I feel greatly indebted to the Blender community. I have come along very late in the chain. I am very new to this community and I have always felt that I was getting something for nothing. I can’t really believe how wonderful it is to have something like Blender at my finger tips.
Prior to using Blender I have always used commercial software. But frustrated with the package I was using I turned to Blender in late 2008 to continue working on a very personal project that I never tell anyone about. Some of my closest friends are the only people who know about it. It is just something I work at quietly on my own time between work I do for money. So forgive me if I don’t post WIP and contribute in that way. That may change in the future.
In any case I don’t think the Blender developers get nearly enough credit for what they have done and what Blender really means to the art world and thus to the world at large. Open source software is definitely going to be the new wave of the future. In many ways in already is. And now I use almost exclusively open source.
But there is no more apt truism to apply here than “Nothing is for free.”
I have thought about it. And I can think of nothing I could contribute more than some of my general knowledge about producing films. I am no expert in Blender, learning is still a WIP. And there are plenty of gurus contributing in this area. So I hope I can fill somewhat of a void here with the following writings. I hope they are of some use. And I hope they do not repeat too much of what is already available. In any case, it is my contribution, for better or for worse. You can be the judge.
Obviously people can comment and contribute. This is an open forum. But I will mainly use this as a vehicle for some things I have lying around that I have written or thoughts that have not seen the light of day. It will take a while and I will keep it updated as I have time.
I have been in the filmmaking feild as a professional hobbyist since 1991. Two years prior to that I ended my 15 year career as a professional musician and began to take up acting, directing and writing. I had gone to school for music, and was a professional drummer by trade. I also wrote songs and composed score music. My Most notable achievement up to that time was working with platinum recording artist Maxine Nightingale from 1988-1989.
(No it is not me in the video. But I did a few such concerts with her as a drummer)
I bring this up for two reasons, neither of which is to “drop a name”. 1) I want to illustrate the skill level I had achieved as a musician - mainly as a reference point. I was a professional drummer. So when I say professional level, I mean being able to work with world class artists. 2) I learned from working with her, a woman who had been working professionally since the age of 16, that true pros always give 200%.
One day she approached me to write some songs for her. I did and we went into the studio. It was here I was treated to the experience of seeing a true professional at work. The engineer and I would be sitting there after a full take on the song from start to end with our jaws on the floor. How could it possibly be any better? She would say, “Let me do it again.” We’d save what we were sure was the keeper and let her do another. This would go on for 5 or 6 takes. Each time the best it could be, (so we thought) yet each time again even better until she was satisfied. The end result was a world-class performance from a world-class talent. I never forgot that. It validated what I always thought was true. You always to your best, always. And you always give 200%. And you never compromise when you know you can do better. Then comes the wisdom to know when something is good enough and not to go overboard with perfection. It is a fine line.
This is an important lesson I will refer to many times. Because many people never even approach the 100% mark.
When I later decided to work as a filmmaker. I did exactly what I did with music. I worked to achieve a professional level skill in everything I was doing. Be it acting, writing, directing and so on. And when I began working in 3D, I then also continued this approach. And it is now currently on going. I am not yet a full-fledged professional 3D artist.
This is a WIP.
But I do know quite abit about the production of films from doing it over the years. Much of this knowledge is transferable to 3D production. I have completed 3 films. And in each film 3D animation has played a role to one degree or another. My first 3D animation was very simple and basic back in 1992-1994 and was used primarily for special effects shots in my first short. That was my first introduction to 3D and the love for it has stayed with me ever since. And now I plan to work exclusively in 3D.
BE A PROFESSIONAL
This should also be associated with be self-aware, honest with yourself and other people. In that order. And this is the first lesson.
When you do not do this, you make trouble for yourself and for other people. Too many times people post advertisements here to get “help from the Blender community” on a project. These postings use words like “commercial” or “successful” and so on. The intent of this language is to convince people that they are serious and want to do professional work, therefore the time people contribute for free will not be in vain.
Unfortunately, 99.99 percent of these people are not first self-aware. And probably worse, have other intentions and have no intent on doing anything actually professional whether they can or can not. Some of these people may simply be in denial. They think they are professionals when they are not. I am sure we have all run into these types in life. It makes one wonder what is going on with these people.
This writing is intended for people that are first self aware and then can be honest with self and with others about who they are and what they are capable of doing.
For those people reading, who are not self aware or honest or worse have other intentions, be forewarned. The people on these boards are very bright. They can smell a rat from afar. If you have a scam or SPAM, take it elsewhere, otherwise sit and watch your scheme die a slow and painful embarrassing death.
But this writing is for anyone who wants to produce a movie. Be it an open contribution project or a private one. And I will cover the basic points you should be addressing in your decision to make a movie from the beginning.
The very first thing you should decide is to be professional. Doing anything else is a waste of time. Not just for you but for others as well.
You say but I want to just do this for fun and hobby. I say go for it. But be self aware - “I am just an amateur”. and be honest with yourself, “I’ll only be able to produce shoddy amateur work not ready for commercial consumption”. And be honest with everyone else. “I am working on an amateur unprofessional project for fun.” If this is the case you can still read this and get something from it.
But if you want to do something that will eventually be enjoyed by other people and if lucky, distributed, or taken seriously at all at any level, then be a professional.
And know in advance what it takes to be a professional.
Study of materials related to your job
If you don’t think you can do these things, then be self aware, and self honest. And most of all don’t lie to other people and waste their time.
Referring to my skill level as a musician, I often walk into clubs now and sit in with bands. One for one, they think I am a professional drummer. They are very surprised that I am not working. Now later in life this is a fun enjoyable hobby. It took fifteen years of hard work as a kid to get there. When I started out at 14 I was practicing 5 hours a day after school. I did that for 2 years before my mother forced me to take lessons. I continued with an education in College in music with continued practice sessions daily well into my 20’s before I was getting good strong work professionally. And eventually I found myself working with world-class level musicians. To get there it took all of the points I laid out above. And to become successful as a filmmaker, I am simply repeating that line of action. I am not there yet totally. My last film did however get distribution and it took 10 years to achieve that much. So I have made much progress. In in doing so I have learned quite a bit I wish to share.
To make a work of art that will be accepted professionally it does not have to be perfect. But it should be technically proficient enough to convey a message. That is a wide range as I will discuss further later. But suffice for now that it does not have to be Pixar quality, but it should be professional, done with competence and skill, and tell a good story. These are all things that take time, dedication, skill and talent. Things you have to work hard at to learn. Talent of course is not something that can be taught. But you can always get people to help in your weaker areas.
So if you don’t like working hard and you think things should come to you, then stop reading now. This is not for you.
In upcoming writings I will be discussing many subjects including nuts and bolts information about casting, directing, sound recording, editing and so on.
I will start out however with the things you should be considering first before you even embark on a project.
I hope you have found this useful so far.
I would like to see more professional-level projects big or small done in Blender. If I can contribute to that by making this information freely available, I hope it will be acceptable as a contribution to the community.
Till next time…