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COW Blogs : blender
Your vote is needed!
By: Paolo Ciccone on May 22, 2010 at 3:19:51 pm

The BSG (Blender Survival Guide) is now completely available on iTunes as part of the COW Podcast. Making a program like Blender takes enormous amount of time and resources. It's a very expensive operation that relies on the generosity of people. More people know about Blender, more people will be likely to buy books and tutorials from the Blender Foundation and in doing so they help the development of the program. ...


BSG: a twofer and an "arrivederci"
By: Paolo Ciccone on May 10, 2010 at 5:29:18 pm

When I started the BSG I didn't know if it would be even noticed. Well, you made it very clear since the beginning that there was a crowd of people "hungry" for accessible training about Blender. And so I kept delivering an episode every week for 10 weeks. Then I took a little break and now I have delivered two episodes in one day completing a standard set of 13 episodes of a TV show: BSG 12: BSG 13: e-13.php I hope you will enjoy them. The Blender Survival Guide, or BSG, is now available on your desktop ,...


The BSG is back!
By: Paolo Ciccone on Apr 27, 2010 at 9:09:56 am

As promised, a new episode of the Blender Survival Guide, BSG for short, is available for your viewing pleasure. We spent 10 good weeks getting comfortable with Blender and now we are in excellent position to start stepping it up a bit. With BSG 11 I begin to delve a little deeper into the modeling side of Blender, showing how to modify basic geometry and how to solve some of the problems that you will face in everyday projects. This involves joining different pieces of geometry, re-arranging them, creating organized duplicates of objects, etc. All this while we search for the...


Working on the next BSG...
By: Paolo Ciccone on Apr 26, 2010 at 7:46:13 am

Hello. ...


No BSG for you!
By: Paolo Ciccone on Apr 19, 2010 at 8:43:37 am

After 10 straight weeks of delivering the blender survival guide, it's time for me to take a short break. Blender 2.6 is coming and so it's time for us to make a plan on how to migrate to the new version. As I mentioned several times I wanted to make the Blender Survival Guide a tutorial that reflects the reality of real life production. And that's why I want to create a good plan to plot the migration to 2.6 gradually so that you will be able to use the new features without risking your projects. In order to do...


The next Blender: 2.5 or 2.6?
By: Paolo Ciccone on Apr 13, 2010 at 9:54:11 am

There's been a bit of confusion about what the next version of Blender will be called. Since the currently stable version is called 2.49b, it would appear that version 2.5/2.6 is a small, bug-fix-like, increment. It is not. The next version of Blender is a complete re-write of the application, from the ground-up. The UI has been completely re-worked and the "guts" of the application have been improved to reflect a very strong push toward newer technologies and emphasis on animation. Furthermore the underlying Python API has been updated to the point that scripts that worked with 2.49 don't run...


BSG 10: it's all about the keyframes
By: Paolo Ciccone on Apr 13, 2010 at 8:20:07 am

This week episode of the Blender Survival Guide is a direct response to the feedback that you have sent after Episode 9 was published. Being able to edit the value and position of each keyframe to fine tune your animation is a necessary ability and the BSG 10 shows you how to do it. Blender's animation tools are very sophisticated and powerful but they use a unique layout for the UI and at first it might not be that clear where everything is. That's why I wanted to cover this topic, once again, from the perspective of the MoGraph artists so...


Surface sketching, another gem from Blender
By: Paolo Ciccone on Apr 12, 2010 at 5:41:36 pm

A few days ago a new script for Blender 2.6, currently in alpha stage, has been released. Take a look at the video be amazed: Surface Sketching for Blender (timelapse demo) from Blend_Ideas on Vimeo . The link for the script can be found here: Of special value it's the possibility of using this for retopology. Retopology is the rotoscoping of 3D, a necessary "evil" that sucks your time away like a giant black hole. Having tools like this is an incredible time saver and another example of how advanced Blender is....


Another week, another BSG episode.
By: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 29, 2010 at 10:34:02 pm

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...


The Blender Survival Guide #7: Creating a Book Promo shot
By: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:52:00 am

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...


Taking a "breather" before the big push.
By: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 15, 2010 at 2:57:45 pm

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,...


How are your survival skills? Time to upgrade them with the BSG - part 5
By: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:15:00 pm

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...


Blender Survival Guide - Part 4. More 3D Text and lighting.
By: Paolo Ciccone on Mar 1, 2010 at 7:27:47 am

Hello. 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" :)...


Blender Survival Guide - Part 3. 3D Text!
By: Paolo Ciccone on Feb 22, 2010 at 7:34:43 am

Hello. Part 3 of the "Survival Guide" is online. It's finally time to stop messing around with the workspace and start working on a real scene. While traditional lessons about a 3D package would start with the principles of modeling I know that, as a AE user, one of the first things that you want to see is how to create 3D text. The Blender Survival Guide, only found here at the COW, is specifically tailored for the AE artists. It's "Blender for After Effects", in the shortest time possible. While we create the new 3D text we use the opportunity...


Blender Alpha 1 released!
By: Paolo Ciccone on Feb 19, 2010 at 7:09:42 am

You saw it here first :). Blender 2.5 has been updated officially to Alpha 1 status. While this is still alpha-quality code, it has hundreds of fixes/improvements from Alpha 0 and the developers have been hard at work to stabilize several crucial features like Collada. I tested the Collada import against complex models, like the ones generates by Daz Studio and the results are really encouraging. As usual, I remind you that this is not meant to be used in production, but you should definitely check it out and become familiar to what is going to be one of the most promising...


The Blender Survival Guide - part 2
By: Paolo Ciccone on Feb 15, 2010 at 10:48:33 am

As promised, part 2 of the Blender Survival Guide is now available here at the COW. Here is the link: e-2.php In this episode I show the last few steps necessary to create a more comfortable, complete and informative desktop for Blender, and at the end we see how to save our preferences so that they become Blender's default. Starting with part 3, which will be released next week, we will start looking at the essential Blender skills, all from the After Effects artist's point of view. Enjoy!...


The Blender Survival Guide - part 1
By: Paolo Ciccone on Feb 9, 2010 at 7:53:58 am

There are many excellent tutorials about Blender, free and commercial. The vast majority of them aim to make you a 3D modeling artist and animator. Almost none of them are targeted toward the After Effects artist. Adopting a program like Blender for your Motion Pictures pipeline is different than trying to create the next Jurassic Park. A lot of people have much more modest requirements and still can take advantage of a real 3D environment. That's why I create the "Blender Survival Guide," here at the COW. This multi-part tutorial aims to teach you the necessary skills to get up to...


From Blender to After Effects with one click
By: Paolo Ciccone on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:19:37 pm

For years the integration of 3D in the post-processing pipeline has been dominated by commercials applications. Today there is an alternative that I think is worth your attention. I just released the After Effects Exporter for Blender . This program integrates in the File/Export menu of Blender and it allows you to export an entire animation from Blender to After Effects. You can export the camera, lights, 3D meshes, planes, which will create corresponding After Effects 3D solids, and footage. The Exporter even supports multiple passes. I prepared a 20-minute video tutorial on how to use it. You can find...


The iPad as your next 3D mouse
By: Paolo Ciccone on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:36:04 am

Even before the official launch of the iPad we knew that Apple was going to released a tablet-based computer. After watching the "behind the scenes" of Avatar I immediately imagined using a tablet as the simulcam used by Cameron. Think about it: you have designed a scene in Blender or other 3D modeling software. You hit "play" and the animation starts. While the frame counter runs you grab your iPad and hold it in front of you. The screen shows you the Blender scene from the modeling computer. The two machines are linked via Wifi or cable, if wireless is...


Blender in action
By: Paolo Ciccone on Jan 24, 2010 at 4:50:44 pm

After a few, fairly verbose, posts in this blog, I'm going to keep this short and let the images speak for themselves. The following are some examples of current work done in Blender. RGB Prod is a small studio in Switzerland. They created the following ad based on the concept of a watch transforming into a robot. The animation and rendering are done in Blender with additional post-work in After Effects. And here are a couple of examples of rendering of Blender scenes with the amazing Lux Render . and Lux is a physically-based...


Chose wisely and your workflow will live long and prosper
By: Paolo Ciccone on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:43:10 pm

Adopting a tool in our professional pipeline is a delicate process. What the program does is most important, but it's not the only factor guiding our decisions. Longevity and ease of integration are crucial features. But when it comes to my suggestion about Blender I hear other issues. People ask me: "How is it possible that something that is given for free is even remotely as good as the commercial products?" In many years of advocating Open Source Software (OSS) I heard a few people expressing doubt about adding OSS to their toolbox. The classic objection is that OSS is not...


How to save $4,000+ and become a 3D MoGraph artist
By: Paolo Ciccone on Jan 11, 2010 at 10:22:45 pm

2009 was tough for most people in the Motion Graphics market. A recent, informal, survey at "The Motion Exchange" highlighted how many freelancers and studios have avoided upgrading to After Effects CS4 because of economic concerns. When times are tight and challenging, your best option for success is to offer what you were not offering before, to upgrade yourself and be more marketable. If you are an After Effects artist and enjoyed success in 2D land, now it's time to expand you toolbox into 3D territory. And when I say "3D" I mean 3D modeling and animation, not the stereoscopic...


One more step toward making Blender mainstream
By: Paolo Ciccone on Dec 13, 2009 at 12:39:20 pm

I'm really excited that the COW has agreed on opening a Blender forum ( . While other 3D apps like Maya, C4D, 3DS had forums for quite some time, Blender was absent. This is a common problem with OSS (Open Source Software) caused by the simplest issue: OSS rarely has a marketing group behind it. Lack of marketing turns into lack of business model around the application and without a business it's harder to find people who risk time and money in supporting a program like Blender. On top of this there is still the perception that Blender, because it's...


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