I am a professional in the sports graphics industry, and I have worked on high profile graphics packages that have been broadcast on Fox Sports and other networks. My 3D background is in Blender, and was an obvious choice for my personal workflow in such an environment. However, Blender is simply not feasible to use in such an environment, and I would like to briefly discuss the reasons why. (Spoiler: it’s not the interface. )
The environment I work in is super fast paced. The packages we deliver have very short production times, sometimes just over a week. With turnarounds like this, render effects are dropped if they aren’t fast. AO, for example, is often dropped, in favor of a drop shadow or painting a shadow in photoshop. Thesis, therefore: Blender doesn’t save for compositing very well, and isn’t easy to work with in such an environment.
Cinema 4D is the industry standard for graphic packages like these, and for a good reason. Cinema is quick and flexible with it’s rendering, and saves files easily read by compositing programs, such as photoshop and after effects.
In rendering, Cinema can save a file with all the render passes laid out for easy access. The file it saves includes each pass already set to it’s proper layer mode (ie, shadow layer is set to multiply, specular is set to add, so on). This makes it easy to drop the render into photoshop for quick compositing, or after-effects for quick motion sketching. Additionally it allows for saving object buffers (basically a black and white matte soloing a object) and other simple tricks that make compositing simple.
Blender, on the other hand, does not make external compositing so easy. In a blender to photoshop workflow, there is no simple way to export all of the render layers at once, let alone as a single file. Rendering out movies of separate passes is impossible in a single render, as far as I know. If you want to composite within Blender, that’s fine… blender makes it easy to access render passes in the compositing panel for it’s own internal use. But saving out each render pass separately is a pain.
Obviously, photoshop and after effects are industry standard programs; working with them is necessary. Blender’s compositing systems, while surprisingly robust, offer little advantage and are decidedly less flexible than those programs. Not to say blender shouldn’t be proud of it’s compositing system, but it also should not expect users to stay within the program. I realize that blender probably can’t access the photoshop file format, but just some development in this area would be awesome. Doesn’t the tif file format allow layers?
In conclusion, Cinema makes it easy to work with other programs, while Blender does not. Now Cinema is not a perfect program by any means… honestly, I like interacting with blender way more. Cinema’s interface is clunky to say the least. However, it knows where it is strong and has created workflows for easy interaction with external programs, while Blender doesn’t necessarily make it quick or easy.
So yes. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your discussion on this topic.
tl;dr nice: Cinema 4D has some cool things that Blender should get.
tl;dr not so nice: Blender doesn’t play well with other programs and needs to be more flexible if it wants to be used as part of a production workflow.