Tag Archive open source software


The reason for this area

I made a decision a fortnight ago.  A decision that has been 9 years in the making, but a decision nonetheless.  I am going to finally make the short film I’ve been threatening to do for ages.

I know, we all have that short film idea, it never really makes it beyond the corners of our minds, mental storyboard frames that look amazing, but in actual fact are probably outside of our skills.  But I’ve decided I’m going to make mine come hill or high water.

What made me make this decision now?

I realised I have a lot of work to show what I can achieve with 3D, motion graphics and VFX compositing, but not one that really shows them all.  And this way I can have one thing that has them all.  And as it is going to be all done by me it means I can show it to the world without having and NDAs or people’s feelings to worry about.  Apart from my own, of course.

So I have set myself just over two years from the initial idea to final piece.

At the moment, I am in the throws of doing the storyboards with the most technical of devices: a biro and a note pad.  Why a biro?  Because I can’t rub it out and so every nuance, every line is fixed on the page.  It’s quite liberating to be free of a computer.

Interestingly, for me anyway, is the way the initial concept changed the moment I began to nail down the boards.  The main conceit for the story’s big transition changed as soon as I reached that particular board and I found myself back tracking and adding new shots with new info.  It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s another to make it happen.

Anyway, I’m going to add new bits to this page as I feel it’s interesting enough for anyone to see.

There is one final thing: the name of the project.  It is… staying a secret for now.  But if you know me, you probably know already, I’ve told a lot of people so that they can bug me to get it done.

Come back soon!



Is Open Source Software Production Ready?

I have always been a big fan of finding open source software that can bring something new to the table when it comes to computer animation or digital art.

Hey, we all like a freebie, right?

Well, over the years I have tried on multiple occasions to get Blender Institute’s Blender into my work pipeline.  It’s never been easy to do.  Blender was, for a long time, considered a bit of the 3D love child;  you can like it but don’t embrace it, don’t bring it into the fold.  It’s (shudder) open source.  That means no support, no repercussions when it all goes wrong.  When it (gulp) it crashes!!

But each year more people would watch the short films, Sintel, Big Buck Bunny, Cosmos Laundromat, and think, “Hmmm, I wonder”, So they navigate to the website, download the surprisingly small installer and put the software back on their machines.

Only to take one look at the interface and say, “What?  Naaah…” and promptly de-install it.

This interface may still be relatively the same as it always has been, and a bit hard to deal with for some, but the software itself is now very robust and capable of producing industry level work.  But people still feel a bit squeamish about using it.  But why?

On the DVD shelf at my local Supermarket is the film “Ozzy” It looks like a fun film about a dog.  Here’s the trailer:



Now, I’ve been in this game for some time and I would confidently say that the software, maybe not necessarily the final look, but the software that did this was definitely up to par.

Blender, all of it. Open Source Software.

The animation company, Tangent Animation, took a big decision when they were championed to make this film. 

“Do we pay a load of money to Autodesk for Maya and then hire a few good animators and a lot of juniors, OR, do we use this really impressive free software and use the money to employ great animators?”

Well, they took the challenge and made “Ozzy” with Blender.

Now if it was used in a production, then I think that constitutes the meaning of production ready.  Yes?  Yes.

And as such, I am now using it much more in my pipeline.  I use the fluids for paint drips, I used the particle system occasionally, but I do like the cycles renderer, which is good despite all the people on the forums who rave about it.  It’s quick enough and the results are physically accurate.  What’s not to love?

And with it now having grease pencil added, it is accidnetally looking as though it might revolutionise how 2D animation is produced as well.  Look here:


Pepe School Land’s Rigged grease pencil showing how combining the markup elements in Blender with the 3D side can produce amazing animation styles, which make animating easy.  I mean, really easy.

And all that stuff is happening in real time.  Which means that the render times for this sort of thing are so fast as not to be visible to the naked eye…okay, they will be, but still, they’re faster than most.

So what does this mean for the future of animation?  Well, it’s bright.  Brighter now than it has been for over a decade.  New talent can get their hands on fully production ready software for no cost at all.

Both Tangent and Pepeland have tutorials on their sites – hey who doesn’t these days? – and anyone who really cares to can learn how to animate.  Blender Nation is also a great place to learn stuff.  Hey,  if you really want to, for a measly €9.90 a month, (that under £9.00) you can join the Blender Cloud and get all the training courses and rigs you can lay your hands on. There’s no excuse to not know the skillset.

Blender is fast becoming the go-to software for animation – the rigging toolset is incredible – and is used in games now as much as Maya is.  So, give it a try.  Take the leap and look beyond the interface.

Whatever you choose to use in terms of software, do not look at open source as a stumbling block, but as a stepping stone.