Review: “Blender Compositing and Post Processing” by Mythravarun Vepakomma, ebook from Packt Publishing (2014)

March 17, 2014

*Disclaimer and Introduction*

1127OS_Cover_0.jpgI was asked by Packt Publishing to write a short, independent review for “Blender Compositing and Post Processing” in exchange for a free copy of the ebook.

Since the Blender Compositing Nodes (next to the Blender VSE, the Video Sequence Editor) are one of my absolute favourite feature in Blender I decided to go for it: I like to use them for post processing video footage/creating looks and love the fact that you can do this with Blender (a very powerful free and open-source 3D etc. solution) on all major platforms/can share your .blends across all those platforms!

So this is my personal, general impression of the “Blender Compositing and Post Processing” ebook while being someone with a more creative mind rather than a technical one:

*DRM free*

First thing I noticed is that the ebook comes without DRM (Digital Rights (or as some say “Restriction”)) management and you can download it in four different formats. I went for the .pdf version.

*Structure*

The ebook seems very well structured. It starts off with a condensed overview for all chapters and at the end of each chapter there is a brief summary of what you’ve just read. This allows you to quickly find/read what you are looking for when you need it/to just dive into those topics that you feel not so familiar with. At the end of the ebook there is an Index with the most important keywords/page numbers where to find those topics in the text.

*Target Audience*

The ebook probably requires some basic Blender knowledge or some familiarity with (3D, video) post production related technical terms/concepts. I think you could use it with not much prior know-how but would need to do some extra research (Wikipedia, Blender Wiki etc.) in order to really understand what it all means/find it useful. More to this at the end of *Content, Approach and Concept*.

*Content, Approach and Concept*

While I was very pleased with the ebook’s structure I was (a bit) disappointed by the fact that this is not what may be called a “workbook”. While there are many visual examples for e.g. how a particular Node works you won’t find more complex examples for Node set-ups to re-create.

For those new to Blender/Nodes a short introduction to the concept: basically compositing in Blender works via “Nodes”, individual sort of filters etc. that allow you to manipulate an image/a series of images in a very specific way while you can combine those filters etc./the order in which they are applied to your 3D renders or footage by connecting those Nodes via sort of wires called “Noodles” and this way create your own very complex set of filters etc. using a very flexible tree like structure. This concept is much more powerful as compared to what you can do in your average image manipulation or video editing programme where you usually only can lay one filter on top of another one and combinations therefore are limited…

My feeling is that a technical minded person or someone with a compositing background/coming from another 3D programme etc. would probably be able to quickly get started with compositing in Blender using this ebook. Someone with a more creative mind who likes/needs to play around with actual examples/set-ups in order to grasp the concepts on a visual or sort of holistic level might need to invest more time and would need to do extra research in order to be able to fully understand the concepts introduced in this ebook.

*Summary and Thoughts*

“Blender Compositing and Post Processing” seems to be a well structured, clearly written ebook that explains the basic concepts involved you need to know in order to get started with using the very powerful free and open-source 3D programme Blender (available for all major platforms, .blends can be shared across all platforms) for post processing either your 3D renders or video footage.

This ebook seems to either requires some prior related technical understanding or the will to research/experiment on your own if you start from scratch. It is not a “workbook” in the sense that you won’t find more complex example Node set-ups to re-create.

I think from a learning point of view (and for the purpose of having fun with the Blender Compositing Nodes/learning them while playing around with them) this ebook could be accessible to an even wider audience with either one or two extra chapters that show how-to re-create specific Node set-ups (like e.g. a toon look, that’s always lots of fun) or the introduction of a practical example section/project for those chapters where appropriate.

*Thanks!*

I hope this general, personal review was both helpful and describes the ebook in a meaningful and adequate way, thanks for reading, have fun with Blender, the very powerful Compositing Nodes and if you choose so with this ebook!

Valentin Spirik, March 2014


4th crowd-funded Blender movie: open-source VFX in Amsterdam

February 17, 2012

While unfortunately I just missed the deadline for getting a credit in the movie I still of course pre-ordered my Project Mango DVD, the Blender Institute’s new open-movie project! This one is about upgrading Blender in the visual effects (VFX) department.

I do have a feeling that they could need one or the other new feature for post production/editing on the way and this can only be good for Blender’s VSE (Video Sequence Editor) –  my tool of choice for (video) editing, a wonderful minimal style – yet quite powerful – free and open-source solution that works on/across all platforms: share/edit your .blends across Linux, Windows or Mac – this simply just works!

Concept art: CC 3.0, Blender Foundation

From the press release:

The new short film – code named Mango – is a short story about a disastrous break-up that almost leads to the destruction of planet Earth. It will be filmed on several locations in Amsterdam. A team of six artists and three developers will be working for half a year on realising the visual effects for the film. As for previous short films, the online community will be able to assist on tasks as well. Premiere is being targeted at September 2012.

The 3D tool Blender – open source since 2002 – has steadily been growing to become a popular and serious 3D package for artists. This is thanks to the very active participation of its online community; 3D artists, 3D developers, studios and universities all over the world. A recent development is that also renowned Hollywood studios are opening up parts of their technology. Blender will be the first program to bring together work from ILM (OpenEXR, Alembic), Sony Pictures Imageworks (OpenShading, OpenColor, OpenImageIO) and Disney (PTex).

Check out the project’s blog, pre-order your own copy and support open-source VFX/video post production – as recent months have shown it is indeed a very good idea to have (open-source) alternatives ready: the apple that looked so fresh only a while ago now seems more and more rotten down to the core with every day going by…!

Update: I just saw that yesterday Blender 2.62 was released: see the release log, download Blender for your platform or read the announcement and discussion on Blendernation.


Blender 2.60 is here: open-source 3D, Compositing and Video Post are about to take off now…!

October 20, 2011

From Blender 2.5x to Blender 2.60

Yesterday the Blender Foundation released Blender 2.60:

Download for all platforms.

While the previous Blender 2.5x series was all about making Blender ready for a wider user base (switch to an intuitive User Interface, a new Animation System, Color Management/linear workflow and much more) the Blender 2.60 series now focuses on upgrading Blender in some key areas important for those looking for a free and open-source all in one video post, compositing, special effects/3D package:

VSE Proxy Support now and Motion/Camera Tracking coming soon…

Sequence editor proxy support (missing in 2.5x) is now restored:

“Proxies are lower resolution versions of image or video files, that can be used instead of the full resolution for faster editing. Additionally to the way Blender 2.49 worked where you could make proxies for individual strips, you can now select several strips at once and build proxies in the background.”

Basically this means that Blender 2.60 is not only a platform independent NLE (edit/share your .blends across Linux, Windows or Mac), but Blender 2.60 with Sequence Editor proxy support brings high-end free and open-source video editing to almost any PC you might be using: the Blender VSE (Video Sequence Editor) works quite well even on older hardware recycled with e.g. Linux Mint.

New Blender versions are coming out every two months now and while 2.60 is great news the truth is that there are many now waiting for Blender 2.61 – expected to be released mid-December: Motion/Camera tracking (!) as well as Cycles, the new render engine, will be added.

You can always check out unofficial builds and test/use the new features months ahead of a release via those builds available from GraphicAll.org.

Extend Blender, Mango and links for new users

Blender can be extended via Add-Ons (scripts), either write your own in Python or get those from the Blender 2.5 Scripts Catalog (learn how-to install an Add-On). For new users e.g. the Compositing Presets or for editors the Jump to Cut Add-On may be of interest…

The Blender Foundation’s current open-movie project (previously Elephant’s Dream, Big Buck Bunny, Sintel) is called Mango, a “Sci-fi in Amsterdam” and “with real actors, 3-5 minutes”. Basically this one is about upgrading Blender in the SFX department.

For documentation see the BlenderWiki.

For community support see the Blender Artists Forums.

For “Fresh Blender News, Every Day” see BlenderNation.

For “Developer musings on Blender” see the Blender developer Blog.

For more about Blender and video post production see the Blender’s VSE blog.

You can also still check out my old Blender 2.4x Presets for editing and 2D titles via my tutorials page. (Learn the basics using the old/classic Blender 2.49b and then switch to Blender 2.60.)

If you want to report a bug here is a good place to start.

Blender is a truly amazing piece of software. Blender means high-end 3D, video editing and compositing for everyone. On every platform. For free.

Blender is Power to the People.


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