Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be a James Cameron, or a Steven Spielberg, and watch your dreams and creative impulses take shape before your eyes?
Imaginary worlds, imaginary characters come to life; through the magic of computers and software.
I’m not an artist, a movie producer or director, but I like to “fool around” with creative software of every stripe and color. I suppose that goes with the “geeky” side of my nature, and I do have some experience with 3ds Max.
Last year, I came across an astonishing open source, cross platform program, capable of building complex and realistic simulations, and interactive 3D applications.
Blender is an incredibly robust 3D software animation program. It’s been designed for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulating, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.
The program is made up of a feature set that is characteristic of high-end modeling software such as Cinema 4D, 3ds Max and Maya. These features include advanced simulation tools including rigid body, fluid, and soft body dynamics, modifier based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools, Python for embedded scripting, and a node based material and compositing system.
Take a look at a number of movies and videos (just click on the pic), created with Blender; I guarantee that you will be astonished!
My Australian friends will love this first one!
In a review of this type, it’s not possible to adequately describe all of the advance features that make up this incredible software package. Only selected features have been highlighted review, and there are many more features other than those noted below.
· Revolutionary non-overlapping and non-blocking UI delivers unsurpassed workflow
· Flexible and fully configurable window layout with as many screen setups as you prefer
· Undo support on all levels
· Anti-aliased fonts with international translation support
· Windows for animation curves/keys, outliner, schematic scene diagram, generic node editing system, non-linear video sequence editing, character animation action editor, non-linear animation mixer, image/UV editing, file/image selection and file management
· Built-in text editor for annotations and editing Python scripts
· Graphical user interface for Python scripts
· Custom themes
· Consistent interface across all platforms
· Fast skeleton creation mode
· Interactive 3D paint for vertex weighting
· Fast envelope based skinning
· Mirror editing (bone creation and weight painting)
· Armature (skeleton) deformation with forward/inverse kinematics
· Auto IK allows posing FK chains easily
· Non-linear animation editor for mixing individual actions created in Action editor
· Automated walk cycles along paths
· Animated constraint system
· Vertex key framing for morphing, with controlling sliders
· Edit and create new blend shapes from existing targets
· Character animation pose editor
· Graphical logic editor for defining interactive behavior without programming
· Collision detection and dynamics simulation now support Bullet Physics Library. Bullet is an open source collision detection and rigid body dynamics library developed for Play Station 3
· Shape types: Convex polyhedron, box, sphere, cone, cylinder, capsule, compound, and static triangle mesh with auto deactivation mode
· Discrete collision detection for Rigid Body simulation
· Support for in-game activation of dynamic constraints
· Full support for vehicle dynamics, including spring reactions, stiffness, damping, tire friction etc
· Python scripting API for sophisticated control and AI, fully defined advanced game logic
· Support all OpenGLTM lighting modes, including transparencies, Animated and reflection-mapped textures
· A range of 3D object types including polygon meshes, NURBS surfaces, Bezier and B-spline curves, metaballs, vector fonts (TrueType, PostScript, Open Type)
· Very fast Catmull-Clark subdivision surfaces with optimal iso-lines display and sharpness editing
· Full multiresolution sculpting capabilities with 2D bitmap/3D procedural brushes (Paint, Smooth, Pinch, Inflate, Grab) supporting symmetry
· Modifier stack deformers such as Lattice, Curve, Armature or Displace
· Very fast inbuilt ray tracer
· Over sampling, motion blur, post-production effects, fields, non-square pixels
· Tile-based and fully threaded
· Render layers and passes
· Render baking to UV maps (full render, ambient occlusion, normal, textures)
· Render engine tightly integrated with the node compositor
· Halo, lens flares and fog effects
· Vector motion-blur post-process effect (using node compositor)
· Realistic defocus (DOF) post-process effect (using node compositor)
· Edge rendering for toon shading
· Interactive preview rendering panel in any 3d view
· Diffuse shaders such as Lambert, Minnaert, Toon, Oren-Nayar, Lambert
· Specular shaders such as WardIso, Toon, Blinn, Phong, CookTorr
· Node editor for creating and mixing complex materials
· Material previews rendered by main render engine
· Fast, realistic subsurface scattering
Physics and Particles:
· Particle system can be attached to any mesh object. Control methods include weight painting, textures, curve guides, wind and vortex effects. Particles can be deflected by moving geometry
· Hair strands can be created by a static particle system, supporting all particle control methods
· Fluid simulator with fully animated inflow, outflow, obstacle and fluid objects. Gravity and viscosity settings can also be animated. Supports vector blur and is integrated with the particle system
The Blender Web Site is an astonishingly complete site which includes the following: Features & Gallery, Download, Tutorials & Help, Community, Development, and e-Shop.
If you’ve ever wanted to try 3D creation, then this solid, free program, will more than meet your needs.
Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 (64bit compatible).
Note: The 64bit release of Blender for Windows is still in a development stage: it doesn’t support all possible features yet, like FFMPEG, OpenAL and Quicktime.
Mac OS X (PPC and Intel)
FreeBSD 5.4 (i386)
SGI Irix 6.5
Sun Solaris 2.8 (sparc)
Download the latest version (2.49b), from the Blender Foundation .
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