How popular Blender is?

Hello everybody.
I don’t want to make any flames, or polemics.
I am just curious :slight_smile:
So far I have been only working with Maya because I was told it is the most popular software used in Studios.
I have decided to try, and possibly use Blender for my personal artworks and why not, for any commercial projects that I have in mind (I am already conceiving one).

Since I see beautiful things from Blender I was wondering why it is not an industry standard, if there are any downsides or things like that that prevents this software to become a standard :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance for the responses

Read through this thread. Carefully, and with an open mind: http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=1127034

Looks interesting, thanks :slight_smile:

Blender is a very capable software but the Major Studios don’t use it because they usually need very fast support. When a bug is a show stopper for a major studio it is a big deal and it needs to be fixed right away. I think this type of support is not a priority for Blender Foundation, therefore the current state.

If the bug in Blender is reported in a very clear manner, then it is not unheard of for it to be fixed within hours of the initial report. Don’t think that a developer at a major company can just poof make a bug disappear instantly by changing a few lines, because there’s some fixes that need deeper and more complex changes (that or even requiring a full refactoring of an area to fix properly).

This type of thing is the same for Blender as well, and most commercial companies will not give instant access to a build that has their requested fix in it, a client in most cases will have to wait for a service pack with a bundle of fixes to receive it.

This is a hugely common misconception about commercial software. People wait months eagerly for bugfix releases from the large companies, whereas the Blender crew puts out ready to use developer builds that extend features and fix bugs every single day.

Too bad the original poster didn’t follow his question with an hour of video telling people exactly what he thought. Might get some nice objective answers that way!

I agree. It’s not really the bugs. In fact Maya and Max are surprisingly buggy sometimes…

Big studios don’t change tools because for good or bad they know Max or Maya inside out. They know how to work around their shortcomings and they have spent years developing their own custom tools that work perfectly with their own internal pipelines. With Maya, for example, none of the studios I know use it straight as it comes out of the (virtual) box. Autodesk take all the credit but those studios have worked hard at improving and adapting Maya for their own particular needs.

Add the cost of having to teach the whole art team a new tool (and the endless moaning from the artists - I’ve been there…) and it’s easy to understand why studios carry own using Max and Maya.

It’s not about support, it’s because of the already established ecosystem with Autodesk products and the plugins for them. If you imagine a studio being like a factory, throwing away working machines for different ones and having to re-train personnel doesn’t make much sense. The only studios that are using it are the relatively new ones who were established around Blender from the beginning instead of Maya, Max or anything else.

People will learn to use the current industry standard because that’s what will land them a job. Schools teach Maya because that is their highest demand.

But besides that I think a lack of plugins is a major setback for Blender. Professionals have come to depend on plugins to save their life (read: career) and since Blender don’t have those plugins they will be set back trying to do everything that the plugins did for them manually.

Plug-in creators are often put off by the licensing as well, so the open platform is a bit of a double edged sword. The other issue is convention and interface. Blender struggles with both of those, but at least they havent been entirely forgotten.

About the interface, there’s been intensive discussion, mockups, and even some code that has been posted on developer.blender.org as they work out what can be done for 2.70.

There’s been a few simple things that are already in the latest builds, with a few more items having code towards it and pending inclusion.

When it comes to plugins though, Ton has stated that he fully supports the GPL in part due to concerns that Blender would otherwise just became a basic centerpiece where you have to purchase a few thousand dollars in modules to make it useful. However, he also stated that he doesn’t force the GPL on developers and Blender already has two technologies spun off of it with an Apache2 license (Cycles and Audaspace, the latter becoming a wholly separate library so that it’s not just Blender that can benefit from it).

I think maybe it’s because it would be embarrassing to use a free program for a professional studio. I thought they used the free version of Lightworks for Hollywood movies. Nope, paid. I think Blender is usually just used for little projects (Open Movies are probably an exception). There are actually some foreign studios that use Blender for their work. Morpho uses it for their show “Poison Squad.” Andrew Price (a famous (maybe infamous) Blender user) started a big discussion on Blender’s UI. There’s not much space for working, resulting in an extensive and difficult workflow, that would probably take half that time in a professional program (like Maya, Max, Modo). But: Blender’s UI is changing. Already a new tab layout is being designed. Anyone who views or has the sense to read this, please point out what’s wrong, or add to my point. Remember, this is from a 12 year old. Not professional!

Thanks for the comments so far :slight_smile:

Well it is what the supervisors of the majors studios say anyway. They say they can not take the risk. And I witnessed that software companies even work inside some of those major studios in order to fix/adapt their software for the show on location when necessary. Customer service in the high end is not like the consumer level.

It’s just the industry that is very slow in any changes.

Projects have tight schedules and the licence costs of Autodesk products are already factored in the rates, nobody has time or interest in dramatically changing the workflow even if it did pay off in the long run.

Another thing is there has been some debate is the render engine itself. For quite some time Blender Internal renderer was falling behind of the commercial alternatives until they developed Cycles. But some line of work especially animation has argued that Cycles rendering, while looking impressive is producing too much noise in any feasible rendering time.

But for smaller modeling/visualization studios I see Blender as very viable option. It helps tremendously with the company startup and dynamic sizing costs. Even if something takes a bit longer to create in Blender due to workflow adaptation, I see such companies being able to offer cheaper rates than companies using commercial software.

And when it comes to commercial software, outstanding support is a myth. I work in an architect office of 40 workers as I guess you could call it junior tech support, we have about 15 AutoDesk suite licences and we get no special treatment. When we discover a bug we can but go read about it on Autodesk forums where it most likely is already documented. There are bugs that crash software and we are just instructed not to do the particular thing that results in crash even though there is not really an alternative way of doing it. Nothing is fixed per-client basis, rather using the hotfixes that are available for everyone once they are released. The best workarounds are actually posted by regular users on public forums.

Well, what exactly has Blender to offer that would have commercial studios turn their backs to the software solution they used for years?

Is Blender better than Maya / 3ds max / etc.?
Arguable. Blender is not perfect - there, I said it. It has its shortcomings and flaws like any other 3D app. As already mentioned the renderer has been a problem child for years and Cycles is only slowly maturing into a feature-complete and production ready solution. Overall Blender has more and more become the “Jack of all trades, master of none” - and with no area of the software that excels in a special way, where could the impetus to change come from?

But Blender is free!
Yeah. So what? If you work commercially, software costs are business expenses anyway. And if you are established in business you already have invested larger amounts of money into commercial software and plugins. So the argument of software costs will mostly attract start-ups or small studios / freelancers. Which brings us to another problem:

Blender in a pipeline?
IMHO one of the biggest problems. I don’t see Blender in a (mixed) production pipeline, as it doesn’t play well enough with others. This poses trouble for the small freelancer mentioned above, as he/she might end up with not being able to deliver/receive data. Many importers / exporters (even for industry standard formats) in Blender are still in development, unfinished or just not robust enough. If Blender wants to play amongst the big guys, it first has to learn to play with the big guys.

With all that said, why would any studio want to retrain their entire personnel to Blender? As already stated, start-ups might be a different story.

Another reason Blender is not seeing much action, commercially, is its rather “difficult” interface. In truth it is just different rather than difficult, but for most - including professionals - who load it up for the first time, its like hitting a brick wall when trying to do even the simple of tasks such as navigating the 3D view. To learn Blender usually takes more time to learn than most other packages.

Price is an issue if you want to build a render farm. For example, many have predicted the death knell for Lightwave over the years, but sadly they have overlooked its main selling point of its fast “out of the box” renderer and 999 free render nodes. Buts still around and still seeing use in studios. Blender, on the other hand is not only free but can run on Linux, which is also free of charge…so Blender can make sense in this respect…

Maya is brilliant for writing scripts with Mel & Python and producing plug-ins with C++. However, if you are not a programmer then paying for plug-ins might get expensive.

So, before choosing a package, consider ALL the costs involved.

Ya know, I’d think someone could create a support company around Blender ($$$)…like Red Hat does around Linux?

As previously mentioned, Autodesk is the industry standard for almost the last 30 years and thus companies have invested workflows around them, especially the large successful companies that have been around since then. These companies set the industry standard and they are the companies people (students) generally want to work for since they tend to have better pay, better benefits, etc. (YMMV). As a result, educational institutions will cater to these companies and naturally teach the corresponding software they use - Autodesk. Schools teaching Blender is really the last sign to look for.

The companies more likely to adopt Blender will be the newer startups who have more to gain and less to lose by switching to Blender than larger more established companies. We see this in the growing indie culture and smaller companies.

IMHO, Blender has a bright future ahead of it :cool: for various reasons:

  • Economic recovery
    [LIST]

  • The major recessions during the late 2000s, probably contributed to slower economic growth (and software growth?). Fortunately, we seem to be recovering from the recession. This means we should see more startups which means more opportunities for Blender adoption.

  • Recent Blender developments

  • Depending on your POV, it is only recently Blender has taken off:
    [LIST]

  • Major recode of 2.5 (2009-2011)

  • Cycles (2011)

  • Bmesh (2012)

  • It’s still notorious for it’s UI but that seems to be improving.
    [/LIST]

  • Rapid growth of open-source alongside social networking.

  • We see this with the popularity of Android at the consumer level, and in server backends in the enterprise sector.

  • One implication of open-source is the rising importance of consumer input and consumers becoming producers rather than simply being passive consumers (peer production).

  • Examples: In media, YouTube channels versus watching TV. In software, user’s ability to take initiative by bug fixing and feature implementation in open-source versus reporting bugs and requesting features in proprietary software, waiting on company action.

  • Linux is still not perfect however much of it’s main issues on the consumer level are being addressed.
    [LIST]

  • Pre-installs such as Canonical’s Ubuntu.

  • Better hardware and driver support, especially graphics. Valve’s adoption of Linux as its gaming platform in the form of Steambox/SteamOS is a big driver.

[/LIST]

  • The Cloud™ and mobile computing

  • In some ways, you could say email was really in the cloud all along.

  • Anyhow, we see an overall trend towards the cloud. For example, Autodesk and Adobe moving to subscription-based policies.

  • It’s hard to say what the result of this will be. Some say it could create vendor lock-in. Others say, its more affordable. It could backfire on the companies and turn users to the now more attractive open-source alternatives.

  •   "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day...Be the only one around who owns fishing equipment and you can rent it to him on a daily basis for the rest of his life".
    

[/LIST]

Steep learning curve of interface is not a big deal. Houdini or Zbrush has a steeper learning curve and they have very different interfaces than Autodesk products. Yet large studios embrace them because of their function. Pipeline is the key. If Blender becomes a pipeline tool in time (implements features such as Alembic etc) it may have its place among the tool set of these studios. Sometimes studios need a “jack of all trades” kind of tool too.

Integration with other tools (i.e. not pretending to be the only star in the studio) and the continuous Python API rot which prevents the development of an ecosystem of third party plugins (free and commercial).

Points already stated many times, equine bet into atoms many times, Blender PTB ignoring objections or slamming the fist on the table, affirming that The True Way™ is the right one.

Since the alternatives are

  • abandonware or almost so (Silo/Carrara/Wings3D etc.) or…
  • raising in cost (Modo, pardon, MODO as it is called now) or…
  • 4 digits price tags (3DStudio, Maya, XSI, Cinema4D)

the only thing that keeps a hobbiest or small studio still capable of creating 3D content is Blender so we all have to shut up.