Teal Steers Feeding

Get the production files here

licensed CC BY SA 3.0, you are free to use these so long as you use the same license, and attribute Bassam Kurdali | URCHN.org

Hope you have fun!

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Sometimes after Bassam gives a workshop or talk, we get sad notes saying “I wish I knew! I wish I’d been there!”

So I am posting this one super early, to cast the word far and wide:

Bassam will offer a Blender workshop at the upcoming Libre Planet Boston! He plans to make it interesting for beginning to intermediate users, with his talk touching on the distributed production pipeline and some cool peeks at Tube.

Libre Planet is a very nice conference series, and the nearby Cambridge/Boston event affords us the pleasure of meeting interweb friends in person, as well as making lots of new ones. What’s more, Libre Planet supports the work of the Free Software Foundation.

Look for Libre Planet Boston this March 23-24, with some events tentatively planned for Friday, March 22. More on the precise schedule as it develops.

Let us know if we’ll be seeing you there!

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Today at Linux.com, an article on the Top 3 Linux video editors reminds me that Libre Graphics World called Bassam “one of the most eloquent evangelists of Blender’s video sequencer” for his occasional talks about Blender’s stealth role as a general purpose video editor. And I saw that somehow we never linked the demo from URCHN!

His 2009 talk from Libre Graphics Meeting, Video Editing with Blender for non 3D artists, using examples from real projects still works as a good introduction, despite the many evolutions of Blender since.


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We are thrilled by the “totally awesome” render tests coming off the farm, with supreme animatador / pixelero Pablo Vazquez (venomgfx) heading up lighting and look-dev, but there is juicy work still to do on the Tube production, so we invite interested artists to check out our open task list and internship positions announced below!

And if you are an artist with a bit of time who would like to get involved as a contributor, please contact us!


Calling all students, recent graduates and professionals wanting to ply their 3D skills in free/libre software:

Join Bassam and the URCHN crew this spring as a remote or local artist on the Tube Open Movie production, hosted by the Bit Films animation incubator at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. Helmed by Chris Perry, formerly of Pixar and Rhythm & Hues, the program draws together a lot of talent, so although internships are unpaid, it promises to be a very stimulating and fruitful space. These positions offer an opportunity to improve your skills, develop your reel, and make useful contacts in the industry. The official internship period runs from Monday February 4 through Friday May 17, 2013. Applications are due (via email) no later than Friday February 1, 2013, at 5pm (EDT). Because the project is ongoing, the internship period is flexible; if in doubt, apply! Please read carefully the open positions announcement and FAQ. Have questions about internships? Email us!

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It’s been a great week here since Pablo arrived and has been doing amazing work shading Gilga’s hair with cycles- can’t wait to show his results. This weekend, we took some downtime, hanging out and blending at the Haymarket Cafe. Famed Gnome designer Jakub Steiner was lamenting the lack of an easy way (there is of course, a difficult way) to make a quick ‘typing’ effect for Blender text objects. I thought it would be a fun hack so I made this addon.

Grab it from pasteall!

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Great news everyone!

This coming Tuesday we welcome Pablo Vazquez, who’s visiting us for 5 weeks to work on kicking off our lighting/look dev pipeline, giving me time to focus on finishing our animation tasks up.

Currently we are almost out of character animation shots- the remainder of our animation is all technical in nature. We’ve started lighting- gradually switching our pipeline over to Cycles (but not 100%)- but at this point we have no lit shots that I can call ‘final’ in lighting and/or compositing.

Pablo is our secret weapon to change that. Much as we needed Chris Bishop’s skills as an anim supervisor to get through the bulk of our character anim (and to a much higher standard than I had even hoped for), we will benefit from Pablo’s sheer artistic and technical awesomeness to get things in shape.

For those of you who don’t know, Pablo is known in the Blender community as venomgfx, and has worked on multiple Blender Open Movie (and game!) projects, authored an amazing set of tutorial DVDs (Venom’s Lab) and worked on many commercial projects. We worked together in Buenos Aires on Plumiferos, the first feature made in free software, and I have had the pleasure of pulling all-nighters with him just before the Blender Conference to make interstitials for the Suzanne animation festival. This month is going to be a great one for me, and I hope for Pablo and the rest of the lighting team too. We’ll try to post more about our awesome team and their pipeline during the month.

Lets hope the local Mate meets his standards!

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Well, as you might have guessed, caustics converge very slowly in cycles- meaning, if you want them to look good, you will need many samples to get rid of fireflies. Clearly this is why the ‘no caustics’ button is available in the renderer- a must if you’re using cycles for animation.

But: shadows from e.g. a glass monkey look awfully dark without caustics. Witness here:

So what to do? An ‘obvious’ trick is to use the incredible ‘light path’ node in the material node editor. Mixing a transparent shader and a glass shader using the ‘Is Shadow Ray’ output means that only shadows will use the transparent shader, while the rest will use the glass shader. This allows us to dial in the opacity of the shadow by varying the darkness of the transparent shader. Cool!

But, in the back of our minds, we all really regret missing those caustics. Enter the trick discovered on BA for making lights: use the dot product of the incoming and normal rays (this is basically getting the angle between the normal and the light ray) to a ramp. The multiply node allows to increase or decrease the intensity. Voilla! totally unphysical, yet very acceptable caustic effects, without the fireflies.

pretty good looking. It’s not ever going to look exactly like the real thing (obviously) but it is usually enough. The node tree for the setup? A mere bagatelle:

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We are getting really excited to show all the incredible animation and amazing render tests coming off the farm. And even though we don’t want to let *too* much slip before time, I know Bassam is planning an update with some teaser images and production notes pretty soon.

Today I’m happy to share news of MediaGoblin, a libre software “publishing system” for images, video, audio and more that friends of Bassam’s and mine are building. It’s a single replacement for Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud, and similar that anyone can run (like WordPress), but federated to keep files under user control. It’s very extensible, with support just added for 3D models now suggesting an alternative to Thingiverse. But I’m especially excited about MediaGoblin because it will establish the core functionality we can use to implement a lot of cool ideas we’ve had during Tube production for a collaborative platform that also fills the huge need for a solid asset management pipeline, a kind of super-Helga with some interesting properties. We’ve been talking to a bunch of developers about putting together a free software project after Tube, in which there’s been a lot of interest, and I have a thought that we could get studios to pool resources instead of each rolling their own and occasionally making a dead-end free software release.

A few weeks ago at the Blender Conference, we were talking with the renderfarm.fi developers about how, together with their distributed rendering, and these fairly near-future pipeline/collab possibilities, it seems like a lot of big pieces falling into place. MediaGoblin is worthy in its primary goals, but of especial interest for providing much of the functionality we’d need, plus perks like federation that we’ve dreamed about. Coding with Will Kahn-Greene, formerly of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the project lead is Chris Webber, until recently a developer at Creative Commons, and also a Blender user who did the anim in the excellent Patent Absurdity doc. And as part of the Tube Open Movie, Chris helped build pipeline scripts as well as our Reference Desk tool, one of the programs inspiring the new asset branch in Blender.


Today MediaGoblin has a nice write-up at Libre Graphics World, concluding:

If you are concerned about having full control over images, videos and audio records that you put online, you have just a few days left to support development of MediaGoblin — an awesome free software project that decentralizes media storage.

If you are a VFX or animation studio, or even a 3D printing company, you have even more reasons to support the project. With initial support for 3D models (STL and OBJ) MediaGoblin has a great chance to grow into a scalable digital asset management solution that is free to use and modify.

Finally, if you are a developer who’s good at Python, MediaGoblin could do with your contributions.

** Donations are tax-deductible in the US and also support the Free Software Foundation, which hosts the campaign.

And thanks for anything you can do to help this awesome project by passing the word!

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