Animation is one of the most important parts of any type of production whether it be for 3d animated movies, commercials, live-action films. Video games or video game cinematics. Blender is a 3d software that can do professional work but is it really good when it comes to animation. To answer this question we are going to break things down so anyone can understand what we are talking about.
Character animation is the most important forms of animation, the hardest and the most time consuming one.
Since the beginning Blender was intended to be an animation 3d software because it was created by people who worked in the animation studio called NeoGeo back in the early 90s. Even though it’s development was slow compared to the other 3d software in the industry but it kept growing ng and becoming better none the less.
Today Blender comes equipped with some of the best animation tools.
Blender’s animation feature set offers:
- Character animation pose editor
- Non-Linear Animation (NLA) for independent movements
- IK forward/inverse kinematics for fast poses
- Sound synchronization
Also, we can’t forget rigging is a vital part of any animation pipeline because a mediocre rigging can hinder the animator’s job, limit the flexibility of characters and the possibilities of what can be done in animation overall.
Blender offers a set of rigging tools including:
- Envelope, skeleton and automatic skinning
- Easy weight painting
- Mirror functionality
- Bone layers and colored groups for organization
- B-spline interpolated bones
These rigging and animation tools can be used to animate all types of characters from human beings, animals, beasts, monsters you name it.
BLENDER came a long way in the last few years and some people who do character animation for a living are relying on it to get their job done.
in addition to the Blenders animation and rigging tools, there are plugins that you can use to make the process faster and more efficient. a lot of these plugins are not free because developers need to be paid for their work and the time they spend creating these tools to make the lives of animators easier.
2_non character animation
There is also a lot of animation work that needs to be done other than animating characters.
Basically, anything that moves no matter how simple its movement is can be rigged and animated.
Some of the things that need complex Rigs and convincing animation are vehicles from cars, buses. Airplanes helicopters and so on, they need to be good and convincing as well. Nowadays there are some good add-ons and plugins that can do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to rigging and animating vehicles but artists are still required to work on its realism and polishing the final animation.
Blender has all the tools necessary to do all these types of rigs and animations without problems because the same tools we use for characters can apply to the rest of things.
Also, weapons are another thing that needs advanced Riggs and realistic animation.especially in the first-person shooter video games, there are specialized artists for creating these weapons and achieving realistic animations that can deceive the human eye. When we are talking about weapons everything that is an extension of a character when fighting can be considered a weapon and it will need its own rig and animation.
Blender is one of the few 3d software that has the ability to draw and create 2D animation. This is possible in blender using the grease pencil which is a system that was created years ago and it became much better lately.
Grease Pencil is basically a particular type of Blender object that allows you to draw in the 3D space. It Can be used to make traditional 2D animation, cut-out animation, motion graphics or use it as a storyboard tool among other things.
The grease pencil will open the door for navigating new possibilities using Blender. recently it was used to create a short 2d film called hero which was entirely created using the grease pencil. also, it is being used by storyboard artists to simplify all stages of making animated movies. It allows artists to plan more effectively, pitch ideas to other people more clearly, and avoid problems during production.
motion graphics is not about creating complicated animations. Most of the time, they are just focused on geometry distortion tricks, arrays and some particles with texts.
Blender’s animation tools and Eevee render engine for real-time feedback is making the possibility of creating advanced motion graphics better than it was a few years ago. Of course, blender needs to see more development to be like cinema 4d or Houdini when it comes to motion graphics but it can right now create cool stuff none the less.
If we take a lot at where blender was ten years ago we can’t say it was in a good place compared to the other 3d animation programs. it wasn’t equipped with enough of the necessary tools to be used in professional productions, and it was generally speaking regarded as a hobbyist software because it was only used by beginners and people who didn’t really make money from 3d work as a primary source of income.
Today however things are different because you can easily find hundreds of people using Blender to do animation work professionally especially freelancers, small studios and indie video game developers.
Blender offers a lot of tools for animators to do their job properly and some animation artists that don’t necessarily work for a studio are using blender in addition to Maya and others are even migrating their work completely to blender, first of all, because it can do the work just fine and second it is free which is great for people who can’t afford to pay the extra money for licenses or small studios that are operating on a tight budget.
When it comes to professional productions whether we are talking about AAA video game development, 3D animation movies and live-action Hollywood movies Blender has a long way to go.
Blender has only recently proven that it can be part of a professional production pipeline and get the work done without serious problems, studios are starting to use it slowly but the lion share is still for software such as Maya,3ds Max, Cinema4d, and Houdini. Because they were used in the industry forever and tools and pipelines were created and developed around these software.
Also when it comes to animation schools, Blender is not there yet. For now, one of the best ways to learn animation for Blender is from online tutorials from experienced artists and courses created by professionals or online schools that teach you pretty much everything you need to learn.
Teaching blender in animation schools and it’s usage in the industry goes hand in hand and they are highly correlated because schools prepare students to work in the industry and they teach them the software that is used in the industry which makes sense.
If Blender wants to be part of the animation industry it needs to keep going strong as it is going now, also time is a very important part of the equation.
Like any other discipline in 3d, learning animation is not that easy because animation artists that are good today spent years and thousands of hours honing their craft to learn how create convincing and smooth animations. Animation is highly technical also highly artistic because for example learning how to create complex functional rigs can take years and a lot of experience to master, also you need sometimes to have a solid knowledge of scripting languages to do Things that need to be customized for a particular situation.
animation in of itself is something we see every day in our lives, it is very hard to trick the human brain to believe In an animation work that is not well done because we as human beings have brains that understand weight, speed, and the physics of the real world and we can tell where the animation is respecting that or not in a fraction of a second, most people can’t tell why the animation is not realistic but they will definitely tell if there is something wrong with it.
The answer to our question is yes blender is very good for animation, it can do professional work and you can use it to make a living as an animator, but using blender does have some limitations, those limitations are not necessarily technical but rather they are related to learning it and finding work using it.
As we said before animation schools don’t really teach blender as part of their curriculum for the time being, and this might change in the future. Also working for the best studios is not possible currently for Blender users but as I said before 3d animation skills are transferable across different software, so if you become a professional animator using blender you can learn the other software such as Maya in a shorter period of time because you already understand the principles and the techniques of animation and it is just a matter of learning how to use different tools. This is what a lot of artists are doing switching from Blender to Maya or from Maya to Blender.
And this proves that it is possible, so focus on learning Blender if you want to work as an animator, even if you are not going to find work in a big studio you will be able join a small studio or an indie development team that will allow you to work on creative projects that will probably propel you forward through knowledge and experience to find work on larger studios, which is an entirely possible scenario due to the huge amount of entertainment projects that take place every year.
I use blender right now .. but I use the older version 2.78 or 2.79 I use it as a hoppy and have done short clips for YouTube .
I used Lightwave many years ago but prefer blender .. I also have Zbrush which I use to do my characters then transfer to blender to finish them.. I like to know any in the San Antonio and Schertz area to contract me
I use blender and Zbrush and would like to get in touch with anyone in San Antonio or Schertz