Changing from Big boy 3software to Blender

Hi,

Im planing for the future to open up a 3d animation company, and my question is really simple.

If I where to hire people for this company would it be suitable to use Blender in big productions and would people that have been brought up with 3D studio max and such be able to transfer to Blender ?

//AMZi

Disclaimer: I’m not in the industry, this is just what I’ve gathered from people who are.

The industry uses Max and Maya for the most part, so if your hiring experienced artists then that’s what they will know. You have to take into account the learning curve of new software for all new employees, but yes, good artists will be able to adapt to any software.

Keep in mind though, should your company ever get far enough that your are doing “big productions” the price of the software will be so insignificant in comparison to the cost of the employees that it won’t matter if your using free software or 5 thousand dollar software. If using Max or Maya makes your artists slightly more efficient then that’s what you would do if you were a big studio. When you think about the cost of a commercial building, computers, cost of running a business, and most of all the price of skilled CG artists the price of software is extremely small.

I am in the industry… Here’s what we use for animation and video game creation:

Animation:
Maya (Animation/Rendering)
ZBrush (Sculpting)
Adobe Suite (Texturing)
Blender (Modeling)

Game:
Blender (Game Engine [with our own collision/physics engine]/Modeling)
ZBrush (Sculpting for normal maps)
Adobe Suite (Texturing)

Don’t wish to burst anybodies’ bubble. I have a hard time finding projects that requires blender.

The most common request for 3D works (for me) was for 3DSMAX-related projects.

This is quite disheartening for me as i do not know or own 3DSMAX. It is just too expensive for me.

I really hope that Blender becomes more recognised in the industry soon. At the present moment, it is not. :frowning:

Blender is open source… it will never get picked up by commercial companies. Let me explain a little:

Open source = unreliable

In open source, you never know when the project will die, and that’s a HUGE problem. See, open source programs are not really “programs” they’re “projects”, with no money in mind, no huge result. Simply a project.

In closed source programs like Maya who have a huge company behind them… well… they’re not going to just die overnight. And if they die, another company will buy the rights and BOOM! There’s Maya 2.0

Also, blender has very weak features compared to Maya. Yes for modeling blender has a much faster workflow, for everything else… well… it’s a hassle.

Maya has Mental Ray, and you can render photorealistic scenes with a touch of a button…
Yes there’s external renderers for blender… but that’s the problem… they’re external, we want to setup BLENDER light and render scenes the way BLENDER sees it, not have to relight the entire scene for one render.

Fluid sim: Ok, I will admit, blender beats maya in fluid, but that’s the only thing, because Maya whoops it’s ass in nCloth and nParticles… Maya doesn’t have real “fluid”, but with nParticles you can make damn better water then with blender’s weak fluid sim.

Fire is a snitch in Maya, and looks better too! Also you can literally touch a button called “Create new Ocean” and “Create new Lake” to instantly make amazing ANIMATED water! AND Maya has a builtin bank of materials from Plastic to Shiny red Car which in turn will ease the nerves when reapplying frequently used materials in different scenes.

Fur is AMAZING in Maya, and VERY easy to make, it also is preenabled to animated however you want.

Also a MASSIVE feature in Maya over Blender, PHYSICS… in Maya you can use real physics in your animation, anywhere from Gravity, air, wind, atmosphere, rigid bodies, colliders, destroyers, breakers, cutters (cloth), cloth, wind tunnels, and more!

So I guess in the end companies see that Maya clearly defeats blender.

Not trying to start a war of program over program… I’m just stating the facts, listen to the guy who frequently uses both programs. I NEVER model in Maya though… it’s too slow and sluggish. I’ll give blender that, it’s a good modeling program… nothing else… well… the game engine is nice. I think blender should start focusing more on the game engine, it’s about the only thing that has potential to keep up with commercial grade, everything else will take years to catch up to commercial grade, then the grade will change and it’ll be outdated again!

Just my $0.10

Those are not the issues really Killer… (and it’s flailing wildly off topic, but I’ll cover what you’ve said later)
open source tools are actually in widespread use in the commercial world…

First, to the original poster…
Yes, people can re-train to use blender when coming from commercial software and it does have the capability to be a viable alternative to commercial solutions…

I use it because I prefer it to Maya, which is what most of my clients use…

people are people though, so be prepared for many of your potential workforce to bitch moan and whine… that it doesn’t do “X”…

You’ll Need people to “buy in” to using blender rather than the packages they’re used to… they need to think that it’ll “add value” to them personally (their skills, their workflow)… if they just think you’re tying to cut costs and be a cheapskate they won’t be motivated to commit some spare time to thoroughy learn (you can only directly teach so much!)

You’d really need a blender expert on staff who competes at a “pro” level and probably has a good knowledge of stuff like max and maya too…

Someone who can train your workforce, who can instantly calm their fears by showing them how they can do what they want in blender… and who also isn’t some kind of Blender zealot, they can see the shortcomings of the tool “realistically”.

Sadly those people are in short supply (but their number is growing)

Killer:
the problems are more like:

is there a large talent pool of people with blender skills? (right now, no!) so EVERYone has to be trained up… a costly initiative and for a business, can cost more than just getting licenses of commonly used commercial packages…

retraining is only really effective if you have a Blender Guru on staff… but there aren’t that many of those…
Finally the customisability/flexibility of blender to fit it into a pipeline are the biggest problems for widespread adoption of blender in commercial houses…

as an example, even in “maya houses” the “standard” maya interface is rarely used… (I’m gigging at EA at the moment… All of the most used stuff is by custom interfaces and scripts built on top of maya…completely replacing the “hypershade” system, custom character rigs and facial systems/interfaces etc etc… specialised lighting tools…

“stock maya” is actually a bit of a clunker (and most of the people I work with curse at it regularly…), but stock maya with custom tools is slick and fast and efficient…

blender 2.5 is very promising for blender in this regard…

on a final note… whilst working at EA I quietly installed all my favourite open source tools, asked my line manager for some time on writing some custom scripts to make the transfer of data smoother and got on with it…

when I’m “on site” at EA when I’m working in blender people look over your shoulder, go “what’s that?”… you show them… Most people had heard of Blender, liked the idea of blender, had never seen anyone use it… I show them a few things and they see the added value…(built in game engine to instantly test the environment without exporting was a BIG one…) sadly they still don’t find it very “discoverable”

the reasons for blender being not being adopted have little to do with features, lots to do with customisation and “people”

So to summarize its a long shot and a Blender kickass in the staff would be a real opening to transfer the staff from commercial software. For a start and if all works to either help out and develop blender more or cheap out and move on to commercial software.

All I can make off this is to make me that Blender Guru, and give it all I got, really.
I got a big ego with a lots of stubbornness to back it up with.

Any objections ? honestly kick me as hard you guy’s can, cause I really need some tough advice.
I’m gonna need it…

//AMZi

The last thing your employers need is a boss who is also the Blender “zealot.” Also, when your starting a business, with real employees, find the extra funding and at least get 1 licence each of Maya and Max (there may be leasing options). This way you’ll at least offer options for during the difficult transition. It may even make the transition easier when they see what you’ve offered.

Hire a business manager and someone who can do sales/client relations, too.

Can’t really call me a blender zealot, but believe that blender has some advantages for a fresh cut company. It’s really a good point doe.

Why I choose blender to begin with was simply for two reasons, Zbrush sucks and maya and 3dmax is to expensive.

When everything is done with my current project, I’ll see the strength of blender and capability. At the moment everything looks promising and I see more limitations inside my head than the software.

//AMZi

I think Michael W hit it right on the head (along with -[Killer]-).

It also comes down to just what market you are aiming for. The scope of possible 3D work is, of course, enormous. But the “low-hanging fruit” has plenty of people standing underneath it already. Those small companies fill the tail-positions of movie trailers around the world, and they use whatever the studios that hire them tell them to use.

This usually means that they’re not paying attention to anything else.

You need to very clearly articulate what market you want to shoot for, and from that, determine what tool(s) will allow you to produce the highest-quality work product in the least time and at the least overall cost. For you, licensing costs (or the lack thereof) do make a difference, but there are other costs too.

Personally, I don’t think it really comes down to the tools. File-compatibility is an issue of course, as is every technical aspect of the production cycle. However, I think it is the resourcefulness, and the determination to succeed, of the proprietors themselves, that really tells you whether a particular business will succeed or will fail. You have to “know your chops,” certainly, but what you really have to know is “business.”

A few notes, many schools teaching animation are switching to Blender as their teaching platform. So while it is true that the majority of experienced artists are currently non Blender users, most new artists in the next couple of years will be Blender trained.

It is going to matter a HUGE amount where you are located. Starting an animation studio in California using Blender (unless you already have a group of artists who are familiar with and want to use Blender) is kinda questionable, doing so in a less developed nation where labor is relatively cheap on the other hand - the cost savings could be huge. If you are starting the studio in podunk US instead of a coastal area where there is a high concentration of existing users of other packages, using Blender might also be reasonable.

It will matter a HUGE amount on the type of staff. Most heavy blender users are more a cross between T/Ds and artists than pure artists (ie often times they can do fairly advanced scripting or even serious coding if needed, can set up a build environment and compile their own branch of blender as needed = ie a patch or custom build might have a huge time saving feature).

Startup costs and income flow - if you have projects that you have lined up in advance but cash flow is a problem, it might make sense to defer the per seat cost of the software by going with Blender, if you have artists willing and capable of using Blender.

Other arguements for Blender include all users having access to all of the tools (the marginal per seat cost is zero, so if you can gain slight productivity increase by having a artist work on something that it normally wouldn’t be worth the additional per seat cost of software for, then you have a nice gain).

There are of course many arguments against Blender - lack of plugins so the functionality included with Blender is what you have to work with (I mean the big commercial plugins, not small one off scripts). Import and export to other parts of your pipeline could be problematic. Lack of skilled userbase, lack of hand holding commercial support contracts, and others.

LetterRip

the way it is now, it is very common for people to jump around different software packages. Every studio makes a choice as to what package they want for their own specific reasons. Demo reels showcase an artist’s ability as an artist and very rarely their ability to use whatever program they chose to learn. A good studio will hire based on the merit of the artist’s skill as an artists not what program they use. As training someone to use a new piece of software is alot easier then training someone how to be an artist.

Infact, alot of studios use either heavily modified beyond recognition versions of software or their own in house proprietary software where no matter who they hire, they will have to train them to use their software.

Starting a business with Blender 2.49 is not a very good idea.

I tried out a lot of 3D + Animation software in my vacation.

Some commercial and costly, some free.

My opinion: Blender needs the highest amount of time to get somehow a little bit productive. In the forum here you will often read something about : “artist can easy learn it” or some bullshit about made dor “creative people”.

That is simply not true. If you have an good creative artist you will pay him more monthly than the costs of a software.
If the artist needs to learn alot to use a software he is not productive in the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of a free 3d solution. But I would not use it to start a new business without determinating all alternatives.

I must say, that fo the software i tried out blender was the hardest to find out how to do things and have the most uncommon user interface i’Ve seen. The second worse were the autodesk user interfaces, but better commented and a easier to learn. Somewhere in the middel was art of illusion (but with very less features). A good user interface for me was Cinema4d, and Bishop3d for POVRay (okay, also less features, but very intuitive to use).

I must say that blender has a lot features for prof. work, but i definitly hope that the 2.5 brings a much better to use gui.

The funny thing is, that i found a few threads with “user ui is bad”, “no its not bad its better for creative use” and so on. From my point of view it is very complicated for first time users.
I found a comparision table which pretty much fits my experience:

http://www.tdt3d.be/articles_viewer.php?art_id=99

The point : Learning path to be productive
For Cinema: < 1 month , for 3ds <2 month, for blender <3 month.

So you should evaluate what you really want to do with it and get some trials.