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Blender on the History Channel


boardgirl.jpgWe received many reports on the appearance of the Skategirl demo on a show called 'Modern Marvels' of the History Channel. As it happens, at Siggraph we ran into Randall Rickert, a Blender user who currently animates for the History Channel. As a former NaN employee he was one of the creators of Skategirl, so I figured I'd go ahead and ask him if he knew anything about this.

Randall writes:

It was pure coincidence that the production company that hires medssd made a Modern Marvels episode interviewing a researcher who used the Skategirl demo in his research. The producers wanted to show the real-time animation the researcher was using, and asked who made it so the creator could be contacted for permission to show it on TV. The researcher told the producers that the creator was someone named Randall Rickert, but he had no idea how to contact this person. I was not working on that episode, but I had worked with one of the producers on a previous one, so she recognized my name. She called me on the phone, very excited to ask me about my 3D content being used for research into brain waves for computer input. I had no idea it was being used that way, so I was as surprised or more so than she was.

I told the producer to contact Ton, since the content had become the property of NaN Holding b.v.. According to Ton, The Blender Foundation had a license to use the content to promote the Blender software, so the production company simply had to include a mention of Blender in the credits. They said they would also included my name and I asked them to include Reevan McKay as well, because he created the excellent character.

Your readers might also like to know that this was not the only Blender content seen on The History Channel. I believe I currently make 20% or so of all 3D animation for the Modern Marvels series, which is the most popular series on The History Channel, as well as an occasional special (single episode, often longer duration). I use a variety of software, but I use Blender more than any other.

As others reported, this researcher was working on a brain-to-computer interface and he was using his brainwaves to control the Skategirl. We're trying to get in touch with the researcher who is mentioned above. When we do, we'll report on how Blender is being used in his work.

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. This is soooo funny. Earlier today I was wishing for something cool like this to happen, and here it is. Excelent catch! I think I might just go play that skategirl demo one more time for kicks... :)

  2. Where is Reevan McKay? His work was always amazing. Nice to see the Gods of Blender are still out there, I love Modern Marvels and always watch shows like that and wonder "what did they do that 3d with?"

  3. Michael Crawford on

    wheee... now i can connect my brain directly to blender... would that be brain in a blender or blender in the brain. my head hurts. ow.

  4. Now that's just plain interesting. He actually controlled the skategirl with his brain? How successful was he at interfacing with the game?

    Congrats on your game being used, Randall.

  5. I love blender and I very much like Discovery (History) too. Now Blender is on History. Blender will really make history, judging by the speed its name is spreading.

    BTW controlling skate girl with brain is great. When will I control my NFS cars with my brain. I am spraining my fingers playing NFS.

  6. "Now that’s just plain interesting. He actually controlled the skategirl with his brain? How successful was he at interfacing with the game?"
    I can just see it: in five years, Python will have a new module: libmind!

  7. That is AWESOME!!! I was wondering how long it would be till you could make a game in Blender that interfaces with the mind, and to think that a game made in Blender was one of the first to do so! This has DEFINITELY made my day!

  8. Ok... That's our que to start coding a mind-->blender interface. We can call the project "brain in a blender".
    This can really hold up to Blender's emphasis on speed modeling.

    Run blender...
    access brain mode...
    think of what your model would look like
    after 1 or two seconds, your model is complete and looks like some veteran 3d proffesional crafted it. :)
    you press f12 and show your render off to your friends (who would envy your "talent")

    I'd soo like to say that Blender3d will continue to do those "1st of" 's and impress all the other people who use those other apps.

    Eventually they'd be saying.. if Blender3d can model things with your mind, why doesn't my $$$ app support this?

  9. It would also be cool if you could use the power of your mind to render it. Perfect indigo render with millions of polygons in seconds!

  10. As an undergrad who's having to learn Maya in order to work with the History Channel, I'm really glad to hear about how they're also using my preferred application. Thank you, Randall Rickert!

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