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Review: The ManCandy FAQ DVD

34

dvdmockup_candy.pngA while ago I had the chance of getting my hands on the ManCandy FAQ DVD, made by Bassam Kurdali. This is the first title of the "Open Movie Workshop" series, produced by Blender Foundation.

After watching about 7 hours of videos I have to say: this is a must have if you are serious about making rigging and animating with Blender.

The videos present some very clever rigging approaches figured by Elephants Dream director. Understanding these concepts will help you not only with humanoid rigs, but about every character rig you may face.

 

mancandydvd_site.jpg

I found particularly good the idea of making a special video covering the 'basics' of what the viewer will face. Bassam took a basic low poly mesh and applied some modifiers, explaining what they do and why they should appear in a particular order in the modifier stack. These basic principles are heavily applied on ManCandy, and should be considered when you have to create your next rig.

The DVD is made to run on computers, not DVD players. Actually I found it to be a good choice, since a lot more footage could be included and - after all - you'll use Blender on a computer, not your DVD player, heh. ;)

Since I'm on Linux, all videos played painlessly, but I think it would be a nice idea to include a player (like VLC) to view the OGG files on other platforms. Maybe the absence of it could be due some legal issues, so I don't think it should be considered a flaw.

The videos have well thought annotations, used to make clear some concepts or even remember the viewer of some extra things involved (like useful keystrokes).

Another cool approach was the use of the 'vitruvian' Mancandy to visually extend the menu: if the user clicks on a leg, you get the video of how to make a leg rig, and so on.

 

vitruvian_site.jpg

When it comes to animation, the videos do exactly what Bassam stated on his ManCandy FAQ FAQ: they explain the technical side of it (setting keys, posing the character and so on). To get deep into animation, I make his words mine and say: go also get Animator's Survival Kit, by Richard Williams (read a nice review of it) and the Preston Blair book.

Kudos for Bassam and Blender Foundation for making this great resource for all users around. As I stated earlier, it's definitely a must have! =)

About Author

Virgilio Vasconcelos

Brazilian animator who uses Blender since 2003. Professor of 3D (with Blender, of course) and Digital 2D animation at UFMG (Federal University, Minas Gerais' state), Brazil. Writer of Blender 2.5 Character Animation Cookbook, from Packt Publishing. Has a MFA degree with a research involving tools for free character deformation in 3D and is now performing a PhD research on distributed creation of media and animation.

34 Comments

  1. Fantastic! I finally have some good jobs now so I'm ordering as soon as the first check comes in ;)

    Congrats Bassam on all the hard work! and thanks to BN for the plug, i've seen some previews at siggraph and it looks an amazing DVD 8)

  2. Actually, I like the idea of watching tutorial videos on DVD players. With two screens, you don't have to flip back and forth between windows.

    To view the .ogg files outside of Linux, you can download the appropriate codec to watch it on other platforms. Also, it looks like the video content is also available in Flash.

  3. @Pollio:
    Although I am not familiar with the particular license, I don't think there a line within, saying; 'The creator of the content is obligated to offer the material online, thus available for public-internet download...'

    If you do find a download version, I quote: 'this is a must have if you are serious about making rigging and animating with Blender.', then you'll make at least the ones happy, who were rigging and animating before the DVD... (According to the quote they weren't serious) ;)

    /:

  4. I don't know if a torrent is available yet. One person on BlenderArtists uploaded the entire thing but promptly took it down as it was not considered by others very courteous to potentially lessen sales so soon after the release.

  5. @BlendRoid:
    Not to start a big discussion, but hearing Ton about open-source/creative-common I abstracted the principle 'pre-order' to finance the product, then it's 'community-available/open' and buyers afterwards automatic support the foundation/company.

    If I'm not mistaken there was a 'pre-order', wasn't there? ;)

    /:

  6. "I don't think there a line within, saying; 'The creator of the content is obligated to offer the material online, thus available for public-internet download…'"

    No, but one would think that someone somewhere out there was sharing it...

    "One person on BlenderArtists uploaded the entire thing but promptly took it down as it was not considered by others very courteous to potentially lessen sales so soon after the release."

    To create a NO-YOU-CAN'T-SHARE-IT attitude, when in fact the license permits exactly this, is just not right. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a freeloader (I've bought books/t-shirt/stickers/orange/peach/apricot), but one must assume that the creator picked a CC license for a reason, else he should have stayed away form it and put a big fat "(C) all rights reserved, do not copy!" on it instead.

  7. im with pollio on this one, id really like to know where to download them.

    also, what are the other titles in this series, and when are they expected to come out?

  8. @DramaKing:
    I am not familiar with the DVD nor the formats offered, but did you try to 'watch' the movie-stream within Blender (Video Sequence Editor->AREA->Image Preview)?

    /:

  9. oops. :) hehe, i forgot to refresh the page before i posted. srry.

    i agree with pollio again though. i dont care if he put a "all rights reserved" copyright on it. id buy it then(and i may still) its just, i dont know if i want to buy it, if it would help me at all, and thats why im happy to see its under creative commons. now id like to dload it and test it out.

  10. It took me a good many weeks to get through the content and practice along side. I always found ManCandy a somewhat complex set up and admit the dvd has created a path to start understanding it. My fear is that I will have to re-watch it more often than I have as there is a lot of information packed in. Great learning tool!

  11. I read an article a little over a year ago on cnet about open source and the big question was this. Were people who use open source willing to pay money at all or did they expect everything to be given to them for free. I don't mean to turn this into a lecture either but the fact is while Blender and most of the material people create with it is released under the creative commons, it is not free. Operation of the Blender Foundation cost money, people are investing a ton of time into coding or creating educational material and all of it should be considered paying for the continued development of this program. At some point it we probably be able to download the software at will but honestly right now, if you truly want to learn rigging and support Blender you'd be willing to pay the money. Artist who use other software packages end up paying plenty of money on their education material without sampling the content of the DVD or book, etc. It might be time for us to be willing to accept the idea that not everything should be given to us for free, we may very well be an open community, using open tools, but we need to support the people who are creating the tools we use.

    That's just me opinion though...

  12. I want to second the rave review of the content. It's really a terrific set of videos and--not that I doubted that it would be but--surprisingly well organized and clearly presented. I'm only about a third of the way in, but I'm really enjoying it.

    Personally, I like the format very much. It's much more portable than having to rip a DVD and I always view these things on computer anyway. I suppose you can never please everybody...

    Oh, hang on, yes you can! You can release the material as Creative Commons and let the community use their DVD authoring skills to create a DVD player version. So folks, all of you who want to watch this on a DVD player, pull your thumb out and do something about it!

    About the downloading. You have been given permission. Polio, what you're asking for now isn't just the material for free, but for somebody to do the work to seed it and make it available for you. Come on. If it's not already on eMule or indexed by some known bittorrent site then either A) buy it and seed it or B) wait until somebody does. Sorry, but that's the price you pay for free downloads in this world.

    As others have pointed out, the BF is using this content to finance themselves. So don't expect them, or others who want to support that goal, to be tripping over themselves to put the material online.

    There is nothing wrong, immoral, questionable, or anything else about sharing the material. Explicitly permitting sharing is the *whole point* of the Creative Commons License, and anybody who doesn't get that should review the CC license. However, expecting people to do stuff for you, on top of all that's being made available to you free already, is just lazy.

  13. I'm still waiting for my copy in the mail, glad to see such a good review. At people wishing to download: I planned to do this, but as divx movies on stage6, as opposed to trying torrent the ogg movies. Unfortunately, I've just heard news that stage6 is shutting down this week. So, with some alternatives, I'll gladly start ripping/converting & making them available somewhere, a few at a time, not all at once, for while I'm all for sharing, I sympathize with the content creators wishing to support themselves and don't want to hurry along the "why buy it when I can download it" option too quickly.

  14. ok, people who want it free, just wait a little while so people can buy and support the project, its not a big deal is it? I know Bassam and the blender foundation has put an insane amount of work in to this and I really think we should realize we are all part of a community, and just by buying such a product like mancandy DVD will mean another can be made, plus more!

    I've worked on BF projects in the past and I'm not going to accept any free stuff, I'm buying it tomorrow! I know I've saved thoughsands on an amazing 3d package, and the education and everything i've learnt to get me to a pro level has cost $0 up to this point, and I now have CG jobs so I can pay for stuff ;)

    Also, for those complaining about it being for PC: Get a crappy spare monitor for $10 and set up a duel monitor system. You can use blender while watching the videos =D

    I have a little money now from a new job, so ok I can afford the DVD, but from a few years ago back I was a really poor kid =P. So I couldn't even afford something like a mancandy DVD and was a hobbyist. The answer for these people are "Wait some time and let the other people with some cash to invest pay for the DVD, thus supporting for more projects in the future to help everyone (that you can download free also)! Then it can come out online and everyone has access."

    Better than pirating a copy or not being able to get it at all? Don't we all love open source! For the free content let us first help them a little by waiting a small amount of time, this will more than pay our due to download the content ;)

    Cheers!

    Lee

  15. Thank you Lee for understanding about us really poor kids(myself included) who can't pay for this right now. I cant wait to be able to support the blender community, but right now i cant, so ill be patient and wait for a post on blender nation about it becoming freely downloadable.

  16. To everyone asking for a downloadable version of the DVD:
    Please guys be patient. To those who can buy it, get one and support Blender Foundation. For those who can't or don't want to pay, please wait some time or borrow the DVD from a friend who bought it.
    If you put it on a bittorrent or file sharing site right now the foundation won't get any money, and that will discourage the creation of new material in the future. It will be worse for all of us. We all loose.
    Support Blender. Developers and artists work hard to give us an excellent software, great contents and funny and furry movies. c'mon!

  17. My CD came with scratches all over the surface, and thankfully I was able to recover the entire data.

    Great tutorials :D:D:D

    Kind Regards,
    BS

  18. Mine came in the mail today! I must say, I'm very impressed. This is the missing link for any blenderhead who's read "stop staring" and wanted to duplicate that kind of facial rig, he covers bone-driven shapes and mirrored shapes in detail, and his simple solution for driving multiple shapes is simply genius. Of-course the rest of the body rigging is covered in detail as well, but I'm still geeking out about the face-rig explanation.

    The html-menu is is very well put together, tutorials are very in-depth and detailed without being boring. Lots of on-screen annotations and highlighting of specific menu buttons, making it very easy to retain and follow along.

    Bassam Kurdali, you're my hero.

  19. @bart
    I have to agree with dramaking, I can apply tricks on the computer afterwards, but it's a lot more relaxing to first watch it on your regular tv set, instead of from behind your desk, which is not a good position to watch movies to begin with. And resolution shouldn't really be that much of an issue. not when choosing between PAL(720x576) and 1024x768....

  20. Ordered it some weeks ago and it really helped me understand how these nice leg rigs (and part of the finger rigs) work.
    Didn't have time to watch the rest yet, but I'm can only assume that the excellent quality will be there as well. :)

    Werner

  21. Bittorrent - Do a search, it's out there.

    I'd post the torrent but I don't want a bunch of hypocrite capitalist crusaders biting at my heels here and elsewhere (BA). These folks need to rethink their stance on open-source and creative commons, for their crusading for the dollar in the name of the Blender Foundation causes a chilling effect on folks like me who want to share it as per the license placed on it by the creator of this work. You are not helping the cause you are hurting it.

  22. OK, maybe that was a bit strong language. Obviously it's just a simple fact that many people can't get their head around open source and CC and how it really works big picture in the long run.

    I'm still afraid to post a link to that torrent here tho.

  23. I agree with LarryPhillips. Please notice that we're talking about an Attribution License, so you could even modify the DVD and SELL it, provided that you give credit to Bassam.
    I think there's nothing wrong about downloading the material to evaluate it and eventually decide to buy it to support the author, it's the same thing I did for some programming ebooks.
    And don't worry about the Foundation not getting money: if someone is really interested in supporting the cause, he will buy the DVD even if he can download it, if he doesn't want to pay he will always found the material somewhere on the internet...
    By the way, I bought both the Orange and the Peach Movie.

  24. Guys, this is one of the best and cheapest tutorial DVDs out there... If you want to see expensive take a look at Gnomon workshop DVds, some cost 89 dollars and Digital Tutors are 55.. Some are a bit cheaper, but none of them are as low as ManCandy FAQ. Larry, those were some strong words, what are you talking about capitalist crusaders!??!?!...Come on, give me a break, its not like I'm pocketing the money, or a single cent of this is going to some CEO in New York City. Paying for this and capitalism is two very different different things because of where this money is going. Ever notice on almost every website where someone is developing open source there is a donate button? I agree, some people do need to rethink their stance of open source and the creative commons, as in not hiding behind it to save a few dollars for themselves. I'm all for a link for people who can't afford it to download it, thats great thing! I'm not against that, I can barley afford to pay for it right now... But there is a fine line people walk between downloading with intent to pay for it and downloading it and never paying for it...

  25. That's my point right there. There is no "fine line". It's either CC or it's not. No strings attached beyond what's stated in the license. People shouldn't be labeled as a freeloader if they take advantage of it being free, for it's still value for value. The "freeloader" may spread the word, info, knowledge, the work itself... and this can happen in many ways and over time. That's worth something too.

    Same deal with a person who repackages it and sells it for a profit. He would be labeled as a dirty scam artist by many in this community, but if he followed the license and gave credit... well, there's your value for value. This is what many can't get their head around... it's not all about the money!

    It took me a long time to figure out how this open-source and sharing is a good thing too. So I shouldn't call people hypocrites, but that's what it really boils down to, and maybe it gets people to think about what they are actually doing when they get negative with people who take advantage of the freedom given to them by the license holder. Again, it's not all about the money.

    Thanks for the comeback.

  26. yup, sharing the content is just fine and dandy (in fact, it's good!). The thing that we absolutely *don't* want is for someone to be unable to view it. There are already torrents available; check the blenderartists thread to find out where.
    It would be cool at some point to host this stuff via http (not torrent), but I suspect I may have to do something about the size of the videos to make it useable for most people.
    of course, buying the DVD is really cool since by doing so you support the blender foundation in current and future projects.

    One of the neat things about the CC license is that you're free to reuse and remix the material in your own projects; not just mancandy himself, but the animations and even the tutorials. If we do an online version some day, it would be nice to keep it open for people to upload additional tutorials, or modify existing ones, like a video wiki.

  27. I don't get the problem. It is licensed under the CC license. Why it is licensed under that license? - Yeah to get people sharing, remixing working with it. I don't understand any worries about creating a bittorent for that. ( I know it is available) From my point of view the most of you want to offer a Open Source license but don't want to live with the consequences.
    Open Source means spreading the word, getting everyone work with the tools and I am sure a lot of people will buy the DVD and they don't matter if there is a free download available because they want to support the work. To sum up don't be feared by the license. ;)

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