[Bf-committers] A practical proposal for the task of re-licensing Blender

Lorenzo Pierfederici lpierfederici at gmail.com
Fri Nov 26 00:40:35 CET 2010

looks like many of you, when talking about proprietary software, see this

"an evil super-big corporation (we'll use a fake name for it: Autodesk, or
Microsoft) steal or abuse Blender, and get away with it. They make lots of
money they don't deserve, our beloved developers get pissed, our users gain
nothing? No way!"

well, I would hate that, too!
But in our computer graphics industry (games, animation, vfx) I don't really
see this "THEM (evil moneymakers) vs. US (passionate community)" thing...
let me try and give you another perspective on this, based on my
professional experience ;)

Who's THEM?
All over the world there are hundreds of CG studios, ranging from very big
(~2000 staff) to very small (~20 staff). It is my opinion that, however
strange it might seem, most of the people involved with CG actually _work_
in such a place. You may prove me wrong on this, but CG is so demanding that
most of us end up making a living of it to keep it going. :)
There are of course artists/developers doing graphics out of fun besides a
full-time job/school in an unrelated field, but not as many as full-timers
(and you know what? For the most part we love it so much that we work on
personal CG stuff in our spare time besides a full-time job in a studio!
Check forums where professionals hang out).

How is life in a studio?
Guys, it is AWESOMENESS!
Really, you should see it. A bunch of crazy, _highly_ skilled, _highly_
experienced people crunching ideas, building tools, experimenting on
everything, sometimes fighting, getting stressed and overworked, chilling
out with pizza and beer in the evening (usually late, late evening), and
generally having loads of fun! ;)
And all this to go to the theater, watching people watch your work and
laugh, cry, think, and then feeling so proud when your name comes up on the
screen for a microsecond in the credits and no one but you notice it!
Of course studios are companies, too, and so they try to make money. But in
the end, as my boss said just yesterday, making images is all we are about!

So, are they really THEM?
To me they definitely look like US, just maybe not using Blender, yet!

How is this related to this thread?
Typically in a studio we tend to develop many small or not so small things
around our base tools, based on the needs of each "show" (a game, a movie, a
commercial...), but usually there is not enough time to polish them,
document them, etc. Remember? We are about making images, not software. And
besides there will never be enough resources to develop everything you need,
so you go for the big target, what makes your studio unique, and integrate
third-party tools for what you don't have resources to develop yourself, or
is better done by someone else, or is somehow secondary to you.

And where do this third party tools come from?
>From everywhere, really. Look at the Maya eco-system for example. Even if
proprietary, Maya is in a way a very open software: stable APIs for plugins,
lots of documentation and examples, good support. You can build amazing
stuff around it, I'm sure you've all seen interesting making-ofs and the
like. This means that MANY developers distribute their Maya plugins,
scripts, or just ideas as open source or public domain. And some software
companies (often spinoffs from some studio) develop bigger plugins as
proprietary code and sell them.
For studios this is very important: I have my base tool and I love it, but
if I get a show that needs photorealistic fur, or smoke, or a special
renderer, and I can't do it myself, can I get it from someone else? If I
have time I could pay developers to do it from scratch, but what if I don't
have time? The best option would be buying an already-made,
already-tested-in-production plugin.
And if at some point all of my shows will require smoke, then I'll develop
something myself...
This is really what "commercial" software means in our context.

And we have a very bright example that having a tool that can be extended
means that a lot of people will extend it: Blender Add-ons!
With the add-on system, Blender development is skyrocketing with small and
useful things!
Couldn't all this things be done in the code before? Sure they could, but it
would have been more difficult for someone not knowing Blender internals,
would have required centralized management (stealing Ton's time), and would
have ended up as low priority projects in the tracker. Instead look at how
many add-ons we have now! And it's just the beginning.

Now if we just made some more steps in that direction...
- give people a chance to make proprietary add-ons and plugins, so if they
need to invest money they can.
- build a more powerful plugin system with stable APIs and good docs.
The license is just a part of it.

For the second point, think how cool it would be if things like Dynamic
Paint, the Ocean modifier, or all the awesome stuff from Raul could be done
as external plugins. No need to get core developers to review, approve and
integrate it, no wasting of their time. No pain for plugins developers to
keep their patches in sync with trunk waiting for integration (SoC anyone?),
no need for super-deep, ever-changing knowledge of blender internals
required. How many Dynamic Paints would we see with a stable plugin API? How
many Ocean modifiers?

2010/11/25 José Romero <jose.cyborg at gmail.com>
>  Blender is a tool for artists, not programmers.

I don't really see this in my experience. Programmers build tools for
artists, artists inspire programmers to build tools. And there's no such
distinction as artist vs. programmer. In a studio it's a very blurred line,
with lots of people being on both sides. What is good for the pipeline, is
good for everybody.

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