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Notes from a Gearhead

COW Blogs : Notes from a Gearhead

Another week, another BSG episode.

It's that time again!
The glorious conclusion to our book promo is available! The Blender Survival Guide #8 is online, here at the COW.

I'm particularly pleased by this episode because it highlights a series of tricks that are at the same time simple and useful.
In setting up a scene or animation one of the most important features of the program is how you manipulate the objects, how you change their position, how you move them in the right spot. This week's episode addresses all that.

Blender includes a bona-fide Non-Linear Editor (NLE). Nothing to threaten Adobe or Apple but a very handy tool that can be used at any time, on any machine, and that handles sequences of images with extreme ease. BSG #8 shows you how to enable it to add music to your Blender animation.

Lastly you might wonder how to set up a shot that uses two or more cameras. All covered in this episode of the Guide.

We are approaching the end of what I call a "Survival Guide" but more Blender tutorials, more topic-oriented, are scheduled to be released, here at Creative COW. The development of Blender 2.5 is finally reaching Beta status, and soon I'll be busy planning a new set of video tutorials using the new version of Blender. It's gonna be fun!

The Blender Survival Guide #8 is available here.

Posted by: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 29, 2010 at 10:34:02 pm blender, 3d, mograph, after effects

More creative tools

I'm constantly amazed by what people create with software. Since the age of MacPaint, creative programmers have found a new, exciting way to use this amazing digital tool, the computer, to create new forms art.

Recently I discovered a new FOSS program called Alchemy, a sketching program that encourages experimentation and free-flowing of ideas.
You can get a good example of how Alchemy works by watching this video from YouTube:

You can download Alchemy here

Posted by: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:27:44 amComments (2) alchemy

The Blender Survival Guide #7: Creating a Book Promo shot

I don't want to brag about it but we are at the 7th, non-stop week of Blender goodness, here at Creative COW, and there is no sign of slowing down :). On the contrary, this week's episode is twice as long as usual, clocking at about 42 minutes. And it's not finished. Next week I will complete the job and show how to create the final result. But this week we see how to create a promo shot for a book, and in the process we learn how to apply multiple materials and textures to a single object. That is the kind of operation that you need to do over and over again when working in 3D. Getting a grasp on how to assign multiple materials is an essential skill and a perfect fit for "survival Blender."

The BSG is meant to provide a basic, well rounded, set of skills that will help you approach Blender with the maximum amount of reward and the minimum amount of labor.
It seems that it has reached the goal as more and more people are now asking for more advanced topics. Those will be coming soon, a lot depends on the speed of development of Blender 2.5/2.6.

The curios notation for the version number is due to the fact that it seems that the Blender team has adopted a long-standing convention of the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) world. Odd-numbered revisions are the "in progress" numbers. When the program reaches release status the number is then converted to an even version. So, 2.5 is the in-development number and when Blender will be ready for release it will be called 2.6.

OK, so much for nerd-talk, the new video is available at:


Posted by: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:52:00 amComments (1) blender, 3d, mograph, tutorial

Taking a "breather" before the big push.

The next episode of The Blender Survival Guide, part 7, will be fairly intense and filled with lots of new techniques and information. Before we can tackle that task, which will be once again based on real life experience, we need to get organized and prepared. This week's BSG is focused on gaining some essential tools to control our scene, from the "Tree View" (Outliner) to the use of Layers.

And while I have your attention, I want to mention that I'm constantly monitoring Blender's evolution. While a lot of people have asked for tutorials about the upcoming 2.5/2.6 version, I find that it's too much of a moving target to make it feasible at this date, mid-March 2010, to work on specific topics. I download the weekly builds, and I monitor the developer's mailing list and it's clear that there are still a lot of basic features that are missing; features that I find very useful in everyday work and that I'm not ready to give up just for the thrill of being on the "bleeding edge." So, be patient but rest assured that once Blender 2.5 "gels" and reaches the beta status, new COW-worthy tutorials will be released.

In the meantime, enjoy part 6 of the BSG:

Happy Blendering!

Posted by: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 15, 2010 at 2:57:45 pm blender, 3d, mograph

How are your survival skills? Time to upgrade them with the BSG - part 5

The Oscars are a tough act to follow. Nevertheless I don't let those low-budget productions scare me so a new episode of "the guide" is ready for your viewing pleasure.

Continuing from where we left off in part 4, this week's Blender Survival Guide (BSG) unlocks the "secret" of creating animations in Blender and how to export said animations to the outside world.
Ever wondered why we called it "the outside world" while it's still inside the same computer?

Anyway, bonus feature includes creating a clip with alpha channel while retaining your sanity. In other words,not being a victim of the "codec shuffle". Since we have an alpha channel it's now trivial to import such clip in After Effects and combine it with a background.

It's all there, you just need to click on The Link:

Posted by: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:15:00 pm blender, 3d, mograph, after effects

Blender Survival Guide - Part 4. More 3D Text and lighting.


In what is now a weekly "tradition", part 4 of the "Survival Guide" is now online. Expanding on the subject started last week, we work on making the 3D text look better by learning how to use additional fonts, how to create new materials and how to take advantage of optimized Ambient Occlusion.
These are all fairly dense topics but, as usual, I give you the condensed version of them so that you can start appreciating the features without being "clobbered" by the details.
I'm a big believer in "learn by doing" instead of "learn by endless list of features" :) so the BSG continues in giving you a non-linear, target-oriented, presentation of the amazing power of Blender.

We are approaching the end of the Guide, since I think that six or seven episodes should be enough to get people started. I will continue presenting Blender tutorials after the BSG is completed but they will be single-topic lessons.
If you have any specific topic that you would like to see covered in the guide or other videos please drop me a line here at the COW and let me know.

Episode 4 of the guide is at:

Happy Blendering.

Posted by: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 1, 2010 at 7:27:47 amComments (2) blender, 3d, mograph

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