Monday August 1
- The Blender Foundation managed to get 5 BoFs (Birds of a Feather) meetings approved, in theatre room 505, so we could fill an entire day with Blender activities during Siggraph.
BF / Community meeting
As usual we started with overview of past year’s activities and what we can expect during the upcoming year.
You can load the presentation here. It is a .blend file, press keys 1, 2, … 0 to see the slides. Uses the TimeLine play option! (But requires latest cvs version with transparency in 3d window enabled)
Bassam Kurdali gave a tutorial about character animation and presented the new features of the Armature system.
Ton Roosendaal gave a talk about the core architecture of Blender, file format, DNA system, code base structure and about the new development on dependency graph and animation system. Even whilst this was during George Lucas’ keynote, the session was participated by many interested developers.
Verse talk & demos
Eskil Steenberg gave an introduction to the 3d network protocol ‘Verse’, and demonstrated one of his 3d apps connecting realtime to Maya. We also could show two Blenders connecting with Verse, but unfortunately the Wifi network in Siggraph did not allow to connect multiple computers.
We showed the Siggraph showreel and animation work by Dominic Agoro-Ombaka and Bastian Salmela.
Then we had the exciting world-wide premiere of the trailer/teaser of “Plumiferos”, a project started in Argentina by studio Manos Digitales to create a full feature length 3d animation movie with Blender! Especially the audition of the bird is hilareous and excellent animated. Needless to say, we’ve already committed close cooperation with them while working with the Orange team on our Open Movie project.
You can download a low-resolution teaser here, expect more downloads and an article about Plumiferos soon!
The showcase continued with presentations by
– Randall Rickert, showing work he does for a US tv station
– Joshua Seaver, interactive 3d work for the Minnesota Science Museum
– Nils Thuerey, about his current work on Fluid Dynamics in Blender
– Chris Want, showing work on 3d printing and other projects he does in Blender.
Special thanks to Randall Rickert for providing the video projector and Joe Hacobian for the pictures.
Tuesday, August 2, Open Source Panel
I was invited by panel chair Gil Irizarry to join a discussion about Open Source and the Movie Industry with Florian Kainz (Industrial Light & Magic), James Mainard (DreamWorks Animation), Daniel Maskit (Digital Domain) and William Schroeder (Kitware, Inc).
Best part – for me – was of course the speaker preparation dinner we had together. It were all great people to meet with, and I better not embarrass them to write down everything we talked about. (But oh, you should have heard them complaining about Maya!) :)
The “movie industry” really loves to use Open Source, but that’s mostly limited to Linux (and all GNU development tools) and Python. With most 3D proprietary software (like Maya, XSI) available for Linux, this becomes pretty much the preferred workstation for many artists and developers.
Open Source graphics applications are hardly used though, with a couple of quite negative remarks on especially Gimp and Cinepaint.
It’s quite evident that most studios use a lot of in-house development for their work, especially on collaborated content creation and the imaging pipeline. I couldn’t really get a clear statement on this, but it’s not unrealistic to presume over 90% of their work is done with own proprietary code.
Questions from the audience were mostly about “that the studios should do more back for the open source community”, which was sort-of confirmed by Digital Domain (“Yes, we could do more”) but gave a pesky reaction from Dreamworks (“We spent 2 million dollars on making Linux a useful platform!”). Only ILM has currently released proprietary code in Open Source, the openEXR high-definition-color file format. Which BTW is something you’ll see integrated in Blender soon.
The other hot topic was related to Compositing. Most 3D movies or SFX are far too complex to be rendered out in a single pass and require many layers to be rendered seperately. Compositing is also required to do “re-lighting”, color-matching and effects like motion blur and depth-of-field.
There’s a huge need for a good Open Source compositor program, but it’s unlikely the studios will release this anytime soon. So here’s the challenge for Blender… we will need it for our Open Movie project too, so we’ll start working on integrated high-definition pass-render and compositing tools.
I wasn’t in the forum – didn’t even think of it! – to get the studios using Blender. Although they do awesome work, which we can learn from a lot, targeting this relative small user group is quite useless (heavy competitive market, and using own software mostly). The movie studios represent the top of huge pyramid, with a huge and far more interesting target group being in the base. No need to bring Blender into the movie industry if we can instead bring movie creation into Blender for everyone!