The Best Free VFX Software for Filmmakers

blender

About 2 years ago, a friend accidentally introduced me to a piece of software that has quite simply, changed the way I make films. Whether it’s for our TV documentaries, shorts, or our upcoming feature, COSMOS; this software has opened up possibilities that we never thought were possible for low-budget filmmakers.

blenderthumbThe software I’m referring to, is of course Blender. Many of you will undoubtedly have heard of Blender but for those who haven’t, I hope to encourage and inspire you to grab yourself a copy and dive straight in.

Whether you’re into animation, stills photography, concept art, animatics, 3D printing or live action filmmaking Blender has something for you, and what’s more… it’s absolutely, 100% Free for you to use right now. Sound exciting? Well then read on…


What is Blender?

The Official Blender Website puts it rather nicely:

blender-logo“Blender is a free and open source 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.”

Put simply. It does everything. It works on Mac, Linux and Windows and is an open source version of the far more expensive, widely used packages like Maya and 3Ds Max. Although these established industry brands have features that outdo what Blender can currently achieve, don’t be fooled into thinking that Blender can’t compete. It most certainly can, and you’ll see why later in the post…

The most exciting element to Blender is that it is constantly evolving and progressing; as the software gains more support and recognition, the community grows and with it the expertise – there are continual updates to the software that unlock new creative possibilities and continue to creep closer to what the “big boys” can achieve. Past updates have seen the inclusion of valuable features such as motion tracking, volumetric lighting and faster rendering.

Who uses it?

spiderman2Media Professionals and VFX artists both on the independent and Hollywood levels. In a recent podcast on Blender Guru, it was revealed that although it isn’t discussed widely, Blender is actually used commonly amongst many major animation studios. Animator Beorn Leonard (Lego Movie, Happy Feet 2), stated that there are simply things Blender does better than any other software.

The first large professional project that used Blender was Spider Man 2 back in 2004:

“As an animatic artist working in the storyboard department of Spider-Man 2, I used Blenders 3D modeling and character animation tools to enhance the storyboards, re-creating sets and props, and putting into motion action and camera moves in 3D space to help make Sam Raimis vision as clear to other departments as possible.”Anthony Zierhut, Animatic Artist, Los Angeles

Isn’t that incredible? Right now you can get your hands on a tool that is respected and used widely by the big boys and it won’t cost you a penny?! Cool.

What Can It Do?

At the end of this post I’ve embedded a few of the shorts created by the Blender Foundation as an example of what can be achieved. We’ve already written article about how we used Blender to create a teaser trailer for our new feature film but below, for your browsing pleasure, are a few pictures that have been created in Blender by some seriously talented individuals… enjoy…

Ok, so now you’ve put your eyeballs back in after those stunning shots, it’s obvious to note that these kind of images are created by highly experienced individuals… and that’s where these come in…

Tutorials and Resources:

It’s well known that Blender isn’t the most user friendly piece of software out there. Many give up using it after only minutes of experimenting, so you’ll need a guiding light to lead you on your quest to become a VFX master. Here are a few essential websites you should visit:

Blender Guru

Blender GuruAndrew Price over at Blender Guru has been providing top notch tutorials for years now. He is most certainly the guy I owe most to for improving my Blender skills and I know there are many around the web who feel the same. He’s friendly, funny approach to tutorials makes him a perfect place to start on your Blender journey. Just pick a tutorial and follow along!

Blendtuts

blendtutsOliver over at Blendtuts is another key resource I’ve found invaluable. The great thing about Blendtuts is the level of detail that Oliver goes into – if you’re looking for a ground up look at Blender, starting with how to navigate and leading right up to motion tracking, Oliver is your man!

Blender Artists

blenderartists3rd on my list is a forum dedicated to the users of Blender, from noob to pro, you’ll find a range of valuable information stored in their vaults, as well as a diverse and enthusiastic community to help you with any of your problems… (just make sure you search the archive before starting a new thread!).

Blender Cookie

BlenderCookieIf you’re interested in taking it further you can pay for a series of tutorials over at Blender Cookie. There are a range of free tutorials on their site too, but they specialise in providing industry driven, professional tutorials on all things Blender.

Obviously tutorials are vital for the beginner, but be sure not to fall into the “tutorial trap”; you know the one… where you end up watching more than doing… yeah we’ve all been there!

“So enough of this talk… Where Can I Get it?!”

It’s simple. Head over to Blender.org and grab your free copy. Just hit that download button and let the fun begin!

As mentioned earlier in the post here’s some inspiration to hopefully get you going, so sit back, relax and enjoy some splendid Blender made shorts. Thanks for reading and leave a comment below to let us know what you think of Blender!

Zand & Ell

Zand & Ell

Farewell.

Zander

 

 

Caminandes: Gran Dillama

Sintel

Tears of Steel

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7 Comments

  1. I think some vidios also must be there about blender to know how it works

    Like

    Reply
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