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This happened

Had some friends over. Had a bottle of bubbly. Had always wanted to try this.

Boom.

On Monday evening, I was privileged to do an hour on Blender for a joint audience of the Western Pennsylvania Linux Users Group (primary desktop Linux user for four straight years yo!) and the Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Since the Mango project, Blender has been turned into a fantastic one-stop shop for the filmmaker’s pipeline for special effects, non-linear editing, general compositing, motion and camera tracking and even color grading. For filmmakers on an extreme budget, it could really make a huge difference!

For the convenience of everyone who attended, here are some helpful links from my talk:

┬áThe Blender Foundation – download the latest, gallery, info, &cetera.

Tears of Steel – the whole project!

Big Buck Bunny

Other Blender Foundation sponsored shorts: Elephants Dream (Included in a MoMA exhibit. I worked as a materials/texturing artist on this.), Sintel

The Blender Network – a directory of experts for hire and other commercial┬áresources

Both Blender Guru and CG Cookie have a lot of great tutorials.

I know that Lynda.com has some Blender training available, although I’m not personally familiar with the quality of the content.

My opinion is that if you’re switching horses from another 3D package and you’re already good with the concepts, the random tutorials you find online will probably serve you well. However, if you’re brand new to all of this, I’d recommend going with a more measured approach. There’s a ton of scattershot info laying around out there and you can literally fumble through it for months without getting anywhere. I’m sure that you can find other good resources, but if you’re into books as a learning resource my book (shameless plug) “Blender Foundations” has helped a bunch of people get started. I’m working on an updated version for the 2.7 series at this very moment though so if you’re interested but thinking “I won’t have time to do this for like, six months” you should probably hold off. You’ll be better served by the newer edition.

If you’re looking for an end-to-end tome on producing a 3D short with Blender, Blender Production has been rumored to be pretty good as well.

Cheers, and thanks for coming!

Here are two “sizzle” reels. I personally prefer the SIGGRAPH 2012 one, but YMMV.

Every couple of years, I refactor the little garden stream in my back yard. The previous version didn’t have enough water velocity in the lower half to generate the kind of visuals and cascading that I had wanted. But the nature of a project this is that by the time you actually get to run water through the thing, you’re basically done, and making baseline modifications amounts to tearing it all up and starting from scratch. So unless you have limitless free time you have to take your best shot and hope. Lesson learned from the last iteration then: you can only generate consistent water velocity by a consistent drop in the underlaying ground (and plastic shell). Trying to build the slope with rocks and such inside the shell doesn’t cut it. The water just happily re-routes around it, like electricity in a circuit or money in politics.

Anyway, here is this year’s version. It features nice velocity the whole way to the end, and a splashdown that is loud enough to hear consistently at night, in bed, even with the windows closed :) The foilage hasn’t started to grow in yet, but once it does the whole thing will be very nice to have in the background when he hang out in the courtyard with friends, build a little fire and have a drink.

Several weeks ago, my publisher touched base with me about doing an update to Blender Foundations. He noted that it had been their most successful Blender title to date, and obviously they would like to keep it up with the times. My response was that I understood his position as an acquisitions editor (i.e. to fill their pipeline), but that I wouldn’t be doing this for them in the traditional way.

Now, I do want to update Foundations. More than a few people (thanks everyone who trusted me enough to buy the book!) have found it extremely useful to their Blender education, and I think it deserves an update as well.

The thing is, I really hate being on deadline. I’m occasionally on deadline at work, and that’s fine. It’s work. But I write in my family time, and have found that being on deadline that way eats up the rest of my willpower. I’m short with my peeps. I don’t go the gym. I don’t floss. It’s not good.

So here’s what I’m doing: revising BF for the new 2.7 series on my own timeline. When I’m done (or the end is in sight), I’ll fill out all the paperwork with the publisher and get things going. Last weekend, I finished revising Chapter 3.

I’m basically working my way through the original text of the book, fixing things where they don’t match the current UI and workflows, and re-shooting all screen shots. The fundamentals are the same, though. It’s surprising how well the book has held up after these several years. I guess I kind of knew what I was doing way back when. Thanks, past me. The one thing I’m going to do differently is to integrate Cycles usage throughout the book. It will make it a little longer, but I’m going to parallel the materials, lighting and rendering sections with both Internal and Cycles.

Anyway, that’s the news. Cheers

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