7 important discoveries at the 2009 Blender Conference

This years Blender Conference was one of the biggest ever. With over 200 attendees, 40 presenters, and topics ranging from 2.5 updates to protein expressions, there was a lot to take in. Here are the 7 discoveries you cannot miss...

1. Surge in gaming development

From the announcement of the speaker lineup, it was obvious that change was in the air. A total of 11 gaming presentations were held, in comparison to last year's one. No doubt thanks to the Apricot project, Blender is being looked at as a commercial game development platform. Several announcements for commercial games were announced, including: Super Yum Yum, Thorworks, Pokme and Foreign Legion, as well as special discussions on iPhone development, digital puppetry and sensory controlled gaming. https://www.flickr.com/photos/30348190@N06/4047768851/

2. Blender is being used in numerous real world applications

Another pleasant surprise was learning how many uses blender has outside of it's pretty graphics. There were presentations on using blender for robot guided medical interventions, fire safety and smoke physics, protein expressions and improving road safety. All this has proved once again that the possibilities of Blender are limitless.

Using Blender to improve road and tunnel safety

Using Blender to improve road and tunnel safety

3. Full time developer

Arguably the most exciting news was the announcement that Blender will be receiving some serious tender loving care in the form of a fulltime developer for 12 - 18months. The funding was received from an anonymous sponsor who needs the API sped up for business purposes. He proposed that hiring a developer full time might fix the issue. Not only does this greatly benefit the community, but it sends a strong statement about blender's impact on commercial studios.

4. Frustration over lack of documentation

When Ton held a round table discussion on Blender education, I don't think he expected the heated discussion that arose. Several beginners spoke up about the difficulties of trying to learn Blender from scratch, stating that at times it was impossible to learn some features due to missing documentation.  At the 60 minute mark the discussion was far from finished and had be continued upstairs. Although a resolution didn't seem to have been made, it was clear that the community needed to be more focused on the learning aspect if we want to encourage more users. And on that note...

5. Enthusiastic users are scarying away the public

A special presentation by Tom Musgrove educated us on "How to be an effective Blender advocate". His presentation covered common etiquette in the 3d industry, and how not to deter future users from Blender by being obnoxious. The presentation was good advice for anyone in any field. It's common knowledge that repulsive behaviour will drive anyone away. But a subtle reminder could be what the community needs right now.

6. Amazing entries at the Suzanne Awards

One of the more pleasant surprises was the quality of entries into the this years suzanne awards. I spoke with Ton after the screening who said "it was almost like being at a real film festival". Couldn't agree more. From the start of the 90 minute screening till the end, the audience was engrossed in the mixed stories and visuals each artist brought to the competition.

The festival was summed up nicely by an equally impressive award ceremony in which the winners were announced: Best Character Animation: Dragosaurio Best Design: Evolution Best Short: Memory

7. Sintel is going to be "epic"

Colin Levy lived up to the high expectations of the community when he delivered a polished presentation of what we can expect in the third open source movie. Starting with a teaser trailer, he went over concepts, showed some storyboards, then handed the microphone over to the rest of the team to show off their current progress. The results speak for themselves...

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Did I mention that all of this was completed in less than 3 weeks? The finished result is looking very promising indeed. If you never been to a blender conference before, I'd highly suggest attending the next one. It's a brilliant opportunity to network with like-minded people and recieve feedback on new ideas and proposals. So what are you waiting for?

ListsAndrew Price