Let me tell you a story of a Dutch man named Ton Roosendaal. Back in 1998, he founded a company called "Not a Number" in order to continue development on a simple little software program: Blender. Ton's goal was simple: make a free creation tool for interactive 3D content, supported by a commercial version. Sadly sales were tough, competition fierce from American and Canadian companies, and NaN had to shut down in early 2002. It seemed pretty bleak. But Ton had an idea...
Make it Truly Free
With the help of an incredible community, Ton gathered what he could and started a non-profit: the Blender Foundation. Its goal is simple: empower artists everywhere, for any purpose, for free, forever. Today, Ton and the wider Blender community have continued to keep their promise of creative freedom for all. What began as a simple open-source project funded by one of the first crowdfunded campaigns on the Internet has now gone on to revolutionize computer graphics. Blender has been the cornerstone for multiple award-winning short films, like last year's "Cosmos Laundromat;" it has been featured in classrooms around the world to teach children animation; and recently, it was used as a primary creation tool for last year's biggest TV hit: Amazon's The Man in the High Castle.
I wanted to take a moment and actually show you some of what we've done in Blender. Last year, BarnstormVFX led the way on The Man in the High Castle, with Theory contributing multiple CGI builds. A scene from season 2 episode 4 required us to imagine how 1960s Berlin would look had Hitler won the war. To do so, we studied plans and architecture, read up on history, and even researched the kinds of trees that were prominent in central Berlin.
Multiple passes of Berlin were initially made in Blender. This particular file had seven different specialized artists working on everything from the dirt on the ground to the flags blowing in the breeze. Hand sculpted geometry, augmented with Blender's procedural and array modifiers, allowed us to duplicate objects—a process called instancing—and speed up the modeling process. During texturing, we were able to write plugins thanks to Blender's open source nature, allowing us to easily pull in textures from other applications. People were added to populate the city, and a deep painted background tied everything together. Despite the ease of use that came from using Blender, this scene still took almost three months to fully execute!
Blender has been an integral part of our studio, and the community of 3D artists as a whole. This week we're going to celebrate it. It's been 15 years since Blender became open source and changed the world of animation, and we think more people should hear about it. On March 18th, we're going to host the largest, longest, computer graphics LiveStream in the world. We've gathering some of the biggest names in animation and visual effects—PIXAR Animation, Barnstorm VFX, CG Cookie, LinkedIn Learning, BlendTuts, Theory Studios—and will combine them with 20 presenters across 12 different countries for an 18 hour YouTube LiveStream. We'll be hosting workshops, doing demos, featuring the latest in Blender technology, and just having a good ol' time.
Join us for this fantastic event and join the Blender community: http://wbmd.info