Commercial support of Blender

What sort of interest is there in having commercial support for Blender?

There are a number of goals that such commercial support could have

  1. Adoption by big business - it is often observed that big businesses are reluctant to use software that they don’t have readily available commercial support for. Thus this would increase the likelihood of adoption.

  2. Allow large scale desired projects to be accomplished - some of the biggest wishlists (opengl accellerated rendering, renderman support) are projects that are not easily accomplished in spare time programming. This would allow projects that are useful but need a significant time commitment, to happen.

  3. Make sure that small scale needs and wants can get addressed in a timely manner - there are a number of modest effort projects that would be generally useful to artists but that no coder really has an itch to scratch.

There are a couple of different approaches this could take

  1. subscription model - Transgaming uses a subscription based model - subscribers get to vote on what is most important development wise to them for each month. A subscriber can also purchase additional votes.

  2. bounty model - desired items are listed and then various individuals promise a certain amount towards accomplishing the goal. If the bounty is high enough then the developer states he will do the project (or as soon as an implementation arrives a developer can claim the bounty).

  3. project proposal model - the developer estimates the cost of doing a particular project, or possibly cost of doing different deliverables for the project, then agrees to do the project (or stage in the project) for a particular price. Then the users contribute a combined amount.

  4. Street performer protocol - the developer creates a feature, and states he will release the code once a particular funding level is achieved.

What sort of funding would people in general be willing to commit?

A full time developer is fairly spendy especially in OECD countries which is where most of Blenders key developers come from.

http://www.skane.com/invest/brochures/International%20comparison%20of%20salaries_GB.pdf

So to hire one full time software engineer (assuming they work from home, etc.) would be roughly 50,000$.

if we had contributions of 100$ a year that would require 500 contributors.
50 would be 1000 contributors.

(Also there would probably be overhead for payment, ie paypal is 3% of the transaction + 30 cents per transaction).

So is there interest in funding one or more developers tp work on Blender?

LetterRip

For some reason…I don’t think this is the right audience to ask.

Most people in here are in 2 categories:

  1. Home users & hobbyist.
    While these are VERY passionate about the future and development
    of Blender they’re not likely to “hire/fund” a developer unless
    you do this by some means that “force” them to do so…this
    could be Blender-books, blender-plugin funds …eg. “most-wanted-feature”
    that will make people want to pay for it… But as Blender has this
    “free spirit” behind it…this won’t go down easy with the Blenderists.

  2. Professional freelancers.
    We’re the ones trying to/making a living out of using Blender.
    We’re very few…and usually we’re just like the Blender hobbyists
    wanting to support Blender’s future and equally enthusiastic about
    it’s development - with ONE major difference, what YOU do as a
    developer…might make or break the bread on our table. So yeah…
    to us…developers are extremely important. But most of us are
    incapable of funding developers since we usually have our own
    customers (companies) that coulnd’t care less about Blender…

In essence …the company that hire us to do work for them…
don’t need or want to hear what tools we use - they only care
for getting results…and they WILL go to the competition if they’re
better equipped (Read–> getting better results).

The people you most likely want to contact:

  • Small film studios using Blender
  • Getting hired by Blender professionels that already
    work on a steady-basis for a “insert-company-here” and that
    are looking to expand with their own in-house programmers, to
    convince these companies…a far more professional plan would
    be needed for this.
  • Video game studios (smaller ones) that already use Blender
    in production.

Even better yet:
make your own studio, make in-house software additions to
Blender and do something revolutionary that makes you famous
and then - when you used it FIRST in your studio to produce spectacular
results …then only…release the software to the public…this way…
you will get an awful lot of attention…and while you didn’t actually
get paid per say for the service you finally released to the public…
…you did get to use your software first…and was able to get all the
headlines everywhere…and put YOUR company in the headlines
and the spotlight. That way your company could grow into doing
services and programming stuff for the smaller companies out there
…thus proving your value, getting everyone’s attention…and growing
with time…as the most professional support people can get for
Blender.

Then…people would hire you for assignments and your company could
afford to hire even more programmers. The whole community would
benefit - and the professionals would have an arsenal of “backup”
and support they can present to their own customers…and would
of course…be easier to hire because they come with “guarantees”
rather than…“well…the nature of free software is such that we
can’t really guarantee anything…”. You see? This guarantee is
of absolute essence to companies hiring staff for a production.
No one want’s to invest in promises…Companies invest in timely
delivered results.

Joongle,

thanks for your comments - I wouldn’t be the developer since I’m not ‘fast enough’ - ie most of the core developers could do (for c code anyway) in a day what it would take me a week :slight_smile: (If the event refactor happens that allows python tools to be on an equivalent basis with non python tools then it would be a different story)

However, there are items that people beg for a lot (opengl/GPU based rendering being the most significant) that really are not feasible without a developer basically committing a major chunck of time.

So, I figured I’d post this and see what sort of interest their is (I suspected the result you suggest, but figured I’d post and see what the results are…).

LetterRip

with the animation code beeing reworked i think that there is already a significant work done. and after that i could imagine that with the same quality elements like the render / material engine or particle system might be improved.

the proper audience is actually investors not the 13 year olds that are using it!

no, seriously, there aren’t too many people here who actually use blender professionally, i am one of those that do use it professionally, and that is only because it is free. I would however still buy it for $50 dollars or so but nothing close to max3d or anything… I think that Orange Studio is the best thing for Blender, have a group of developers and power users to develop commercial products (not software) - then take the revenues from the product and go back into Blender - eventually investors will realize the powerful dynamics of Blender software and such companies as Pixar (i guy can dream) would then hire Blender developers to create special “pixar” products and in certain case Blender Pixar software - software just for Pixar and would pay the developers - that is where all the money for max3d comes from, it got established and then production studios payed for animations and that payed for developement… it’s a cyclic system and so basically, Blender just has to get established more and then it can possibly start a secondary thread which costs a reasoneable amount of money which is always a release in advance of the others…

so in answer, yes, i’d purchase the software (maybe i would have thought first about it though!) at around 50 dollars but not anything more!

I said I’d support development at around the $50 level mainly because I already donate at least $50 per year to the Blender foundation to support it. If people don’t want to pay for development that’s the least they can do.

the proper audience is actually investors not the 13 year olds that are using it!

I suspect the most feasible sources of funding immediately would be sponsorship by private or government art foundations or through a deal with university art departments. Open source products generally can only get funding from investors if the product is a core for critical business infrastructure (Linux, JBoss, Apache, etc.). DCC (digital content creation) tools only meets that criteria for a small handful of companies in particular animation houses - which within the US already develop and maintain their own tools internally and consider them to be part of their ‘competitive advantage’. (Although they are often willing to sell their software as a package to competitors - ie RenderMan, in order to offset development costs). Blender does have something to offer newly founded animation houses (especially those in countries where labor costs are cheap and software costs are high), but their ability to fund external development will be fairly limited.

LetterRip

Hello,

This is indeed a very interesting topic. Well, as some people have already pointed out some users on forums like this enjoy to use Blender because it’s free. But I personally think that this would be a great idea. Yes, alot of people and companies do use commercial software that does include support because in the end it is alot cheaper and less time consuming than if they have to fix things on their own. And I think $100 or so would be fine. I can’t see why some people here use PhotoShop etc. but would not be willing to spend something on Blender. There is no other application that comes anywhere close to Blender for $100, the nest bext thing you could do would be to buy Lightwave. Also, people have been very excited about the Google sponsored summer-of-code projects, alot more projects like these would be realizable with proper funding. So yeah, I think this is a good idea.

Tiggs

Sometime ago, in the begining of the dot org era or when Blender Foundation raised some funds from EU, somewhere was commented that a full-time coder would be hired.
Raising funds from donations for occasional purposes is wise but I don’t think it works for a business model. You can’t rely just on people’s providence.

Whoah $50.000 dollars a year?! You must be kidding, don’t believe everything you read. I bet you can hire a more than capable software engineer for around $25.000 dollars!

While personally I think that a paid production scheme could do wonders for Blender, there is much more to it then just new features.

For a start, peoples expectations on what might come out of such projects are often skewed. Lets use Hardware Rendering as an example. There has been much excitement/anticipation/hype about this feature, and people will continue to request it regardless of the fact that is is exceptionally unlikely it will ever make it into Blender. It is hardware specific, and the Blender Devs cannot and will not incorporate a feature that requires different code for each brand at least if not each GPU itself, nor will they include such features when the hardware specs, features and API’s are changing at such a rapid rate that it would require a code rewrite every 12-18months (at best).

Something like this would have to work with BF oversight and veto rights. I think the best option would be a fulltime paid coder with a voting system in place to decide what features to code, but limited to feasible features decided by BF, rather then single users paying for single features.

Just my two cents worth, any real devs feel free to disagree with me.

timmeh

Nah I think more in the likes of Euro 25k to 30k

Nah I think more in the likes of Euro 25k to 30k[/quote]

Which reminds me to be to prepare for next negotiations! :wink: The salary also depends very much on the location in the country, a few hundred kilometers north can save you thousands of E’s.

Anyway, I think it would be much better to let students do projects for Blender, all their work is in vain now!

hmm … i’m still publisher licence owner (not the public one, but the real deal)- can I get upgrade discount when blender spawns it’s commercial - proffesional branch again?

happened before - didn’t last long.

edit: that’s somewhat OT regarding the poll topic, but then again it’s a cousin of above questions.

Blender is basically permanently GPL - there is too much code from other people to relicense under a non GPL license.

timmeh,

It is hardware specific, and the Blender Devs cannot and will not incorporate a feature that requires different code for each brand at least if not each GPU itself, nor will they include such features when the hardware specs, features and API’s are changing at such a rapid rate that it would require a code rewrite every 12-18months (at best).

there is a programming language for GPU programming that is in fact GPU agnostic and falls back to the CPU if an insufficient GPU is available. Ton has stated that such patches are acceptable. Regarding rate of change - renderer changes very slowly in general, Ton is/will be rewriting parts of it on the next release cycle for multipass rendering, but in general for that part of Blender very little changes over time.

LetterRip

a full time programmer might do it for $25K if he’s not confident of himself but most American’s with a college education (especially with specified training - ie: computer sciences) can easily make $50K a year as a free lance - why would they pass that up for a measly 25k? Even someone with no real training can get a programming job as a freelancer for 25k a year - why would someone spend there time going to college if it didn’t pay more? In other countries, it’s often cheaper, or more expensive to live so it’s only relative - but if I was a full time primary core programmer, i wouldn’t expect less than 50k a year - unless of course it was for a probable cause (ie: blender) - however a person still needs to be payed for what they are worth - it’s not like a doctor (folks in socialized medicine countries won’t understand this) would say i normally charge $25K for this surgery but because I like doing it and your’s is a rare case I’ll do it for $10K - it ain’t happening…

If it’s really so valuable, cost is irrelevant - MS programmers walk home with a nice annual paycheck - why? because B.G. doesn’t care how much it costs - he’ll just charge you for WinXP!

Think about it! :wink:

In my opinion the likelihood of this individual being an American is very slim. So measuring this in dollars is not a good idea. Timothy himself said it would more likely be 25.000 to 30.000 euros. That’s more like $30,125 to $36,150. Nearer to $40k in other words. Much more reasonable than $25,000. (http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic)

The reasoning for my ‘not an american’ comment is that this individual would likely be living and working in the netherlands or nearby, and they would likely be Dutch like the other Blender employees that are paid. No… the Blender Foundation isn’t racist or anything, but for practical reasons almost everyone directly involved with the foundation is at least European.

If anyone disagrees… feel free as always to comment.

Well of core programmers who are really good (or even geniuses!) where are they located (I’d assume we’d want module owner level etc…)

http://www.blender3d.org/cms/Module_Owners.592.0.html

LetterRip

Come on! I bought the Blender guide, ordered the Orange Project dvd. Just because I appreciate Blender very much! I don’t want much money involved, as things only get worse with money. Look overbudgeted software like Jasc Paintshop pro. It takes ages for PSP9 to open a simple file compared to PSP7. PSP was only a fileviewing program some time ago, now it’s like photoshop. I don’t want Blender to cost money by purpose. And I don’t want a Blender commersial version side by side eighter as Blender open-source would vanish and disappear and we have a commercial program and it will only go down!! :x

I don’t see why people are so much against this.
Other OS projects which are very popular have companies offering commercial support (Scribus) or use the bounty model (Gnome). I don’t know why this would suddently be so bad for Blender being open source.

Tiggs