Thursday, April 28, 2016

Clearing the Backlog...

Just a little heads up: if you've been waiting to hear back from me about various things (patch reviews, etc.), hopefully I'll finally get around to clearing this backlog in a day or so, or over this weekend :)

I've just ended up being a bit busier than usual with my research work recently (trying to get an experiment done - recruitment is a PITA with lecture break + having to run people through one by one on the eyetracker, setting up all the data analysis, and updating all the writeups for all that stuff - and pretty much all of that needing to happen around the same time), so things have been getting a bit hectic around here.

In the meantime, hang tight, and I hope to have some nice dev announcements to make shortly when I get around to it! ;)

Pixar's GTC 2016 Talk - Viewport, Workflow, and Hydra

If you haven't already (and have 45 mins to spare), it's well worth watching Pixar's recent talk at the GPU Tech Conference (GTC) 2016, where they discuss some very juicy and interesting topics.

These include a very detailed look at their in-house animation tool Presto, and all the GPU/OpenGL4 viewport magic, workflow stuff, and the announcement that they're open sourcing their fancy viewport renderer (Hydra) as part of the USD (Universal Scene Description) release later this year. Exciting stuff!

Friday, April 15, 2016

CMake Rant

Arrggghh!!!   I wasted quite some time this afternoon tracking down a crash I was getting in one specific case, where it didn't make any sense at all that it was failing. After trying a lot of things to debug the situation, it only dawned on me quite late that it was the build system at fault here: that is, IT WAS CMAKE's fault. Again.

Why am I not surprised? Well, to this day, I still cannot trust that it's going to actually rebuild what I ask it to, when I ask it to, with everything it's supposed to be using. Heck, even finding out if it actually rebuilt the file or whether it skipped over it is not that easy (in short: it's output is a messy verbose dump of internal diarrhea).

Now, even if it did rebuild the file in question, it may have done so with the wrong settings.  Yay to "config first, then build".

Even worse though, is if it silently omits to add certain flags which you'd expect are included as standard-issue features, and requires you to actually manually add it in in every place where you might use it (*1).... The only way you'll know that has happened? After your code mysteriously keeps failing in bizarre ways, after several hours of debugging.

Gah.  And all that for two little buttons that probably won't be used that much anyway!

</end rant>

(*1 - To be fair, the flag-omitting is probably more of a design choice made in our cmake buildscripts. That said, it's a bloody annoying one if you don't know about it!)
(*2 - It's good to finally get this thing off my desk at last... It's been sitting around, blocked while I've had to work on other stuff, for the past few weeks since Easter....)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Grease Pencil Fun - "Hedgehogs" Character Sketches

I had a bit of fun this evening doing some little sketches of my "hedgehog" characters using Grease Pencil (with Antonio's stroke quality tweaks, as found now in master). I gotta say, the stroke quality improvements really do seem to make a massive difference for making these strokes feel a lot nicer to draw with!

First up, introducing Mr Russ Prickles!

Russ' Briefcase - He works for Prickles Industries Ltd. - doing what, no-one knows...

I came up with the basic character design for these a few years ago while attending some particularly boring talks, while some of the characters/elements are ideas I've been toying with on and off for over a decade. They were originally going to be part of a little short film (or more specifically, the opening sequence of that) - with Russ hitchhiking his way home along a deserted, grass-lined moonlit highway, carrying his briefcase, back to his family in the hedgehog colony in the woods. Also, all of this was to have played out against the backdrop of Roger Whittaker's "Good Morning Starshine".

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Driver Workflow Improvements - "Property Eyedropper" for Quicker Setup, and Other Features

It's taken a few days of intense hacking and investigation, but late this afternoon I finally succeeded in implementing a new way workflow for setting up drivers that should help streamline the process. Many have been requesting a faster way of doing this for years and it's been on my todo list for a while now until I finally got around to it this Easter.

Here's a little demo of how this now works:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Elephants Dream - 10 Years of Open Movies

What a neat mashup - the Cycles renders look gorgeous!  (I have to say though, that the more you think about the dialog in this little shot and the rest of the scene, the more confusing it gets, and the less it all makes sense... hahaha)

EDIT: On rewatching again a few days later, a new interpretation that somewhat makes sense does come to mind... hmm... 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Blender 2.77 Released

After weeks of delays as we continued to find regressions (including quite a few from OpenGL related code cleanups), Blender 2.77 has finally been released!

Perhaps one of the big highlights of this release is that it features all the new Grease Pencil features and development that I've been working on for the past few months. In particular, this includes all the stroke sculpting, UI tweaks, and many other cool things this brings!


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Incomplete List of Things to Try for Troubleshooting Blender Cloth/Sims

I was fielding some questions about debugging problems where a cloth sim was passing through an animated character mesh this afternoon. So, I thought I'd just include a list of the common things to check on when a Blender Cloth or Physics sim doesn't collide correctly.

Disclaimer: I'm by no means an expert or too experienced with the particulars of the Blender cloth sim. However, I have played around with these enough and/or come across enough bug reports on this stuff to have a few ideas about common issues that can occur. Hopefully this will be of some use to someone out there :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

LinkDump: DIY 3D Printed Orthodontics

It is with a mixture of surprise and mild horror that I came across a blog post today where the author went and made his own set of 3D printed clear-plastic-teeth-adjusting-things to self medicate his crooked teeth.

My reaction to this post (and in particular, the screenshot copied above) can be summed up as follows:
* Surprise at the audacity of being a human guinea-pig for doing this DIY (with what appears to be no medical supervision), but also that to create the sequence of 3D printed inserts, he not only used Blender (eek!) for his 3D needs, but used the animation tools in Blender to generate the sequence of progressive steps needed to perform the teeth adjustments (double eek!).

* Mild Horror - It's one thing to work on animation tools for animating fluffy bunnies bouncing around on screen... it's another though to find that these tools were used to generate medical molds (*gulp*)...

New Animation Feature - "New Keyframe Type" Setting

Yippee! I've finally gotten around to finishing off a little feature I've been trying to get into Blender for a while now: A per-scene option for controlling the type of keyframes that get created when inserting keyframes.

The "New Keyframe Type" setting in action - It can be found on the Timeline header, between the Auto Keying toggle and the Keying Set selector.

This setting is useful if you use a conventional multi-pass "pose-to-pose" method for animating, where after blocking in all your key poses, you might start creating breakdowns, then doing other in-between stuff. With this setting, once you've finished your initial pass, you can just click on the next keyframe type that you'll be using for your next pass, and all the keyframes you insert from that point onwards will be the right colour.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ladybug Macro Photos

I came home this afternoon to find a ladybug sitting on the edge of my desk. Naturally, it was a great opportunity to take some photos!

Workspace Upgrade: New 27'' Monitor

Today, I finally went out and got myself a nice big 27 inch 4k IPS monitor for use at home. I'd been stewing and investigating move this for several weeks now (though the idea of getting a larger external monitor for use at home has probably been floating around over half a year now).