These are the release notes for Blender 2.79. Released on 12 Sept, 2017.
Download the file for the splash screen.
2.79a and 2.79b are maintenance releases with the same features as 2.79 plus over 200 bug fixes.
Blender 2.79 features much faster AMD OpenCL rendering and feature parity with NVIDIA CUDA. Including support for Subsurface Scattering, Volumetrics and optimized transparent shadows.
Note to macOS users: AMD is currently working on the drivers, OpenCL rendering should work once they are updated.
Combine CGI elements with real-life footage easily with the new Shadow Catcher feature for Cycles.
Any object in the scene can be a shadow catcher. Controlled by the “Shadow Catcher” option in the object settings. This option will make the object to only receive shadows in a way that it could be composed onto another image.
Shaders compilation is now multithreaded, a new light sampling threshold feature was added, speedups up to 20% for CPUs that support AVX2, brick textures have now smoothing and a long-waited feature: texture coordinates for point, spot and area lamps!
New Modifier! Surface Deform, transfers motion from another mesh.
Plus a whole bunch of updates. Some of them are:
Further reading on “2.79: Rigging & Animation new features” by Julien Duroure.
Blender 2.79 packs a bunch of new add-ons that greatly expand Blender’s functionality, allowing you to create architectural environments using parametric windows and walls, to make beautiful skies, or even meta-rigs to animate cats and horses!
Full list of new add-ons: Dynamic Sky, Archipack, Magic UV, Mesh Edit Tools, Skinify, Display Tools, Brush Menus, Btrace, Is Key Free, Turnaround Camera, Auto Mirror, Camera Rigs, Snap Utils Line, Add Advanced Objects, Export Paper Model, Kinoraw Tools, Stored Views, Render Clay, Auto Tracker, Refine Tracking Solution, Materials Library VX, Mesh Tissue, Cell Fracture Crack It.
Several add-ons were updated as well, including Collada, POV-Ray, OBJ, Rigify, Ant Landscape, Add Curve Extra Objects, Viewport Pie Menus, Blender ID, Node Wrangler.
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