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Blender

Big Buck Bunny

I am currently testing Blender (Blender on Wikipedia), an open source 3d program − and I find it amazingly rich in features and quite user-friendly once you did a couple of tutorials. I did a few things in Lightwave and Maya in the past but I think Blender compares quite well to those and other commercial applications − but it's free!

I am definitely no 3d pro (well, not yet that is) and just start (once again) to use a 3d software but I am really excited about Blender. Like every other professional 3d program it takes quite a while to get into it, to understand the workflow and to figure out best practices; and even then there will always be a zillion new things to discover. So don't expect to get your Pixar job offer next Monday.

In general Blender has a good and easy-to-use interface (it is not your standard everyday interface but it makes a lot of sense), it seems to be very stable, has all features you would expect of a professional 3d software, can be used both for high quality rendering and 3d game design and development (with Python scripting, game engine and logic, etc...). It runs on a lot of different operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, Irix, Solaris, etc...

A problem that often appears with open-source projects is poor documentation and tutorials. However, with Blender you don't need to worry. There are heaps of high quality tutorials, a good documentation and a very supportive community. For a start I highly recommend the Wikibook Blender 3D: Noob to Pro.

Open source? Free software? Comparable to commercial software? If you don't quite trust this then it would probably help to see a good example. The open movie project Big Buck Bunny is a quite recent and hillarious short animation and pretty convincing for the capabilities of Blender. See the YouTube video below, watch it on Vimeo in higher definition, download it for free or support future open movie projects and buy the DVD. And for all those geeks out there don't forget to enjoy the story over the technical details. It's entertainment after all.

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