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Gooseberry Targets not met, new Plan Announced

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The Blender Institute has stopped the Gooseberry campaign now that it's clear that the updated target of 5,000 supporters cannot be met. Ton presents a slimmed down version of the project which will still lead to substantial improvements of Blender. Of course, each supporter gets the choice to keep his pledge in place or to withdraw it now.

After almost 2 months of campaigning it’s time to make some final conclusions about the results sofar. I think it’s fair to do this now, and not whip up a lot of energy and stress to make it to the final goal in just two days. Let’s wrap it up! The conclusion is clear:

There’s not enough support to make a feature film. Yet!
And here is a plan for how to move on and keep the good things we’ve achieved sofar.

  • We will make a 10-15 minute high quality Pilot of the film, which gets released as stand-alone short film. Working period will be September 2014 – April/May 2015.
  • We will go full steam ahead with development projects to make Blender awesome, work on Cloud (content and features), on digital asset management. This was made possible by the already granted EU Media subsidy anyway
  • We put involvement by the 12 other studio partners on hold. Some might help on the Pilot though, but most of the work will be done here in Blender Institute.

Mathieu Auvray, David Revoy, Esther Wouda will continue work on this starting in June/July.

For further information, read the announcement on the Gooseberry blog:

About 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.

33 Comments

  1. I am one of the early backers of this project...but I think that probably the goal of this campaign was set too high. Even if the Blender community is growing well and fast, the 10.000 subscribers milestone it was almost impossible to achieve. I'm using Blender daily for fun or for work and I love the community, the developers, the trainers and the software...I'm just saying that we need a more remarkable critical mass of user before trying some huge step like this feature film was trying to be. Anyway I'm excited to see how the short movie will be!

    • I agree on the goal set too high. It was my first thought, but I wanted to give to BF my support by believing in a so ambitious goal.
      I disagree about the community growing, I think it's stationary cause blender is a transition point for too much people.
      As long as blender does not aim to compete (have at least some strong point other than the price) with other software and does not change his targets (personal use, small studios...etc), the industry will look at it as an adult looks a baby who shaves his beard with a no blade shaving razor. So cute...
      And users will always migrate to "daddy softwares" thinking that they need them to not be cut out from the scene.
      Obviously my speech could sound as a harsh and unfair comment, but I want to clarify that I deeply respect the work done by BF with the small resources it has. I'm just disappointed for the fail of the campaign.

      • I would sorta agree with you on this point. Even though Blender is extremely powerful, people and studios still look at Blender as a "Novice Tool". Whether this is true or not is the cause of fights on forums all the time. The fact remains, that Blender needs to present itself as a more professional software to get more people and studios on board with it. How to achieve this is something I don't really know how to do though. Community thoughts on this would be appreciated!

      • Well...personally I worked for two years in a studio using 3dsMax every day. Than I learned Blender by myself and now it's two years that I'm not even opening 3ds max. I can do everything on Blender faster and in a more rewarding way (I don't understand why but comprared to 3ds max, using blender for me is a lot of fun). I attended a workshop in my university on the basics of modeling with Blender and the students where pretty amazed by the results they could achieve after the initial shortcuts mess of informations. I'm just saying that for what I can do I'm trying to advertise Blender as an incredibly complete 3d package. That's what BF and the whole community needs to do in order to step out of the "baby" phase you mentioned. Obviously this Gooseberry project had exactly this goal in mind...but maybe showing the potential of the software with a movie is not enough. What studios and professional need to undertstand is that with Blender they can achieve great results and they can put it in their pipeline. For me Blender has more strong points than just the price. It's a full package with modeling, rendering, sculpting, animation, video making, compositing....do you have other softwares that allow you to do all this stuff without opening at least two other softwares? When you understand the workflow, you are able to switch quite easily between all these aspects...and this, for a studio/professionals point of view, for me is a great plus.

    • I agree, too high of a goal and too short of a time period. At least we will get, what I'm sure will be, another great short-film.

    • Brian Lockett on

      I said this earlier about this fundraiser--we need to fix problems that prevent Blender from being as smooth a user experience as possible and have remained for years.

      Blender's long due for tighter, cleaner internal structure. It needs improvement for things such as (just for example):

      • better handling of multi-million polygon content, draggable/dockable sub-context panels (to allow for UI customization)
      • improved layer systems for Object Mode, Sculpt Mode and Texture Paint Mode (opacity control, layer merging, default layer auto-naming, blend modes, etc)
      • better support for 4K and 8K textures (Blender stutters with textures over 2K, and takes forever to load them)
      • seamless Blender-to-Krita import/export (it's pretty evident that Krita's becoming rather the Photoshop of the FOSS world now)
      • drag-and-drop content (importing a mesh into Blender should be as simple as dragging files into the viewport, and UV textures as simple as dragging textures unto meshes).

      That doesn't necessarily mean a drastic redesign, but it does
      necessarily mean full-time fully-focused development. Blender
      development would benefit if development would pause with the scattered ad-hoc style of development long enough to work together on
      finally resolving some long-standing internal issues, which the
      cluttered UI often reflects.

      It's so much the lack of big stuff that holds Blender back (though, Blender's a bit behind on that, too)--it's largely the little things that keeps Blender. Little things that add up to less efficiency, which makes other options seemingly more attractive. I don't see how we can move on to bigger ambitions without solving the seemingly smaller (but important) things first.

  2. I'm curious as to how far it was pushed beyond the basic blender communities that Gooseberry was out there. I have a friend who uses Blender, but doesn't follow BN. He has no clue what Gooseberry was or that they were looking to get donations.

    Maybe it was pushed to every CG nook and cranny on the internet. Press Releases to every digital magazine that talks about open source, movies and/or 3D would have increased the reach of push. Getting each studio to ping their fanbase/followers would have also been a good step.

    And maybe all that was done. It's just a bummer this didn't work out. My donation stands and I'm hoping others will keep supporting.

    • I agree. If I wasn't a daily reader of BlenderNation, I wouldn't even know about Gooseberry project. BF doesn't need to advertise so much here. We already are Blender users and we know how much is important to be part of these projects. The world out there needs to know about Blender, its capabilities and the projects that make it grow better and faster than ever.

      • Brian Lockett on

        I tried that argument a couple of times. I suggested we even use a wider crowdfunding platforms and wider promotion beyond just the Blender hotspots BlenderNation and BlenderArtists, which would've easily brought this project greater support. This project had all the makings for being a million-dollar project, if you ask me, just on scope alone.

        I just kept getting this sentiment from developers of "we want Blender community to support this project, not the world." Which is a bit ironic, since my point was that if Blender's about a voice of freedom for the world in general, this project would've benefitted from the world's support.

        Blender development confuses me. One minute, we're seeing a message about making Blender more professional, and the next, we're seeing a message about being about the community (where professionals are the minority) before all else.

    • If the story is about more than a cartoon goat, then somebody (a stranger) in two minds about contributing needed to know that in advance. There is only so much that somebody unfamiliar with Blender, Ton and Daniel, would trust them to use their donation successfully, so that rather restricted the available contributors I guess.

      As a long time Blender user I know how much the BF and Ton can deliver, so I still signed up to the Cloud and will stay for the full 18 months, even though to me Gooseberry is the least interesting of the BF film projects to date.

  3. Chickenkeeper on

    It's a shame the target was not met but I still think it's fantastic that they got what they did considering the target was set so high. I do have one question though, why is the film being shrunk down so much? Even though the target was not met they still got 2/3rds of the funding, so why is the film being shrunk to only 10-15 minutes rather than something like 30-40 mins?

    • cosmicdaemon on

      That's my concern as well. I believe it may be because they are dropping company backers, so much of the funding came from those companies? I could be wrong. I don't want another short film, I want to see a full length film. But again, maybe they aren't ready. Sintel wasn't that good story wise but was a step in the right direction. I wasn't too fond of Tears of Steel either, as it was just a tech demo and lacked as well. Perhaps it was just too short and didn't give enough time to get into the world and story. I hope they can get some people in that can do better and probably spend more time on their projects.

  4. I'm glad I backed the project early, and am totally fine with the new plan. I see a lot of potential in the cloud, and as always love to support development. I hope they have another sprint so we can contribute assets to the project. I missed the one for Sintel.

  5. I am sorry the campaign did not reach its funding goals. I see three major issues that may have led to its failure. 1. Although there was great announcements within the inner-Blender community, I never saw any sort of major announcement on other tech or art sites. 2. The goals were really set to high to begin with, and that was compounded by too short of a time period. 3. Another issue I have is why even though 2/3 of the funding was reached were only getting a 10-15 min short; maybe instead they could do a half-hour show that would be suitable for showing on a television channel or online via like Hulu. I will give credit though, it was an amazing attempt on the BF's part, it just couldn't be achieved this time. I am not retracting my Blender Cloud subscription, as I still support the BF in whatever decisions they make going forward. I just want to say one more thing... Thank You to the BF and everyone in the Blender community who put there hearts into Project Gooseberry!

  6. JudeJackson on

    The Blender Foundation confirms what everyone knew all along: The Blender community isn't grateful or generous.

    • This is absolutely not true. The community is more than grateful and as generous as they can be. The goals for the project were just set too high for now, I mean, the term "starving artist" is closer to the truth than you realize.

      • JudeJackson on

        I call BS. It's ludicrous to claim that the community as a whole couldn't have afforded to fund Gooseberry without even putting a meaningful dent in its livelihood. If a few tens of thousands of people aren't willing to shell out, on average, the cost of a case of beer, you can't accuse them all of being "starving artists".

        • Brian Lockett on

          I think this project simply wasn't enough of the Blender community was interested in this particular project. People have the right to not want to support something that's not in their interest.

          Blender is a generous effort from developers, but generosity isn't something you hold for ransom for generosity in return. Nobody really *owes* Blender support. That's the entire purpose of "free." You're not expected to give anything in return, but one can if they want to see it supported.

          I think even among those who did support this project, they did so more because "this is Blender and I support them" rather than "I'm truly interested in this project." You shouldn't let your hometown-hero sentiment for Blender be your source for judging other users. You might find reasons enough for you to support this project, but don't count your reasons as anything but subjective.

          Which leads to my next point here--I don't think this project brought enough of interest to the users. I think people would rather support an effort that actually addresses some long-unaddressed design issues, rather than moving on to more secondary developments.

          Even at the end of this development, it doesn't seem like many people's wishes wouldn't have been what came out of this project. The particle nodes and improved hair/physics improvement are not on the top of some long-standing frustrations to users other than the hobbyist. They're useful and desirable, but probably not highest-priority among most core users.

          This isn't to speak for everyone and everyone's reasons, but I think that generally, this project's goal was set too high for results not equally as high in priority in Blender development.

          • JudeJackson on

            Cute sentiment, kind of reinforces what I said still. So as you describe it, the community is serving it's individual self-interest, and I agree! You know what it's called when you get something for free and you're not willing to give back a helping hand? Ungrateful. Know what it is when you aren't willing to pay for or help with something that won't immediately boost your personal pleasure or well-being? Ungenerous.

            You can, as you do, out a cutesy libertarian/neo-liberalist spin on it and assert that quality judgements can't be assigned to rational decision-making. That's stupid, and even if it weren't stupid, it wouldn't refute the proven claim that the Blender community isn't ungrateful and ungenerous.

          • Brian Lockett on

            And I'll say this one last time: Generosity isn't something you hold for ransom for generosity in return. You don't do good expecting good in return. You don't do something for free out of your own volition to expect financial generosity in return. Even if the effort is valuable.

            That's the risk in free open-source software--no one owes you anything. Every developer knows the risk that developing FOSS carries. It's good for people to donate to such projects that interest them, but people are not obliged to fund the developments that don't particularly interest them, especially when you're offering the product for completely free. Free is a high risk..

            People rarely just support merely Blender because Blender's Blender--people tend to support Blender upon occasion when a development occurs that's best useful for them. Most people I know who donate to Blender Foundation do so upon seeing a development that interests them.

            Some people do support Blender in general, for whatever development it does (and good on them for it); others might wait until more developments more relevant to their needs come around. Either way, support still comes to Blender--it just doesn't always happen at every demand of support. Not even demand meets one's criterion for garnering support.

            Imagine if you've donated money in Blender hoping to finally see improved NURBS modeling over the past several years, and saw developments of motion-tracking tools, an ocean simulator, 3D printing tools, smoke simulations, and other very neat and useful additions, but none of it being what you had hope would come Blender's way, through your support?

            That's how many people feel about supporting such . I and other people in the past have even suggested that Blender developers perhaps try some sort of voting system as to what features Blender sees next, as I'm sure that many long-time users would've long voted some long-awaited solutions into existence by now.

            Particle nodes and better hair/physics are very nice, but why does they get higher over things like finally better organizing the mess that is Blender's UI, which is suffering from running out of place to put newer features, all due to the clutter internal structure of the program itself?

            Blender is nicely-integrated in places, such as nodes, but completely disjointed in other places, like the NLA editor and texturing tools. Let's fix that first before moving on to inventing reasons for needing improved hair/physics simulations. I'm sure this such sentiment is the reason why many people held out on support this time around.

            It doesn't mean people won't support other ambitious Blender developments--it just means this one didn't address much anything some folks need from Blender. Maybe next time. If some people found no interest in this current project, then that's their right.

            (And some people merely play around with Blender and don't rely on it as anything more than a toy, thus Blender won't be high-priority to them anyways. We shouldn't count every download of Blender as some dedicated user who needs Blender.)

            My biggest point here is if you want greater generosity, focus on the issues that matter most towards whom you're being generous. Blender still suffers from several issues that ambitious projects like these should've somewhere along the line placed as higher priority, year after year after year.

            And never call me a libertarian/neo-liberal again. Ever.</u<

          • The developers aren't hurting or ungrateful. They've been nothing but the most considerate and generous with their time and passion. No one is obligated to be generous; that doesn't make an utter vacuum of generosity any less generous. Generosity isn't a baseline acceptable quality (though it should be), it's a great exceptional quality, that great humans exhibit, and the blender community at large does not. It's acceptable that they aren't generous. It's fine. The fact that the Blender community is acceptable doesn't make them generous.

          • 1) "...that doesn't make an utter vacuum of generosity any less generous."

            They raised $380,000. It's not their $680,000+ goal, but still, not a "vacuum" either. Though, you're completely ignoring my point that this project's prospects just didn't interest enough people. And for great reason.

            Like it or not, we as human beings like a little something called "incentive." And like it or not, if something doesn't meet one's hopes towards incentive, they typically don't support it. For instance, I'm a lifelong Nintendo fan, but it doesn't mean I'm going to go drop $300 on a lifeless Wii U right now just to support them out of sentiment.

            The idea of throwing money at Blender development in general won't interest people unless they see promise of what developments they want (or need) most.

            I'm not against your point that more people take from Blender than they give. You're missing my point that some people would be more incline to give, if only they saw more promise of Blender improving the direction of development.

            2) It's Blender's ad-hoc style of development which affects Blender's rate of development. Hobbyists are cheap, and professionals are selective. You need something definitive with Blender development to their garner support.

            If Blender Foundation weren't going to use a more publicized crowd-funding platform (which I still say would've worked better), then they needed better development goals, because this project itself obviously didn't have strong-enough appeal on its own to gain half a million dollars (which was just its initial goal, by the way).

            Most of the development goals were catering to the vision of this project--not priority to the modern freelancer's need or ushering in the next generation of tools.

            3) Most large-scaled Blender developments never focus on what the working professional needs--they cater more to features that impress the hobbyist.

            modo's taking a note from its professionals user base. ZBrush goes far and beyond on that note. CINEMA 4D's catered well to its user base. Heck, even 3ds Max got some new features this year from high-demand among its professional user base.

            Blender? Well, we're still just toying around with improving physics and particles. And since most people have terrible internet with data cap limits, I don't see the point in emphasizing a cloud service just yet, all to watch content we can just order digitally or a DVD to enjoy for offline use. It's trendy, but not essential.

            Not that stuff like improved physics simulation systems aren't useful, but why are we seeing Blender miss yet-another opportunity to finally focus on overhauling Blender's disjointed internal structure and overcrowded UI layout? Why are we seeing more first-priority developments get passed over for second-priority features?

            4) Pretty much everything here should've been what Project Gooseberry promised to deliver:

            http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Dev:Ref/GoogleSummerOfCode/2014/Ideas

            Just why most of these excellent (and some long-awaited) ideas are just mere considerations for GSoC 2014 while Project Gooseberry is proposing second-priority features like improved physics simulation systems, is beyond me.

            Seems like Blender Foundation wasted a perfect chance to put Blender on a playing field that nobody else is touching. I mean, the Quad Dominant remesh modifier alone would make even the staunchest Maya fan drool.

            But that's exactly my point: Blender puts second-priority stuff first, and puts first-priority stuff as mere "consideration." The likes of GSoC projects just pass by every year, leaving great ideas on the table, with only a handful of those ideas to seeing completion by the end of the summer, and even fewer later seeing their way into slow development. It's the same story, year after year.

            I bet you anything that if Project Gooseberry had offered the developments of GSoC 2014, along with dedicated focus of improving and tightening up Blender's internal structure and UI layout, we'd be talking about how successful Project Gooseberry crowd-funding was and how revolutionary Blender will be now.

            5) Blender needs to make a step towards a definitive moment in its life cycle, a great moment where everything changed and cemented Blender as something that can without question hold its own, both in term of features and development.

            Everything's developed so ad-hoc and scattered, that Blender never masters any of the many roles it seeks to address, while staying behind on features everyone else has long enjoyed.

            For instance, just about every other major product available--modo, Maya, Max, ZBrush--now cater to the needs of developers embracing physically-based shading. By the time Blender catches up to this, the others will be a step or two ahead, as usual.

            We're also finally seeing some attention given to muscle-deformation in Blender, which Maya's had for years, but now Maya's introducing very nice Geodesic Voxel Binding to their arsenal. How many years will we have to wait for that to see its way in Blender?

            It's taken almost a decade for Blender to see the standard support of n-gons implemented. Improved NURBS modeling was something that should've been there since "NURBANA" was first conceptualized, considering that Blender is long behind on this classic feature.

            If we're going to make strides in sculpting such as dynamic topology, we should have layers by now. I think if Project Gooseberry had proposed the new Quad Dominant remeshing modifier alone, we would've seen greater support--even from non-Blender users, since this would make Blender the only free DynaMesh-like solution on the planet. And we're about a decade behind on an improved material editor/library system.

            It's stuff like this that gets passed by year after year, project after project. Some being great big ideas, while others being long-needed polish to existing development.

            What's the promise in supporting Blender if the past has shown us that your support today might mean waiting years tomorrow for what you needed years ago?

            You can't hold someone to generosity just for snagging a free copy of Blender. You have to hold people's incentive if you want support. You also need to decide just who you want to target such incentives: professionals who make money with Blender, or hobbyists who spend their weekends dabbling with Blender.

            As long as Blender keeps being a toy for hobbyists, it's going to be treated as a toy for its hobbyist community.

            6) My last point here: Blender needs to make up its mind what it wants to do. One minute, we see initiatives designed to aim at professionals. The next, we see development proposals declined because Blender is about putting its hobbyist-majority community first. You cannot cater to professionals while keeping a "pet project" attitude with development.

            I bet most other fellow "Blender professionals" keep at least one other modeling software around, because Blender isn't as sufficient as it should be. It can be, if only we'd see some dedicated, focused development towards such. Blender itself needs to take professional need more seriously. What's best for professionals is plenty for hobbyists.

            But hey, let's enjoy yet-another animated film about some sort of abstract metaphorical sense of self-searching, probably to end either tragically or confusing with its pseudo-allegorical nature (as usual), doing little but receiving nod from the industry of how cute the project is for what it is, adding secondary features to Blender, never doing much but proving that Blender can raise money for ambitious pet projects.

          • Yup, there's a lot of stuff going on that explains the lackluster turnout from the Blender community. I'm sure you're very proud of your analysis, and in the future I'm sure the Blender Foundation might do a better job at marketing their fundraiser. Until then, it might be healthy for the folks at Blender Artists to let their egos deflate until they have something to be proud of, aside from the great work of the developers.

  7. I'm still convinced that the subject matter - cartoony creatures - was also a major cause for the lack of interest. It's been done before. The Blender Foundation (BF) has done it before! And since Aardman has already done Shaun the Sheep brilliantly, why do we need a goat?

    Recently here on BlenderNation we have seen two almost perfectly lifelike human images - those two girls kissing, and another male artist's self-portrait. I think the BF should have done a human story using those wonderful characters and many others, set in a clean urban world filled with wonderful Cycles architectural visualisations, tree lined boulevards, and futuristic cars on the roads.

    Why? Firstly, because all these things are already available (to perfection) in Blender. Secondly, and most importantly, because the big studios dare not use near-lifelike human 'stars', as it would destroy their star culture where headline faces are used to bring in cinema audiences. All they can give is either star-led crap, or endless identical-looking Pixar crap. The BF could stick two fingers up to all of that, and show what unrestricted artistic talent can really produce. The BF could start a whole new wave of film, where independent studios compete to make the most beautiful / handsome virtual-human characters, with cheap voice-overs by aspiring young actors happy to get a credit.

    • Brian Lockett on

      Meh, Indiegogo's nice, but as a platform, it rarely sees anything meeting even the $100,000 level, let long half a million. They tend to work better for smaller projects, since many of its bigger projects barely reach the $100,000 mark. Given Indiegogo's much lower traffic than Kickstarter, I think half a million would've been likely out of the question.

      Kickstarter would've been the much better choice, despite it being probably a tougher venue to employ, with Blender Foundation being in Europe. But they could've used CG Cookie as their U.S.-based company for Kickstarter, though. The ends would've justified the means. I think they would've met more than their goal going with this option.

  8. Dogecoin has been in the spotlight lately for funding projects ranging from sending the Jamacan bobsled team to the olympics to spending $55k to sponser a NASCAR racer. Appealing to that community may help get this project the funding it needs.

  9. So I started writing a much longer piece pointing out the flaws of this campaign, but in the end decided it really wasn't my place to point fingers. What I would like to say however is this, I hope in the Post-Mortem period that there is ample time and space devoted to addressing some of the mistakes and weakness of this campaign. Certainly some of the circumstances were outside of the realm of the controllable, but those are to be expected and forgiven. What troubles me more are the some of the actions that were consciously made (in good faith) and some of the actions that were not taken to ensure this campaign's success, and I hope that there is a good bit of reflection and discussion internally about what those were, and how to laser focus the next campaign. I'm not entirely certain that this is the correct forum for this discussion so again I will withhold my opinions on what those mistakes were or what their solutions should be, because lets face it, if they wanted my opinions they would have asked.

    Now that all being said, I would also like to say that I am deeply appreciative of the work that everyone has put in on this project. I had very high hopes and expectations, and the prospect of a feature length animation done in Blender truly excited me and would have been a tremendous accomplishment for the institute and the community. I really hope that goal is still on the table for a future project though, and I wish nothing but the best of fortunes in all current and future endeavors.

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