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Getting support: the Blender community
Being freely available from the start, even while closed source, helped a lot in Blender’s adoption. A large, stable and active community of users has gathered around Blender since 1998.
The community showed its best in the crucial moment of freeing Blender itself, going Open Source under GNU GPL in late summer 2002.
The community itself is now subdivided into two, widely overlapping sites:
- The Development Community, centered around the Blender Foundation site. Here you will find the home of the development projects, the Functionality and Documentation Boards, the CVS repository with Blender sources, all documentation sources, and related public discussion forums. Developers coding on Blender itself, Python scripters, documentation writers, and anyone working for Blender development in general can be found here.
- The User Community, centered around the independent site BlenderArtists. Here Blender artists, Blender gamemakers and Blender fans gather to show their creations, get feedback on them, and ask for help to get a better insight into Blender’s functionality. Blender Tutorials and the Knowledge Base can be found here as well.
These two websites are not the only Blender resources. The Worldwide community has created a lot of independent sites, in local languages or devoted to specialized topics. A constantly updated listing of Blender resources can be found at the above mentioned sites.
For immediate online feedback there are three IRC chat channels permanently open on irc.freenode.net. You can join these with your favorite IRC client:
- #blenderchat for general discussion of blender.
- #blenderqa for asking questions on Blender usage.
- #gameblender for discussion on issues related to game creation with Blender’s included game engine.
For developers there is also:
- #blendercoders for developers to ask questions and discuss development issues, as well as a meeting each Sunday at 4 pm Netherlands time (i.e. GMT+1 in winter, and GMT+2 in summer…).
- #blenderpython for discussion of the Python API and script development.
- #blenderwiki for questions related to editing the wiki (i.e. documentation).
Who uses Blender?
New releases of Blender are downloaded by more than a million people around the world just in the first ten days of release. This figure spans all platforms (Windows, GNU/Linux, and MacOS) and does not include redistribution, which is fully authorized and unrestricted. We estimate there are in excess of two million users. This manual is written to serve the wide array of talented people that use Blender:
- Hobbyist/Student that just wants to explore the world of computer graphics (CG) and 3D animation.
- 2D artist that produces single image art/posters or enhances single images as an image post-processing lab.
- 2D artist or team that produces cartoon/caricature animations for television commercials or shorts (such as “The Magic of Amelia”).
- 3D artist that works alone or with another person to produce short CG animations, possibly featuring some live action (such as “Suburban Plight”).
- 3D team that produces an animated (100% CG) movie (such as “Elephant’s Dream”, “Plumiferos”, “Big Buck Bunny”, “Sintel”).
- 3D team that works together to produce live action movies that include some CG.
A wide range of age groups, from teenagers to oldsters, use Blender, and the user community is fairly evenly divided between novice and professional graphic artists; those occasional users as well as commercial houses. We can divide the 2D and 3D teams that produce movies and animations further into individual job categories. Those that use Blender include:
- Director – Defines what each scene should contain, and the action (animation) that needs to occur within that scene. Defines shots (camera takes) within that scene.
- Modeler – Makes a virtual reality. Specialties include Character, Prop and Landscapes/Stage modelers.
- Cameraman, Director of Photography (DP) – Sets up the camera and its motion, shoots the live action, renders the output frames.
- Material Painter – Paints the set, the actors, and anything that moves. If it doesn’t move, he paints it anyway!
- Animation and Rigging Specialist – Makes things hop about using armatures.
- Lighting and Color Specialist – Lights the stage and sets, adjusts colors to look good in the light, adds dust and dirt to materials, scenes, and textures.
- Special Purpose talent – Fluids, motion capture, cloth, dust, dirt, fire, explosions, you know, the fun stuff…
- Editor – Takes all the raw footage from the DP and sequences it into an enjoyable movie. Cuts out unnecessary stuff.