Following my review of the Blender CG animation software this is a report on my progress with learning to use it.
The gingerbread man illustrating this post was modelled by following the Your First Animation in 30 plus 30 Minutes exercise at wiki.blender.org. It is a written exercise that guides you through the process of modelling the figure and making a walk animation. It has numerous illustrations and a concise description of the steps required.
There is no denying that hand-drawn animation is out of favour in the commercial cinema. The trend towards computer graphic (CG) animation started in 1995 with Toy Story from Pixar. This was followed by Toy Story 2 and 3. The DreamWorks studios jumped on the CG bandwagon with Shrek (2001) which was also very successful and led to sequels. The last hand drawn Disney feature film, The Princess and the Frog (2009), was a disappointment at the box office when compared with successful CG animation.
Where does this leave the home animator who may have ambitions to break into the animation business? CG animation is probably the best way to go. Unfortunately the kind of software used by the major studios would be very expensive for a young animation enthusiast to purchase, even in the student version. Fortunately the Blender Foundation have made CG animation software available free of charge. They rely on donations and volunteers to develop and improve the software.
Lighthouse (2008) animated with Blender.
Sophisticated computer animation programs such as Autodesk Maya, Softimage and 3ds Max can cost thousands but there is a free program called Blender that offers many of the same features. Some impressive animation has been produced with Blender including Lighthouse (2008), Kajimba Trailer (2009) and Sintel