In case you missed the news, Blender recently underwent a “merge hurricane”. Meaning that a bunch of new features that were in alpha development phase, have now been merged into the trunk version Blender.
These features are massive and are going to change the way we use Blender in the future.
Here’s a brief explanation of each feature and how to start using them:
In a nutshell: New improved rendering engine, more realistic renders
Arguably the biggest thing to happen to blender in the last few years is the Cycles rendering engine. Cycles is a completely new way of rendering in Blender that produces far superior results to the outdated internal renderer. Bounce lighting, caustics and glass are now available as standard without any messing around.
Cycles will eventually replace the internal rendering engine, becoming the standard that every Blender user will soon use. The sooner you can jump aboard, the better.
To get started, check my Introduction to Cycles tutorial.
2. Camera Tracking
In a nutshell: Allows you to add 3d elements to moving video footage.
Anyone who’s tried adding 3d elements to video footage knows that if the camera is moving, you need to use a camera tracker to match the motion to your 3d scene. However dedicated camera trackers aren’t cheap, some costing cost upwards of $3,000. But thanks to Sergey Sharybin, we now have this feature in blender.
You can now track camera motion, add 3d elements, composite it, render it and edit the video, all without leaving Blender. Expect lots of budding film makers to suddenly show an interest in Blender as this is developed further.
To get started, check out this early Camera Tracking Tutorial by Sebastian Koenig.
3. Dynamic Paint
In a nutshell: Makes the environment react to interaction
When a character walks through snow, or a car skids it’s tires, it helps to have the environment react accordingly. Previously this wasn’t possible without doing some fiddly workaround, but thanks to Dynamic Paint it’s a piece of a cake.
The way it works is by baking animated textures onto the objects surface. These textures can these be used for reflections, displacements or anything else you wish.
To get started, check out this Dynamic Paint Guide by the developer Miika Hämäläinen.
4. Ocean Simulator
In a nutshell: Allows you to simulate a realistic ocean.
A much desired feature for the nature buffs out there is the ability to create realistic oceans. Whilst this may seem like a rather specialized feature, oceans are an incredibly necessary part of 3d work as they make up 2/3 of the earth, and without a dedicated feature they are almost impossible to create realistically.
How to Get These Features
The features are now included in the official blender version!
Just download the newest release here. Anything from v2.61 will have it.
A massive thank you to Brecht Van Lommel, Sergey Sharybin, Miika Hämäläinen and Matt Ebb for developing these four incredible features!
Which feature are you most excited about? Leave your comment below.