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Blender: Open Source 3D Modeling, Animation

Published February 21st, 2007

Blender is the open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback

Blender 3D FreewareOriginally downloaded 12/23/05.Woah! This looks like an incredible open-source tool for 3d modeling, drawing, animation, and more… and it’s available across all platforms! Definitely worth a look-see… great resources for learning and samples as well. A lot of users on MacUpdate complain of bugs and slowness, but for zero dollars it may be perfect for amateur 3D-animator wannabes.

Update 2/21/07. Nope! Sorry, Blender’s just too difficult for me to get my head around. Over the course of more than a year, I’ve opened successive versions of Blender and spent up to an hour with it. In one session, I coaxed an interesting 3D image of my wife’s name, but wow it took forever. When I opened the brand new release tonight, and Blender opened up taking over my entire 23″ Cinema Display, every square inch of trim consumed by tiny, unaliased type and Windows-looking buttons, I promptly got completely lost yet again. The Blender interface has some very cool features, but man, is it inscrutible to the uninitiated! So many of the GUI metaphors come from the Windows world, too, like… Blender doesn’t use the Mac system menubar at all… instead, it clutters up some of your screen real estate with… repetitive functions that all do absolutely nothing. It’s like there’s a secret handshake I haven’t learned yet.

I selected “Text” from one of the GUI widgets that looked important, and then expected to be able to start typing… but, no! I couldn’t find any piece of Blender that would accept text. Then I tried to find the project I was working on before (which Blender couldn’t find either), and wandered into Blender’s file system browser. Ugh! Please don’t make me go there ever again! Not only did it remind me of the worst days of Windows 3.1, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it go away. And the file browser took up the entire middle section of Blender!

Blender Interface Window

Blender is a very cool project, and I wish them nothing but the best. But guys, you gotta get a Mac person on your team when the group starts debating how to organize the user interface functions. Whoever did this clearly never had any professional training in GUI design, nor do they have any inherent aptitude for the job. Fortunately for me, there are several other 3D drawing/animation packages that are free or very low cost that are still on my tryout list. Hopefully one of em:them will make some sense to me without requiring me to sign up for training.

Update 7/16/06 Downloaded version 2.43.

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