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  1. #1

    Making Blender More Accessible to 3d Pros

    I use Blender for graphics for website development. I have used various forms of 3d software for years and have become familar with many 3d software systems. The thing that attracted me to Blender was it's speed. I have never had any issues with it's renderer like some folks have had. And although some Blender features are not always clearly documented I have been able to access and successfully use most of Blenders features that I need.

    Comparatively taking a look at Blender and other major professional 3d apps can tell you why most 3d Pros wouldnít use Blender as a main 3d development tool. This is easy to do now that most high level 3d apps have free versions that are available for download. Yes it is clear that these apps are more mature that Blender. But in many areas of use Blender can match the final output of the other apps.

    Here is where we start to see the major differences. How a person in one app approaches producing a professional media design in Blender and how it is done in a major top level 3d app. In a big brand app the interface and tools are designed to accommodate an average 3d artist differently than in Blender. The artist can easily consult documents that clearly explain any feature that they are not accustomed to using if the artist had migrated from another app. Say and artist migrates from a lesser 3d pro app like Max, Lightwave, Truespace or Carrara to a more industrial 3d app like Maya, Houdini or Softimage. The apps docs would easily guide them through the transformation and the skilled professional could get up and running on a project in little time.

    In Blender often this transformation from another app often confuses the best minds. And the process for doing a basic function like setting up lights to do professional 3d lighting for a basic scene render is not as well documented as in the previously mentioned apps. You cannot just select a light in Blender tweak its properties and arrange them in a scene based on standard 3d app practices. If you do you will not get the same desired results as you would instantly in a Maya or Softimage. Most of these apps use ratracing technologies that make achieving the desired lighting shadows easy. In Blender you can get similar results but you have to calculate the lighting properties. I like to look at Blender as being a more manual form 3d production. Blender is not as oriented to allowing the user to get immediate results for basic 3d software functions. I have always wondered why since now we have taken Blender into Opensource we have not taken a look at this approach to the way we do work with Blender.

    Is this an issue that involves a mindset of users who donít mind tweaking 3d properties as their may have only used 3d apps like Pov-Ray in the past? Is it a ďtake it or leave itĒ mindset that based on looking at the free aspects of Blender and approaching each aspect of software function with a willingness on the users part to do puzzle solving to get something to work?

    I am a fairly average 3d software user that has experience in both worlds now of 3d software, the Opensource sectors and the the retail apps. I have even at times on forums like CGtalk.com helps other artist from various software backgrounds to use Blender. When a person figures out how to use Blender, itís stability, results and production methods are dynamic. And with the added Python scripting nothing is impossible.

    But the use level still is a thorn in Blenders invitation to other 3d artist from raytracing backgrounds. We may be losing a lot of great professional 3d artist because of documentation issues. The most powerful feature in Blender has to be its documentation. The more accessible Blenders features become based on documentation that leads a user to immediate results for the basic functions that they do in other apps, the more 3d professionals will join the Blender ranks. Itís all about using Blender in the end that makes it so valuable.

    In fact if professional people can learn to approach Blender with their work quickly we can guarantee that Blender will be used in major studios. I learned the other day that many Hollywood studios are looking to Linux like they never have before. Blender could be one of the apps that fills the bill. Letís all work on gathering more minions to our Blender ranks through better documentation. A good 3d pro is a terrible thing to waste, Öon the other 3d apps.

    Not really, I have been keeping my eye on Lightwave 8 news.
    I have a feeling that one day many users from apps like Lightwave may be attracted to Blender. You know with Blenders external rendering gateways and game engine and such.

    Hehehehehehe.

    Let the gathering begin! HuHahahahahahahaha!

    ďAnd they gathered onto them 1 million strong men and women to do their bidding.Ē



  2. #2
    Member Desoto's Avatar
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    I was just looking at the Maya galleries on the Maya website...some of the stuff is absolutely amazing, and some of it Blender is definitely capable of. Its just a matter of patience I guess.

    If you're looking to attract more 3D Pros with blender, its going to have to have an industrial size feature set. Right now its very complex, but its texture and lighting systems pale in comparison to the big guys. But..the big guys aren't a 2 MB download now are they



  3. #3
    Originally Posted by Desoto-111
    I was just looking at the Maya galleries on the Maya website...some of the stuff is absolutely amazing, and some of it Blender is definitely capable of. Its just a matter of patience I guess.

    If you're looking to attract more 3D Pros with blender, its going to have to have an industrial size feature set. Right now its very complex, but its texture and lighting systems pale in comparison to the big guys. But..the big guys aren't a 2 MB download now are they
    Here is a sample of some of my humble Blender made 3d asset render lab test that I use to prepare my projects. And I can say that visually Blender is right up there with the "Big Guys".-

    -New Yafray bag-o-tricks-
    http://www.solarflarestudios.com/for...opic.php?t=132


    -Old Yafray test and stable Blender rendering methods that I couldn't live without. -Check out the "fake_gi_box.jpg". I have been using this rendering method in Blender for some time now as it is fast and works for many of my projects.-
    http://www.solarflarestudios.com/for...opic.php?t=100

    Yafray is almost ready to be added to may stable rendering production tool chest. Just a few more test. And it can animate!

    But the results have not been the same for most Blender users. Maybe it's based on the understanding that a 3d artist has of basic 3d technology or their newness to 3d software. But better Blender docs can help all Blender users to make better renders. That's what I am aiming for right now. I want all Blenders users work to stand out with the other 3d apps out there.

    And there are other Blender artist like "Harkyman" who produce renders that are jaw dropping.

    And the Blender Python equation could be enough to bring more 3d pros to our ranks. Not to mention renderman compliance.

    And the Evil Tree mix of Tuhopuu2 and beyond. The door is open now, we just have to dust off the welcome mat. Well we need a street sweeper at this stage. But who's complaining? Hehehe.



  4. #4
    Hey I posted this over at blender.org, but I thought it kind of fit in with this thread. I totally agree with your take on the importance of documentation.

    Here is another angle:

    Can OSS compete in "the industry"? Absolutely.

    Just look at the success that CinePaint (formerly Film Gimp) has achieved.

    Here is some info from their webpage:
    Studio Users

    CinePaint is known to be in use at these studios.

    * Rhythm & Hues: Harry Potter, Cats & Dogs, Dr. Dolittle 2, Little Nicky, Grinch, Sixth Day, Stuart Little, and Planet of the Apes
    * Sony Pictures Imageworks: Stuart Little II
    * Hammerhead: Showtime, Blue Crush and 2 Fast, 2 Furious
    * Flash Film Works: in production on Duplex (Danny Divito director)
    * Computer Cafe: in production on an unnamed film (Sean Connery)

    Studio Developers

    Some developers contributing code to CinePaint work at studios, but no studio currently sponsors CinePaint officially.

    * Rhythm & Hues
    * Sony Pictures Imageworks
    * DreamWorks
    * ILM

    To me there appear to be two big differences between CinePaint and what I have seen with Blender, and I could be completely wrong.

    First, some of the team over at CinePaint seem to have industry connections. Forget quality of product, knowing the right people helps open doors. So what connections does the Blender community have that might be valuable? Could a dialog be opened with CinePaint?

    Second, it seems that CinePaint is making it very clear that they WANT the studios to use CinePaint. And they are willing to work with studios to make CinePaint into the program that "the industry" WANTS and NEEDS.

    If I was a business person and someone came up to me and said that they wanted to give me a piece of software that was tailored to my specific needs, allowing me to produce more work, at higher quality and less cost - and that I could have it for free - I just needed to help define what I wanted so that the final product would be "just right" - I would probably be at least interested in hearing more. Than I would probably need to be convinced that person making me this offer had the ability and resources to follow through on the proposition so that I wouldn't be wasting my time.

    So what do we do? How can we help Blender achieve the same succes as CinePaint?



  5. #5
    So what do we do? How can we help Blender achieve the same succes as CinePaint?
    Simple the dedicated Blender user base has to expose Blenders features to the 3d community in general.

    Take a forum like cgtalk.com that represents 3d folks that use some of the major apps. Only a handful of power Blender users are members there. Maybe some of the other users including Ton, and Bart, etc. can join over there and we could make ourselves more public and discuss more general 3d topics that just happen to involve the use of Blender. We could get involved in general 3d tech talk disscussions over there and talk about Blender meetings and such. More of us could submit our 3d work to other forums project gallerys.

    We don't just have to limit our 3d work to pretty pictures. Maybe we could show Python simulations and realtime 3d work. There are some things that Blender can produce realtime that no other apps can duplicate. Who said 3d just had to be about artwork all of the time?

    We can provide files of animation rigs, etc. and even explain how to run them in Blender. I have done this on the other forums. We can get involved in 3d production, animation and compositing discussions and voice our views on the process.

    And some other 3d folks that I have talked to thought that I was telling them to switch from their other 3d apps to Blender. I let them know that that is not the goal of Blender. I let them see that Blender is a great option or a main app for many 3d artist. It's fast and free and there is not much of a worry about it's future developement. We asked about Blender, I mention that it's an opensource 3d app the best one out there.

    We can let other 3d folks see that the goal of Blender is more about achieving better 3d productions through "mind over matter" and not "money over matter".

    If enough of us were just present more in other 3d groups we will more than make a dent into the consciousness of the 3d communities.

    Hey were the 3d folks who brought a dead product back to life in record time. We can do anything that we set our minds to.

    But first things first. We need better Blender docs if any of our efforts to expose Blender to others will have any real impact. They will want to try out Blender for themselves.



  6. #6
    nuance9: CinePaint is used by the studios because the studios developed it for themselves, then decided to release it to the public.

    JA-forreal: Your comments on setting up lighting in blender are not that great of an example, because Blender's renderer would most likely not be used on most commercial work. So the lights would still need to be set up for a more traditional type of renderer.



  7. #7
    Originally Posted by emtilt
    nuance9: CinePaint is used by the studios because the studios developed it for themselves, then decided to release it to the public.

    JA-forreal: Your comments on setting up lighting in blender are not that great of an example, because Blender's renderer would most likely not be used on most commercial work. So the lights would still need to be set up for a more traditional type of renderer.
    emtilt, ever since I started using 3d software way back in my RayDream days I learned the basic principles of 3d lighting. The basic principles help me to produce great lighting in any 3d app that I use.

    And Ton used much same types of 3d tools what we have in Blender today for commerical work. And a hollywood studios type of 3d is not the ultimate goal for 3d use for every 3d professional.

    The realtime dynamics that are now be developed for future Blender releases will not be targeted for movie production.

    But Blender is more than adequate for many cg studios that produce television spots and promotions.



  8. #8
    JA -

    When I was talking about "studios" I was not specifically talking about Film Studios, but studios in general that are putting out commercial work - regardless of the medium. Animated, still, whatever.

    Personally, I would like to know if the developers are particularly interested in seeing Blender in commercial work. If it doesn't really matter much to them, conversations like this one are rather pointless.



  9. #9
    Member Desoto's Avatar
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    Conversations like this AREN'T pointless. The POINT is the MAKE it matter to developers. Thats the whole idea! We're trying to market it, and the conversation is about what we need to do to make it more appealing.



  10. #10
    Desoto -

    I am somewhat new to the OSS scene. But let me make sure I understand correctly. OSS means that the source is open. That means YOU can do whatever YOU want with it. Still, within any given project, like Blender, there are Project Leaders or whatever you want to call them. They are ultimately the ones who decide where the project goes and what gets put into the source - at least of the tree they are overseeing. Thus, OSS does not necessarily mean a democratic system where the goals of the users have to have any bearing on the actions of the developers. No doubt paying attention to users does help to contribute to a successful OSS project.

    So I'm just saying I want to know where the decision-makers stand on this whole issue.

    It seems alot of users are interested in this. But regardless of our "Marketing" efforts, without the cooperation and support of the developers and project leaders - it seems to me to be a little pointless.

    Here is why: If we put forth a great community effort to promote commercial use of Blender, but the developers aren't interested in that goal, we are not going to be able to accomplish anything if the software doesn't evolve to specifically support that goal and the issues that will inevitably arise with such.

    Ton? Is he the project leader? If so, I would like to know what he thinks on this issue before anyone starts putting any effort into marketing.



  11. #11
    Member Desoto's Avatar
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    So your point is that you feel the developers may not be interested in the widespread popularity of Blender, even commercially? That sounds like a weird assumption to me. The whole point of Open Source is that the "developers" and the "users" are from the same group of people. We're all developers. Every time we come up with an idea and suggest it, or test it, we're helping with the development of the software. Its an organism that evolves based on the input of everyone who uses it. If the user base decides they don't like the direction the "developers" are going in, they just branch off and do their own thing. No big deal. If the user base doesn't like the developer's attitude at all, they just stop using the version the "developers" are building. I don't think the boundaries between developer and community are as clear as you seem to think they are, and my guess is, they're entirely interested in the success of blender as a software package used in all fields, even commercial.



  12. #12
    Desoto -

    I'm not saying that "the developers" aren't interested in commercial acceptance - I'm saying I haven't really heard any input from them on the subject. Specifically Ton, who I think is the project leader - correct me if I am wrong. And that is what I think we should get before starting off on any marketing efforts.

    Second, while it is true that if individuals dis-like or dis-agree with the direction a project is going that they can fork off and do their own thing (i.e. Gimp & CinePaint). BUT, and this is a big BUT, I don't know about you - but I am not qualified to fill the current developers shoes. I have enough programming experience to know that I don't know squat when it comes to creating something as complex as Blender. So while it is easy to say that we don't need the developers blessing, because we can do whatever we want - I think it would be a little harder to actually pull it off in real life.



  13. #13
    Member Desoto's Avatar
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    It was Ton who started NaN, the commercial organization responsible for marketing blender to begin with. You think he has a gripe with trying to get companies to use the software? It was the basis of his livlihood for awhile you know...



  14. #14
    But the use level still is a thorn in Blenders invitation to other 3d artist from raytracing backgrounds. We may be losing a lot of great professional 3d artist because of documentation issues.
    Not just documentation issues, but the interface itself provides next to no feedback with respect to which functions apply to which particular options. The lighting is a perfect example. One might reasonably assume that any options that are visible and enabled, will work with a given type of light. Not true. You just have to "know" which options work with which light types, which one will eventually learn given enough persistence. But to a new user (even a seasoned professional) who just wants to get something done, this kind of obstacle can be a real turnoff. I realize that Blender's metaphor is one of "stuff everyting into a drawer (screen) and use what works", but this doesn't bode well for efficiency when it comes to getting up to speed.

    On the other hand, I was very pleased to read about the ongoing development effort on the blender.org web site. I admire the effort put forth by those who are contributing their time and talent. I hope that as blender continues to mature, usability issues will not be overlooked.



  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Desoto-111
    It was Ton who started NaN, the commercial organization responsible for marketing blender to begin with.
    Then don't you think it would make sense to get his input first? He already has more experience than any of us when it comes to trying to market Blender.

    Originally Posted by Desoto-111
    You think he has a gripe with trying to get companies to use the software? It was the basis of his livlihood for awhile you know..
    I don't necessarily think he has a "gripe" with it.

    But people's priorities change. Like you said, that was when it was a basis of his livlihood. Now it is a donation that costs him time. The potential return on effort is now quite different than it was then.

    I'm not saying that he is AGAINST the commercial success of Blender. I'm just saying until I have heard it from the project leader(s), I don't know what their goals are for Blender. And personally, I would like to know that before I invest a lot of my time in either extensively learning or promoting Blender.



  16. #16
    Member Desoto's Avatar
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    I've made an attempt to contact Ton directly about this. It seems to me we're in agreement, and that you're just curious about how he feels about it, so I just went ahead an e-mailed him to ask him. I'm not sure if he'll reply or not but its definitely worth a try and its not against the rules so...hey...there ya have it.



  17. #17
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    I think it's essentially a two stage process
    1. Get the features in pros need, but in a distinctly "Blenderish" way
    2. Look at reworking it to be more accessible to the wider community

    The danger is that in trying to create a product that 3D 'pros' will like you will actually put off a lot of the members of the existing community.

    Taking the lighting setup as a simple example, I am sure I've encountered other higher end 3D apps with things like only spots cast shadows, and you're expected to learn this. A sensible thing for that kind of thing would be "greying out" options or something depending on the light type selected.

    Additionally I wouldn't use Cinepaint as an overwhelmingly successful example. In fact that project has had even more ups and downs than Blender and the GIMP/Cinepaint rivalry is astonishing. The reality is it's incredibly specialised, and so does a few things very well. Many of its users are pragmatists, and would in all honesty use Photoshop instead for 90% of their work, if it did the tiny little bit extra that they need in Cinepaint (largely a performance issue for the PS preference I believe).

    Blender is nothing like as specialist in application, in fact it's remarkably broad. Honestly I'd use the whole Cinepaint/GIMP situation as an example to the OSS community as how not to start and run a project . . .

    (That is not to bash the products concerned, or the people involved, but I think the situation they're in is a bit stupid, and I think they realise that).



  18. #18
    Member JD-multi's Avatar
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    We could publish a free PDF documentation with tutorials. Like maya has got the personal learning edition, we could make one for blender, called: "Blendering within 3 hours".
    Do you use blender? Are you Dutch? Then join #blenderpraat at irc.freenode.net
    The only real JD-Multi is me, all another companies or people named like me, are rip offs.



  19. #19
    Member theeth's Avatar
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    Yes yes! Lets do a Blender PLE version with logos in viewports, limited saving and logo in renders

    or did I miss your point?!

    Martin
    Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
    - John Lennon



  20. #20
    Originally Posted by Kid Tripod
    I think it's essentially a two stage process
    1. Get the features in pros need, but in a distinctly "Blenderish" way
    2. Look at reworking it to be more accessible to the wider community

    The danger is that in trying to create a product that 3D 'pros' will like you will actually put off a lot of the members of the existing community.
    Hey, who want's to change anything about Blender to suit it to the needs of other software users? I sure don't.

    Blender already has an absolutely fluid method of 3d production. It can only get better in the future if it continues to maintain the same software structure. I was just using the animation tools today setting up a little dancing character. Not one crash during the whole process . AutoSkining was flawless. I added manual weights for the mouth and facial expressions. It was all done glitch free. I even jumped into the Tuhopuu2 beta for some loop cutting on the character. No problems.

    Please don't mess with my Blender style, please. If someone wants to learn Blender, come to that level.

    But, as I said before. More pros will come to Blender if they too can learn to jump into its workflow and get on down with this "Badboy".


    Maybe we could spoon feed it to the 3d Pros in some way or another.

    Maybe we need a question and answer type of Blender webpage that "speaks to the 3d pro types. This page could also show real world examples.

    Q- I am a Maya animator who wants to create some realtime game concepts in a 3d app. My goal is to create a simple 3d interactive presentaion .exe file to show to my clients.

    A- Blender offers an easy way to get your 3d models into a realtime engine and out to an .exe file that will run on most windows PC's. The Game Blender.........Setting up a rigged character, lighting, uv texutures and adding dynamics couldn't be easier. Blender supports BVH file......
    (A clear way to get working with Blender is presented.)

    Q- I am an architect and have heard about the Yafray rendering system. Would it be possible for me to import my fully uv mapped models into Blender and then export these to Yafray?

    A- Yes, you can render in Yafray even if you use another 3d app. And You do not have to have extensive Blender knowledge to do so. First....

    This web page could offer various ways to look at making practical use of Blender.

    Maybe?

    BTW, other 3d users have made such inquiries about Blender before.



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