Review: Advanced Fluid Dynamics In Blender DVD

logo-splatter.jpgRecently, Jason “Groo” Van Gumster (Fweeb) announced on BA that he had been working with cmiVFX on a 3 hour training DVD for Blender entitled “Advanced Fluid Dynamics In Blender.” Thanks to cmiVFX, BlenderNation got a look at the DVD. Read on to see if we help you answer the question, at $60 USD, is the video worth it?

First, I should at least mention that cmiVFX picked the right man for the job. I saw Groo do several presentations on Blender’s fluids at Siggraph 06 and he brought enough enthusiasm to it that it became a highlighted feature getting lots of questions from passers-by. Second, I’ll mention that the video and audio quality is great and it’s what you would expect from a professionally made training DVD.

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This DVD is titled appropriately as it is advanced. It doesn’t hold your hand every step of the way nor does it describe every button (we have wiki’s for that). The DVD doesn’t cover every Blender fluid aspect either, such as the fluid type Particle (with drop, flow, and tracer options), which may leave some people still wondering what mysteries are still locked in these settings. What the DVD does do is show a series of situations that fluids can be used, how they can be set up, and how to tweak setting to get it to look right. It ensures that every successive chapter expands on the previous chapter’s lesson so that by the end you become comfortable with handling various types of simulations.

sink.jpg

As good as the DVD is, there are a few things lacking. A key weakness of this DVD is that the video itself is in quicktime which mean you have to have the ability to play quicktime files, but it also means that there is no menu system to navigate between chapters. However being quicktime, a much higher resolution can be expected as well as the ability to play it on any OS. The video also assumes that the viewer is already familiar with features such as the compositor, action editor, and render layers, which the lessons utilize on occasion. This shouldn’t be a big problem though as the DVD seems geared to Blender users who shouldn’t be confused in using all that Blender has to offer. Though for these same Blender users, the final renders of each chapter may seem less than stellar since many of us are accustomed to amazing Blender results the likes of which can be seen from Mike Pan (mpan3).

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The DVD is broken up into 12 chapters which I will list here. The product site does the chapters better justice since they have screen shots and full descriptions.

  1. Introduction to Blender’s Fluids
  2. Turning on a Faucet
  3. Faking Smoke
  4. Waterfall
  5. Turning a Water Mill
  6. Splashing a Logo
  7. Destroying a City
  8. Melting a Character
  9. Splashing a Moving Character
  10. The Exploding Tub
  11. A Molten Logo
  12. Oozing Blood

Each chapter reveals a little bit more about Blender’s fluids and each not only shows you how to do the demonstrated task, but also gets you to start using fluids in ways that aren’t exactly the standard sim of an icosphere fluid dropping in a box (which is the simulation I’m sure we’ve all run based on Nils’ fluid wiki page). Two chapters in particular are a must see: Faking Smoke and the Destroying a City. Both are great examples of creative uses of Blender’s fluid settings and they get you thinking about using the fluid capabilities available to produce very unique results.

chapter03-smoke.jpg

One thing that isn’t mentioned, but should be irrelevant in a few weeks, is that the DVD utilizes a CVS version of Blender 2.42a. Specifically a version built after fluids creator Nils Thuerey upgraded Blender’s fluid system. This version shows a few more options (e.g. Surface Subdiv for the domain) than a release version of 2.42a, so this might lead to confusion if the viewer of the video happens to purchase the DVD from it’s release to the official 2.43 release. The DVD also comes with the project files that the DVD uses in each chapter which is great not only to have the result on hand to study, but also to manipulate to further understand the intricacies of fluid simulation. Of course, as with all .blend files with fluids, you need to bake the fluids in order to see the results, and given the DVD’s more complicated scenes, that might take quite a long time.

bloody-nose.jpg

So if you are looking to expand your understanding of fluids and are looking for new ways to use them in you projects (professional or otherwise), you can find the DVD at cmiVFX for $60 USD (not including shipping). As for answering the big question on whether it’s worth the $60 dollars, though it’s priced a little steep for what you get, this is definitely one of the best Blender training videos you can get at moment. Anyone who is working professionally with Blender and fluids will definitely want to get his hands on this disc.

*Full Disclosure: BlenderNation did not receive, nor will receive, any compensation for this review.


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Thanks!
  • MorMor

    Insane!

  • http://patriarchproduction.blogspot.com Mikhail P. Schalk

    I just ordered mine. It looks really helpful, especially for some of the stuff I’m going to be doing very soon. I’ll let you know what I think when it arrives.

  • Aussiedude

    Sorry, I don’t think I’m be spending $80(AUD) on a DVD when that doesn’t even include shipping, for that price I can go buy a PSP game or some new clothes or a 1GB Sony Memory Stick Duo… With enough left over for some lunch at Oporto’s. So that’s just not gonna happen. Maybe if the price came down a bit.. and there is an option to just mail cash or a cheque (didn’t check the website to see if this is an option but for me it would have to be a must, don’t trust online transactions) and don’t worry:

    *Full Disclosure: BlenderNation did not receive, nor will receive, any compensation for this review.

    We believe you… nah really we do! Other sites might be questioned for doing a article similar to this but we trust to be just trying to inform us of whats available, there are some people who can afford the luxury of buying this (I don’t because I have many other expenses which take priority to my hobbies, like buying a car/motorbike and saving for UNI) and they won’t regret that purchase I’m sure, it seems like a excelent resource. It’s just too bad it’s a expensive one.

  • ccherrett

    Try making your own 3 hour DVD and tell me what you would sell it for.

  • ChArleS

    It is fun to see dvd for Blender like the one for other 3d packages. It really show the possibility of Blender fluide simulation.

    @Aussiedude: To dvd is for a professional use. If 60$ is much for you, it is the price you should expect to paid for similar dvd for maya, 3ds, silo…

  • Richard

    While I’m sure that DVD contains some great learning material, I would expect it contain every little option of the fluid simulation (there aren’t all that many) for its price.

  • TroutMask

    Blender needs more in depth training materials like this. Everyone involved is to be congratulated.

  • ccherrett

    Richard:

    Have you watched it to know what is in it? I have done a lot with fluids so far and I know that it is a very compilcated subject beyond what buttons to press.

  • ccherrett

    If you need to know what the buttons do specifically then you should read the wiki. If you want to know true application then I think that that is were this DVD comes in.

  • http://freefactory.org Bassam

    I don’t think it’s an unfair price for a training DVD; there are costs to making it, a need to compensate for the considerable effort of producing it, and then there’s a factor of scale- If millions of people are going to buy it, it can be much cheaper, but an advanced blender fluids DVD is too “niche” to be cheap. If it is as good as the review says (thought it’s a pity that it doesn’t cover the particles aspect) it could be quite worth it to studios or professionals needing to learn the fluids fast. Groo does video production professinally, so I’m sure the quality is good.
    and hey, any DVD that uses mancandy has got to be awesome ;)

  • http://blenderart.org nam

    haha, look at that bloody nose…i’m going to faint…

  • Tony

    Just bought my copy. It looks great. I think it’s the best to have a lot of free learning materials available for people on a tight budget, and also advanced, professional materials available for people able to pay for them, just as is the case with other software. Both will help to bring the general skill levels up among Blender users. Thanks to cmiVFX for supporting Blender and congratulations to Fweeb for getting this out there!

  • TX_RX

    It’s in the same league of instructional DVD’s alongside Shake, Fusion et al on their site. I’m sure if they make enough from the $60usd then there may be a revised price. If your serious about implementing Blender’s awesome fluids into your pipeline then this isn’t going to break the bank in a production environment.

    If you want to learn less advanced techniques and blender in general I’d agree that there is a raft of sites and tutorials out there that you can utilise for free. Would be interesting to see an example tutorial from it I thinks. How ever I’m sure there will be one out there somewhere!

    Looks awesome, great work and well deserves to be sold at that price given the smaller/niche target audience.

  • http://vladius.fanatic.ru Vladius T

    I dont want to comment on its price, since I dont wanna buy it anyway, but content seems to be of a high quality. Im glad that blender gains professional-oriented products.

  • Toni Grappa

    The german blenderforum “Blendpolis” recently has finished a fluid competion, where all people could participate. To have a “learning effekt” also for those , who are not yet very familar with the tecnic of fluid simulation, everybody could ask for help during this prozess in special treads, also assisted by articles written in the german Blender Dokumentation. After finishing this competition we not only have some beautiful results, but also a huge knowlege competence concerning this theme. Everybody had fun, the results and the discussions are public…
    Ok- we don`t have hours of videotutorials to offer, but who wants to learn somthing about fluids and who is able to speak german, don`t has to spend 60$. Producing a DVD is one way, using the creativity and power of the community another.

    http://blendpolis.serverpool.org/f/viewtopic.php?t=11804&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

  • zxayant

    Too expensive for me :-(

  • Alden

    This is cheap compared to the price of the training dvds of commercial aps (which would you rather pay, $60 or $300?)

    This is very tempting to buy… Cannot…. resist…. Haha, I’m definitely getting a copy of this.

  • Luigino

    Well, a good book about 3D software is cheaper. But anyway, the people that will buy this DVD will use it to make projects where they’ll gonna win hundred or thousands of dollars.

  • SoulVector

    Seriously! The price is nothing. I was really positive surprised to see a DVD on BlenderFluids so soon and having previous experience from ordering DVD´s from CMI I can highly recommend them because they delivers fast overseas.

  • grafixsuz

    I think this is a great boost for blender’s image all round, I congratulate all involved in producing this DVD and I wished we had more professionally made instructional DVD’s around. Well it is a great start, and yes it maybe out of reach for some, but if you are planning on making a living out of using blender, then this is by all means a good investment and should be thought of as such.

    I must say I was surprised at some of the images shown here, I am thinking of getting a copy myself now.

  • Meko

    For anyone who’s trying to get into the 3D industry or make games who immediately scoffed at a video like this.

    http://www.mr-chompers.com/tutorial/money_mouth.htm

  • AndyD

    I guess everything’s relative. As another Aussie, I too thought $60 US was on the high side (that’s over $80 plus postage for us in Oz) – but then, I wouldn’t have bought it for $20 either so my opinion on the price is irrelevant.

    In defence of the price I think it’s fair to say that if you’d paid $3000 for your software, $60 to learn advanced techniques would seem paltry. When you pay nothing for software, $60 is comparatively high :) – but whether the price is justified or not depends on how desperately you want this information, or whether you’re happy waiting for the same information to filter through to tutorials and forums.

    I’ve paid over $60AUD for oil painting videos that usually run to about one hour and involve far less work than was probably involved in this production (a video camera, a canvas and some paints and if all goes well, you can produce the vid in a few hours straight) and oil painting has a much bigger target audience – and I haven’t regretted one cent of the expense. But then, I make money from oil painting so expenses are easier to justify.

    Good luck with it. If projects like this fail, it’ll only get harder to get hold of good information when you do need it.

  • Baboule

    It’s probably logical in effect that when it comes to freeware learning, a non-free product would be a subject to debate.

    However, free product doesn’t always mean amateur users or even moneyless users.
    Everyone will be able to juge the price according to their needs, eventual return on investment, time spent gathering the same amount of information, etc.
    It’s gonna be interesting to see how much this DVD sells.
    (I would have bought it, but I don’t really need fluids in my projects et the moment.)

    On the other hand, the real problem in my opinion is that of the true nature of Blender itself : a constantly envolving software with new builds at a fast rate.
    With “regular” software like Max or Maya, you know you have about one year between versions.
    With Blender, maybe we’ll have a bunch of new fluid options in a few weeks from now… and we’d have to wait for a new DVD on the matter…

  • http://www.excellentWhale.com Joeri

    ” With Blender, maybe we’ll have a bunch of new fluid options in a few weeks from now… and we’d have to wait for a new DVD on the matter… ”

    I’m glad to see the releases are slowed down to two a year. This makes it far more feaseble for projects like this to be profitable.
    In my opinion CVS is no option for small animation/video studios, making a half year official release a good interval; I hope th BF sticks to that.

  • http://none John Caldwell

    While I’m sure it is a great video full of very useful inormation, I have a problem with this guy making money from selling Blender knowledge in any form. It goes against the grain of the whole open source and free spirit of what I feel Blender is all about. So many people have contributed so much of their time for free to the Blender cause. I would feel better if I knew he was giving at least half of it back to Blender.