Give me tips on doing a live Blender demo

I’ve volunteered to do a presentation at a small Sci-fi/fantasy convention (Congregate in High Point, NC) next year demoing Blender. A friend of mine is doing a presentation on makeup and effects prosthetics (which she does professionally), and I was thinking of using the results of her demo, taking some video, maybe some backgrounds of the con and tracking and compositing in some 3D assets and explaining the basics of how that works. My part has to happen in roughly 1 1/2 hours plus time for questions, so some parts might need to be pre-made, etc. Any tips on what I should do, anything I should avoid?

A different idea is to pair up with someone with a 3D printer and sculpt and print a miniature character. The printing itself would take a lot of time, maybe that would be a good time to answer questions. Still not sure, because that just shows one side of blender, not texturing, animating, compositing etc.

I have roughly a year to work this all out, but I want to get all my ducks in a row and do at least one ‘dry run’ before the actual show, just in case.

Has anyone else given a live presentation, and can give me advice?

Sounds like a lot of fun!

I have given a ton of live presentations over the years, demonstrating software and animation concepts in front of audiences ranging from 10 to 7,000. They are a blast! Especially when they go well. :slight_smile:

Here is an example of a Ted-X presentation I gave a few years back… took me a few months to put together and a LOT of practice!


The key to a great presentation is to really understanding what it is that you want them to learn during the presentation. Figure out the one concept the audience doesn’t know before you start presenting that they will know by the time you are done. Then figure out the narrative to get there.

here is my process:

1 - identify your audience. Who are they? What knowledge do they bring to the presentation? Are they 3d artists? Beginners? Producers? Film makers? Generalists? College students? Magicians? Clergy? Understanding who your audience is will help you taylor the information to them, and also make sure you are focusing in the right areas.

2 - what is the core thing you want them to learn? If they are students and you want to teach them how to turn a concept into a final 3d model - the core thing may be modeling … It may be tweaking render settings… It may be composition. What’s the key? And then what are secondary things? Rendering may be core, then posing may be secondary.

3 - what is a simple narrative that takes me from where they start to where they leave the course? I usually do this with post its… One post it at the top of a page that says who they are, one post it at the bottom with the knowledge they leave. Then I work my way backwards from bottom to top with the concepts they must learn.

Example (bottom to top).

Final render. Learned how to get a beautiful rendered pose.
tweaking render
render settings
posing character
camera composition
setting the scene
Finding reference
clarifying idea
3d generalist - knows some 3d, wants to know how to create a beauty shot.

by doing this, you are creating a flow and narrative through your presentation that makes it easy to follow and helps clarify how much time you need to spend in each section.

I then open keynote and start fleshing out each section - adding descriptions of imagery or demo content before creating it.

I work through this flow a while before I start the ‘creative’ part… that way I don’t spend time on things I don’t need!

Once I have a clear flow, and clear content ideas… THEN I begin creating my content.

Hopefully this is helpful!! -jason

Thanks for the reply, and the example! I was hoping in mine to do some work in front of the audience, like a mini tutorial, but for some of the explanations a keynote might make more sense. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

I’ve done a lot of those, too. Live demos work great! The key there is to make it short and directed… like adding a texture and adjusting the shader… or just posing a bit of the body, but not the whole thing.

Focus on the key thing you want to demonstrate, and then press the magic button that completes it. :slight_smile:

And then practice practice practice… never deviate from the script you’ve prepared for how to click through your presentation. Go slow, be deliberate, and talk through it. Tell them what you’re going to do, tell them what you’re doing, then tell them what you did.

For example, let’s say you’re going to bevel the edges of a cube.

Say: “Now we want to turn this cube into a some dice. The first thing we want to do is blunt the edges a bit so it doesn’t look so sharp. To do that, we’re going to use a bevel tool. The bevel tool will take a sharp edge, and add some roundness to it in order to soften it and make it feel less “CG”. Here’s how it works:”

Then tumble around the cube.

“See the sharp edge here?”

Point to the edge.

“I’m going to soften it with Bevel. To do this, first I need to select the edge. I can do that by switching my context into EDIT mode.”

Switch to edit mode.

“Then, I will click with my RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON to select the edge.”

Do so.

“Now that the edge is selected, I can choose my BEVEL tool and apply the bevel.”

Apply the bevel.

etc… work through the whole demo… then at the end:

“So there you go, I was able to take a cube and soften the edges using the BEVEL tool. This gives me a much more realistic model that will be perfect for applying shaders to and lighting beautifully.”

See? Tell 'em what you’re gonna do, tell them what you’re doing an why, and then tell them what you did." :slight_smile:


I know, I’ll have to practice that part especially. I’ve had coworkers complain that I skip steps when I’m showing them things, so I’m going to have to watch that. Perhaps practice in front of my wife.

I think my main problem will be targeting the audience, knowing what they want to see. Since it’s a sci-fi convention, the audience might be anything from experienced fellow blender heads to kids wanting to learn how to make minecraft videos. When I post the description for the panel I’m going to have to manage that expectation so they know what they’ll be getting. As soon as I figure out what that is!

Since you do appear to be leaving a space for questions, one thing you might consider doing is trying to anticipate the kinds of questions you’ll be asked ahead of time. And then, as part of your preparation, create a few extra example files that you can use to quickly answer those questions.

For example, you mentioned that this is a science fiction conference. Let’s say your demo is some kind of hard body modeling example (a futuristic helmet, a space ship, etc.) You’re not going to have time to do much more than build that model. So if someone asks you, “what about textures?” then if you have a previously created version of that model (or any model, really) where you’ve already textured it, you can load the .blend file and show the finished results… perhaps quickly re-unwrapping the mesh.

Having those kinds of files ready ahead of time (even if you never use them) are a great way to ensure you’re prepared… and they’re a really good way to show what else is possible when all you have is a short presentation time.

Get a camera and record yourself, as you do a practice demo. Then sit down, get your comfort food and watch yourself. Jason said some awesome stuff above and take it to heart. But get a camera and record and watch, Do that maybe once a week for a month or two and it will do wonders for your presentation ability. And that is something that you will keep with you for life.

Thanks everyone for your help. I’ll keep posting info as I refine this thing.