest/

January 01 2018

Blender projects in 2018 to look forward to

The blender.org project is very lucky with attracting talent –great developers working together with fantastic artists. It’s how Blender manages to stand out as a successful and highly functional free & open software project. In this post I want to thank everyone for a wonderful Blender year and give a view at all of the exciting things that are going to happen– in 2018! (Fingers crossed :)

Eevee

In 2016 it was just an idea, having an interactive viewport in Blender with rendering quality at PBR levels. Last year this project took off in ways beyond expectation – everyone should have seen the demos by now.

Eevee in Blender

Early in 2018 animation support will come back (with support for modifiers), with as highlight OpenSubdiv support (GPU based adaptive subdivision surfaces).

Read about the Eevee roadmap here.

Grease Pencil

Blender is an original innovator in this area –providing a fully functional 2D animation tool in a 3D environment. You have to see it to believe it –it’s a mindblowing workflow for animators and story artists.

Grease Pencil

In Q1 of 2018 the short film “Hero” will be finished as proof-of-concept for the new workflow and tools of Grease Pencil in 2.8x.

You can read the latest status report here.

Workflow & “Blender 101”

Optimizing and organizing one’s working environment can significantly improve the workflow in 3D applications. We can’t make everyone happy with a single Blender configuration anymore. This is where the new Workspaces and Application Templates come in. In Q1 and Q2 of 2018 the first prototypes for radically configured simple Blenders are going to be made (a.k.a. the Blender 101 project).

Meanwhile work continues on usability and configurations in a daily production environment. Blender’s latest Open Movie “Spring” is going to be used for this.

Blender 2.8x is also getting a complete new layer system, allowing to organize your scenes in advanced ways. A Scene can have unlimited amount of layers (= drawings or renders),  unlimited amounts of collections and per collection render settings and overrides.

Visit the code.blender.org blog to read more about it.

New UI theme

No, there are no pictures yet! But one of the cool things of releasing a massive update is to also to update the looks. Nothing radical, just to make it look fresh and to match contemporary desktop environments. We’re still using the (great) design from 2009-2010. In computer years, that’s a century ago! Work on this should start Q1 and get finalized before Q2 ends. Contributions welcome (check ‘get involved’).

Cycles

In 2017 we saw the rise of AMD GPUs. Thanks to a full time developer who worked on OpenCL for a year, Blender is now a good choice for use on AMD hardware. For 2018 we want to work on solving the kernel compiling waiting time.

The Daily Dweebs

Cycles is now one of the most popular areas for developers to work in. Most of these are doing this as part of their daytime job – to make sure Cycles stays an excellent choice for production rendering. Expect in 2018 a lot of high quality additions and especially ways to manage fast renders.

Read more about the Cycles Roadmap here.

Blender Game Engine

One of Blender’s best features is that it’s a complete integrated 3D creation suite –enabling artists to create projects from concept to final edits or playback. Unfortunately the game engine has fallen behind in development– not getting the focus or development time it needs. There are many reasons for it, but one of these is that the code base for BGE is too much separated from the rest of Blender. That means that newly added Blender features need to be ported over to the engine to work.

Blender Game Engine

For the 2.8 project we want to achieve a better integration of BGE and Blender itself. The Eevee project has proven already how important real-time tools are and how well this can work for interactive 3D design and game creators.

That being said, outside of blender.org interesting Blender-related development for game engines happens too. Check out the Blender fork UPBGE for example, or the fascinating Armory Engine (see image above, it’s written in Haxe and Kha). And don’t forget the open source WebGL environments Blend4Web and Verge3D.

Assets and presets

Another ‘2.8 workflow’ related feature: we are working on better managing your files and 3d assets. Partially it’s for complex production setup, partially it’s also about configuring your Workspaces with nice visible presets – lists of pictures of shaders or primitives for example, ready to be dragged & dropped or selected.

Asset engine preview

More information can be found here, the planning for asset management and overrides.

Viewport Compositing

An important design aspect of Blender’s new viewport system is that each engine is drawing in its own buffer. These buffers then get composited in real-time.

Blender 267 splash screen

To illustrate how fast it is: in 2.8x the “Overlay engine” is using real-time compositing in the viewport (to draw selections or widgets).

When 2.8x is ready to get out of beta, we will also check on how to allow (node based) real time compositing in viewports. That then is the final step to fully have replaced the old “Blender Internal” render engine with an OpenGL based system.

This will especially be interesting for the Non-Photo-Realistic rendering enthusiasts out there. Note – FreeStyle rendering will have to fully recoded for 2.8. That’s still an open issue.

Modifiers & Physics upgrade

Blender’s modifier code is getting fully rewritten for 2.8. That’s needed for the new dependency graph system (threadable animation updates and duplication of data).

Blender Physics

A nice side effect of this recode is that all modifiers then will be ‘node ready’. We expect first experiments with modifier nodes to happen in 2018. Don’t get too excited yet, it’s especially the complexity of upgrading the old particle and hair system that’s making it a very hard project to handle.

An important related issue here is how to handle “caches” well (i.e. generated mesh data by modifiers or physics systems). This needs to be saved and managed properly – which is what the dependency graph has to do as well. As soon that’s solved we can finally merge in the highly anticipated Fracture Modifier branch.

Animation tools

Blender’s armature and rigging system is based on a design from the 90ies. It’s a solid concept, but it’s about time to refresh and upgrade it. When Blender 2.8x gets closer to beta I want to move my focus on getting a project organized (and funded) to establish a small team of developers on animation tools for the next decade – Animation 2020! Contact me if you want to contribute.

Discourse forums

Improving onboarding for new developers is on our wish list already for years. There are several areas we should do better – more swiftly handle reviews for provided patches and branches for example.

Discourse Forum

We also often hear that Blender developer channels are hard to find or not very accessible. The blender.org teams  still mainly use IRC chat and MailMan mailing lists for communciation.

In January we will test a dedicated blender.org developer forum using Discourse (fully free/open software). This forum will focus on people working with Blender’s code, developer tools and anything related to becoming a contributor. If this experiment works well we can expand it to a more general “get involved” website (for docs, educators, scientists, conferences, events).
However, user questions, feature requests – would be off topic, there are better places that handle this.

20th anniversary of first public Blender release

Oh yes! Today is exactly 20 years ago that I released the first Blender version in public – only for the Silicon Graphics IRIX platform.

Blender on IRIX

A FreeBSD and Linux version were made a couple of months after.

All as “freeware” then, not open source. I first had to learn the lesson of bursting internet bubbles before going fully open!

Blender 2.80 beta release

Originally planned for Q2 this year… luckily that quarter lasts until July 1st. All depends on how well the current projects go the coming months. But if it’s not July first, then at least we have…

SIGGRAPH, Vancouver

The largest annual 3D CG event is at August 12-16 this year. We aim at a great presence there and certainly it’s a great milestone to showcase 2.80 there!

Open issues

The 2.8 team tries to keep focus – not to do too many things at once and to finish what’s being worked on in the highest usable quality possible. That means that some topics are being done first, and some later. The priorities for 2.8 have been written down in this mail to the main developers list.

We can still use a lot of help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – especially when workflow and usability are your strength! But we can use contributors in many ‘orphaned’ areas: such as Booleans, Video editor, Freestyle render, Particles, Physics caching, Hair, Nurbs… but also to work on better integration with Windows and MacOS desktop environments.

Credits

An important part of the blender.org project are the studios and companies who contribute to Blender.

Special thanks goes to Blender Foundation (development fund grants), Blender Institute/Animation Studio (hiring 3-5 devs), Tangent Animation (viewport development), Aleph Objects (from Lulzbot printers, supporting Blender 101), Nimble Collective (Alembic), AMD (Cycles OpenCL support), Intel (seeding hardware, Cycles development), Nvidia (seeding hardware), Theory Animation and Barnstorm VFX (Cycles development, VFX pipeline).

Special thanks also to the biggest supporters of the Development Fund: Valve Steam Workshop and Blender Market.

Ton Roosendaal, Chairman Blender Foundation

September 27 2017

Title Design: from Wonder Woman to xXx

Joseph Conover is a 3D artist at Greenhaus GFX, where he created graphics for several high profile film credit sequences such as Wonder Woman, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and more. As he stepped into the industry and picked up other creative tools, Joseph found that Blender often gave him an edge in terms of workflow.

Text by Joseph Conover, Greenhaus GFX

I started using Blender about ten years ago and still implement it in my workflow for modeling, simulation, texturing, sculpting, and various other general tasks. The software is so comprehensive that it lets me picture the final product from a wide viewpoint. It offers a big advantage in eliminating guesswork and time wasted when jumping between different programs.

The largest project I’ve worked on at Greenhaus so far is the Wonder Woman’s end title sequence.

I did too many random things to count, but these are screenshots of notable parts:

Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman’s director) thought that many scenes in our sequence were too warlike and wanted some uplifting moments, so I 3D projected this view of Themyscira (home to Wonder Woman and the Amazons) based on a painted version created by my boss, Jason Doherty.

Here are several of my more notable models that were used in various scenes. The woman was based on actress Gal Gadot – sculpted in Zbrush and refined in Blender. For the plane, I took inspiration from the WWII German Biplane. My favorite thing to work on was the Sword structure, in which I used arrays and curve modifiers to create a rotating structure effect.

This was one of the environments I got to develop from start to finish. It was a mix of kitbashing and modeling in Blender. The whole process only took me an afternoon to finish because I was able to quickly duplicate the pieces and fill in the space. This scene was also repurposed in different shots throughout the sequence.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s logo was a different story, because it started off in Blender but ended in C4D. This was the logo our client liked at first, which was done in Blender with some 80’s style comping in After Effects:

While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s final product didn’t use much of Blender other than the animation, this promotional ad for the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend did.

This was a great example of Blender’s versatility. For the two shots below, I had to hand model the scenes to match the Cinerama Dome and the Hollywood Sign. Blender allowed me to quickly draft out my ideas from animation to the final lighting before I exported it to Maya and rendered in V-ray.

So what are your thoughts? Hit me up at josephconover.com if you want to chat about Blender or just talk art!

July 14 2017

July 11 2017

Over Half a Million Downloads per Month

The official Blender release is now being downloaded over half a million times per month, and a total of 6.5M last year.

During the period of July 2016 and July 2017, Blender has seen the release of Blender 2.78 and a/b/c fix releases.

This is not counting:

  • Experimental Builds on Buildbot
  • Release Candidates and Test Builds
  • Other services offering Blender (app stores like Steam or community sites like GraphicAll)
  • Linux repositories

Below is the full report for each platform.

June 17 2018

Blender at Annecy 2018

The Blender theam is back from The Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018 and MIFA, the industry marketplace which takes place during the festival. Annecy is a major international event for over 8000 animation industry professionals and having a Blender presence there was an extremely rewarding experience.

The MIFA 2018

The entrance of the MIFA, at the Hotel Imperial – Ph. by Hjalti

Hundreds of people stopped by the Blender booth and were amazed by the upcoming Blender 2.8 feature videos, the Blender Open Movie reels, the Hero showcase and the live set of Grease Pencil demos prepared by Daniel M. Lara. Breaking down production files step-by-step was a crowd pleaser and got an impressive number of compliments, good feedback and follow-up requests.

Demo setup

Daniel M. Lara showcasing Grease Pencil – Ph. by Hjalti

While two years ago our presence was more focused on the upcoming Agent 327 film project, having a clearer focus on software lead to active outreach from studios currently using Blender in their production pipeline. In France alone, there are dozens of small and medium studios using Blender to produce film and TV series. These companies are often looking for artists and professional trainers, and have expressed positive remarks about the Blender Network and the BFCT initiatives.

Café des Arts

Café des Arts is where the festival happens at night – Ph. by Hjalti

Overall, this experience confirmed the growing appreciation and adoption of Blender as integral part of the production pipeline. This is made possible thanks to the Blender development team, and the Blender community, which is often seen as one of the main reasons for switching tools.

A shout out to Pablo, Hjalti and Daniel for the great work at the booth. Keeping the show running 10 hours a day for 4 consecutive days was no joke :)

Until next year!
Francesco

The Annecy 2018 Team

The Annecy 2018 Team

May 01 2018

Goodbye Kansas Studios

Goodbye Kansas Studios is a VFX studio that creates award-winning visual effects, digital animation and motion capture for movies, game trailers and commercials. Goodbye Kansas Studios main office lies in Stockholm, Sweden, but they are also located in Los Angeles, London, Hamburg and Uppsala.

Goodbye Kansas Studio

Text by Nils Lagergren and Daniel Bystedt, Goodbye Kansas

We pride ourselves in having a structure at work where we put the artists first and the administration works a lot to support the artists. This has in turn created a company culture where artists help each other out as soon they run into any CG related issue. We also have a very strong creative atmosphere where artists feel ownership of their tasks and go out of their way to achieve visual excellence.

At Goodbye Kansas Studios we use several 3D applications, such as Houdini, Blender, Zbrush and Maya. We always try to approach a challenge with the tool that is best suited for solving the problem at hand. Blender first caught our eye because some of our artists had started trying it out and were surprised over how much faster they could produce models. Even though not every artist at the company use Blender it is becoming more and more popular in the modeling department at the Stockholm office. Let’s have a look at some projects!

Characters for Unity – Adam Demo

Characters were modeled in Blender and Zbrush. The low poly version of the character was entirely done in Blender.

Blender fits nicely into our pipeline because of its powerful modeling tools. We also use it for hair grooming, which then is exported as curves and used for procedural hair setups in other packages. Blender has a very nice mix between procedural tools, standard box modeling and sculpting. Generally we use Zbrush for character work and Blender for hard surface and props/environment work. We also use it in parts of our environment workflow for scattering objects.

Walking dead – season 8

Retopology and UV-mapping of human actor scans were done in Zbrush and Blender. Grooming of hairstyles were also done in Blender.

Here are something that artists say about Blender.

“Things that are very complex to achieve in other applications are suddenly easy!”
“As a modeler it’s a program that works with you, instead of against you.”
“Suddenly I love Dutch people”
“It made box modelling fun again”
“It feels so strange that Blender is free when it’s actually better than most other modeling programs on the market”

Overkill’s: The Walking dead – Aidan trailer

“Upresolution” of zombie game assets were made both in Zbrush and Blender. Grooming of zombie hairstyles were done in Blender, and we also made a bunch of environment assets.

Along with the gods – The two worlds

The stone chamber was created with Blender. There was a lot of tedious work with placing rocks so they would no intersect in this environment. Thanks to Blender’s fast rigid body simulation system, we could simulate a low resolution version of the rocks and drop them in place. The rocks were then relinked to a high resolution version and published as an environment model. The stone characters in this scene were also done in Blender in two passes. First, the rocks were scattered onto a human base mesh and then they were nudged around by hand for better art direction. The big stone walls were also sculpted in Blender.

Biomutant – cinematic trailer

The little hero character was modeled in Zbrush and Blender. Grooming of the fur was done in Blender.

Raid: World War 2 – Cinematic Trailer

Several environments were done in Blender. We started the layout process using Grease Pencil. This was great, since we could do it very quickly, side-by-side with the art director and address his thoughts and notes. This Grease Pencil sketch was later linked into each environment artists’ scene so they had a good reference when building it. The environment artists did also link each others scene so that they could see each others work update. This made it easy to tie the separate rooms together.

Mass Effect: The Andromeda Initiative

The Moon environment was made in Blender. Being able to sculpt the ground at the same time as scattering out rocks made it really easy to iterate the shot and see how everything looked in the camera. By importing the character animation with Alembic from Maya to Blender, the environment artist could make sure that nothing intersected the characters feet while they were walking. This also enabled us to create the environment simultaneously as we were animating the shots.

April 24 2018

Blender at FMX 2018

FMX 2018 (Stuttgart, April 24-27) is one of Europe’s most influential conference dedicated to Digital Visual Arts, Technologies, and Business. This year Blender is going to take part in 3 events, featuring Ton Roosendaal and artists from the Blender studio crew.

Blender at FMX 2018

Presentations and Panels

Blender will be represented at the following events on April 26th:

Come and see us!

If you are attending FMX and would like to hang out on Thursday, get in touch with francesco@blender.org or reach out to us directly on social media!

April 15 2018

Hero – Blender Grease Pencil showcase

After a series of successful short film production focused on high-end 3D computer animation pipelines, the Blender team presents a 3 minutes short film showcasing Blender’s upcoming Grease Pencil 2.0.

Grease Pencil means 2D animation tools within a full 3D pipeline. In Blender. In Open Source. Free for everyone!

The original Grease Pencil technology has been in Blender for many years now, and it already got the attention of story artists in the animation industry worldwide. The upcoming Grease Pencil is meant to push the boundaries and allows feature quality animation production in Blender 2.8.

The Hero animation showcase is a fruit of the collaboration between Blender developers and a team of artist based in Barcelona, Spain, led by Daniel M. Lara. This is the 6th short film funded by the Blender Cloud, confirming once more the value of a financial model that combines crowdfunding of artistic and technical goals through the creation of Open Content.

The inclusion of Grease Pencil in Blender for mainstream release is part of the Blender 2.8 Code Quest, an outstanding development effort that is currently happening at the Blender headquarters in Amsterdam. The first beta of Blender 2.8 will be available in the second part of 2018.

Press Contact:
Francesco Siddi, Producer
francesco@blender.org

March 08 2018

Code Quest Campaign: A Success Story

A software project is a living thing, and every few years it needs to take a leap. A leap for survival, for innovation, to respond and adapt to new trends and technologies, to lay the foundation for future trends. This is a risky endeavour. Ambitious targets tend to significantly slow down development momentum due to complex engineering decisions, disagreements between team members or lack of outwards communication to the user community.

Blender has achieved this feat once before during its existence –the well known 2.5 project in 2010– thanks to the relentless leadership of Ton Roosendaal and a tight-knit team of developers and power users. After nearly 8 years of gradual improvements, during which Blender’s user base more than quadrupled, it was time for another jump. Enter Blender 2.8.

Blender 2.8

The main goal of Blender 2.8 is to further improve support for diverse workflows, complemented by features such as a high quality PBR viewport, 2D animation tools, advanced asset management and a powerful animation system. While Blender is often regarded as an oddity, its flexibility is being discovered and appreciated by a growing audience.

After over one year of work, the project needed a final sprint to deliver the first beta of Blender 2.8. To achieve this, the idea of a “Code Quest” was proposed: to bring together nearly all of the core developers for three months in one location, in the Blender Institute in Amsterdam.

This period would enable the team to tackle fundamental engineering issues, as well as to more efficiently focus on interface design and usability.

Code Quest Launch

How to successfully fund an Open Source project

The funding of the Code Quest, which was estimated 200K USD, has been divided between four parties.

The first was the Blender Foundation, the non-profit entity which is coordinating worldwide developers outreach and runs the official online platforms for the project. The Blender Foundation, via the Blender Development Fund is awarding grants to independent developers.

The second was Blender Institute, the Amsterdam-based Open Content powerhouse, who provided the initial funding for the campaign, public relations, communications and logistics. Blender Institute is hiring several of the Blender core developers and is funding part of the Code Quest costs via the Blender Cloud, the open production and training platform.

The remaining two parties were industry sponsors and the Blender user community, together targeted to cover nearly half of the total budget via a crowdfunding campaign.

A rocket ride

With the animation studio Tangent Animation and the makers of Lulzbot 3D printer Aleph Objects signing up as sponsors, industry support started well, and continued for the better with several other Blender-based businesses joining the effort.

However, the biggest challenge was to involve the user community. After reviewing several strategies (including using popular crowdfunding platforms) the Blender Institute team decided to focus the entire campaign on selling a memorable reward token – a space rocket shaped USB drive. Each rocket would cost 39 USD, with its price raising 10 USD within 3 weeks. Rockets would be produced right after the campaign, to give the immediate reward of having supported an ongoing project. Target was set to sell a 1000 rockets minimally.

Code Quest Rocket

And then the user community pulled off something truly outstanding. The goal was achieved in just 4 days, which resulted in confirming the official start in April and a new target of 2500 rockets. This stretch goal was set to expand the Code Quest team. The new target was achieved in less than 3 weeks.

Thanks to this additional support, almost 100K USD were raised, an amount comparable to the historic campaign that made Blender become Open Source back in 2002.

Code Quest months

The Code Quest is an unprecedented opportunity to document the development process in an open and transparent way, building up excitement in anticipation for Blender’s beta release due in July 2018. The Code Quest will be frequently covered using the official code.blender.org blog, via video logs, live streams and demos.

At the same time, two high-profile Blender Open Movies that are in production will be the ultimate stress test for the upcoming release. These are Hero, the first short film combining traditional animation in a three dimensional space, and Spring, a poetic visual journey that will raise the bar set by previous Blender Open Movies.

Blender 2.8 carries a lot of expectations. The Code Quest campaign has proven, once again, that the community is there to make it happen!

Francesco Siddi

Code Quest Landing

February 12 2018

Announcing Blender 2.8 Code Quest

Today the Blender Foundation announced the “Blender 2.8 Code Quest”, a crowd-funded event to gather the core developers to release the first version of the much anticipated Blender 2.8. It will be the first time that such a large development team will be working in one place. The crowd-funded goal is to get at least 10 contributors together for a period of 3 months, in the Blender Institute, Amsterdam, starting in April 2018.

For the Blender 2.8 project – with focus on workflow and an advanced new viewport system – several complex architectural changes are being added. The current team of core developers working on Blender 2.8 is distributed over multiple continents. Collaborating online from different places, in different timezones, using chat and emails, is not always efficient and is slowing down the process.

To prevent the 2.8 project to drag for another year – and to lose the exciting momentum – the Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute will combine their efforts to invite the core 2.8 developers to work in Amsterdam for 3 months. They will be working at the Blender Institute along with a group of artists who are using Blender 2.8 to produce a short film. This ensures we can tackle issues with enough attention, including time to provide feedback on UI design and usability. At least one of the permanent seats in the team is reserved for a designer to perform these tasks full-time.

The crowd-funding campaign is hosted on blender.org. The goal is to reach at least 1000 contributors who will pledge $39 and in return they will receive a limited edition Blender Rocket USB drive.

Confirmed participants are:
Ton Roosendaal, Sergey Sharybin, Dalai Felinto, Campbell Barton, Brecht van Lommel, Bastien Montagne, Clement Foucault, Joshua Leung, Sybren Stüvel and Pablo Vazquez. More people to be announced.

Read more about the Code Quest: https://www.blender.org/2-8/quest/

January 01 2018

Blender projects in 2018 to look forward to

The blender.org project is very lucky with attracting talent –great developers working together with fantastic artists. It’s how Blender manages to stand out as a successful and highly functional free & open software project. In this post I want to thank everyone for a wonderful Blender year and give a view at all of the exciting things that are going to happen– in 2018! (Fingers crossed :)

Eevee

In 2016 it was just an idea, having an interactive viewport in Blender with rendering quality at PBR levels. Last year this project took off in ways beyond expectation – everyone should have seen the demos by now.

Eevee in Blender

Early in 2018 animation support will come back (with support for modifiers), with as highlight OpenSubdiv support (GPU based adaptive subdivision surfaces).

Read about the Eevee roadmap here.

Grease Pencil

Blender is an original innovator in this area –providing a fully functional 2D animation tool in a 3D environment. You have to see it to believe it –it’s a mindblowing workflow for animators and story artists.

Grease Pencil

In Q1 of 2018 the short film “Hero” will be finished as proof-of-concept for the new workflow and tools of Grease Pencil in 2.8x.

You can read the latest status report here.

Workflow & “Blender 101”

Optimizing and organizing one’s working environment can significantly improve the workflow in 3D applications. We can’t make everyone happy with a single Blender configuration anymore. This is where the new Workspaces and Application Templates come in. In Q1 and Q2 of 2018 the first prototypes for radically configured simple Blenders are going to be made (a.k.a. the Blender 101 project).

Meanwhile work continues on usability and configurations in a daily production environment. Blender’s latest Open Movie “Spring” is going to be used for this.

Blender 2.8x is also getting a complete new layer system, allowing to organize your scenes in advanced ways. A Scene can have unlimited amount of layers (= drawings or renders),  unlimited amounts of collections and per collection render settings and overrides.

Visit the code.blender.org blog to read more about it.

New UI theme

No, there are no pictures yet! But one of the cool things of releasing a massive update is to also to update the looks. Nothing radical, just to make it look fresh and to match contemporary desktop environments. We’re still using the (great) design from 2009-2010. In computer years, that’s a century ago! Work on this should start Q1 and get finalized before Q2 ends. Contributions welcome (check ‘get involved’).

Cycles

In 2017 we saw the rise of AMD GPUs. Thanks to a full time developer who worked on OpenCL for a year, Blender is now a good choice for use on AMD hardware. For 2018 we want to work on solving the kernel compiling waiting time.

The Daily Dweebs

Cycles is now one of the most popular areas for developers to work in. Most of these are doing this as part of their daytime job – to make sure Cycles stays an excellent choice for production rendering. Expect in 2018 a lot of high quality additions and especially ways to manage fast renders.

Read more about the Cycles Roadmap here.

Blender Game Engine

One of Blender’s best features is that it’s a complete integrated 3D creation suite –enabling artists to create projects from concept to final edits or playback. Unfortunately the game engine has fallen behind in development– not getting the focus or development time it needs. There are many reasons for it, but one of these is that the code base for BGE is too much separated from the rest of Blender. That means that newly added Blender features need to be ported over to the engine to work.

Blender Game Engine

For the 2.8 project we want to achieve a better integration of BGE and Blender itself. The Eevee project has proven already how important real-time tools are and how well this can work for interactive 3D design and game creators.

That being said, outside of blender.org interesting Blender-related development for game engines happens too. Check out the Blender fork UPBGE for example, or the fascinating Armory Engine (see image above, it’s written in Haxe and Kha). And don’t forget the open source WebGL environments Blend4Web and Verge3D.

Assets and presets

Another ‘2.8 workflow’ related feature: we are working on better managing your files and 3d assets. Partially it’s for complex production setup, partially it’s also about configuring your Workspaces with nice visible presets – lists of pictures of shaders or primitives for example, ready to be dragged & dropped or selected.

Asset engine preview

More information can be found here, the planning for asset management and overrides.

Viewport Compositing

An important design aspect of Blender’s new viewport system is that each engine is drawing in its own buffer. These buffers then get composited in real-time.

Blender 267 splash screen

To illustrate how fast it is: in 2.8x the “Overlay engine” is using real-time compositing in the viewport (to draw selections or widgets).

When 2.8x is ready to get out of beta, we will also check on how to allow (node based) real time compositing in viewports. That then is the final step to fully have replaced the old “Blender Internal” render engine with an OpenGL based system.

This will especially be interesting for the Non-Photo-Realistic rendering enthusiasts out there. Note – FreeStyle rendering will have to fully recoded for 2.8. That’s still an open issue.

Modifiers & Physics upgrade

Blender’s modifier code is getting fully rewritten for 2.8. That’s needed for the new dependency graph system (threadable animation updates and duplication of data).

Blender Physics

A nice side effect of this recode is that all modifiers then will be ‘node ready’. We expect first experiments with modifier nodes to happen in 2018. Don’t get too excited yet, it’s especially the complexity of upgrading the old particle and hair system that’s making it a very hard project to handle.

An important related issue here is how to handle “caches” well (i.e. generated mesh data by modifiers or physics systems). This needs to be saved and managed properly – which is what the dependency graph has to do as well. As soon that’s solved we can finally merge in the highly anticipated Fracture Modifier branch.

Animation tools

Blender’s armature and rigging system is based on a design from the 90ies. It’s a solid concept, but it’s about time to refresh and upgrade it. When Blender 2.8x gets closer to beta I want to move my focus on getting a project organized (and funded) to establish a small team of developers on animation tools for the next decade – Animation 2020! Contact me if you want to contribute.

Discourse forums

Improving onboarding for new developers is on our wish list already for years. There are several areas we should do better – more swiftly handle reviews for provided patches and branches for example.

Discourse Forum

We also often hear that Blender developer channels are hard to find or not very accessible. The blender.org teams  still mainly use IRC chat and MailMan mailing lists for communciation.

In January we will test a dedicated blender.org developer forum using Discourse (fully free/open software). This forum will focus on people working with Blender’s code, developer tools and anything related to becoming a contributor. If this experiment works well we can expand it to a more general “get involved” website (for docs, educators, scientists, conferences, events).
However, user questions, feature requests – would be off topic, there are better places that handle this.

20th anniversary of first public Blender release

Oh yes! Today is exactly 20 years ago that I released the first Blender version in public – only for the Silicon Graphics IRIX platform.

Blender on IRIX

A FreeBSD and Linux version were made a couple of months after.

All as “freeware” then, not open source. I first had to learn the lesson of bursting internet bubbles before going fully open!

Blender 2.80 beta release

Originally planned for Q2 this year… luckily that quarter lasts until July 1st. All depends on how well the current projects go the coming months. But if it’s not July first, then at least we have…

SIGGRAPH, Vancouver

The largest annual 3D CG event is at August 12-16 this year. We aim at a great presence there and certainly it’s a great milestone to showcase 2.80 there!

Open issues

The 2.8 team tries to keep focus – not to do too many things at once and to finish what’s being worked on in the highest usable quality possible. That means that some topics are being done first, and some later. The priorities for 2.8 have been written down in this mail to the main developers list.

We can still use a lot of help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – especially when workflow and usability are your strength! But we can use contributors in many ‘orphaned’ areas: such as Booleans, Video editor, Freestyle render, Particles, Physics caching, Hair, Nurbs… but also to work on better integration with Windows and MacOS desktop environments.

Credits

An important part of the blender.org project are the studios and companies who contribute to Blender.

Special thanks goes to Blender Foundation (development fund grants), Blender Institute/Animation Studio (hiring 3-5 devs), Tangent Animation (viewport development), Aleph Objects (from Lulzbot printers, supporting Blender 101), Nimble Collective (Alembic), AMD (Cycles OpenCL support), Intel (seeding hardware, Cycles development), Nvidia (seeding hardware), Theory Animation and Barnstorm VFX (Cycles development, VFX pipeline).

Special thanks also to the biggest supporters of the Development Fund: Valve Steam Workshop and Blender Market.

Ton Roosendaal, Chairman Blender Foundation

September 27 2017

Title Design: from Wonder Woman to xXx

Joseph Conover is a 3D artist at Greenhaus GFX, where he created graphics for several high profile film credit sequences such as Wonder Woman, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and more. As he stepped into the industry and picked up other creative tools, Joseph found that Blender often gave him an edge in terms of workflow.

Text by Joseph Conover, Greenhaus GFX

I started using Blender about ten years ago and still implement it in my workflow for modeling, simulation, texturing, sculpting, and various other general tasks. The software is so comprehensive that it lets me picture the final product from a wide viewpoint. It offers a big advantage in eliminating guesswork and time wasted when jumping between different programs.

The largest project I’ve worked on at Greenhaus so far is the Wonder Woman’s end title sequence.

I did too many random things to count, but these are screenshots of notable parts:

Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman’s director) thought that many scenes in our sequence were too warlike and wanted some uplifting moments, so I 3D projected this view of Themyscira (home to Wonder Woman and the Amazons) based on a painted version created by my boss, Jason Doherty.

Here are several of my more notable models that were used in various scenes. The woman was based on actress Gal Gadot – sculpted in Zbrush and refined in Blender. For the plane, I took inspiration from the WWII German Biplane. My favorite thing to work on was the Sword structure, in which I used arrays and curve modifiers to create a rotating structure effect.

This was one of the environments I got to develop from start to finish. It was a mix of kitbashing and modeling in Blender. The whole process only took me an afternoon to finish because I was able to quickly duplicate the pieces and fill in the space. This scene was also repurposed in different shots throughout the sequence.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s logo was a different story, because it started off in Blender but ended in C4D. This was the logo our client liked at first, which was done in Blender with some 80’s style comping in After Effects:

While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s final product didn’t use much of Blender other than the animation, this promotional ad for the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend did.

This was a great example of Blender’s versatility. For the two shots below, I had to hand model the scenes to match the Cinerama Dome and the Hollywood Sign. Blender allowed me to quickly draft out my ideas from animation to the final lighting before I exported it to Maya and rendered in V-ray.

So what are your thoughts? Hit me up at josephconover.com if you want to chat about Blender or just talk art!

July 14 2017

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl