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Interview: Matthew Muldoon, Blend Swap

12

Blend Swap is a new Blender model repository that was recently launched by Matthew Muldoon. It was selected by the Durian team to form the basis of their Modeling Sprint. We talked to Matthew about his project.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your history with Blender?

My name is Matthew Muldoon. I'm a motion graphic designer living and working in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I have been using blender on and off for about 8 years now. I stumbled across it while looking for a 3D program to buy at one of my previous jobs, and thought, "Wow, that looks like a nice free program." I ended up buying and using Electric Image, but after that point I started to play around with Blender in my spare time. In the course of my professional career, I've used about every 3D package out there, FormZ, Cinema4D, LightWave, and Maya. The thing I kept running into was whenever I would start a new job, I would either have to learn a new 3D package or not have a 3D package at all. So about 3 years ago, I made the conscience decision to exclusively use Blender because no matter where I worked it would always be available to me. So the process of really learning blender began. Which as most Blender users know, means relaying heavily on the community for help with your problems and lots of practice.

Why did you start BlendSwap? How do you think it compares to other repositories such as the 'official' Blender Model Repository (which isn't official ;-).

I started BlendSwap kind of out of selfish intentions. I'm a horrible modeler and as I would look for good royalty free models it was difficult. I would search blenderartist.org and find models that were posted 2 years ago and the download links would be broken or missing. This is extremely frustrating because this is what I need, but the download no longer works. The search would continue, often leading me to BMR, which I remember using earlier in my career and loving it. However it seems that the models that I was looking for were not there and the site was quite heavy on advertising. I remember trying to download a model from there and before you could click download, the page would change to an advertisement. Now I understand needing to pay for hosting, etc. It just seemed like there should be a better option for the community. I mean when the dev. team is busting out 2.5, durian is a huge project and you have sites like BlenderCookie putting out amazing tutorials. But there still wasn't a quality model repository from my view. So I decided to try and fill that gap and so BlendSwap was created.

The 3DMR was taken offline after a lawsuit over copyrighted material. Aren't you worried about this? What kind of measures did you take to prevent it?

Hmm, to be honest I wasn't aware of this. Kind of makes you think about it. I would hope that the community is more responsible now and that people would respect artists' work. I have no intention of putting copyright material on Blendswap. Is it possible yes... But I would also hope that the blender artist whose copyright material was uploaded to BlendSwap would understand it was not my intention to steal their work. If any artist sees their work on BlendSwap, all they have to do is contact me and it will be removed immediately.

The Durian modeling sprint must have really kicked off the site. What did things look like from your end during this event?

Oh yeah, this was like throwing gasoline on napalm. I never thought it would be as big as it was. Colin had gotten a hold of me and asked if I would be interested in hosting their models for the sprint. At the time, I think I had something like 20-30 models on the site. I had to say yes, it wasn't an option. Being in advertising, I knew that this would be the equivalent of spending a ton of money on advertising. I said yes without any hesitation. To be honest though, I was terrified that the site would become slammed and not function for the sprint. The day of the sprint was pure adrenaline, terror and excitement all rolled into one. It was amazing to watch Colin's reaction to the caliber of models being uploaded to BlendSwap. It was amazing for me to see my traffic go from 95 page views a day, to 50,000 and from having 20-30 models on the site to having around 370 models now. I have to say, it was one of the most rewarding days in my life so far and I thank all the guys over at the Durian Project for giving me the opportunity to help them and the community out.

What are your hopes or future plans about the site?

I've been helped out so much by the Blender community. I can't even begin to express my gratitude to the devs, all the people at blenderartist.org, and at Durian. Also, every other Blender website that takes time out of their lives to create something, explain something or make something free of charge. I created BlendSwap to thank those people, to help other people, and to hopefully give just a little bit back to the community that has given me so much. I hope BlendSwap becomes the first and last place that people come to find quality, free blender models. I have a lot of plans for the future of Blendswap. I learned a lot from the Durian Sprint and lots of people left comments about what they would like to see. I hope that new people going to the site from BlenderNation will leave comments about what would make the site better. I've taken every comment about making the site better and you can guarantee that if it makes sense, eventually it will be changed on the site. The future of BlendSwap is largely based on the community, so hopefully the community has great plans for the site.

I also want to thank you Bart for sticking with Blendernation. I know there was some rocky times for you and you were thinking about getting away from the website. Thanks for sticking with it! Blendernation is the heartbeat of the blender community and I for one want to thank you for everything you've done for the community. I've enjoyed your site for many years. Keep up the great job that you do every day.

matthew/mofx
www.blendswap.com

About the Author

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.

12 Comments

  1. 3dementia (reformed n00bie) on

    Here is my advice: you need a voting system or at least a couple of smart individuals who can be "moderators" of the site. Then the objects need to be rated, and poor rated ones simply removed. Everybody should contribute freely, but the quality of the models/materials should be seriously considered by someone. Lets make this a repository of "good" stuff this time, and not clog it full of "junk". BTW I think it is a fantastic idea and I will definitely contribute.

  2. +1 for also include scripts (and materials, thems, key-maps, rigs, lampsetups etc). Right now there are no good place to find all these things in one place.

    And then maybe make a blender script from where you can view and download all this from the siite and install it in blender. Then you never have to leave blender :-D

  3. @mutze: that is not a bad idea at all but who would freely carry the potential bandwidth hit for that.

    Nice interview and good luck with the site!

  4. @tin2tin, great resource I will scour it and see how it might fit into Blendswap.
    @3dementia, a rating system is currently being developed and hopefully will be available on the site soon, as far as weeding out models that don't meet the quality standards, I agree, my first concern with the site being so young is to first populate it with models.
    @mutze, there has been discussion about a script that interacts with the site through blender, I am still currently looking into this, it is a killer idea though.
    @txrx, I guess I would

    Thanks for all the suggestions guys, they will be considered, and more than likely implemented in the near future.
    peace
    matthew/mofx

  5. @3dementia - the purpose of the site is to make the blender community share their model, project and idea..if you restrict the model for being good or bad then those people who is not that good "yet" are being force to kept their model in their respective hardrives not considering if they upload it in the site they might get tips of how they improve their model or project...

    sorry for my bad english...

  6. 3dementia (reformed n00bie) on

    @yo: I thought someone would not like the idea, consider it some sort of bias. We have pasteall.org for uploads if you are wanting critique on a model. I like this site right now, it is fairly clean, I only saw 10-15 models that really should be deleted. If noone cares about the quality of what is uploaded, it will quickly become chock full of different size soccerballs, I mean if you make a stick figure and then rig it with 6 bones, we don't need to be scrolling past that in the rigged characters section. If we all uploaded our own version of cylinder-man the site would quickly become useless. What this site needs are simple re-useable models, modeling is my strongest area of 3D, so I am not really worried about it for myself, just thinking about the site. Imaginge if blender cookie let anyone upload a tutorial, well we have seen the results of that on youtube...

  7. There are a good many proponents on either side of the fence regarding IFRS convergence. However, the implications are cause for concern, particularly whenever the US SEC speaks and thousands of companies are impacted.

    I do really enjoy frequenting your blog and appreciate the content, although I must admit that many things we don't agree on.

    Do you consider US GAAP to IFRS convergence something you plan on discussing in more detail via a head to head comparison?

  8. Larry Phillips on

    "I would hope that the community is more responsible now and that people would respect artists’ work. ...I would also hope that the blender artist whose copyright material was uploaded to BlendSwap would understand it was not my intention to steal their work."

    That's how the 3DMR dude got burned. If you don't take measures to cover yourself now you are setting yourself up to be screwed big time, just like he was. It was most unpleasant watching it unfold. He learned a hard lesson about strangers on the net. It cost him a couple grand. He asked for help on BA. I don't know if he ever got any.

    Search out his threads on BA and wise up, man. Please.

    Good luck with the site. It's snowballing already so congrats on that.

    -LP

  9. Hi !
    The Web needs to organize general categories to specific ones, for example "animals" when you do click It show us all the subcategories ... reptiles, birds etc. This menu can be made easily in Flash ;)

    Greetings

  10. George Steel on

    @3dmentia: There is a compromise solution. Instead of deleting the poorly pated models, they can simply be pushed to the end of the search results/category listings. That way when people are browsing/searching they don't have to deal with those models, but links don't disappear.

    @erik90mx: surely you mean javascript (Flash, ugggh). It is a good concept though. Even a nested UL would be an improvement.

    @tin2tin, Matthew: Can't scripts be uploaded as blend files? All you need to do is add a category. The blend files can even include examples.

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