Is Blender the one for me?

Hi there,

First off… my appologies… I expect this questions gets asked quite a lot…


Is Blender for me? I’m a newbee to 3D. I run a little production company here in London. We make most of our money from corporate videos but we’re trying very hard to get into music videos. I’ve had a fair amount of experience with compositing and animation in After Effects and I frequently get frustrated by AE’s very limited 3D capabilities so I’d like to learn a 3D application.

Is Blender for me? Assuming I can get up to speed, can Blender produce high-quality animation for use in music videos? I’m particularly interested in doing photo-realistic stuff using HDRi and light probes. I love the open source ethic and, of course, am very keen not to have to shed out a few grand for a commerical 3D appication - I could make several music videos on that money! As you probably know, there isn’t much money in music videos now-a-days…

So - if you were in my position (3D newbee, wanna create 3D for music videos) would you choose Blender?

Many thanks,

Being in your position - well, except without the cool job of making movies :slight_smile: - I think Blender is probably your best bet.

I started learning about Blender at the beginning of September, so I’m still a noob. From comparing it to friends of mine using lightwave and maya, it has almost the same abilities, even if it is structured differently. My talent is significantly less than my friends’ :slight_smile: so mine don’t come out as good, but my impression is that in the right hands, Blender is as capable as those other apps.

I guess I’m saying that you could certainly do worse. :smiley:

Thanks a lot for the quick reply!

Hehehe… there’s nothing to be envious of! Most of the work we do is fairly souless corporate at the moment… but our plan is to start doing much more interesting music video stuff soon.

Is there a way for driving animation parameters from an audio source? For example, I believe that Houdini (the software) can use properties from an audio source (amplitude, frequency analysis etc) to drive animation properties… can Blender do this sort of thing?

Many thanks,

sorry the capabilities are not the same.

quality and depth of tools is a significant difference here.
otherwise wouldnt everybody use blender?

i just want to point that out s that blender gets the respect
and attention it deservs and not unrealistic expectations.

however, talking about 3d composeting with blender, just try it
out. the 3d functions are o course much better than in AE because
blender is a true 3d system. you can map movies etc on flat areas,
or curved(modeled) objects, rotate, scale, move them and use
lights shadows and 3d cams for animations.

when you are looking for a substitution of AEs 3d functions blender
will fit your needs.



Thanks a lot for your replies.

I should explain better what I want and what options I’m considering.

I don’t want to learn 3D just as a way to “get what After Effects”
can’t do"… I’d also like to get properly into 3D animation and do 3D for the sake of 3D (if that makes any sense at all!)

I’ve also considered 3DSMax, Maya and Houdini.

Pros and cons (please correct me):

Pros: relatively easy to use, powerful
Cons: expensive, no match moving, no fluid dynamics???

Pros: industry standard, very powerful, match moving, fluid dynamics, physical modelling
Cons: hard to learn, expensive

Pros: very “modern”, very powerful, very maliable
Cons: very hard to learn, very expensive

Pros: powerful (maybe powerful enough for me?), free, open source
Cons: not as powerful as the others, there are no jobs available for Blender artists

So… in short… I have another reason for wanting to learn 3D: as a possible skill that I can “sell” to employers. Ultimately, I’d like to direct music videos… but if that plan goes tits-up then I’d like to have as many backup plans as possible… and knowing Maya / Houdini / 3DSMax seems be a good way to get relatively well paid jobs.

Many thanks,

Thot I’d drop in a couple of thots:

First off, don’t knock the “souless corporate” variety of work. It pays. (And I’m guessing more than “flashy” music videos - as your own comment attests: “As you probably know, there isn’t much money in music videos now-a-days…” ) Business is more about surviving (ie: making money) than having fun or working “exciting” gigs…

If you’re interested in doing this type of thing for animation, expect to wait a very long time for renders, or fork out mega-$ for a render farm, or for renting online rendercycles. Such raytracing, while looking great, takes forever! Heck, I’m running out a 10sec (300 frame) clip using Blender internal with a pseudo-probe feel (using AO & a world tex angmap) and its taking multiple hours per frame on my dual-3Ghz.

If a client is happy with clean and simple 3D-in-motion, then pile it on 'em, and rake in the bux. Don’t get hung up on “flashy”. Don’t expect to get anywhere near rich by becoming someone else’s “employee” (in the traditional 8-to-5 sense, I mean.) You’ve a better chance in the graphics industry to sell your knowledge as a consultant, or your output images as an outsourcer (like an architectural visualization specialist, for example.) If you wanna be a wealthy “employee”, then go to college and get into managment and kiss the right butts to crawl/claw your way up to executive. Otherwise, welcome to peon-land… no matter what 3D app you’ve mastered!

HDRI and renderspeed for example is one of the points in which blender cannot compete with what other solutions provide.

maya / mental ray can save light maps which do NOT need to be rerendered each frame.

also aliasing and swiming textures are an issue you will not have to battle with that.

AO in blender is slow. in other engines like 3delight it is much faster.

max internal kernel isnt t he newest one and maya is now sold to descreet and futurewise the dev is unclear, while you cannot expect that they wil kill maya or fuise it into max.

lightwave is also a good 3d system.

you might also think about systems like the new carrara 5. ones a pretty useless program, it grow very fast and some of the features they have are quite excellent for what you pay for it.

it is not ment for serious film production but rather 3d illustration and can be used for video clips or other small productions.

rendertime and quality do not seem to be bad anymore.


It will be probably quite a while before you can get up to the skill required for good photo real work. You should probably start with Blender and take it as far as you can go. In 6 months the renderer, texturing capabilities, and compositing capabilities should recieve massive improvements similar to what we’ve seen happen with the animation system. So by the time you are capable of doing high end work, Blender might meet those needs.

Blender has some innefficiencies in its modeling work flow (ie no ngons, the beveling tool is very limited compared to typical implementations, etc.) but it can also be far more efficient than many other tools. (Ie mayas subd tools are generally considered to be quite poor…), also we have an extremely fast subdivision surface method.

Blenders animation system that comes with 2.40 (soon to be released) is very comparable to the best available in the industry as far as character animation.

If you do end up switching to other software there will be some relearning involved. Of course if you are doing this for making your skills more appealing to future employers you should try and learn multiple platforms anyway.


Just for my 2c (or 1.48 US c) You’ll never get a community like this one in the commercial products.

Make sure you look into training costs when adding up.

Hi guys,

Wow! Thanks for the excellent and very detailed replies! I think I will take the plunge and learn on Blender.

The long render times worry me a little bit… several hours per frame is much longer than I thought it would be. Is it easy to setup cluster rendering systems? For example, at home I’m about to build myself a home-theatre PC that I’d also like to use as a back-end renderer.

How much faster is something like Maya / Houdini at rendering photo-realistic stuff? What order of magnitude? Twice as fast? Ten times faster? A hundred?

I was planning on using Yafray as my renderer - is Yafray much faster than Blender’s own internal renderer? (forgive me if this makes no sense - I’m only just coming to grips with this 3D technology stuff!)

I’m also interested in the idea that learning Blender will make learning another application (like Maya / 3DSmax / Houdini) that much easier.

Many thanks,

I was planning on using Yafray as my renderer - is Yafray much faster than Blender’s own internal renderer?

Yafray is significantly slower than Blender’s internal renderer. Blender’s internal renderer is, IMO, relatively fast. How long your renders will take depends on several things:

  1. Raytracing. (Some people just use buff shadows instead to speed up their render times.)
  2. Output resolution. (Obviously, a 2000x2000 image will take much longer to render than a 720x480.)
  3. Whether or not what you’re rendering needs motion blur.
  4. Whether you have any dynamic objects in your scene, i.e. camera, animated objects etc. If you only have animated objects in your scene, your camera is static, and the scene is not reflecting the animated objects in water or the like, you could just render one frame of your background, and then render the animated objects by themselves with an alpha channel and composite them together, saving loads of time.

Hope this helps.


Just some opinions on that statement.

Lots of people find the transition from Maya/3DSmax to Blender VERY difficult because of the UI and workflow.

My concern is that if Blender IS your first dive into 3D, it will be potentially as awkward moving to another application later down the road. It’s a two way street.

Learning any 3D app will be difficult, it’s a sad truth.

You mentioned MAX not having tracking capability. Well it actually does have a camera matcher for still shots and a camera tracker for moving shots. It can be tricky, but it works fairly well.

If you wanna track in blender, you’ll have to consider options such as Voodoo (open source), or Icarus (was open source, I believe no longer). You can then use that tracking data in Blender via the script Voodoo generates.

With regards to render times.

Blender’s internal renderer is quite fast and fairly decent for most stuff. Yafray isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. Yafray + Blender on a windows machine will definitely be slow. But use Blender + Yafray on a barebone linux machine, and it becomes a little more user friendly.

These are just some of my views on some of your issues and aren’t necessarily law, but I imagine others may agree with some of the points raised.

Good luck, and yes, if you stick with Blender remember Elysiun. Terrific user manual most of the time :wink:

Hi guys,

Thanks again for your replies! I’m loving the speed and depth of your responses - it’s giving me a warm, fuzzy fealing inside!

Yes, since starting this thread, I’ve done a bit more research into match moving and I found Voodoo… definitely looks interesting.

I am a little worried about the concerns that PolygoneUK raised about the difficulty in migrating to/from Blender. I guess I’ll have to have a long think about exactly what I want from my career: do I want to be a 3D artist or a director?

My problem with the above question is this: as far as I can tell, the music video industry (and, to some extent, the film and tv industries) is changing and is starting to favor people who can pull off as many aspects of the production as possible. In other words, the number of jobs for people who can only “direct” is quickly diminishing… in contrast, there are increasing numbers of jobs for people who can direct / shoot / composite / animate. But maybe I’m wrong?

Basically, I’d like to learn as many skills as possible to keep options open both in terms of career progression and in terms of what I can create on low budgets. I’m also aware that my little company is some distance away from being able to afford 5 grand for a Maya license. Ho hum…

Maybe this is an important question:

Which is easier to learn for a 3D-newbee? Blender, Max, Maya, Lightwave, Cinema 4D or Houdini?


I’ve picked up 3d modelling and skinning as a hobby. Down the road, I can see a way to integrate it into what I do for a living, but not yet.

I think that, while the differences between ‘professional’ programs and ‘community’ ones like Blender are significant, learning Blender will make it easier to learn the others down the road.

The first skin I made for something was with MSPaint. No layers, limited tools, etc. BUT, I learned how tex maps fit together, and the basics. Then I got PaintShop Pro. WOW. Huge improvement. Learned layers, RGB, more effects, etc. Then I got PhotoShop. Wow. Felt like I was relearning things! But, the learning curve was faster. The workflow was different, but the tool is also more powerful.

The first modeller I used was very limited (no one here has probably ever heard of it). But, I got the basics. Then I played with Anim8or for awhile. Then I found Blender. Same progression. Different UIs, different tools, different approaches. But, it is far easier when you know the basics and the “lingo.”

Of course, YMMV, and others might have different experiences. But, IMHO, specialization is for insects. :wink: :slight_smile:

Nice :slight_smile:

Here’s another perspective: don’t try to focus on a “big picture” look at your future, or the direction you’d “like to” take with your career. Just find a job that needs doing (that pays) and then work out how to do it (what tools, tricks etc.), then get it done asap. If blender gets it done, great. If not, then find something that will. Take what you learn doing that job and move on to the next one and repeat. (By “job” I don’t mean “employment”, but rather, “project”.) Usually, the first step is the hardest (landing a project that pays). Most who want such projects done need a lot of convincing up front that you can do it and get it done on time. Usually means they want to see what you can do by looking at what you’ve done (portfolio.)

Earn money. Support yourself (and whatever family you’re responsible for) so that you can live and enjoy your life. Don’t worry about getting pidgeonholed by what you know. Its usually not so much what you know, but who you know that lands the work.

Nice perspective!


Voodoo tracker is not open source, icarus tracker was never open source.

I think you are confusing - no charge software with open source.


My apologies then. I was not entirely sure. Though I did say my own comments weren’t to be taken as law :wink:

On the other hand - ALL 3D programs share concepts you will need to pick up as you learn about creating in this genre

Navigating 3D Space
UV Mapping
Bones and Armatures

If you learn on one application, you will find youself on a different app one day sayting to yourself “So how do I extrude just this face” or “Now… Where do I turn on Ambient Occusion…”. The fact that you know what you’re trying to do will make it easier to makr the transition from one to the other.

I’ve gone from finding Cinema 4D to much of a pain to learn (from my own lazyness) to loving Blender, and I think the thing that’s made Bender easier to get into was that I already had these generic concepts in hand.