I’ve been getting really excited about this program lately.. Yes it is a pain to work with, it handles everything differently than other standardized 3D apps, but I think it is worth it for anyone who is interested in 3D production to get involved. The program is constantly being updated too which is amazing, and they keep adding better features which are very useful.
Recently the inclusion of a high quality dynamic simulator called Bullet has peaked my interest. With a few extra tools installed, I can now make some pretty awesome dynamic simulations in blender. Yes other programs can do the same sort of simulations, some do so even better with more features and control, but none of them are free and have this much capability. You just can’t beat that! From someone who has been in the 3D industry doing production work for quit some time, it is just really interesting to see such a capable and feature rich tool being developed as a free app. I would have killed to have a program like blender when I got into 3D, so the kids these days are lucky in my opinion!
You do still need a fairly powerful workstation though to take advantage of it to the fullest though, one thing that still hasn’t changed drastically in 3D is the time it takes to render high quality images with sophisticated effects and realistic lighting. The fairly new cycles render engine in blender is really fantastic, producing some really lovely results, but it is painfully slow.. There is the option of sending out jobs to the big render farms these days, but it is still very expensive to go that route and not something any individual would invest in typically.
Real-time rendering for games keeps on getting better and better though thankfully, and much of that technology has begun to migrate into high end 3D tools over recent years. I still remember the days when 3D had no real time capability at all, so it is still completely amazing to me that we have reached a point where that side has evolved as it has. As the state of real time rendering engines continues to grow towards photo realism, a lot of that will translate to the professional tools improving speeds and quality of high end renders as well.
Eventually, it won’t be such a hurdle to overcome creating beautiful images with 3D tools as it is now, and you won’t need some 3D artist to rack their brain over how to achieve a photo realistic lighting setup since it will be more automated. Another great thing about blender, you can get into 3D printing if you like.. You have almost all the tools to model just about anything, and although there is a lot of technical hurdles to overcome, there isn’t any high quality rendering involved in producing a 3D model for printing, so just about anyone can do it if they take the time to learn the tools and workflow.