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The Beast is here…

If you’ve been interested in seeing it, The Beast is now publicly available at:


I was recently interviewed by the heads of a research project at CMU that aims to assist people working in highly distributed development environments — just like Blender! In fact, it was my affiliation with Blender that lead them to me in the first place.

The tool they are working on is a very cool visualizer for developers and managers that creates linked networks (much like Blender’s Oops schematic) of files and developers, using commit and mailing list messages as a database. The main tool shows two sides of the screen: one with clusters of files, and one with developers. The file clusters have lines that link them, giving you the quick ability to see what files are related to others. The cool thing is that it doesn’t do this through code analysis, but commit analysis, as in: these five files are very often committed together.

Clicking on a file highlights it’s links to other files, and creates a visualization on the right of the screen of developers who have contributed to that file. The developers are likewise linked to one another based on their levels of communication on the official mailing lists.

The very cool thing about the project is that it would be a goldmine for people working on a project like Blender who either want to get started coding, or want to work on something that is a little out of their normal area of knowledge. If you want to work on constraints, but have never done so, you can tell at a glance that you’ll probably need to dig into, for example, files a, b and c, and that the people who normally commit to those files are x, y and z.

That gives the new dev a great resource for beginning their work, and for making the proper contacts when problems or questions arise. It is a fairly simple, but very powerful concept.

The project itself doesn’t have a website, so I won’t throw a link, but if they read this, here’s hoping that this cool tool becomes available someday in the not-to-distant future.

New compositor mix types

As I prepare The Beast for its web release, I’ve been looking for a way to make the standard Blender render look a bit more film-like through the compositor. I came across a great method using Photoshop that was devised for making digital stills appear more like their film-based counterparts. I prepped a couple of frames directly in Photoshop, and it gave a nice effect. Unfortunately, Blender’s compositor was lacking one very important Blender method: Soft Light. A little Google-fu turned up the proper equations and a little poking around in the sources and begging on irc turned up the proper portion of the code with which to fiddle.

Soft Light is a blend method that is particularly suited to colorizing and grading images. It has other uses (balancing luminosity, for example), but I’ve mostly used it for tinting in my career as a Photoshop professional. The “film look” procedure called for heavy use of this blend method, and I found that there was no decent way to simulate it in the compositor. So, a little work and it was done. Pictures are below the fold…

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CPOSC, October 19

On October 19 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I’ll be one of the speakers at the Central Pennsylvania Open Source Conference. The presentation will be on “All Things Blender,” which means that, depending on the mood of the room, I’ll probably go into Blender’s history (I have an entertaining little talk on it that I’ve done before), do a live demo (probably sculpting and texturing a head) and/or take a look at Blender’s very successful fund raising.

If you’re in Eastern Pennsylvania, or, even better, in the immediate Harrisburg area, you should check your calendar and sent me a note. It’s always great fun to meet up with other Blender heads. We’re not as prevalent here in the U.S. as those fun folks in Europe and South America, so we have to stick together every chance we get. Maybe we need a secret handshake or something. ;)


For some reason, registration (which hasn’t opened yet) is limited to 100 people. Even if you don’t attend the actual conference and want to try to get together, get in touch!

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