Recently, there have been some interesting posts on Elysiun that deal with people moving from Blender to other 3D programs. Disturbing as I was reading about this, I went looking for companies that use Blender on a professional level to show that Blender can do a professional grade job.
We know movies and television are big money makers for 3D, but there are other markets out there that Blender fits right into, such as professional design. The professional design market is booming, fostered at least partly by an increasingly powerful set of tools. And in this deadline-oriented environment, design companies the world over are realizing that adoption of open-source technologies can offer distinct competitive advantages. One such company is EDM Studio, a boutique design firm that specializes in interactive virtual environments for museums and industry. I spoke with co-owner Darran Edmundson about why Blender plays a large part in their production pipeline and how they've recently used it in their work:
We use Blender extensively. The reasons are three-fold. First and foremost, Blender is a really good piece of software (an assessment based on our varied experience with a raft of other professional packages such as Houdini and 3D Studio Max). Next, Blender is open- source; this gives us access to the code internals (and the resultant ability to make changes and apply patches as needed) plus access to a vibrant and supportive online community. Finally, Blender has adopted Python as its internal scripting language, and python is our small studio's "secret" weapon - both for rapid prototyping, production systems, and as a general-purpose software glue.
Blender played a major role in our recent Eidophusikon project, a cultural history installation that combines a miniature physical recreation of an 18th century animated diorama along with a "behind the scenes" virtual view. This latter 3D view was done completely in Blender using two virtual cameras to render perspective-correct left and right eye movies. Playback was via 2 stacked DLP projectors onto a rear projection screen using Infitec passive 3D technology (projector filters + viewer glasses). As our deadline loomed, final rendering of the combined 7600 left and right eye movies was done on a 150 node Linux cluster. Thankfully, Blender comes with 'infinite' render licenses (laugh).
I also spoke to Darran about green/blue screen issues following BlenderNation's camera tracking post (http://www.blendernation.com/2006/03/29/rules-of-camera-tracking/). His comment following the suggested green screen construction link was that
A decent alternative to an actual green/blue screen is to use retroreflective material and surround your camera with a ring of LEDs. I've done some experiments with this and it works quite well, the advantage being that you don't need to worry so much about lighting issues.
EDM Studio has some experience in this since they've actually designed a device that uses this technique. A good overview of this can be found on their site.
Seeing companies using Blender in any capacity to turn out fantastic products and services makes certain that Blender will remain an important tool and will be incorporated into more and more production pipelines.