Is Blender Looked Down On Because It's Free?

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  02 February 2018
Is Blender Looked Down On Because It's Free?

Do studios and artists overlook Blender just because it's free and open source? Is it "too good to be true"? Is there a herd mentality going on or is Blender actually missing pro features?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L466bmPV4ZM
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  02 February 2018
I think it's looked down at because of its bad UI and how much work it would take to retool their infrastructure with it, thus it not being used in most studios. Also it's among the last apps to get 3rd party support for render engines and other tools/plugins.

The other thing is hobbyists tend to use it, who typically produce non-professional work. It's not fair to look down on a software because of the bulk of work produced with it, but I think it still has a subconscious influence
 
  02 February 2018
Blender is NOT looked down. People WANT to use it because of the great features and price (free!) but the horrible UI (right-mouse selection anyone?) is simply to much for 99% of the users.
Every new version of Blender I download it, test it and never use it again.
 
  02 February 2018
Studios pay a premium for quality support, especially when a pipe line depends on it. Blender has shown no interest in appealing to anyone outside the novice / enthusiast user group. I dont think Studios looks down on Blender, they just accept that Blender isnt aimed at that aspect of the market. Blender seems content with how it operates and studios respect that and carry on with business as usual.

It's nothing personal kid.
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  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by grrinc: Studios pay a premium for quality support, especially when a pipe line depends on it. Blender has shown no interest in appealing to anyone outside the novice / enthusiast user group. I dont think Studios looks down on Blender, they just accept that Blender isnt aimed at that aspect of the market. Blender seems content with how it operates and studios respect that and carry on with business as usual.

It's nothing personal kid.

I don't get why the Blender Foundation doesn't offer paid support the way Red Hat or other OSS based companies doe.
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  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by Meloncov: I don't get why the Blender Foundation doesn't offer paid support the way Red Hat or other OSS based companies doe.
Its not just the tech support. Its the development road-map too. Blender's is a bit of a free-for-all.
Studios don't have a use for that much chaos.

And I've said it before in other threads. Blender isn't doing anything unique except being 'free'.
It doesn't do anything that isn't already being done.
Why choose blender over something like Houdini? Most studios won't.
 
  02 February 2018
Watched the video. Most of the points center around the thread title. IE -Bugzilla assumes most places don't use it because they "look down on it like it's shareware".

Honestly, this video minimizes a lot of the very legitimate reasons why studios don't switch. In 20 years of doing this, I can honestly say I've NEVER run across someone who looked down on Blender because it was free. Not one time. Blender is a niche product in a specialist market. The law of perceived value doesn't work the same way in this situation. Everyone I've run across is always suitably impressed by how capable it is for a free program. Cost is a hobbyist argument. It does not factor in to a professional environment in the same way.

You mention pipelines and say that Autodesk makes sure their stuff works together and do as though they are blocking out others from fitting into that pipeline. Meanwhile, I see C4D, Modo, and even Lightwave fitting into existing AD pipelines every day. The pipeline issue is Blenders biggest hurdle. I have worked at several studios that considered switching from Max,Maya, and SI in favor of Blender. These studios made serious attempts and actually invested R&D money into the effort to see if it would work. Unfortunately, it did not. It failed each time. Blender doesn't comfortably fit within most existing pipelines. The Blender Foundation is very fond of talking about how unique it is, and how it does things like no other software. That's fine, but the price to pay for being "different for the sake of it" is that you are too different to play in the same sandbox as the other kids.

The "difficult to learn" argument was also brought up and dismissed just as quickly. "Here's a tutorial. Your point is invalid. You aren't learning this because YOU have a problem. It's got nothing to do with the software." To this I would say, "Yeah, that's great. But when you're a busy supervisor with a deadline and you are staring down the barrel of retraining time for an entire department of people - the program needs to be baby-town frolics level of easy to learn." I actually made a point to learn Blender years ago. I use it in my personal work regularly. I do not think it's as hard to learn as some suggest. It IS harder to pick up on the fly than a lot of it's competition. C4D blows it out of the water for example. Again, in the cases where my workplace looked at switching, it was simply deemed not worth it in terms of the man hours that would be spent.

I think the other thing that tends to get over-looked by Blender fans are the Blender Fan Boys. I don't think anyone looks down on Blender because it's free. I DO think a lot of people who have never even used the program look down on it because of the rabid, borderline religious zeal of the fanboys. For example, the last time Blender was brought up in a thread, myself and another person (who has also been in the industry a very long time) were called "morons, liars, and short sighted old people" by a Blendervangelist. This person admitted to never having worked in the industry, but was confident that we had no idea what we were talking about or how the industry operated. This experience is more common than not, and is a big load of baggage hauling the entire program down.


TLDR:

I want Blender to succeed. It won't because:

It doesn't fit into existing pipelines
It offers nothing extra to make the re-training time worth it (zBrush is an awesome example of a non-standard program that rewards the time put in to learn it)
It is missing a lot of small but key features a lot pf professionals rely on in 3D apps (certain contextual menus etc)
Blender fanboys make it almost impossible to have honest discussions about making the program better
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by Crotalis: Blender doesn't comfortably fit within most existing pipelines.

Out of curiosity, what were the biggest difficulties for pipeline integration?
 
  02 February 2018
About a year ago when I gave Blender a solid go, I went to look for professional training videos and hardly found any. The ones I found only covered the basics, nothing advanced.

So that leaves free youtube video tutorials made by hobbyists....which doesn't cut it.

There's just not enough pros using it to produce enough pro-level training to make it feel attractive. The expense of retooling a pipeline and downtime having staff relearn something isn't even remotely worth the money saved for being free.

So the industry looks at blender as not being very useful at the moment
 
  02 February 2018
Quote: Out of curiosity, what were the biggest difficulties for pipeline integration?

So I've been with three studios that looked at it. One was smaller and two were what most would call "mid-sized". The biggest stumbling blocks for all three were animation/rigging. Especially the rigging. This is the type of thing I think about when people say "Blender has ALL of the professional tools you need!" It makes me question whether or not those people have been in a pro environment. Specifically, when compared to something like XSI/Softimage, Blender isn't nearly as "team friendly". Imagine going from something like XSI which had Gator for managing multiple rigs and data across multiple scenes through multiple teams to a program that ... can't do that. At all.

The riggers also ran into issues with the granularity of the rigging in Blender. They kept running into roadblocks for certain things that would have been considered pretty standard in Maya or SI. Mind you, we're talking about the kind of thing that only someone who rigs 12 hours a day for a living would even notice. Fact is though, that these are the types of things a program needs to become an industry standard.

We also ran into issues on the render farm side of things, but I was only part of that conversation in as much as I was told "There's a better chance of Bill skinning himself with a spork then there is of us easily integrating this." I felt like that was good enough for me. lol

So you have all these little issues that, by themselves could be overcome, but they just keep piling up and you don't have someone you can directly call to help solve them. Back in the XSI days it was "Call Manny!" Even AD, for all their faults, has a pretty involved R&D/Trouble shooting team. For Blender, you have to hop online and start asking pretty hardcore questions. You will most often be met by crickets because the user base is largely hobby folks. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't get your IT team very far.

Like I said, the problems we ran into are not impossible to solve, but as it stands right now, there's not enough incentive. When we looked at it (at all three studios), we basically said "Where do we land if we put the time in to solve all this." The answer was: "In the same place we are now but with several weeks of lost man hours all to replace tools that are working well, with a tool that will sort of do the same job but less efficiently/not quite as well as the tools it's replacing."
 
  02 February 2018
This topic is a nice viral try

Crotails imho nailed it. Bones system is far away from professional needs. Particles and fluid simulation is far away from professional needs. Foliage system is far away from professional needs. Plugin periphery is in general far away from professional needs. Sculpting is far away from professional needs. Texturing standard is PBR nowadays, which requires a realtime viewport (Eevee is in progress). You have a pipeline problem with the homebrew FBX for example. Cycles, while a great renderer, is still behind the industry solutions. And so on.

Blender is in nearly every area behind. Its only strength is that you can do everything with it, to some degree. And so it remains wishful thinking that professionals will broadly adopt it. You don't use the weaker solution for no reason. Professionals uses the best tools available. This has nothing to do with looking down at it. It remains an amazing piece of software. It is a great hobbyists tool.
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  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by Crotalis: Again, in the cases where my workplace looked at switching, it was simply deemed not worth it in terms of the man hours that would be spent.
Honestly I would never ever "switch" to blender on such a broad scale....
I rather would introduce it to use it alongside other programs and build up a
pipeline in a timeframe of 5-8 years. Data exchange is luckily very encapsulated in the source
and does not often get code changes, so unlike other parts of blender you can
keep your own code modifications in sync with the trunk quite easily.

Also I would introduce it to parts of the pipeline wich are rather less dependend
on pipeline top<>down exchange. (like Modeling or Mate Painting)
But hey, thats my outside perspective.... take it with the grain of salt of a fanboy.
And there must be a reason why we don't see that much bigger studios start to
interconnect with the blender dev team to get things rolling on a longterm scale.

Support wise it depends: Feature Requests is a bit more difficult, but if you
can pinpoint errors in the source its not unusual to get fixes in less than a week.

but anyway a big thank you for the input. I like when people share their experience with it.

chris
 
  02 February 2018
Quote: Honestly I would never ever "switch" to blender on such a broad scale....
I rather would introduce it to use it alongside other programs and build up a
pipeline in a timeframe of 5-8 years.

This was looked at in parallel with the idea of switching at a broader scale. The idea was to look at all possible ways in which it could be utilized. The problem with integrating it along side other programs and planning on slowly building the pipeline around it is that there's no defined road map for Blender dev. So you end up incorporating a tool that, in its current state is sub-optimal, with the hopethat the things you need get looked at if/when the next version gets released. So kind of the same thing we've been saying - not worth the effort for the result Blender would deliver.

Quote: Support wise it depends: Feature Requests is a bit more difficult, but if you
can pinpoint errors in the source its not unusual to get fixes in less than a week.

For us, most of the time the issue wasn't so much errors, as it was the fact that, from the ground up, the program seems geared towards the hobbyist/one-man-show. Most f what would have been needed fell somewhere between an adjustment and a full-on feature request. We found that, to get it where it needs to be for a larger studio environment, we'd have been re-writing massive swathes of code.

Quote: but anyway a big thank you for the input. I like when people share their experience with it.

Sure! I'm actually rooting for Blender to succeed, so it's great to be able to have open/honest talks about what it's lacking. Hopefully this helps it move forward faster. I would love for it to some day be a real challenger to the AD hegemony. The only way we do that is by having chats like this one.
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by tischbein3: Honestly I would never ever "switch" to blender on such a broad scale....
I rather would introduce it to use it alongside other programs and build up a
pipeline in a timeframe of 5-8 years. Data exchange is luckily very encapsulated in the source
and does not often get code changes, so unlike other parts of blender you can
keep your own code modifications in sync with the trunk quite easily.

Also I would introduce it to parts of the pipeline wich are rather less dependend
on pipeline top<>down exchange. (like Modeling or Mate Painting)
But hey, thats my outside perspective.... take it with the grain of salt of a fanboy.
And there must be a reason why we don't see that much bigger studios start to
interconnect with the blender dev team to get things rolling on a longterm scale.

Support wise it depends: Feature Requests is a bit more difficult, but if you
can pinpoint errors in the source its not unusual to get fixes in less than a week.

but anyway a big thank you for the input. I like when people share their experience with it.

chris
Of course this is the way you introduce 'anything'. I think thats what they would have done.
But if blender is not 'best of bread' at something it will just gather dust in the pipeline because why should anyone bother to use it over something thats working in a superior capacity?

Go big or go home blender!

Last edited by circusboy : 02 February 2018 at 01:55 PM.
 
  02 February 2018
Thanks for the reply Crotails. It's not so often I get to hear about professional environments trying out Blender. I was definitely aware of the problems with rigging but I'm curious about those render farm issues now.

Personally where Blender falls flat for me is onphysics sims and particles, after using Houdini and even Maya I find Blender borderline unusable for in either of those areas. I understand people do great work using Blender's physics and particles, but I always tend to find I spend far more time trying to pull off the same result in Blender than its alternatives and with a lot more frustration. In my experience more often than not UE4 does better rigid body physics and in real time. I spent hours caching a simple cloth sim yesterday that would have been possible to do in seconds in Marvelous Designer and I still ended up with self collision problems. IMO it's these kinds of issues that are much more significant than superficial problems like the "crazy UI" that everyone seems to complain about.

I'm a pretty big fan of the Blender project, cycles is great and it's still my most frequently used modeling software, but for many other tasks it's simply not the best option. Like everyone else I don't think it has anything to do with being looked down upon because it's free.
 
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