We’ve been beating the notion that Blender is “not just for static modeling” like a dead horse. (An animated dead horse, anyway.) But here’s yet another example, just because it’s cool – and because following the video gives you a basic sense of how to replicate the effects yourself. I’m curious: any visualists out there using Blender yet to produce content for live visuals, interactive visuals, or even VJing with the Blender engine live?

Blender is now up to 2.49b (it had been 2.49a last I checked), so the march to the major 2.5 milestone continues. We’re still waiting for a mainstream build of Blender 2.5, though obviously it worked well enough here to video on the Mac.

Officially, testing began Saturday, as updated on the 2.5 status page on the dev wiki.

For more 2.5 goodness, see this hair particle system from the BlenderNation blog.

Odd as its UI may be – and that gets smoothed over dramatically in 2.5 – I think Blender long ago left the state of being something you used just for the sake of using free software, to something that shows open source can produce a tool you’d want to use in place of more commercial offerings, even excepting philosophical or financial reasons. Now, if someone could just send me on a week retreat to do nothing else… (I know you know that feeling!)

  • Yup, have used Blender for a long time. Back when 3D Studio was in version 8, Blender had a better UV-mapping workflow than almost any app, free or otherwise, so I spread the good word at a project I was on. That saved us several workdays alone. Seriously; 25MB or so download, runs on any OS you can think of, boots in less than half a second, and free. Does modeling, sculpting, painting, rigging, animation, physical simulation, post-processing, editing and games.

    Yes, I'm a big fan (also after having submitted a couple patches and observed the developers' culture and mindset) – they're really great guys, and with an OSS project that diverse, forking and developers leaving in anger are a real risk, but I've seen none of that here. Mainly because experimentation is encouraged, and if you polish your pet project, there's a good chance it'll become part of the main release. Which makes for the sometimes idiosyncratic patchwork of the 2.x releases that we know and (for me, at least), love.

    As for VJ'ing, yes, I've produced quite a lot of content with Blender. Whether it's just pan-and-scan when I haven't had an editing suite handy, 2D cutouts, sculpted model turnarounds, physical simulation or raytraced shadows, just messing around is a lot of fun – and, with a bit of work, very fruitful.

    I've also a couple of times made some GE scenes for live use. Nowadays the game engine connects directly to standard controllers – I use an X360 – and if you fancy, any Python lib is available. Which opens up OSC, MIDI, Wiimote, Arduino, network resources etc.

    An exciting development in that regard is that the GE team (esp. Campbell Barton) recently added support for python access to geometry and fully generated meshes.

    With the buzz of 2.5, which has been going on a few years, I know people who are waiting for that before diving in. The UI is, right now, truthfully a hurdle, but works if you learn it. I highly recommend doing that, and no less when 2.5 is out.

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