Why don't you use Blender? (Serious discussion)

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  10 October 2013
Post Why don't you use Blender? (Serious discussion)

Honest question: Why don't you use Blender? I'm genuinely interested, from a feedback standpoint.

This thread is to give people the opportunity to speak their mind and be brutally honest without judgement.

I'm not trying to win anyone over. Just listen to your reasons.

To get the ball rolling I recently made two videos, breaking down why Blender's interface needs improving:

So I wanted to get some raw thoughts from the CG community:
  • What's your biggest pet peeve about Blender?
  • Does the interface play a large role?
  • What's the vibe you get from blender as a whole?

You can be as brutally honest as you like. No judging or rebuttals in this thread. I'm all ears

Last edited by redbyte : 10 October 2013 at 09:43 AM.
  10 October 2013
I would guess that the main reason why an individual or studio doesn't use a particular piece of software is that it's not widely used in their particular industry. If you want a job in film you are going to struggle like crazy if you don't use Maya. And in my industry if you don't use max you're basically never going to be able to work with any of the medium>large studios and you will struggle to find people to work for you as well.

We don't use Blender because nobody else in our industry does, and that is absolutely crucial because when I bring people in to work with me I need to be sure they are highly experienced with 3ds max, vray and/or mental ray and the usual suspects. It's as simple as that, really. I don't have time to train people up and I think that will go for most others too.

That and the fact that all my assets are in max format and that is a LOT of assets... the idea of having to convert them all (or most of the useful ones) to Blender format is quite impossible for me, really. And my industry is basically totally max-based so there is no chance of this changing any time soon. The cost implications are just too huge.

Someone else from the film/tv/animation world might have a different reason or set of reasons but those are mine. I always say this to students - you must learn to use the software that your industry requires you to use. The whole university-level software war thing is all very silly and can have quite serious implications when you graduate and suddenly nobody is hiring Gimp experts or Blender experts.

edit: i just want to clarify that I'm not saying nobody is hiring Blender users. just that many CG-based industries are heavily invested in the big name packages.
Alex York
Founder of Atelier York
Bespoke London-Based Architectural Visualization

Last edited by alexyork : 10 October 2013 at 09:56 AM.
  10 October 2013
While my studio is pretty small (30 or so employee), most of us already have at least 5 years of experience using Maya. All the tools had been created, all the pipelines had been worked out, lots of problem had been discovered and learnt how to dealt with, and we're in full production speed.

Switching 30 people to Blender, recreating all the tools and all that, really not practical. We have 0 experience, our TD know zero shit, we don't know what problem will show up and can't estimate anything.

Not to mention 90% of people applying to our studio already know Maya so they can start working immediately.
  10 October 2013
For my part, I don't use blender, because I do a lot of furred characters. And I checked out a lot of hair/fur-engines (maya fur, shave+haircut, sasquatch, Cinema4D Hair and blender).

I came to the conclusion, that the Cinema4D Hair is most suitable for my need. The main problem is time for styling and I can clone my fursetups to characters with different vertcount. That wasn't possible in blender.

Just a niche, I know, but I always have the feeling that the blender community incorporates cool new stuff, but never lets it mature fully...

Kind regards
Diplom Digital Artist
  10 October 2013
I don't use it, simply because I can't do the things I can do in Maya. I've invested too much time into things like rigging and scripting, I simply don't feel like returning to square one just to learn those things in another package that, frankly, isn't going to help my career.

  10 October 2013
First I would just like to say thank you for the videos, they're extremely applicable to all 3d software and all companies should take on board what you have presented.

As for your actual question though, its a big one, so pardon my wall of text. In order for users to switch to blender, there must be a reason for them to put in the significant investment of time required, and if you want the short version, this is blender's sticking point, there isnt anything compelling enough for most people to do this. The smartest thing would be to look at recent software which has succeeded and analyse what it is they've done.

Ease of use: One way blender could gain more share is to be easier than the competition, I think its safe to say that this is how c4d over the past 13 years has eaten into autodesk's market share. It certainly didnt do it by being more powerful and there has always been cheaper software, but at the time c4d was significantly simpler to get into than most of the others and so gained a strong foothold. From there once it had a userbase, it could then start piling on the features and the power, but without that first reason it would never have gained traction.

Be better at something: Modo would be the best example here. Luxology recognised that making an entire all-singing 3d app would take a hell of a long time, so started off by doing one thing great, modelling. Again, once they had enough users onboard with this initial hook, they could start expanding to offer animation, rendering and so on; so they're now on their merry way.

Be more powerful: Well really this is covered by numerous apps, Maya and Houdini spring to mind. Theyre not easy, theyre not cheap, but they go the furthest.

The above is the first of blender's problems. It cant claim to be any of those. It isnt easy to use by any metric, I think one of your first points in the first video demonstrated this perfectly, you cant select things by clicking on them. Such a simple, basic and tragic hurdle placed in front of every person that has ever tried the software, but its an immediate warning for what else the user would have in store. Or put another way, if you walked into a supermarket and were met by the smell of decaying fish and the sight of rotten veg, would you venture further into the store?

Nor does it win on either of the other points, its animation, modelling and rendering are ok, but theyre not good enough to draw people away from what theyre using. So the question must be asked, what reason is there for any established 3D user to move over to blender? The best it can offer is a cheaper price, but the cost of 3D software as compared to what it will allow you to earn is not of any great concern. Users are paying what for their 3d software per year, £400? Will blender make me more than £400 more productive? No, if anything I would only lose jobs because I dont have the app the other company is using.

Blender largely suffers the same fate as Gimp, it is neither faster to achieve any particular goal than photoshop, nor is it more powerful in any regard, so the question remains, why would anyone switch to it?

Take other popular opensource software, firefox succeeded because the competition was slow, clunky and had stagnated all development so it was ripe for something else to take over, Blender has no such opportunity, between maya, max, softimage, c4d, modo lw and such, the market has a high amount of competition and a rapid pace of development

The only thing blender has right now as a hook is that its free, but for any established company, thats not realistic as they would have to spend a week teaching them to get them up to speed, thats £1500 in lost productivity whilst they learn, £1000 for the training course so youre looking at £2500 as a minimum to switch someone over, thats what? 7 years worth of commercial software updates? At best. Blender either needs to be the easiest app so they can start hooking new users just entering the 3D market; then slowly build up a userbase over time, or they need a killer feature thats so amazing that established 3D users will jump ship for it, C4D's mograph tools spring to mind.

So long as blender meanders along with every feature never exceeding the level of 'its ok' or 'its acceptable', nothing will change. Pick something and do it really bloody well, thats my advice.
Matthew O'Neill
  10 October 2013
As others have mentioned, I don't use Blender because it's just not what we use at work. I don't make those calls. I don't particularly even care about the whole software debate, to be honest; I just do my job with whatever I am given to do it with. In my case, Maya is the dominant package everywhere I work, so that's what I use daily when I need to get anything done in 3D software.

But I did want to reply to one of your questions in particular. I'm going to be really bluntly honest here, and maybe it'll ruffle some feathers (not really my intention but anyway) but it's something that's been annoying me for a while.

Quote: What's the vibe that you get from Blender's community?

Well, for a start, I'd have to say that only a Blender user would post a thread like this. Honestly, I find this 'underdog trying desperately to prove itself' mentality that I see time and time again from Blender users who see fit to evangelise about their software really bizarre and frankly kinda irritating. I'm not having a go at you here personally, Andrew, it's more of a generalised statement about the attitude of many (most?) open source software users. It's like they feel this need to tell everyone that they're somehow missing out on something by not using the same software they do. Why? Why feel this need? Why does it bother you what everyone else is using? Why do you feel this need to get everyone to join "your team"? I really don't get it.

You know what I think? I think it's cool that there are free packages out there that people can use. I use a couple of open source packages at home, like Open Office. But let's face it, they're often pale imitations of the commercial products they're offering themselves as alternatives to. Now, honestly, I have no idea how Blender compares to commercial products because I have virtually no experience with the software, but at the same time, it doesn't really matter to me - I'm not looking to change what I am currently using. And this is something that a lot of Blender users can't seem to get their heads around - they go around evangelising without understanding that people are either happy with what they're currently using, or just don't care as much about this stuff as they do.

At the end of the day, my overall impression (whether this is true or not is up for debate, it's simply my impression) of the Blender community as a whole is that it's largely made up of frankly clueless software fanboys who seem bent on converting everyone to their, for lack of a better term, cult. Because that's how they seem to view software, as some kind of religion. It's pretty cringeworthy the way a lot of Blender users frequently express a belief that they're somehow being oppressed and that Blender is actually being used in a lot of studios but nobody wants to admit it. This desperate underdog mentality is really tedious. My impression is that none of these people have ever actually worked in a studio and thus lack the understanding of why studios use the software they do (for example, the whole "it's free!" thing isn't really going to factor heavily into the decision making of a large studio, believe it or not).

I guess this all sounds pretty harsh, but this is basically my answer to the question above. I usually browse most of the forums on this site pretty regularly, but I tend to avoid the Blender forum these days because the threads I've read there in the past have tended to make my eyes roll into the back of my head. Fanboyism and desperate software evangelism really does my head in.
  10 October 2013
Originally Posted by leigh:
But I did want to reply to one of your questions in particular. I'm going to be really bluntly honest here, and maybe it'll ruffle some feathers....

And of course as we all know, you usually like to sugarcoat your replies

But seriously. I agree. These questions are annoying. Ive never used it and have no intention of learning it unless i have to. The fact that you cant pick an object by clicking on it (as i just found out) is shocking, that is BASIC function.

The way i see it, if it was good enough, it would be used more. Simple as that. C4D has come in leaps and bounds over the last few years and its found a lot more often now than it used to. The fact that Blender is still the "underdog" is telling.

Just my opinion of course.
  10 October 2013
Blender, Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Now it's the time to be extreme!
  10 October 2013
Totally agree with what imashination said :

Blender's a jack of all trades master of none : it's quite good overall and improved a lot, but not the best at anything. Not the easiest (C4D probably) not the best at modelling (Modo maybe), sculpting (ZBrush), Animation (Maya, Motion builder), FX (Realflow, Houdini, FumeFX...), UV, Rendering (Vray, Arnold, Octane, Renderman...), Compositing (AE, Nuke, Fusion...), Tracking (Syntheyes, Boujou, PF Track...).

It's only unique asset is that it's free... but free doesn't mean it doesn't cost you time and money to learn it and integrate it into your pipeline and work habits, so it's a secondary question. Long gone are the days of 3D apps costing the price of a small house. Any professional can afford a industry standard commercial software with the security of having technical support, plugins, userbase etc... And how about blender ability to talk to other elements of the pipeline : alembic, fbx, openEXR deep compositing, OpenVDB?

Professionals have nothing against open source either (plenty of linux apps and open formats : OpenVDB, Pixar OpenSubdiv, Ptex, Alembic...) whenever it's industry standard and production oriented/tested/supported. So it's not a question of "Open source" not being taken seriously in general.

Even for hobbyists, there are so many PLE and student versions around for all the major packages, that the "free" argument is secondary even for many newcomers and students.

So for blender to gain more traction they should :
-1) Remove all the roadblocks and showstoppers
-2) Be the best at something (anything!) to warrant a time and ressource consuming switch.

As for the Roadblocks, the UI is a clear one. It has improved a lot in it's architecture (non-modal, very customizable, presets...) but not in its ergonomy : the navigation and information is still all around without much sense sometimes :
- some duplicate info,
- some missing functions by default (it's there, just hidden)
- some little used functions exposed by default
- some related info split in left and right toolbar,
- tiny icons, lots of abbreviations or obtuse tooltips, stange little squares, not context sensitive help...

The worst (or best) thing is that many of this can actually be fixed with scripting the current UI. But it's a pain.

When you start questionning the UI, many blender user start flaming you saying that it's the best and fastest because it's "shortcuts-driven". Well, any app can be fast with shortcuts and all of them have, this doesn't prevent them to have a welcoming UI to start with.

Blender is made by passionate coders, and it shows. So much so, that actual usability is an afterthought for many of them.
  10 October 2013
Leight is about right, there is an aparent cult mentality, and it's all a bit off putting. I dont think blender could ever get traction in professional uses for the above mentioned reasons. I do use-it sometimes though, for it's strength, it being a jack of all trades. I need simple video editing ? Blender. ? Simple Comp ? Blender. Some quick sculpting ? Blender.
  10 October 2013
I think there's little else to say thanks to Mash's comprehensive breakdown of the situation and Leigh finishing with a spanking.

I hope to give Blender a good looking-over this year and get familiar with it. I was very close to not renewing my 3dsmax subscription this year because of the price increases. It seems there are a good number of Max users similarly unhappy and looking for an alternative. Blender could be a great option for freelancers and small studios who don't rely on complex pipelines, previously made in-house tools and trusted plug-ins. Time is the biggest factor for me. I'd like to spend time with many apps (partly out of curiosity) but I have a family life and many other interests. If I knew I could slot straight into Blender I would have dumped Max and spent the £500 on a Bosto 22hd.

I'll be keeping an eye on the goings on at Autodesk in the next 12 months, assess the value for money of staying with 3dsmax (including the use of Substance materials) and also what's happening with Blender. Hopefully I'll make some time to use Blender. Even though the £500 3dsmax subs is a lot of money I'd prefer not to be spending on one app, it's still, for the time being, affordable considering the cost of switching.
  10 October 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: Well, for a start, I'd have to say that only a Blender user would post a thread like this. Honestly, I find this 'underdog trying desperately to prove itself' mentality that I see time and time again from Blender users who see fit to evangelise about their software really bizarre and frankly kinda irritating.

Thanks for your honesty, and I completely agree with the "underdog" mentality. We're definitely guilty of that :P

For the record this thread isn't to convince anyone to use Blender. No evangelizing this time I'm just genuinely interested in the reasons people use some software and not others. From a marketing, usability and psychological perspective.

So you're free to hate Blender in this thread. No judgement or rebuttals
I'm here to listen to your reasons, make notes, and hopefully pass on your thoughts to the Blender foundation

Quote: When you start questionning the UI, many blender user start flaming you saying that it's the best and fastest because it's "shortcuts-driven". Well, any app can be fast with shortcuts and all of them have, this doesn't prevent them to have a welcoming UI to start with.

Blender is made by passionate coders, and it shows. So much so, that actual usability is an afterthought for many of them.

Thank you for saying this! Couldn't agree more.

The more I read on usability, the more I realize Blender is completely backwards. Hopefully I can convince enough of the userbase that it needs a change.

Last edited by redbyte : 10 October 2013 at 01:49 PM.
  10 October 2013
I've never used it but now I see that Justin Bieber uses it, I am even less inclined to
consider it.

Seriously though, these threads that basically beg others to join the clan of
hipsters that are on to something (freebie) are somewhat annoying.
  10 October 2013
Blender is an application I've kept an eye on over the years. However, there are several reasons that have made me not jump in the Blender train (I'll list the main points. I don't mean to be rude at anyone... just saying like I see it...)

- For work, as most have stated, I use what I'm given to work with. This has been mostly Max, Maya, and Softimage.
- For personal use, several things have bothered me over the years:
1. The UI: It has definitely improved, but it has always been my biggest roadblock to overcome. Most people, when they open an application, will try to do stuff right away to get a feel for it. If the first thing you face is total failure at your first attempts at anything, you'll get discouraged and leave. As you've mentioned before, usability is an area that impacts how many people will stick to keep using your application.

2. This one has been big for me... the Dev Team's apparent total disregard for established standards. Like it or not, having these standards makes work EASIER. And like it or not, these standards, for most of us, are written today by Autodesk (just because they own and develop the products that most here use for a living). They have actually spent quite a bit of time standardizing how their major 3d applications work (i.e. the mouse interaction model... Max and Soft offer a Maya mouse interaction model). Other companies are also following these standards to a degree or another (Modo, Houdini, etc). I was very pleased when I downloaded (again) a Blender build not so long ago, and discovered I could use the Maya interaction model in it. However, why does Blender insist on doing other things its own, counter-intuitive way? Blender has to be the ONLY 3d application that I've used that uses the right-mouse button to select stuff. Stuff like that...

3. The instability of open-source development. As Leigh mentioned, I am truly happy that there are free alternatives out there for many existing software applications. I use quite a few of them (i.e. Open Office, GIMP, ...). But it is true that they do not have the scope of the applications they mirror. I use them because I do not need the scope of said applications... the free alternatives work quite well for my needs. But when it comes to 3D work (especially PAID work), I prefer to rely on applications that have a proven, paid team of people working on them. It just feels to me like like with Blender, some features would come "when the developers feels like it". I've also heard that in some areas, Blender's tools don't really match the quality of functionality of their commercial counterparts. Forgive me if these statements are unfounded, since I'm really not that close to the Blender Dev team and planning... it's just the impression I've got from watching from outside. Maybe I'm totally wrong.

It's funny, because I recently decided to switch software for personal and freelance projects, after 18 years of sticking to one of the big 3. Blender was among the options I was evaluating as alternatives. After some looking around, asking, and due to a decisive number of personal factors, I decided to purchase Modo.
I like a lot the idea behind Blender... I just don't find it as well-executed yet.
Again, I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings over the subject. Just being honest.
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