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Ubisoft joins Blender Development Fund to support open-source animation (ubisoft.com)
350 points by kragniz 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments

Hopefully, Krita[1], GIMP[2], and Inkscape[3] will get a similar amount of support.

[1] https://krita.org/en/support-us/donations/

[2] https://www.gimp.org/donating/

[3] https://inkscape.org/support-us/donate/

Has GIMP meaningfully improved in the last 5 years? Every time I've had to use it I've been confused by the lack of features and strange UI.

2.10 was a big release that came out last year. So yes: https://www.gimp.org/release-notes/gimp-2.10.html

There's some good stuff on the roadmap for 3.0 and 3.2 as well: https://wiki.gimp.org/wiki/Roadmap

I've been running into the problem that 8 bits per colour channel is just too little in 2019. You get banding so quickly after certain combinations of operations, I can just feel the bits getting lost in the noise. You can see it by the histogram getting gaps and spikes. Especially with colour curve corrections.

It's getting harder to get modern quality images out of GIMP.

Also some tools that are available in Photoshop, like the many ways to smart select, or to crisp up a selection.

I almost only use GIMP any more for cropping and scaling, anything else, even if the feature is available simply lacks in quality of result.

I used to think the curve bend effect was pretty neat, to do certain types of distortions. But it doesn't do subpixel/anti-aliasing. Then WHY is it still even in there? It's not really that useful and it uses an ancient processing technique that really leaves wanting a lot in image quality.

I haven't tried the other tools mentioned in this thread, but I'm going to give them a try, hopefully they are better.

They recently redid the interface to behave much more like Photoshop by default. It's a lot better.

I had much the same experience as you, but the new UI update is similar to the Blender UI update in that it's incredibly more usable.

How long ago did GIMP get a UI update?

Krita is amazing, I switched to it from Gimp and it was a breath of a fresh air. Can't really say the same about the Gimp though, it is a bit redundant given how dated its UI is and how mature Krita is already.

Don't they do different things? GIMP is for general image editing. Krita focuses on painting?

Correct - GIMP is (largely) focused on photo editing, while Krita is (largely) focused on digital painting. Although GIMP/Photoshop definitely support a digital painting workflow with custom brushes and the like - it's just not the primary focus.

I would not say so. Gimp is (arguably) a very long evolution of an mspaint that copyied many tools and workflow from a Photoshop, Krita is an attempt to re-implement Photoshop from scratch.

I wouldn't say Krita is not suitable for general editing, because Photoshop is also dual purpose tool - it is an industry standard both for digital artists and general photo manipulation.

"Arguably" in the sense that you just decided to claim something that has no relation to reality? Like Ghostbusters 2 was "arguably" the highest grossing movie ever made in Albania by a crew of chipmunks?

Gimp starts off as an emergency last minute replacement project for two undergrads at Berkeley that does basically the same thing as Photoshop. It wasn't ever anything like Microsoft's Paint.

I am not sure why of all my entire comment you decided to lash at a single word.

My argument still stays, gimp never was and still nowhere is near the Photoshop level. Krita excels both as painting and photo tool.

You're right, the quality of Gimp is nowhere near Photoshop. Photoshop has tons of rounding errors and the results never look as good as Gimp.

Here's a concrete example, something completely absent from your "argument":

Old Photoshop from that era defaults to a single RGB layer. To turn it into an RGBA layer (e.g. for drawing objects with a transparent background) you need to rename the layer. Not very intuitive but Photoshop users learned to do it. In early Gimp 0.x releases how do you turn the initial single RGB layer into an RGBA layer? You rename it. This is not a coincidence.

In contrast in mspaint there are no layers, there is no RGBA mode.

Notice that I did never attacked you directly, but you keep making subtle personal attacks with snarky quotes and nitpicking. (Is it some kind of religious anger? Are we in a holy-war territory?).

Gimp is a classic old open source project in it's bad and good. It has a preset for toilet paper rolls, but it took it like a decade to support a single window mode, it has an option to rename a layer to switch to rgba mode but there is still no support for generic keyboard layouts from other software other than importing configs and resolving to third party tools (something that krita and most modern IDE routinely do)

Gimp is an emacs of photo editing that stuck in old conventions and never wants to really move forward, I could not use it a decade ago and still can't use nowadays.

I always say that gimp is so shit it comes with toilet paper. -GIMP user since 2008

They have different focus, but both are raster editors. They do compete with each other.

I love those drawn looking animation videos for games like The Burdens of Shaohao https://g.co/kgs/419Tq1 but are there any video game examples where those tools would be beneficial? My video game knowledge is not wide enough. Blender I can definitely see.

Any 2D game basically, and some assets for 3D games as well.

For examples of 2D games with great graphics, take a look at: Mark of The Ninja, Hollow Knight, Limbo, Stardew Valley, Rayman Legends.

The amount of hand-drawn animation that went into Cuphead is a marvel.

There a bunch of really interesting examples just using Ubisoft's UbiArt framework such as Rayman Legends, Child of Light, and Valiant Hearts.

Speaking of Ubisoft and open source, Ubisoft originally announced UbiArt as an engine/framework intended to be open sourced. It's a shame that Ubisoft never followed up on that promise.

Supposedly it hasn't been used for a game since 2015 because it was "hard to use", but that seems more of a reason to open source it, perhaps to see if community interest could help where internal-only work struggled. A lot of open source starts hard to use and takes a village to make it better. (Blender, also mentioned here, might just be a poster child of that, too.)

As far as I know it's still used for Just Dance series. It definitely was when I worked on JD2016 and I don't think the engine was changed after that. And yes, in my (personal) opinion UbiArt was extremely difficult to use compared to some other engines within Ubisoft nowadays.

And yes, speaking of Ubisoft and open source - Sharpmake is a build management solution used by a lot of projects within Ubisoft and it was open sourced some time ago. Worth having a look.

Having grown up during the heyday of (good and terrible) flash games I can't stand the kind of vector art style that games like Hollow Knight have - it looks unprofessional to me, to the point where I'd rather play a worse game with pixel art.

I know Hollow Knight is fantastic, but it reminds my brain far too much of amateurish flash games.

Yes? 2D art is useful in both 2D and 3D games (billboard sprites, UI, textures).

In addition to that, a lot of concept art is made with 2D drawing and painting software.

"Not only will Ubisoft help funding online support for Blender developers, Ubisoft Animation Studio – a department of Ubisoft Film and Television – will also use Blender for their productions and assign developers to contribute to Blender’s open source projects."

This seams like a really big deal. It's one thing to try to create a desert of profitability around yourself, which a lot of huge companies giving money to tangential FOSS projects could be construed as. It is quite another to have them commit to use the software internally.

Are there any other large multimedia companies that are known to primarily use FOSS media production programs?

Yes it's a big deal, developers that submit code is probably worth more than the membership which is (only) €30K/year (if my research is correct: https://fund.blender.org/corporate-memberships/), so those 30k will allow them to hire a dev halftime, as blender fund says that 30k are equivalent to "half year developer time".

Well it depends how much those developers will actually contribute, but it's still very good news.

But on the other hand they just got 1.2 million from Epic Games for 3 years ... to me this seems to be a much bigger contribution: https://www.blender.org/press/epic-games-supports-blender-fo...?

> For Corporate Patron (120k/year or more) membership please contact us directly.

I suspect Epic obviously fell into that category.

This happens just 7 days after Epic Games contributed with $1.2m[1]. The future looks bright for Blender. If more companies follow, it might finally have enough funding to give it the development resources that it deserves.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20442131

The link seems to redirect to https://news.ubisoft.com/notfound without any visible content.

Here is the press release from Blender: https://www.blender.org/press/ubisoft-joins-blender-developm...

It seems the Ubisoft news website is a bit buggy, or theres an issue with its cached pages. If you go to the main news page[0], its not there. However, if you click "Latest", it brings to to the same URL, but with the Blender article on top. Clicking that still brings you to the notfound page you linked.

Edit: It's now there on the news home page without having to click "Latest", but it still 404's.


Kudos to blender's marketing team. They get a bit of free money from this. But the true motive for Epic and Unisoft is likely an attempt to strong-arm Autodesk into providing better support and maintainance. Dissatisfaction with Autodesk lack of care for their DCC tools has been growing for a very long time now, but studios also have a huge investment into these tools as parts of their proprietary pipelines. Expect Autodesk to kowtow soon and make sure that none of these companies will make the switch. If it means that Autodesk actually delivers bugfixes for the version the customer has instead of one or two releases down the road, it is a good outcome for the studios.

Blender is replacing an in-house tool, not software licensed from Autodesk. You might have missed the following section from the article

"We decided to transform a workflow centered on in-house software to a more agile development environment supported by open source and inner source solutions. This way, our research and development and pipeline teams could focus their energy on bringing innovative ideas to the table, while working closely with the creatives.

In that new workflow, Blender is replacing our in-house digital content creation tool."

This still feels like a warning to Autodesk. They are replacing what they already can with Blender, and investing the money required to get it to where it needs to be in order to fit their other workflows.

I don’t think Autodesk cares! Pixar bailed on Maya and Autodesk still put Maya on life support (and laid off the Maya R&D team). If arguably the biggest actor in the animation game doesn’t get Autodesk’s attention, why would Ubisoft?

Maybe this new UI change to Blender means it is high time I learn how to use it. Tried it before but couldn't get past left click not doing what I expect left clicking to do, but apparently things are more user friendly now.

The influx of money/talent from Epic and Ubisoft is great though. Blender was, from what I've seen from the outside, looked on affectionately as being a good tool, but maybe this leads to them being a consideration for primary tool (beyond just free) in the way the commercial tools have been.

Small survival kit for new 2.8 users (things you'll probably want to change/configure before use):

1. Set spacebar to "Search". A number of features either don't have keybinding anymore or it's hidden in an obscure menu. Search makes things easier like typing Spacebar > "Walk" > enter to WASD the scene (before it was just Shift-F).

2. Set "F" to focus (like any other 3D tool), in Blender it's still the Numpad . (dot)... never understood this decision. You probably want to change this.

3. Get used to the most used transform keybindings: Move (G), Rotate (R), Scale (S). You can type: `R, X, 45` if you want to Rotate in X 45 deg. This is one of the reasons I like to do basic modeling in Blender and not in Maya. If you need to bring the manipulator like in other 3D software tools, you can right click the manipulators on the left and add them to Quick Favorites (I prefer) or assign them new shortcuts.

Alternatively, you can just change your keyboard bindings to the "Industry compatible" preset in preferences, although I don't recommend this as you lose some of the good keybindings from blender.

I felt the same way and 2.8 has been a HUGE improvement for me. I have a commercial Maya subscription and I have to admit I almost like Blender better at this point. That's less a knock on Maya which is still great, just acknowledging that Blender has come a really long way.

My only small beef is I wish they'd use system dialog boxes for save/load, and texture painting still feels a little clunky.

Blender's build in file browser is really nice once you get used to it. The thing I like most is that a lot of shortcuts you use when 3D modeling also work on files. Things like box selection, invert selection with 'ctrl I', and select all/deselect all with 'A' all work as expected.

The file browser interface is one of my least favorite things about Blender too, but apparently they're working on a big "Assets" update (a brand new interface for browsing and managing not only files but any kind of asset, like Materials etc) which will come after the release of 2.8, so, fingers crossed.

The UI is definitely much nicer now, and the release candidates are very stable. If you'd like to learn, I'd definitely recommend sticking to 2.80 tutorials and not trying to understand 2.79 tutorials. This series [0] is a decent starting point.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF1qEhBSfq4&list=PLa1F2ddGya...

What confuses a novice with Blender is that it has so called "areas" (something like a tiled window manager) and it is very counter-intuitive. For example, when you try to resize an "area" you accidentally create a new one and it is very difficult to remove.

Tried it before but couldn't get past left click not doing what I expect left clicking to do,

Same here, but while that turned out to be a hoop I could go through eventually, the seemingly random API changes from version to version and associated backwards incompatibility of user scripts were not.

It's the other way round for me. I knew my way around the old Blender haven't used it in a while though. Now I dread trying out the new version because it seems to have a completely changed and dumbed down interface.

It's not dumbed down at all. If you can get over the fact that a bunch of stuff has moved into icons and that a few keybindings have changed, it's still very much the same.

I think more than a few keybindings have changed. My muscle-memory is basically useless. I'm also not really sure about the whole icon thing - I doubt I'll be using them. Still, I'm quite happy to see the changes - despite using old blender enough that I have the muscle memory, I still had to look keyboard shortcuts up all the time, which is in my eyes a sign of bad design.

They broke about 99% of the keybindings, however you can use a 2.79 keybinding set. The new tools on the left are 100% useless to me, but I have been testing 2.8 for about a month or 2 now and have gotten used to it. Yes I still use RMB select. If you swap to LMB select the entire functionality of RMB select isn't copied over to LMB select, it a totally different thing. This is really annoying, but one of the few bad things about 2.8.

I was a bit worried about some of that missing functionality - just turned it back to RMB - and yeah, you're absolutely right. I thought stuff like alt-click not working was me just losing my mind. I wanted to learn the new stuff just because I don't want to end up bound to a bunch of input conventions that will end up depreciated - and I don't really care that much about LMB and RMB, or indeed any of the old blender UI, but I don't want to start using the tools on the left, since they are, as you say, useless. I'm more a 'select things, do an operation on them' kinda guy, so using a tool in edit mode (with a few exceptions) is kinda neither here nor there.

Maybe you use Blender differently than I do, but all modeling shortcut keys are still mostly the same and work the same way they used to. I don't use the left-side icons either (I'm not really used to that in a Blender workflow), but aside from using F3 to search for commands instead of space bar, I've been using the same modeling shortcuts from 2.79. Left click took about a week to get used to, but the only problem I've had with 2.8 so far is figuring out how the Eevee engine works.

Well, I noticed a whole bunch last time I started it up. Granted, I haven't had much time to use blender recently, but:

- The orientation controls

- poke faces (Alt-p) doesn't exist

- the selection behaviour (A doesn't seem to deselect any more) - shift-G doesn't work

- W doesn't open a menu any more.

- Shift-tab doesn't change vertex/face/line selection mode any more.

Enough changed that I ended up clicking around the UI a lot. The orientation controls, and stuff starting with W were things I used to use a lot. I think when I get back into it, I'll spend a bit of time figuring it all out and learning the new conventions. I generally like the pie menu thing, and I like the move towards consistency (even if I think mnemonic keybindings are generally better), and Eevee is amazing for composing scenes (I used to hate trying to do lighting and having to wait for a half hour just to see the effect of moving a light a tiny bit).

  - poke faces (Alt-p) doesn't exist
It's in the Face menu, so either select the 'Face' menu dropdown from the viewport header menus, or press Ctrl-F, or press W (context menu) while you have some faces selected.

You can also just right click on the "Poke Faces" menu item, click "Assign Shortcut" and press Alt-P.

  - the selection behaviour (A doesn't seem to deselect any more)
Alt-A clears the selection.

  - shift-G doesn't work
Shift-G does grouped selections, I think this is the same as in 2.79.

  - W doesn't open a menu any more.
The specials menu has gone, replaced by a context-sensitive menu (what a right click might pop up in most apps) So "Poke Faces" is here when faces are selected.

  - Shift-tab doesn't change vertex/face/line selection mode any more.
Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, Ctrl-3.

Well, I feel a little embarrassed now - since you're right, my post was inaccurate. The problem with muscle memory is it's hard to put into text. All I was trying to say is, last time I used blender, I felt a bit like I had three less fingers. Obviously, the functionality is all still there. I even think that a lot of the stuff should change - it's just not the case that only a few of the keybindings changed. It seems to me that a lot of the most-used ones have changed.

What orientation controls? The numpad still behaves exactly the same as it did in 2.79.

The shortcut for poke faces seems to be removed. There have been a few irritating removals, definitely.

By default A selects, double-A deselects. You can revert it to the original behavior in the preferences under the keymaps tab.

The specials menu is now essentially the context menus, they can be opened with right click in left-click mode, or W in right-click mode.

Shift-tab used to toggle snapping and it still does...

I meant the transform orientation controls. I tend to switch transform orientation all the time.

Anyway, about the shift-tab thing - I mixed it up. It's ctrl-tab I meant.

Ah, I actually didn't know about the ctrl-tab shortcut in 2.79, tho the ctrl-1,2,3 seems nice now. And the transform orientation, you mean the alt-space in 2.79? Another bad one removed... tho looks like the shortcut is unused in 2.8, so it could be set.

> Tried it before but couldn't get past left click not doing what I expect left clicking to do, but apparently things are more user friendly now.

Do not expect to master it by just clicking around. It's more like CAD you can do nothing without book/tutorials.

Perhaps for Blender 2.7. With 2.8 I am able to accidentally/organically discover functionality that I was looking for. Tooltips are also vastly improved so that if I am unsure how to use a tool if gives at minimum the things I need to look it up.

Fusion 360 really solved that problem with CAD, most of the features I was able to learn strictly by discovery

OpenSCAD is much better for me than F-360, but then again I'm a coder.

Do you know of any good resources for learning Blender?

If I'm reading correctly, this means they'll pay about €30k / year (see https://fund.blender.org/corporate-memberships/ ), and "assign developers to contribute to Blender's open source projects". The latter is probably higher value, but I'd have preferred if they'd already started before making the announcement.

Otherwise this just feels like previous broken promises: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/125952/Ubisofts_Ancel_Pl...

I'll go ahead and say the quiet part loud, if Blender can create a low cost alternative to Maya and the rest especially for entry and beginning level modelers and animators, this is a great thing.

Isn't it already the case? Blender is somehow popular with indie developers.

I'll counter as devil's advocate here and state that blender is only popular because it's the cheapest option, not because it's actually good. Commercial offerings are still ahead by a lot, especially in usability (the most important aspect for creative tools), but so is their price tag. And the indie developer is a pretty poor idealistic fellow without a production budget from which to afford luxuries like proper tools.

It already did. More to the point, if Blender can create an easy to use and fully functional alternative to closed tools, it would be even better.

Wow, that's so great. This announcement, the one from Epic Games, and the release of v2.8. So many great news for Blender! That makes me really motivated to try out to create a project using it.

I feel like 2.8 preview is what made companies step forward to support it. It was a big step in making blender a more attractive alternative.

Didn't Epic just made a similar announcement?

Anyway, I wish more FOSS projects could copy blenders way of working. They start a very big and ambitious project then update the code to support it. For example Elephants Dream gave them character animation. Big Buck Bunny gave them hair rendering & animation.


I believe this is also the same approach Mozilla have taken with Rust & Servo (although Servo is not quite as production-ready as I was expecting this long down the line, although re-reading the description, perhaps it was always meant to be a cute project, not a browser for the masses)

I think the history of Servo has been retconned a bit. See for example this fluff piece from late 2012, shortly after the project was publicly announced:


"A new rendering engine for Firefox is being developed by Mozilla, and it’s being built from the ground up for multi-core computing environments. Mozilla has delivered some pretty major performance improvements to Firefox over the last few versions. The IonMonkey JavaScript engine is firing on all cylinders, and now it looks as though the Gecko engine may soon be replaced by something much more modern."

If this wasn't Mozilla's intention from the beginning, they certainly didn't do much to temper this enthusiasm or clear up the misunderstanding.


“Laws of Tech: Commoditize Your Complement”


Blender was always somewhat looked down upon, from my own experience seeking resources online. Hopefully this changes people's opinions.

I'm playing with 2.8 today and it's totally changed my opinion. In about 1 hour it's gone from, "Blenders that weird tool that I can never figure out" to "I'd prefer to use Blender over the Autodesk tools I'm more familiar with"

I'm really impressed by the quality of the UI design in the update

Wow, you're right. It looks so much better.

While this is 'good' for the users of the software, isn't it 'bad' for the software industry?

Community funded projects will never match the salaries that companies like AutoDesk pay their developers.

Ton Roosendaal (Blender creator) estimated in 2018 interview that 3D software market is very small, and pulled up Autodesk's (3DsMax/Maya, etc) business results from that time, which amounted to 25000 - 30000 yearly licenses. He also claimed that Maya has "maybe 20" developers behind with things being similar for other products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJEWOTZnFeg (jump to 1h mark)

Ton is underestimating the market considerably, but he's still right in that it's a tiny market. But what he misses is the fact that Autodesk isn't developing its DCC tools for profit. They are for prestige, that is, supported by image marketing rather than sales. So the dev headcount is probably too low as well.

At $1500/yearly subscription, 30,000 licenses is $45 million a year. Don't foreget about everyone who works at Autodesk that isn't a developer but stil involved with the product. And then there are plugin writers (are there commercial plugins for Blender?) and resellers etc

Autodesk does $2.7B/year in revenue. The revenue from 3DsMax and Maya is a rounding error compared to the revenue from their CAD products.

There was some unrest in the community just recently when Ton reminded everybody that Blender is GPL and that commercial plug-ins need to be GPL as well.

It's not a zero-sum game; multiple software that performs the same function can co-exist, and should co-exist. If Autodesk is feeling a pinch on their bottom line because of a free software product, the burden is on them to make a better product; they've certainly had the runway to do so in the past 30 years of building products and acquiring other similar products.

The market is weird and it's currently a zero sum game at best. DCC tools are in this weird little market that has extremely few paying (and mostly cash-strapped) customers, but the software itself is ridiculously complex. IIRC, Maya was estimated at ~5 mio. lines of code when version 1 or 2 was released, and it has gotten much, much more complex since. My understanding is that not all companies selling these programs are in the market for profit. If that goes away, it's likely that everybody loses.

A community funded project could end up with someone like Linus Torvalds or Fabrice Bellard working on it, whereas a company like AutoDesk wouldn't pay enough to hire someone of that calibre.

Don't those people work on things because they want to and not because the community pays them?

There are plenty of high-caliber developers working on commercial products

What are your thoughts between Krita and Gimp? I know a lot of you love Gimp but I find it a bit dated

I don’t recall anyone ever loving gimp, at least beyond it’s GPLness. It’s been the butt (deservedly) of UI jokes for as long as I can remember.

Hey if it hurts Autodesk I'm for it.

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