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hvanderwegen

Blender 2.81 released

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MAXON did what they did. I'm glad circumstances worked out to nudge me towards Blender. It's a good fit for me and the trajectory for Blender's growth is very exciting. 

I have a very strong hunch Toby and others feels the same way. 

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The improvements to the Outliner is a big one for me.  It is amazing the number of features that Blender puts into a 0.1 release after a 3 month period.  By comparison, this number of features is what MAXON would call a full point release after a year of development.  Is the the difference that MAXON has stronger quality controls and extended testing whereas Blender does not?   If true, you can hold onto that strategy as long as the market places a price premium on stability over new features.   They want both (why wouldn't they) but they also don't like waiting for new features. 

 

There is strong evidence in other industries that access to new features is always more important.  Just look at the telecommunications market in the 1990's.  You had  a big bellwether global telecommunication equipment company, Lucent, that built products for 15 year life with a protracted product testing  phase to insure rock solid stability.  And for good reason: telecommunication products were critical to pretty much everything (banking, emergency services, business, etc).  Stability, not cost or features, was at the core of Lucent's product development culture.  Well, along comes a whole bunch of telecommunication start-ups during the 90's that were pumping out products with the philosophy of "be first to market with the new feature and let the customer debug it" and guess who won?  Well, Lucent, with a rich history of technological innovation in Bell Labs since 1954 (9 Nobel prize winners - one for the transistor) no longer exists.  After reporting a $2 Billion loss in the dot-com bust it merged with Alcatel in 2006 and then completely sold to Nokia in 2015.

 

So MAXON clings to that same culture on stability that Lucent did when you consider their  pace of introducing new features.  Just look at the lackluster R21 release along with a price increase for perpetual licenses.  I think it is safe to say that  MAXON does charge a pretty hefty premium for that stability.  Hey, stability is important, but this is just DCC software - not something like telecommunications that forms the backbone of a modern society.  So if stability didn't win a long term strategy in the telecommunications market, then it probably won't support MAXON's strategy all that well in the future - especially in the face of competition like Blender.

 

Is it fair to say that people were loyal to C4D prior to R21 for 3 things: 1) stability, 2) ease of use and 3) a firm belief that MAXON would never follow a subscription plan.  While I don't know what Blender's development road-map looks like, but I do find it interesting that 2.81 has some features that C4D users are interested in.  Based on the backlash to R21  and subscriptions, does Blender sense a shift away from loyalty to C4D and  adapted their development plan accordingly?    Not sure, but consider that Blender 2.8  was released at the same time as R21 and then 3 months later we have Blender 2.81  which makes it easier to use (in a very C4D way) while showing that they have both an aggressive development pace and are quick to correct stability issues.  Most importantly, it is free and requires no server activation.  Blender 2.81  directly addresses the  top 3 issues that kept people loyal to C4D.

 

Coincidence?  Honestly, I don't know.  But I think it is a safe to say that Blender is a real, serious threat to whatever MAXON has as a long term market strategy.  Stability and feature growth at C4D's price point is not going to help MAXON weather the subscription back-lash over the long term...not when you have options like Blender.

 

Honestly, given that MAXON pays attention to (but does not support) the Cafe, I would hope that threads like this  give them cause for concern.  Add to that a key instructor, Toby Pitman, saying " Sorry - I can't do subscriptions" in his Twitter feed and moving to Blender should also scratch at MAXON's "belief" that rolling out a subscription plan will "only" result in a short term drop in revenue and that they will make more money in the long term. 

 

At the pace that Blender is moving, there may be no "long term" horizon that allows MAXON to recoup whatever losses they incur from moving to  a subscription plan. 

 

That is a real possibility that MAXON cannot ignore.

 

Dave

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It is good to see Blender doing well, gaining a strong following and seeing Toby moving away because of subs should send shivers down Maxons back. Houdini latest release has a ton of features, they are improving their modeling tools, they release bug fixes, some times on a weekly basis and do release a .5 version (remember those?) about 5 months later. I am really starting to get hang of procedural modeling, it really makes sense and logical.  SideFX support is amazing, I emailed an issue I was having Saturday night at 1900 hrs Central US, and within 20 minutes had a response. 

 

C4D is still a really strong package, but with weak release, costly subscription plan and people trying out other packages, MAXON had best up its game to stay in the game.

 

to quote Dave:

At the pace that Blender is moving, there may be no "long term" horizon that allows MAXON to recoup whatever losses they incur from moving to  a subscription plan. 

That is a real possibility that MAXON cannot ignore.

 

 

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On 11/30/2019 at 2:55 PM, 3D-Pangel said:

Based on the backlash to R21  and subscriptions, does Blender sense a shift away from loyalty to C4D and  adapted their development plan accordingly?

 

I doubt very much that Blender adapts their development plans to target C4D users specifically. Stuff like an improved Outliner were on the wish list of Blender users for a long time. That the 2.81 came out relatively fast after the 2.80 is more due to the fact that the 2.80 took longer than expected, and there were features in the backlog already being developed but not making it to the 2.80 so now they start to appear all over. I am fairly sure that we will see more of these in the 2.82, and that the 2.82 will get out speedily as well.

 

It is pretty natural if Blender developers have their sights on other DCC programs as well, to check out what's on the market and what users really desire, but I doubt they even need to target specific competition. They are already growing. The needs of an open source program are different.

 

What will get interesting: sooner or later, Blender will need a serious and thorough core revamp. Which will break many many things, and require a concentrated centralized effort, instead of just tacking on a new feature. I'm curious how well that will go, and when it will happen. I whould certainly hope for a program philosophy that combines the strengths of C4D, Houdini, and Blender itself, but sadly these are not always valid combinations 😉

 

On 11/30/2019 at 2:55 PM, 3D-Pangel said:

stability is important, but this is just DCC software

 

Huh. I have worked with instable software, and it is a nightmare and a money sink. Stability and reliability are fairly important, and you can only achieve these with the right structural development method. Imagine you develop a character for animation, and when almost done, you find that under these specific circumstances sadly the jiggle deformer doesn't work at all (when all the documentation and all your previous tests told you it would). And you really need the jiggle deformer. And it's too deeply entrenched in the program's structure to be farmed out to another DCC app. So, you go back to your director and say... "Boss, we can't have Father Christmas' belly jiggling, the program doesn't do it". Uh. Not good.

 

Yes, features are important too, and users are falling for the shine and gleam of many a feature. That is a downside of the market, actually. The possibility to safely and variedly combine features is actually more important in my eyes than singular features.

 

...I think that we're not even close to the optimum, in any program (maybe Houdini...), and that the "optimum" in that respect will ultimately look more like a programmer's IDE than an artist's app. Duh. Dunno.

 

On 11/30/2019 at 2:55 PM, 3D-Pangel said:

Toby Pitman, saying " Sorry - I can't do subscriptions" in his Twitter feed and moving to Blender

 

Not sure what to think about that. Personally, I hate subscriptions and will avoid them like the plague. (I don't hate paying for new stuff or even maintenance, but the concept of "pay forever or you lose everything" is a peeved poor choice, and I will not do that.)

 

But currently there are still Perpetuals for C4D, and I'm on the fence about what message moving away sends. Will MAXON rethink their (projective) pricing and make the Perpetuals affordable on the MSA level (we don't have final R22 prices yet)? Will Perpetuals stay forever? I'm not going to warm up the whole discussion again, but I would like to express "Hey MAXON, I'm willing to stay on board but I don't do subscriptions and expect Perpetuals to be handled with the same attention and a comparable pricing as the subscriptions you think you can push..." Not just "Hey there's Blender too, goodbye thx". There are, after all, serious losses involved with changing the app.

 

Although, in the end I wonder how this all will play out.

 

Maybe I should start programming a MoGraph-like feature for Blender. Think anyone would be interested in that? May take a while as I haven't yet looked at the Blender API.

 

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  • 7 hours ago, Cairyn said:

     

    What will get interesting: sooner or later, Blender will need a serious and thorough core revamp. Which will break many many things, and require a concentrated centralized effort, instead of just tacking on a new feature. I'm curious how well that will go, and when it will happen. I whould certainly hope for a program philosophy that combines the strengths of C4D, Houdini, and Blender itself, but sadly these are not always valid combinations 😉

     

     

    Blender already went through two complete overhauls so far: 2.49-->2.5 and 2.79-->2.8

     

    The core got a major update and modernization in 2.8. 2.8 broke everything (plugins, things like accelerated openSubDiv), and now we are seeing the fruits of these updates.

     

    It will only get better with each release. Already are plugins available which allow for a nodal modeling workflow, similar (but not as advanced yet) to Houdini.

    For example, Sverchok :

     

    I played with it, and it is loads of fun.

    7 hours ago, Cairyn said:

    Maybe I should start programming a MoGraph-like feature for Blender. Think anyone would be interested in that? May take a while as I haven't yet looked at the Blender API.

    If you do, and it is as easy to use (or better) as MoGraph, you probably have a winner on your hands, and could sell it on the Blender Market. But you might also destroy that market for MAXON. :wackywink:

    Or become a Blender developer and integrate your work in the core!

    Anyway, I am pretty convinced that someone, sooner rather than later, will implement a similar feature in Blender. Seems a logical progression to me.

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    11 hours ago, Cairyn said:

    Maybe I should start programming a MoGraph-like feature for Blender.

    There's a free node based addon (plugin) called animation nodes that has similar functionality to C4D mograph. I heard on a padcast that the developer of Animation Nodes now has full-time position at the Blender Institute, and is working on updateing the particle system within Blender amoungst other things.

     

     

     

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    I plan to put a big effort into learning Blender this winter. I am on V19 and will stay here until C4D becomes a better product for me again or until I switch to Blender completely. I was very excited about the ability to turn tri's to quads in this new version. Evee is really something, one big problem C4D has in my workflow is that I have to turn off so many things to animate more than 2 characters in the viewport efficiently and Blender might not have that problem. I'll find out this winter. 

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    I want to learn Blender as well. I have a license for R21, but cannot use it, as I only have a Vray license for R20. I mostly work with R18 today, as I have some other plugins that would need a new license key for R19+. R18 is still working fine. I do not miss the new features since R18 a lot.

    On the other hand, there is a Vray plugin available for Blender, which means that Blender may be a competitor for all kinds of CG software in future.

    Functionality can be added easily in Blender, as the source code is available. 

    I see interesting times ahead.

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    On 12/2/2019 at 7:44 PM, Cairyn said:

    Huh. I have worked with instable software, and it is a nightmare and a money sink. Stability and reliability are fairly important, and you can only achieve these with the right structural development method. Imagine you develop a character for animation, and when almost done, you find that under these specific circumstances sadly the jiggle deformer doesn't work at all (when all the documentation and all your previous tests told you it would). And you really need the jiggle deformer. And it's too deeply entrenched in the program's structure to be farmed out to another DCC app. So, you go back to your director and say... "Boss, we can't have Father Christmas' belly jiggling, the program doesn't do it". Uh. Not good.

     

    Yes...stability is important. No argument there, but my point was that history has shown that thinking that "stability" will preserve market share alone is not necessarily a wise choice.  By example I was pointing to Lucent which was a bellwether telecom company.  Lucent was slow to market on some products because they made sure that the product was stable as a rock and would last forever in the field.  They charged a premium for this stability.  Now telecommunications infrastructure has to be stable and redundant because if networks go down, commerce stops and (in the case of emergency services like fire and ambulance or hospitals) lives could be put at risk.  So it should be a no brainer that you pay that premium for stability and you wait longer than most for new features and capabilities to insure that you always get a stable product.

     

    Well, that did not happen in the big telecom run-up of the 1990's.  Being first to market with the new shiny feature won the day and today Lucent no longer exists.

     

    So when I said "stability is important but this is just DCC software after all" I was inferring that lives will not be lost and financial markets will not shut down should you lose your work on an animation...but they will when your entire network crashes or is hacked.  Telecommunication network providers get quite angry in those situations and threaten all sorts of nasty things like law suits, full page ads in the Wall Street Journal blasting your product, etc.  But still, they tossed the need for buying stable telecommunication gear and software out the window in rush to keep their networks competitive in the dot-com run-up of the 1990's.

     

    So while we all love MAXON's passion for stability, in the face of all the other things we don't like such as subscriptions and waiting forever for features, MAXON should not ignore Blender that doesn't have as strong a reputation for stability but is winning on a number of other issues like cost and features . 

     

    Stability alone did not save Lucent...and my hope is that MAXON recognizes  that stability is not going keep people dedicated to C4D in the face of something as universally distasteful as subscriptions (or conversely massive price increases on perpetual licenses).

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    I've been playing with Blender since the announcement that C4D would start on the subscription model... and even though, initially it was a major pain to figure out even the basic things (navigating through a scene, scaling, rotating, etc..) suddenly it all became natural and intuitive. I think this is not a "perfect software" and "wow, it is so much better than C4D" but for at least the things I need, toon shading instant preview, great workflow on grouping shaders and using them as reference to other materials without any problem, modelling, and all the symmetry options.. indeed, it feels like a breath of fresh air. 

    I decided to pay for the C4D new license of r21 for one year, since I depend on the software to work (I still have my r18 license) and I thought it would be a major jump, specially with character animation (which is my main job as a freelancer) and to be honest, it was disappointing...  bone glow is a bit of an improvement, but the mirroring of weights, and a lot of things are still super clumky and same as the previous versions. I started playing with rigging inside Blender, and it was just.. so..  mindblowing. Being able to add new polygons or remove them on an already rigged character without destroying the whole thing...  fine tuning the weight painting and already having it perfectly mirrored and normalized on the other side without extra clicks.. and, by accident, I also discovered I had rigged a character with the mirror modifier still applied on, and it still worked perfectly!! Just half of the polygons, and completely rigged, left arm and right arm working independently, and even after applying the modifier, all the weight were applied intuitively.
    And, most important of all, the transfer weight system, in case you want to include a t-shirt on your already rigged character.. it just works!! the weight is transfered perfectly even if the t-shirt has more or less polygons in the same areas. Feels like witchcraft! C4D's VAMP is not helpful on that area at all.. it works nicely for some of the things, pose morphs, etc.. but for transfering weights, at least for me, is 1 out of 10 chances to work. 

    I love C4D, and I dont think I will be one of the guys saying "Goodbye C4D forever!!" I am super thankful that this was one of the easiest 3D softwares to get into back in the day, and how intuitive (much more than Blender) to start making things. The object manager from C4D, the hierarchy and etc, feels so much better, and I will still be using it for a long time, specially when it comes to mograph (which, let's agree, it is one of the best features ever). But I wont be renewing my license next year. I will stay with my R18 old license. And I know this is a big software, that is super difficult to do a major overhaul with features. But I dont know.. I felt that, with the new subscription model, things would be improved at a faster rate. Like a much better character animation system, not just mixamo premade integrations or the premade character rigs... I want to be able to work efficiently on my own custom rigs. Also we need, very badly, a much better Interactive Render Region.  The current one we have.., with the refresh rate.. it is just, unusable, specially when working with cel shading. 

    I am hopeful that C4D will catch up, and aware that the dev team has a giant task ahead. I think this competition will be good for everyone. It will help 3D companies to rethink and push boundaries when they see what Blender is offering, out of the box, at a zero cost.

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