Blender future...

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Blender future...

Postby Carbonflux » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:34 am

I want to submit these ideas for the record...

I got involved in a debate with mfoxdog in IRC tonight and it crystallized something which has been bubbling in my mind for more than a year, Blender is not on our side, more over blender is against supporting integration of external rendering engines because of NIH ( Not Invented Here ) syndrome. There was a lot of talk about supporting external rendering engines for 2.5-6x versions of blender but we have Cycles sidetracking any idea the integration of external engines.

This was fine for while but now we are running again and again into problems with pylux and its compatibility with Cycles of all things.

When I think about how many months dougal has spent on trying to get integration with the render api working I feel a measure of frustration.

We need our own modeling program that is actually FOSS, without paid devs, being influenced by people with money is the last thing we need.

Blender 2.49x was a program you could do art in, it was stable and had great features, luxblend worked well, now all we have is some UI ego trip and a API nightmare with zero real improvements in functionality. One could actually do art with blender 2.49x and luxrender, what is so wrong with a stable work flow?

Anyway imo, we need a new modeling program that is actually FOSS without a "sugar daddy."

:oops:
Last edited by Carbonflux on Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby zeealpal » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:41 am

While I first used Blender for experiments (fluid etc...) in 2.49, I only first used LuxRender with Blender 2.x, however it was my interest in OpenCL (and Dade's lovely SLG) that got me back into Blender (The 2.49 - 2.50 change put me off for a little).

I have noticed that man (not all) Blender users support Cycles like it is a God (probably because they were stuck with BI for a while, and couldn't be bothered trying Yafaray or LuxRender) and oppose, or 'put down' other rendering options in whatever way they can. I heard about the render API news a while ago, and I was exited for what this might do for LuxRender, but I'm disappointed with the lack of any improvements.

While I like Blender 3D for modelling, I do find the community and developers general disregard for other projects distasteful, especially given the huge amount of effort LuxRender dev's have pt into LuxBlend and the current integration, despite the API changes/issues.

On the contrary, Users of 3Ds Max, Maya and now DazStudio who are trying/using LuxRender seem to have a keen interest and less negative approach to LuxRender.

I am amazed at what LuxRender can do, and cannot thank the dev's enough for all the effort you guys have put in, which has made a great rendering engine.

So I basically agree with what CarbonFlux has said.

P.s. I'm still amazed at how SLG runs on OpenCL (Which is OPEN, unlike Cuda) and still shows no sign of weakness against Cycles (so far, except the integration, but that was never a goal) despite being undeveloped (majorly) for a while now. I still think LuxRays would have been a great start to build Cycles on, that is platform agnostic.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby Pilchard123 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:32 am

Sooooooo....new project? LuxModel? Nah, I kid, I kid.

Seriously though, it could be cool, but I doubt it would take off for quite a while, especially since Lux is only done in spare time already. Might be a interesting thing to take a crack at though, if enough people worked on it.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby Dade » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:10 pm

It is hard to negate that Cycles has changed the scenario.

Before Cycles, Blender had a rendering engine that no one in other projects (LuxRender, Yafaray, etc.) has ever consider a competitor ... I mean, seriously, I'm trying to be polite but BI has a ridicolous old approach to rendering.

Blender Foundation stepped on the feet of all other projects with Cycles. I remember some Samo's post (Yafaray project leader) saying about the same concept too. At the moment, the relation with Blender seems a bit too much like a "one way" relation.

I have also the feeling that some Blender user is underestimating the amount of work Cycles will still require before it can replace the Blender Internal.

However, I admit I have no idea what would be the best solution to this situation. I have some doubt developing another Modeler is a viable option. I simply doubt there are enough resources to make it happen and I'm always in favor of reducing the fragmentation of open source projects.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby J the Ninja » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:01 pm

I have to agree with Dade's conclusion, where on earth are we going to get the manpower for another modeler? To use a meme, "One does not simply 'make a new 3d package'". Even with all the work and features that have gone into Blender, it is STILL barely a competitor for apps like Max or Maya. Making something anywhere near as useful as Blender would take years, especially if it was done in people spare time. And frankly, if there are that many FOSS coders who would want to make something like that, I'd rather they go make a halfway decent video editing suite than go off competing with Blender.

As far as our issues with Blender, have we actually communicated these with the Blender devs? Have we ever just emailed Ton/Brecht/Campbell/whoever and asked where support for adding nodes and modifying panels via python is? When Cycles steps on the feet of other renderers, are bug reports being filed? Because those are bugs in Blender, they should go through the channels to deal with bugs in Blender. Every release, Ton makes several tweets about the number of open bugs, so if you are concerned about his ego, don't worry, this should appeal to it. ;)

On our side, well, what else should we do about it? Exporter work continues as long as people are willing to support them. Personally, I find Blender 2.5 and LuxRender to both be useful programs to me, and am willing to work on their integration because of that. As far as a other apps go, we should make sure that we are not focusing too much on just being a "renderer for blender" then. For example, why don't we ever post new releases in the CGtalk news forum? I wouldn't be surprised if there are a lot of Max users who have heard of Lux but aren't aware there is a Max plugin, because it is so seldom promoted there.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby rendermagic » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:57 pm

Just my two cents...for what it's worth...

It would seem to me that many users choose a 'render' engine mostly based upon whether it's tightly integrated with the modelling software they are already using. Clearly there are exceptions. I have read cases here on the forums that 'newbies' stumble across Lux without any real modelling experience and/or knowledge. Blender is a great 'FOSS' modelling solution for them. For professionals and commercial users, however, they probably have learned to use their preferred modelling tool and are not likely looking for the prospect of 'changing' their preferred modelling tool.

I appreciate that that others have contributed there time to develop 'exporters' that are compatible with other modelling tools other than Blender. I personally don't use Blender to model, though I do understand it's appeal. For my preferred modelling tool, Lux doesn't have an exporter already developed for it. So, for my workflow, I just simply export geometry from my preferred modelling tool and use Blender only to position geometry in my scene and make adjustments to my render settings. I never use Blender to do anything more than Translate, Scale, and rotate my geometries. I do all of my modelling externally. I just use Blender to quickly set up a render scene and the materials to feed directly to the Lux Render engine.

I doubt many of the Lux users would find my workflow to be efficient, but it works for me. I recommend first thinking about what are the advantages of Lux continuing to be coupled with Blender other than it's 'modelling' abilities and tight Render settings GUI. Here are a few that I can think of:

  1. Camera Settings
  2. Light settings
  3. Material settings
  4. Transforming (positioning) objects in a scene (Geometry, lights, cameras, etc.)
  5. Textures?
  6. Oh, and exporting geometry modeled in Blender.

In my opinion, I think Blender is not the best modelling software out there, though it is very powerful...and free too. There are other modelling softwares out there, both FOSS and Commercial. Would the Lux project gain a wider appeal if it had an exporter that was tailored to some of the other modelling softwares out there? Probably. But, even that takes a lot of resources to develop the plugins. Rhino is a really popular modelling tool out there, but Lux doesn't have an exporter for it and it's expensive. Writing a exporter for Rhino would also be expensive.

I've always liked the idea Maxwell had to solve some of these limitations without ever having to develop a full modelling package. Has anyone heard of Maxwell's 'Maxwell Studio' application? The application's functionality assumes that all modelling is done in 'some other' modelling software that one can import into the application. Users are then given the ability to transform the geometries, lighting, cameras. Further, users can setup their camera, lighting and material settings within that Studio GUI. Users can't, however, change the shape of the geometries. The studio then exports a scene file, material, file, and geometric file (ie. LXS, LXM, and LXO). From there the Maxwell Render engine can render it using those files.

I have no idea what some of the users workflows are, but if anyone else is not happy with Blender, maybe only use Blender to model and export LXOs and/or convert to PLYs that can be directly imported into a 'Lux Studio'. Does anyone continue to actively 'model' and manipulate there geometry while they're refining their render settings? The advantage of developing a 'Lux Studio' over the continued fight with 'Blender' devs is that Lux becomes instantly more adoptable to others out there already using their own preferred modelling software. Developing a 'Lux Studio' is really just making a huge GUI, like what Dougal has done with LuxBlend, an geometry importer (STLs, PLYs, etc.), an exporter (LXOs), a light window that allows one to view their scene with the objects, and some simple tools to transform those objects.

I recognize that one looses the tight integration of Lux Blender going this route, but maybe that's the 'thorn' in side and what is causing the frustration we are all experiencing with Blender devs.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby moure » Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:20 am

I have to agree with rendermagic on this one ;)

Having a LuxStudio App would be amazing. Supporting import of dae. or obj. files , with a siple directx-opengl viewport (paco had discussed that with lordcrc iirc in the irc)
and the ability to add materials to the objects (like the material editor dougal had started working on).
Something like that would make luxrender application-independant and lower the need of exporter work even to zero. (even if that makes my work on luxmax useless too :) )

The question is , are the developers enough and ready to support something like this?

Btw another idea , take a blender 2.49-2.5x build strip all the things we dont need and distribute it as luxstudio :D
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Re: Blender future...

Postby rendermagic » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:43 am

moure wrote:I have to agree with rendermagic on this one ;)

Having a LuxStudio App would be amazing. Supporting import of dae. or obj. files , with a siple directx-opengl viewport (paco had discussed that with lordcrc iirc in the irc)
and the ability to add materials to the objects (like the material editor dougal had started working on).
Something like that would make luxrender application-independant and lower the need of exporter work even to zero. (even if that makes my work on luxmax useless too :) )

The question is , are the developers enough and ready to support something like this?

Btw another idea , take a blender 2.49-2.5x build strip all the things we dont need and distribute it as luxstudio :D

Thanks Moore...I kinda like your idea of building Lux part of a stripped down version of blender. I hadn't thought of that.

We're there be any licensing issues? That almost invites a Blender *fork*. Is Blender developed enough that a fork would be okay? It would probably be difficult to reintegrate future blender code back.

Where can I read more about that discussion with Dougal regarding the GUI idea?
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Re: Blender future...

Postby dougal2 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:56 pm

I think the work I did on material editor was only really discussed on IRC, but the code is available here: https://bitbucket.org/doughammond/luxre ... rialeditor
It's really only a prototype at the minute, but demonstrates a node gui and rendering via the c++/dll interface.
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Re: Blender future...

Postby paco » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:47 pm

The stripped Blender idea was discussed here : viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7505
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