The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.78b, the latest version of its open-source 3D software.
As the ‘b’ at the end of the version number suggests, it’s primarily a maintenance update to Blender 2.78, but it also significantly boosts the speed of renders using Blender’s Cycles engine on shots with motion blur.
Based on work done on the animation tests for animated feature Agent 327
Blender 2.78b incorporates new work done on Cycles for its ‘Barbershop‘ animation test for Agent 327, the Blender Institute’s first animated feature. You can see a clip above.
According to the development blog, the update improves render speed in shots with motion blur, particularly those which also feature hair simulation.
In the Agent 327 team’s tests, optimisations to the bounding boxes for hair led to a 10x increase in render speed, and applying the same methods to actual character geometry, a further 8x.
Blender 2.78b is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The software is open-source.
Updated 14 February 2017: The Blender Foundation is now planning to release Blender 2.78c, a bugfix update to resolve issues with Blender 2.78b. It’s likely to ship later today.