Designing comic characters—interview with John Garrett

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John Garrett

John Garrett writes and draws at Hypertransitory.com

It’s been one year since we started interviewing talented people form the 3D industry. Each one revealed a unique connection between their work and Blender. The moment has come to find out where does Blender stand in relation to comics.

John Garrett has been drawing comics since he was five. Today, he speaks about the things he learned along the way. If you read carefully, there’s a lot to learn about character making and how serious making science fiction stories really is.

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The startup wave of the movie industry

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If you’re an indie, you know how difficult it is to get financing for your movie. The internet is booming with webinars, books and articles that want to teach you the secret sauce of getting the money for your production. At the same time, the checklist that you need to complete in order to have a shot at actually getting any money is getting longer by the day. The investors are looking for more and more insurance for their ROI and the big studios are hard to reach. And once you got a meeting with a potential investor, you’d better have a production manager, an accountant and a lawyer at your side. You’ll need these guys for answering all the questions related to the business plan that you’ve prepared in advance and to negotiate the profit distribution in the happy event that there is one. There are also the options of doing crowdfunding, or pre-sales, and they all come with their own challenges.

Image by Tamara podolchak

Image by Tamara podolchak

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Bassam Kurdali: ‘I see open source as a movement for social good.’

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Image of Bassam KurdaliBlender is the software of choice for many 3D artists. For some, it was love at first sight, for others it’s just a program they use to deliver the work. For Bassam Kurdali open source—‘libre’ as he calls it—is more than a tool, it is the result of the evolution of human nature that achieved a new level of interaction and cooperation.

In this interview, I’m talking to the director of the first animated open movie ever made. Which is kind of cool, as his Elephants Dream might someday be mentioned in textbooks. Bassam is a wayward on his own pace, following his dreams. I wanted to discover him better, but what I got was a new puzzle. A comprehensive mind that holds so many surprising things to come.

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RenderStreet ONE is now live!

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RenderStreet ONE

We’re very excited (and exhausted after these past weeks of full speed preparations) to announce the opening of our newest program for unlimited rendering!

One month ago we started the registrations for our flat fee rendering program, RenderStreet ONE. The new program is designed to make rendering more accessible to every artist, and we believe it will be of great help to those who need a permanent external rendering resource, on a budget.

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Sarah Laufer, la virtuosa de 3D

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The interviews we’ve been hosting on the RenderStreet blog for a while now gave me the opportunity to meet new people and learn a lot from them. With Sarah it was the other way around. I had met her before and even worked together on a project, so I already knew this was going to be a pleasure.

Image of Sarah LauferAfter switching to Blender, Sarah Laufer co-founded Pataz Studio, and specialised in character animation. In 2010 her movie was nominated for the Sundance Film Festival. Then Sarah worked for The Tube open movie. Back in Costa Rica, she was also teaching Blender to kids from poor neighbourhoods in San Jose. Pataz Studio is one of the 12 studios chosen to produce the Gooseberry Project, so now Sarah is based in the Blender Foundation’s Amsterdam HQ. And because she is the first Blender lady we are featuring here, let’s give a warm welcome to Sarita Laufer!

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RenderStreet—rendering figures for 2014

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As 2014 is done with, we drew the line to see what happened, what are the relevant figures for our service and what went different from 2013. We’re sharing them here, as we think we’ve got some interesting results that speak about the work that we’re doing behind the scenes and our stubbornness to surpass our standards.

Here are the RenderStreet stats for 2014:

  • 99.89% uptime. This means 9 hours downtime in the entire year. It’s two hours more than last year, because of platform migrations we had to implement.
  • Over 15,000 jobs, with a 99% success rate in job delivery. Only 1% of the jobs had issues that prevented them from being successfully finished. And, as you might have experienced, we make every effort to deliver. This is an improvement over the next year, and one we’re proud of, especially considering the increased rendering volume.
  • 85% of the animations were delivered in under 71 minutes in average. A good figure, showing constant performance over the year.
  • Highest acceleration, compared to the client’s machine: 533x, or 1.5 hours compared to over 1 month (the comparison base was a 2012 iMac).

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RenderStreet ONE is now open for registrations

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3d graphcis

We’ve been trying to understand how different users do their work, in order to come with better solutions for their rendering needs. One common feedback suggested that it would be nice to be able to render the project several times while in development, without any added rendering costs. So we started thinking about how this could be done and came up with a plan.

RenderStreet ONE, our newest all-you-can-render, flat fee tier, is now open for registrations. The program is designed for people who have constant rendering needs and want an always-on resource they can offload their work to. This will ensure close, precise, control of the results, making the 3D renders more available throughout the process.

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Best notebooks for 3D rendering. Part 2: Recommended configurations

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In the first part of this series I talk about the technical considerations for buying a new laptop for 3D work / rendering. I also tracked down the two NVidia mobile cards from the latest generation that are in the performance area. If you want to see how GeForce GTX 970M and 980M tested out in Cycles, you can see the figures here—their rendering performance is quite impressive.

Next, I’m going to make a few recommendations for specific notebook models, which I consider suited for particular usage patterns. Let’s get started.

The road warrior. If you are spending a lot of time on the road and need a light but powerful notebook, this one’s for you.

High-end configuration 15″: Clevo P650SG/P651SG (Sager NP8652)

Sager Notebook official image

Sager NP8652 official image and source

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M and GTX 980M performance in Blender

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In the first article from the notebook review series I am recommending two NVidia cards: the GTX 970M and GTX 980M. They are the top two performers from NVidia at this moment, and they are most likely to successfully keep up the pace a few years from now.

When doing my research, I tried to find some benchmarks to show Blender’s rendering performance. I wasn’t able to find any data, so I turned to the online community for help. I knew that in the notebook community there are users with vast knowledge on the subject, and with access to the newest hardware. I found the reviews made by HTWingNut from the notebookreview forum very thorough and informative over the time, so I approached him with my request.

GeForce GTX 970M and 980M rendering performance in Blender Cycles. Figures courtesy of HTWingNut.

GeForce GTX 970M and 980M rendering performance in Blender Cycles. Figures courtesy of HTWingNut.

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3D Animations rendered with RenderStreet in 2014

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There are just a few more days left in this year—time to turn the page and set the grounds for 2015. To do that, we passed in review some of the best works rendered on RenderStreet this year, showcasing some of our clients to the world.

The demo reel features 3D animations that were made by some of the greatest artists and animation studios using Blender. From realistic buildings and architecture design, to cartoons and commercials, the selection pictures a wide scope of 3D renders.

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Best notebooks for 3D rendering. Part 1: Technical considerations

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For me, choosing the right notebook is always more difficult than building (or buying) a desktop. The customization options are often restrictive, and similar configurations from different manufacturers can be priced very differently. Plus, the prices are always higher than a similarly spec’ed desktop and the upgrade possibilities are in some cases almost nonexistent. All this means that a lot of research is needed before taking out the wallet, and a lot of people might find this difficult.

Because lately I’ve heard the question ‘what laptop should I buy for Blender?’ a lot, I decided to look a bit into the matter. Read on to hear my take on this.

Note: This applies to all rendering engines that work with NVidia GPUs. Also, I won’t be talking about Macs here, as they don’t have any configuration with a decent NVidia GPU at this point.

NVIDIA_GeForce_GTX_980M_3Qtr

NVidia GTX 980m official image and source.

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New render feature: live preview for animations in progress

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video-preview
Since launching RenderStreet, we knew the render previews are an essential part of what we want to offer. At first, the solution we found was a thumbnail of the rendered image in the job view page which shows the last frame that was fully rendered. After implementing the thumbnail, we added real-time previews that work well for still images. They show a preview of the rendered image, as shown by Blender, while rendering. Now we’re taking it to the next level.

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RenderStreet interviews: Attila Balogh, architectural visualiser

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Architecture is one of the main fields in which professionals use Blender 3D for showcasing their work to their clients. There are thousands of visualisation tutorials and online classes, and hundreds of amateurs that make a living from 3D architecture. But there are just a few that distinguish themselves as skilled masters in this industry. We wanted to find out what it takes to become such an expert.

Attila Balogh portrait

Attila Balogh has more that 10 years of experience in residential building architecture, interior design and 3D visualization. His complex work speaks for itself, and his answers shed light on how he creates his projects.

Marius Iatan: How did you start working in the 3D architectural visualization field? What would you say it’s the most challenging aspect of 3D visualization for you?
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Slush conference review

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The 2014 edition of Europe’s largest startup event Slush took place this November in Finland’s cold capital. A huge venue with 4 stages and lots of showcase space for guest companies (including RenderStreet) hosted an audience of 10,000 people, in just 2 days.

Slush 2014 conference

 

 

 

 

Slush was surrounded by over 20 side events, usually addressed to specialised communities. I chose to go to an IGDA Finland event, was invited to pitch at EBAN (European Business Angels Conference) and went to cheer for the startups that graduated the fall batch of Startup Sauna accelerator.
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The Butterfly Effect open movie, rendered with RenderStreet

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We finished rendering another Blender animation short, just in time for submitance to this year’s Suzanne Awards. The Butterfly Effect was part of our RenderStreet for Artists Program, that provided independent artists with free rendering, on our servers.

Creator of the movie, Patrice Bertrand explains the coming of the story, as well as the technical lessons he learned from this exercise.

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Newest Blender makes CPU faster than GPU rendering

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It’s been a few weeks since Blender 2.72a was released, so it was about time to test it out and see how CPU and GPU rendering speed perform in the latest Blender version.

As in the last tests, we are using for benchmarking the Pabellon Barcelona Cycles scene, that Hamza Cheggour published  on his eMirage site. As soon as the rendering was finished, I was amazed by the results. In this version, CPU rendering is faster than GPU. I repeated the test, to make sure there was no mistake, and tried to understand why this happens.

blender-272-cpu-gpu-render-speed-thumb

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RenderStreet interviews: Jeff Mininger, interior/exterior designer

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We’re back today with an interview featuring another Blender professional. Jeff Mininger has a successful business in the architectural field, and you’ll learn about how he does that and what is his history with Blender. But more importantly, Jeff has found a way to balance work, family life and healthy living something most of us are striving to do. 

Enjoy the interview and let us know what you think in the comments section!

Marius Iatan: Hello Jeff, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?Jeff Miniger and his younger daughter

Jeff Mininger: I’m a dad, play bass, ride skateboards and renovate houses. In my daily work I design and draft construction plans for new homes and renovations. I began working as a carpenter about 15 yrs. ago and learned a lot about building. Enough that I didn’t want to make a career out of it. So, along the way, I took the time to learn architectural software and brought the two sets of skills together to build my own design business. I like what I do, but for me work is a support system to the life I want to live and that means spending time with my wife and two girls.

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Guest post: Optimize Freestyle for fast rendering

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In the quest to make the process of rendering more appealing and help artists get better, faster renders, we are launching the guest post series on the RenderStreet blog.

NPR (Freestyle) is a feature that gets more and more attention from the Blender users. We invited Bong Wee Kwong aka Light BWK – who is a NPR pro – to write about optimising Freestyle and explain it all to pieces.

Overview 

Freestyle is an awesome post process line art renderer. With Freestyle lines drawing alone, you can make a lot of cool artworks. If you have been following the twitter tag #b3d the past few months, you’ll notice many cool artworks are done with it. Freestyle is available for Blender Internal and (good news) will be available in Cycles for the next release, Blender 2.72. In essence, Freestyle is its own renderer, meaning it has its own way of handling line rendering.

Here is the overview of what Freestyle does when you press F12. First, Freestyle loads the mesh in view into RAM (each frame), creates a view map from selected edge types, then stylize the selected lines. In reality the processes for Freestyle to render lines is more than that, but for this article I think it is best to just show the simplified version.

Screenshot

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