Well, it’s been a long old time since I’ve written anything up here, mostly due to the last bout of my studies being taken up with the dissertation; a mahoosive exercise in research and writing, mine being on the usage of hands in animation, as a communication device and a form of character development. It was largely an enjoyable task, being a keen reader and enthusiastic but not overly talented writer. Anyhow, it now feels great to have it done and after a short restful spot of getting back on track this spring, with my beloved allotment and garden, I’ve been coming to terms with a new piece of software, Blender.
There are a number of reasons that have precipitated this new bout of learning; firstly, it’s free, open-source and super easy to install (unlike Maya which as the industry standard is expensive, especially to my students), secondly it’s being more frequently flagged up as a tool that is used itself in industry, the powerful functionality and broad appeal of its rendering quality, sculpting tool and vfx capabilities make it a great fit for teaching.
In many ways it is preferable to Maya, so far its been really solid, not crashing once and although I’ve not tested it at all, the motion paths in Maya always made it laggy, Blender seems to take it all in its stride. The graph editor is really intuitive and the manipulation of the handles and keys is great. The ease to which you can pull out and scale new windows is cool and I’ve finally sorted my OCD issues with the keymap, something that many people online have struggled with. I’ve gone for the Industry Compatible keymap setting but have this overridden by an autohotkey script that switches alt and spacebar in Blender, when the mouse hovers over the Blender window, this makes viewport navigation soooooooooo much easier with your fingers resting on QWER and your thumb on spacebar, happy bunny 🙂
One of the excellent additions to the graph editor, that I could not readily see in usage in Maya is the ability to very easily in the viewport adjust the key, and the handles through the numerical sliders, this makes it an easy way to accurately adjust timings and curves.
Also, I really like the addition of the modifiers to the curves as well, a quick way to add noise and random adjustments.