Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why the domain name is gone

As some of you may have noticed, www.blendertorenderman.org is no longer mine, as of today I noticed it is now some spam site and honestly I do not care. Which is weird. I had this passion for Blender and Renderman for YEARS and then with the death of Project Widow so did that passion. On one hand I want to continue to support the idea, on the other hand I want to give up. So why the reversal in this passion?

1. Blender to Renderman does not seem to be interesting for most Blender users.

This is true and it has been proven time and time again. While there are a few dedicated supporters of this, which I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart, the vast majority of Blender users do not care. They want simplicity, in such that they want to add shaders and lights, hit render and VOILA.... done. Renderman is not like this at all. It is a specialist field and even I have trouble writing code from scratch. So why would the average Blender user? Well the IDEA was to get more visual effects and animation studios to look at Blender in a new light, that the tools can be used in their pipelines with Pixar's Renderman. These studios have pretty much ignored it entirely. There was only one studio that I worked with trying to get this pipeline to work effectively, which for some time they did only to switch to "industry" tools because of some client that requested it. Since then I have lost touch with the studio, sad.

2. Open Shading Language killed off the idea in a quick blow.

With OSL in Blender now it is possible to use RSL code (with some editing) to make shader nodes in Blender. This is cool, however it also killed BtoR because of the argument of "Why use RSL when you can just convert it to OSL and have native support in Blender"? I have tested out OSL in Blender and like it myself, OSL is a huge thing for Blender and fully support it. Even though it pretty much buried BtoR.

3. Time and energy is lacking.

I have devoted literally YEARS to this project and have had my fair share of both praise and blows, I have had people in the industry give me thumbs up and have had plenty of people just turn their noses to this project. I started this project back in 2005 when I was volunteering my time to a film that never got off the ground due to the vast amount of VFX needed, Blender was the choice of tools to use and back then the internal renderer was nothing like it is now. I thought "Why not use Renderman?", thus the quest of finding that key tool to export Blender data to Renderman code begun. RIBMosaic was introduced a couple years later and at that time was considered the best option for this task. Hence Project Widow. Now RIBMosaic is dead (though there still is effort with Matt Ebb's plugin), very little interest from the Blender community and zero interest from the professional industry, my own time and energy devoted to this has waned and quite simply I am tired of fighting. I want to make a living off of 3D work, not be an unpaid wanna be artist that has a itty bitty tiny niche community that nobody cares about anymore. Thankfully I was hired by a company to do freelance 3D work and while it is not much pay at the moment (very few projects), it is a start for me after wishing for SOMETHING for almost 20 years. 20 years of wishing to be a professional artist is a long time and I nearly gave up last year. Hell I STILL think that maybe this industry is not right for me with all the problems right now. I've had one interview to be a pipeline TD, obviously I did not get the position. I know several people in the industry, it is a hard one to get in to they say. Maybe this is not the right thing for me, I do not know but what I do know is that despite all the hurdles and problems I have encountered in trying to be a professional artist I have not given up actually doing it in my own time. I don't know where else to go from here at this time, all I know is that currently the few projects I do have going on I am doing with a level of professionalism and attitude that make my family proud, finally.

4. I have a family now.

When I started this idea, I was single and living with family members. I was employed with a non profit corporation (which makes a HUGE amount of profit actually) but anyways I was living a far different life back then. Now I have a nearly 4 year old little girl that demands my attention and a fiance', working for next to nothing in a major fast food chain, a freelance artist as well and still have to find time to do 3D but I still have far less time to devote to Blender to Renderman than I used to. It is hard to come up with "news" or reports from the community and industry, especially when as mentioned above, nobody cares anymore. OSL has taken over, the industry is a shambled mess of messes, I live in an area that really has no VFX or 3D work available and I have a family to take care of. I can't just pack up and leave to go to LA. Why on earth would I move to one of the most expensive locations in the nation on the hope that MAYBE I get employed by a major effects house or studio? STUPID. With the visual effects industry in disarray there is even less motivation to really work at it like I used to, even though I know I will regardless. Right now is not the time though, for personal reasons in my family I have chosen to put those dreams on hold until further notice. Besides there is other fields where 3D work is required other than visual effects and animation. At this moment I am pretty much doing arch viz for a client this summer, the next one might be a logo, the next might be a website (ick), I don't know but either way I have a family to keep off the street, a daughter to raise and a woman who loves me regardless of how much or little money I make.

5. Jaded.

Really that means that I have grown tired of the fight, I really have and it has been a fight. I can't tell you how many times I have argued with people over the reasons WHY Blender to Renderman is relevant. On one hand Ton Rossendal himself had praised my efforts, on the other hand the Blender community seemed to only dismiss it as useless effort. Right now there is a huge movement to get Freestyle into the Blender, my only question is why is there not the same effort to do the same for Renderman? Freestyle is a non photo realistic renderer and while it is quite interesting to see this unfold I can't fathom the reason as to why there is such a huge interest in something that can be done by Renderman too. I understand why OSL was chosen by the Blender Foundation, it is an open format and created by the very same person who made the first free Renderman compliant renderer BMRT, that person is Larry Gritz. This is one of the reasons why OSL and RSL are so similar, Larry Gritz not only changed the playing field for artists with little money but inspired developers across the globe to create programs such as Aqsis and Pixie, to name a few. On a slightly related note I believe that my BlenderCon 2010 paper inspired Ton to make Tears of Steel , I had mentioned in the paper that Blender's short films went the reversal of Hollywood ie;  that visual effects with CG started BEFORE the feature length CG animated films. That is not proven though and unless Ton himself wants to verify I still believe that my little paper had planted the seed of Tears of Steel, at least the idea of doing a visual effects based short rather than a CG short as they had done in the past.

So lets cut to the chase. Enough of the ranting.

In short I have had little time, little energy and with the birth of OSL in Blender this only spelled the death of BtoR. It was only a matter of time. All things come to an end.

Unless someone wants to help rise this up again like a phoenix I think this will be the last post on this blog. So please, anyone, who wants to help? Maybe with the visual effects industry in shambles this would be a good chance to spark it up again? Otherwise R.I.P. BtoR, it was a fun ride.

Cheers,
Ted

5 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I followed efforts of blendertorenderman community.
    I am not a developer but when I tried shaderman or ribmosaïc.
    I felt like it could be possible to do a render with blender and a renderman engine like aqsis or pixie.
    Unfortunately, there were always frustating limits.
    When I was learning ribmosaic; I had difficulties to render textured objects with Pixie.

    So, I decided to use aqsis which was working like a charm with ribmosaïc and blender 2.45.

    But at this time, aqsis did not support multithreading and it was rendering really slowly.

    When, aqsis started to have multi-threading. Blender's 2.5 Project begans.It broke and eventually killed Ribmosaïc and by a matter of consequence, interest of community for renderman engines.

    At the end of 2.5 API unstability, Matt Erb did a 3Delight exporter.
    It awoke the interest of new blender users attracted by new 2.5 interface.Some even downloaded a free version limited to 2 cores.
    when Opensource renderers have not this limitations.

    Others members of blender community tried to make exporters for aqsis and pixie.
    Actually, there is an exporter for blender 2.66 to pixie2.2.5.
    http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?251446-PIXIE-2-2-5-3Delight-Exporter-(Updated-For-2-66)&p=2312087&viewfull=1#post2312087
    Pixie is more than two years old.

    But there is no exporter to Aqsis 1.8.2 which have 9 months.
    With no valid exporter, I was not able to really test PBGI in aqsis.
    You can make a render with fake SSS in makehuman but to do it in blender, you have to use blender 2.49 and ribmosaic.

    Now, that blender 2.67 will have pyNodes and finally be ready to use node editor for renderman shader in blender; there is no more interest from RSL dev.

    When hobbyists interest for 3D is rising up (blender does not need a graphic card. It is compatible with Intel HD Graphics); I really think that this opensource pipeline project should receive a last effort to bring Renderman to the mass of people who don't have an Nvidia Titan card to render an animation with Cycles.

    If someone could make an exporter for blender2.67 to aqsis1.8.2; I think that it really would be used. Take a look at all the "How to denoïse my render ? How to make a faster render ?" threads that were created since Cycles is in blender official release.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello, i'm Greg from Switzerland. I would like to say that your work is great and i am impressed with people who are ideas like you and who believe in for long time even if the road is difficult. I'm really sorry about the situation.
    I have a small company in switzerland call "L'Avenue Digital Media" and we use blender 3d for a long time, approximately 6 year. I'm interested for your solution but i don't now how it work. Can you tell me where the code is and how to use it please ? I do not guarantee its use quickly, but I'll do my best. I could publish regularly tests on my blog gregdesign.ch as I usually does. In the meantime, please accept my best regards.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey man,

    Beautiful post, brought back a lot of memories and emotions.

    The reason I'm here commenting now,
    is I just opened the BtoR GMail account
    and looked in on the old Google Group.

    Nostalgia.

    Maybe we're not dead.

    You have family and a career to pursue,
    I have severe health problems
    and am currently limited to using
    a very under-powered Fujitsu 5535 laptop.

    But, the occasional post of interesting
    RSL > OSL shader node setups here,
    or discussion in the group,
    is not going to hurt anyone.

    I intend to return to CG when I can,
    and will predominantly be using Blender and 3Delight
    (compatibility with data exported
    from Daz Studio is important),
    though I have Maya and Softimage,
    Blender is now an ingrained habit :)

    Almost brought tears to my eyes
    reading this and other posts.

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  4. Hi
    My name is Atanas Tsekov. I like Blender and Renderman. In my spare time I'm trying to create Blender to Renderman pipline. It's still experimental but I created few animations.
    http://vimeo.com/47745057
    http://vimeo.com/57552513
    Now I'm working on more complicated animation.
    I would like to share my workflow and write some tutorials.
    One of the reasons I have not done it so far is that my English is not good.

    atanas_tsekov@abv.bg

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am absolutely amazed at how terrific the stuff is on this site. I have saved this
    webpage and I truly intend on visiting the site in the upcoming days.
    Keep up the excellent work!
    Blender

    ReplyDelete