Blender 3D: Interview with Allan Brito

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Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

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Create photorealistic 3D architectural visualizations of buildings, interiors, and environmental scenery

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by Allan Brito | July 2008 | Open Source Web Graphics & Video

Blender is an open source, cross platform suite of tools for 3D creation, capable of modeling, rendering, and animating 3D environments. Since Blender is completely free, everyone can download and use it immediately in commercial projects. It's not a shareware with limited tools, or time constraints; you can use it freely. In the past few years, the Blender user base has grown significantly. One of the positive aspects of Blender is its size—it is only 10 MB and we can even run it directly from a portable drive. Another great aspect of Blender is that we can use various Operating Systems such as Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, leaving us the choice of which one to use.

Packt spokesperson Meeba Abraham approached Allan Brito at the heart of this movement to understand his take on the future of Blender.

Meeba Abraham: Hi Allan, thank you for talking to us today, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and your background; how did you start working with Blender?

Allan Brito: Hi, and thanks for this opportunity to talk a bit about myself. Well, I’m a 29 year-old architect from Brazil. After my graduation, I started working on visualization projects, mostly on 3ds Max for a small studio here in Brazil. After two years I started teaching 3D modeling and animation and I fell in love with teaching. I still teach 3D animation and modeling at a College here. With the help of my teaching experience, I began writing manuals and tutorials about 3D animation. Eventually, I decided to write a book about Blender in Portuguese, and the book was a huge success in Brazil. Currently I`m working on the third edition of this book. With the book, I also needed a way to keep in touch with the readers and discuss about Blender and 3D related stuff. So I started a web site (www.allanbrito.com), where I regularly write short articles and tutorials about Blender and its comparison with other 3D packages. Today the web site has grown considerably, and I continue to update it with content on Blender and other 3D software tools.

Meeba Abraham: How long have you been working with it?

Allan Brito: My first contact with Blender 3D was in 2003. I was invited by a friend to check out a great open source software for 3D visualization. I was really impressed by Blender, its potential, and the lightweight of the software. Coming from a 3ds Max background, it was a bit hard to get used to the interface and the keyboard shortcuts, but after a few weeks I started getting used to it. After the learning process, I started to use Blender as the main tool for my projects. I can`t say that it was easy to use at first, but with time Blender simply grew on me and became my main tool for my projects.

Meeba Abraham: Can you tell about some of the key features of Blender that makes it a viable option to other professional 3D software?

Allan Brito: There are many features in Blender that other professional 3D suites do not have. For instance, the integrated Game Engine, which allows you to produce interactive animations, is just awesome! For 3D modeling, Blender has a sculpt module where artists can create 3D models only by sculpt geometry in a way similar to what sculpting tools such as ZBrush and MudBox provides. The node editor in Blender is also an incredible tool to create materials and for post-production. Post-production is a powerful tool in Blender. There is a sequencer editor that works like a video editor. You can cut, join, and post-process videos in the sequence editor. For instance, an animator can create a full animation without the need of any other software. Recently, the Big Buck Bunny project introduced some great tools for character animation in Blender, like better fur, a new and improved particle system, new and improved UV Mapping and much more. I strongly recommend a visit to www.blender.org to check out the full list of features, which is huge.

Meeba Abraham: Why is Blender an important 3D application that an aspiring graphics artist should consider using?

Allan Brito: I believe that Blender has a great set of features that can help a graphic artist create some impressive art work. Why Blender? I guess the best answer is; why not? All the features offered by other 3D animation software are also available in Blender, such as character animation, physics simulation, particle animation, and much more. And with Blender being a free software, you won’t have to get a single license and be bounded to only one workstation. Besides the features, I believe in the community nature of Blender. If you feel a tool or feature is missing, just make a suggestion to the community or make the feature yourself!

Meeba Abraham: Over the years, Blender has grown in popularity. What, in your opinion, are some of the main reasons for this?

Allan Brito: In the last few years Blender gained many features that only the so-called high-end and expansive 3D software had. This puts the spotlight right into Blender, and some old and experienced professionals are using Blender today, to take a look at these advanced features, and they like it. Besides the features, the Blender Foundation is doing a great job by supporting Blender and promoting it outside the community. They organize conferences and projects to show the potentials of Blender as a 3D animation package. The last open movie—Big Buck Bunny—supported by the community is a great example of that.

Meeba Abraham: Since Blender is an open source 3D application, the Blender community plays an important role in its growth. Can you shed some light on the blender community? How have they helped to popularize Blender?

Allan Brito: What can I say? The Blender community is great and has been supporting the development of Blender for a long time. The last open movie is a great example of what this community can do. Big Buck Bunny is a project mainly created by the Blender community. Artists could buy the DVD of the animation even before the project started. And when the animation was finished, all Blender users could buy a shiny DVD of the animation that contains tutorials and all source files of the animation. Now, what if Pixar gave away all the production files of their animations. And even of you don’t want to buy the DVD, you can still download all of the content for free from the project Web site, www.bigbuckbunny.org. This is a great example of the Blender community spirit and how much support Blender gets from around the world.

Meeba Abraham: You have just authored a book on Blender; how did you find the experience? Is this the first book you’ve written?

Allan Brito: Writing a book on Blender was quite a challenge for me. Even with the experience of writing tutorials and short articles about Blender, writing a book was not easy! But after a few weeks, I was able to write the chapters naturally and almost on schedule. The biggest challenge for me was to write about a subject that no one else had written about yet. In my first book “Blender 3D – Guia do Usuário” written in Brazilian Portuguese, the challenge was even bigger. When I started writing that book, there weren’t any updated documentation on Blender features. So I had to do a lot of research myself. With this book, the challenge again was to write about something that no one else has ever written. Even with a few short tutorials around, there weren`t any full set of procedures or tips for working with architectural visualization in Blender. The experience was great and I hope this is just the first book in a long series of books! I have a few ideas for writing more books about Blender and I’m already working on some of them.

Meeba Abraham: How do you anticipate it will help the Blender community? Is it different to other Blender books?

Allan Brito: I believe that a lot of users want to use Blender for architectural visualization but have only found tutorials and books on character modeling and animation. This book was written with architectural visualization in mind. So every example and Blender tool is described specifically with architectural examples.

Meeba Abraham: You make regular contributions to www.BlenderNation.com, how did you get involved with the site and what does it offer to the community?

Allan Brito: BlenderNation is the comprehensive Web site for Blender related news. So if anyone is curious about what`s going on in the Blender community, the first place to look after the Foundation Web site is BlenderNation. My involvement with BlenderNation began with my writing articles about Blender in Brazilian Portuguese for my own web site (www.allanbrito.com). A few months later, I was invited by Bart Veldhuizen to write a few tutorials and I guess they liked my work! After that I was writing articles for BlenderNation as a Contributor Editor. And I have to say that it`s really great to be a part of it, and keep the Blender community updated. The experience with BlenderNation and the books inspired me to start a new project called Blender 3D Architect (www.blender3darchitect.com) where I write articles on how to use Blender for architectural visualization along with tips and tutorials.

Meeba Abraham: Thanks for your time and contributions!

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery Create photorealistic 3D architectural visualizations of buildings, interiors, and environmental scenery
Published: May 2008
eBook Price: £16.99
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