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Check out 2015’s hottest Blender R&D projects

Monday, January 5th, 2015 | Posted by Jim Thacker

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Blender Foundation chairman Ton Roosendaal has posted his “18 anticipated Blender development projects of 2015”: a list of the major changes expected to the open-source 3D software over the coming year.

The projects, which range from the ongoing overhaul of the user interface to support for stereoscopic workflow, are ranked in order of likelihood, from ‘unknown’ to ‘100%’.

New asset-management and stereo 3D tools
Of the new features, the largest is probably the new asset-management system, originally codenamed Redcurrant, and developed for use on the Project Gooseberry open movie.

That includes both a cloud-based version control and shot review system, rated as 100% likely; and an in-software asset browser to handle asset linking and versioning, rated as 98% likely.

Another major new toolset is Multi View (support for stereoscopic 3D and multi-camera workflows), in development throughout 2014, and now due to be merged in Blender 2.74, the next-but-one stable release.

Raw performance updates
Beneath the hood, Blender’s dependency graph, the core of the animation engine, is being overhauled.

Roosendaal describes the update as “a difficult one to present or promote”, but notes that it is intended to future-proof Blender by ensuring “all updates work reliably [and are] threaded, linkable, massively simulated or [work] in other ways we predict artists will (ab)use Blender animation for the rest of the decade”.

Blender’s viewport – designed using the 20-year-old old OpenGL 1.0 spec – is also being overhauled, with a “decent node editor” for viewport shaders rated at 95% likely.

Support for three VFX-industry-standard technologies – Alembic, OpenSubdiv and Ptex – is also in the works, with all three being rated at 90% likely.

Updates to existing tools
Of the existing toolsets, the hair system is being updated to improve control over physics simulation, “including proper collisions using Bullet”. The update is rated at 100% likely, with a node-based UI 50% likely.

The compositing and motion tracking systems and the Blender game engine are also due for updates, with probabilities given as between 50 and 90%.

Blue-sky thinking
There are also a range of more speculative new developments, including a Python-controlled “generic viewport widget system” designed to reduce on-screen clutter by creating a smarter, context-sensitive UI.

Other blue-sky projects include new mesh-editing tools (rated 100% likely for “surprise”) and an ambitious plan for a single, unified, node-based system to control pretty much everything within Blender.

All in all, it’s a diverse – and ambitious – set of R&D projects. (There’s even a plan for ‘Blender 101’: a version of the software configured for teaching 3D to high school students.) We look forward to seeing them all in action.

Read Ton Roosendaal’s full list of the 18 most anticipated Blender development projects of 2015

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