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 Post subject: Blender Open Source
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 12:35 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:38 am
Posts: 487
Howdy - Was wondering has anyone that visits here ever used the open source program Blender? It is a 3D graphic program that also has a game engine built in as well as movie making capability. I have used Bryce 3D, Vista Pro and a couple others but this one is way advanced to any of those. I am surprised that such a powerful program is available as open source.

That being said, there has been a 3D graphics program available years before that was open source and in my opinion very photo realistic! The only problem with it was that it had no GUI to speak of and was mostly just script. But if you knew how to use it, you would get results that would be hard pressed to tell if it was an actual photo or a rendered 3D virtual.

Now the point here is that Blender is just as capable to render photo realistic pictures and has a GUI that is probably as good as most other fairly expensive graphic rendering programs. Here is a project that was done in Blender that is about 15 minutes long that shows what can be done with it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRsGyueVLvQ

So, I'm asking because I was looking for feedback as to see if anyone has used it and what their opinion of it was. Considering that it has a game engine with it and according to some it is very easy to work with, you can't beat the price if it is really that usable! I use to program on the Atari and Amiga and some Commador 64 and a little on the very early windows 3.1 before Windows ruined it for most people to use the computer to make their own games. The reason being they wanted to be paid to let you see the source code or show where the entry points were for using the graphic cards and sound cards. Greed took over. But here is a program that you could make your own game or learn how to at least render your own creations in a 3D program that is probably as good as any $300+ Graphics Program. It does use Python as a language which I understand is capable to make games in as well. So you get the best of both worlds, the object and landscape maker and the game engine. "FREE" or you can donate if you wish.

Blender has been around now for at least 10 or more years Maybe many more. I recall that it was a free download but it was limited and didn't seem to usable other than to learn on. From what I have seen now, it is a very powerful program and if you ever wanted to be a game maker a very good place to start as it has many tutorials on line (You Tube) to show you just how to do it. So if you have any comments or feedback I would appreciate hearing from you here in a response post. Peace


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 Post subject: Re: Blender Open Source
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:51 am
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I used Blender until I went to 3dStudio in 2013. It was a powerful program, but my primary gaming need for a 3d modeling program was Morrowind, and Blender did not output the file format I needed for that, requiring a rather grey market conversion program, which I was happy to get rid of.

I recall Blender having a ridiculously steep learning curve though (3dStudio would be as bad if there were not a thousand books out there on how to use it), and I believe it was six months of trying minor projects before I felt confident to try something large scale.

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Littera scripta manet - The Written Word Endures


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 Post subject: Re: Blender Open Source
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 12:03 am 
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Thanks for your input Xerius. Yes, it does seem to have a very high learning curve but considering that I have used graphing programs and data bases, I feel confident that I can learn the ins and outs of this program. I have watched many tutorials now and am totally amazed how powerful it is now. I do remember years ago looking at this program but it was not anywhere near as good as it is now. It changes almost weekly with upgrades as my son downloaded it just last Monday and it was 2.75 now it is 2.77 already. What I have seen impresses me because I recall the things I struggled with in Bryce and Terragen to create realism and this program has the tools to do that.

In music there is a method to modify the sound with what I call modules but in Blender they call them nodes. That is something none of the other programs in graphics had that I had used. I have FL studio for music and it allows for some very interesting control over your sound and to the point that you can even create your own virtual synthesizer custom made. What I really like about Blender is the ability to create objects using various methods and not restricted to one or two. When I saw how you can build your own virtual fauna library I was fascinated. The ability to also use random generation of multiple objects like trees in a forest is incredible but I had used a program called World Construction Set on the Amiga many years ago that was designed to do things procedurally that was more to my liking. However, this program allows you to add Python script to it and therefore you can make your own procedural methods and that is desirable to me. I can specify for instance that only certain types of trees or fauna can be at specific elevations which is like World Construction Set was/is.

I have not explored the game aspect too much as my son is doing that and I have to say it looks very easy to do by the way they do it. I also like that the physics engine is now part of the program and it apparently is fantastic from what I have seen, check out this video because this is all done using the physics engine within the program:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKSDgIhc8GI

I understand the problem of exporting or even importing various types of files though but apparently there are ways to make things work because I have seen Skyrim being put into the Cry engine and Unity is very flexible as well, enough so that apparently some programmers found ways to make it work. I supposed they have the software to read the code and figure out how to manipulate it. I use to disassemble code from other programs years ago to see how things worked but I don't know how that is today. In fact in those days when programming with basic and machine language, to protect your code you had to be creative. Some companies even went as far as corrupting the disc in order to prevent copying it for protecting mass production. I had my own methods though that were not as destructive but worked pretty well. Once the disc was assembled, you had to go in and change the addressing so if anyone tried to view the code the program did not know where to look to show it, ha ha. The only way to make it do that was to find a way to cause the program to error out but if it was pretty much bug free and with some recovery routines, it was pretty hard to do that. It wasn't the best but it worked good enough to prevent most from seeing the code. Things have come a very long way from back in those days.

I look at what I programmed back then in 16 and 32k and laugh at how stupid it looked but at least the game play was pretty good. In fact one of the games called Mar Tesoro was more of a simulation type game for deep sea diving and many professionals liked that game. The graphics sucked of course as you could only use either a sprite or redefine the character sets. You couldn't even display a JPG on that computer since it would have to be so small to fit in the memory available. Even a small JPG today is at least 50K. You never even heard of words like Gigabytes and Terabytes. A hard drive was just a few Megabytes. That was considered awesome!

Anyway, a program that has a high learning curve can also mean it has a lot of ability. I'm sure Photoshop is a good example. I do not know if it is possible to import a topo map into Blender but I'm sure there is a way around it if not. I have several from previous programs and I am pretty sure I can find the right import version on line from the geographic department. That's where I got many of the before and they did have various formats. Besides that, you can probable create a height map from a photo as well.

One thing I do like is that Blender uses Python and that is a language that is moving up in popularity and considered the go to language for training programmers now. C, C++, and C# use a lot more code to accomplish the same task and I'm not into the C languages anyway. I know assemblers are cool and all but they do require a lot of code and can be very redundant with code. At least back then. So anyway, I will give it a go and maybe I'll even redo one of my old games in modern software. (at least for me to play, ha ha.)


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 Post subject: Re: Blender Open Source
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 3:20 am 
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Just an update, I have watched plenty of Blender videos now and have the program as well. The learning curve is almost vertical at first since there is so many menus in the program. It does just about everything though from movie editing, game making, animation, sketching, to rendering. Over the years it has been improving and now is capable to produce lifelike photo realistic renders. Oh, did I mention that you can make objects for 3D printing in the program?

There is a preference menu where you can uncheck anything you don't want to use in the program which reduces so many menus and you can set up the window by resizing and moving things around and saving it as a start up plus you can save templates. The physics engine is pretty darn good from what I have seen but I have not seen too many videos of games that anyone spent any time on. However, the physics engine is useful for animating objects in you rendering section so that you can run it and then back it up to the shot you want to render or make prefaces, introductions for your own videos. They are constantly updating it with newer features as well. Probably more so than paid for programs.

They added a new render engine that is much more realistic called cycle render which will continue on until you stop it or you can specify how many traces of light you want to render to, even in the thousands. It uses HDR lighting and GPU processing which is much faster than CPU rendering as long as you have a decent graphics card. I can see it will take awhile to learn where everything is but there is plenty of tutorials on line to guide the way. Some of them are amazing to watch of what you can do with this program that is open source, meaning free to use as you like. Of course you can not package it and sell it! It's free for all to use.

It will be awhile before I will be able to present something I made with it as I need to learn how to use it first. Try it if like and here is the place to get it:
https://www.blender.org/


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