Blender branches to watch in 2016

Often work on Blender happens in ‘branches’; outside of the sources that make the releases.

A branch gets usually added on for approved projects, when development work is still too experimental, or when designs need to be tested and proven still. Branches provide developers with a more quiet working place as well, without too many users breathing down their necks daily.


Several new features started as branch and went to ‘master’  (the release sources).  Well known examples were FreeStyle, OpenSubdiv, Multiview and the Dependency Graph.

There are branches that never really made it, or that are still waiting to be completed or approved on. And there are new exciting branches!

In this article I will outline interesting branches you might hear more of in 2016.


Fracture Modifier – Martin Felke

The fracture modifier allows you to break Mesh models in pieces (shards), and have it animated using rigid body physics. This branch is a rare example of “code that works” but that wasn’t approved to be added for technical design reasons. Blender first needs a thorough recode of essential parts this modifier requires.
Luckily Martin doesn’t give up, keeps working on it and reminds us every other week to not forget about his work!

Documentation and more info.

Object Nodes – Lukas Toenne

Blender’s animation system had a number of great improvements in the past years. With the new dependency graph (basically the code that ensures fastest possible object/data updates) we can also redesign the way how to define animation or scenes in general.

This includes rethinking modifiers, particles, hair, physics caches, duplicators, constraints, and so on. Using Nodes, of course!
This branch is  Lukas’ experimentation place to test Blender’s Object updates and relations using node trees.

Custom Manipulators – Julian Eisel

This branch tests new input methods for viewports in Blender. We need more ways to make the 2d/3d representation useful for tools.

The “custom manipulator” or “widgets” allow artists and tool designers to define elements in the views that directly connect to tools. In the example above, a group of faces controls the bones that deform a face.

Documentation and more info.

OpenVDB – Kévin Dietrich

OpenVDB is a toolkit from Dreamworks to manage Volumetric data and rendering. Many 3D tools have adopted it already (Maya, Houdini, Modo) making it a reliable industry standard.

The planning is that Blender 2.77 will get early support for OpenVDB data (caches), and later releases full OpenVDB support for rendering as well.

Documentation and more info.

Asset Manager – Bastien Montagne

The Asset Manager project will expand Blender’s library system with end-user-friendly asset management tools and interfaces. The concept is to use “Asset Engines”; Python add-ons communicating with Blender through an API in a similar way to how the “Render Engine API” works for external renderers.

More information on the code blog.

Realtime video in BGE – Benoit Bolsee

This branch (started as Decklink branch) contains a series of developments that aims at mixing BGE scenes with a live 3D video stream with the lowest possible latency on the video stream.

Several solutions have been tested, which explains the variety of features that are present in this branch. All of them however, can be used in other types of applications such as realtime keying and capture.

More information in wiki.


Gooseberry – Blender Institute

Several developers have been working for 18 months on making the short film “Cosmos Laundromat” possible. Much of this work has made it in a release, but for other parts it was decided to keep it in the branch for now.

Still not in ‘master’ is (for example):
– hair editing and simulation improvements
– Alembic cache system to override linked data.

Antony Riakiotakis end report (blog post)

Lukas Toenne extensive end report (wiki)