So here’s an odd problem. I’m working as a middle school teacher and happened to get approached about doing a 3D animation class, completely out of the blue. I happened to have a pretty broad hobbyist background in 3DS Max, but I had to keep it free (but not irrelevent, sorry gmax) so I went to Blender and became hooked. But I made my class hate it. I now perceive a great need to find something shiny to bring them all back, especially the otherwise dedicated ones. But perhaps somebody else has more experience with this.
Background: I started teaching kids 12-15 from utter scratch last September, but only once a week, most of them having never touched a 3D app of any sort. I did not start with Blender: I candied things up with Sculptris first, then hit them with Blender – putting a cube together out of tetris blocks in order to teach navigation and manipulation, animating a ball bouncing down stairs as an introduction to keyframing and f-curves, making a gingerbread man – and then loosened the vice a bit with some SketchUp. The difference was night and day: with SketchUp all I had to do was show them inferencing, texturing, and components, and they went crazy. We got huge sheets of paper out and started drafting out a big neighborhood. Now I just walk around and encourage them to clean up after themselves so they don’t end up with crap geometry (SketchUp, unlike Blender, seems to encourage one to ask for forgiveness rather than permission,) and we’ve got all this poolable content. I start to think, maybe if I’d waited to introduce Blender until THIS point in the process…
But it’s too late. Now, they don’t want to go back. Blender has become synonymous with terrible confusion and frustration and it’s all my fault. Out of the box, everything seems to take 3 clicks too many along a disjointed zigzag trajectory, and they know it. The cooler the result, the more zigzag the trajectory, the more riffing on a still-foreign language to make the workflow manageable.
What’s to do? My evil scheme had been to lob a bunch of pre-made rigs of really nice models at them and just practice puppeteering, with a bit of video introduction to basic animation principles. But when I gave them a sampling of the rigs on the projector they raised a collective bemused eyebrow and said “eh, potentially impressive, but no doubt also a huge pain in the ass; we still hate Blender.”
What would make a group of sem-jaded youngsters say “holy crap, we were wrong?” without giving them an all new headache in the process?