[Bf-education] 2.49 or 2.5 this academic year

Nicholas Jainschigg njainsch at risd.edu
Fri Apr 8 04:14:08 CEST 2011

I just thought I'd chip in as well. I teach Blender with ZBrush as part of a
3D for illustration course in the Illustration department of Rhode Island
School of Design. I'd previously taught the course with Cinema 4D, but got
tired of students asking me if they could get a cracked copy somewhere. Some
students could afford the software, others couldn't, and it seemed unfair to
me. With the extensive Blender toolset, it also seemed unnecessary.

The school has licenses of Maya, the complete Adobe CS5 suite and a lot of
other software, so expense wasn't the only factor in my decision. I know
that many companies want their hires to have experience with Maya or 3DS,
but this course is not specifically about employment Rather, it's about the
artistic side of 3D, as for a self-employed artist or small studio. I also
teach a course designed as an introduction to the creation of assets for 3D
games, using Maya, ZBrush and the Unreal Development Kit, and we use Maya
specifically and only because a great many local game studios use the
software (38Studios, Harmonix, and Turbine, among others).

I'd been using Blender in my own work, so felt comfortable teaching it, and
the students took to it quite well and enthusiastically. They loved being
able to download it and show their parents at home what they were doing in

I've never used texts, since even with commercial software they get out of
date so very rapidly. Additionally, we have long classes (five hours) and
the students, being artists, are all far from methodical in their learning
styles. I rely on demonstrating the major principles of each part of a 3D
project--modeling, textures, rendering, some animation, compositing,
particles, physics etc.--as they would apply to an illustration assignment.
I refer them to some of the many Blender information sites for deeper
explanations, but we also have courseware that allows the students to email
me 24 hours a day if they're stumped on an issue. I insist that they have
tried to solve their problem at least three ways before they contact me, so
this has never been abused, and I've always been able to resolve their
questions within 12 hours.

When I switched the class to Blender 2.53, I had limited experience with the
program. I explained to the students that I would likely make mistakes with
it by virtue of reflexes that applied to the older version, but that this
was actually a good thing for them since I would also demonstrate how to get
out of or solve problems that inevitably occur even with software that you
are thoroughly familiar with. There were no major revisions of importance to
our subject matter during the course of the class, but I did make plenty of
errors--sometimes corrected by some of the students who had run into the
same difficulty earlier, sometimes quickly looked up and solved on screen
during demonstration time.

The thing is, the class isn't strictly about teaching software competence.
Rather, it's a course in how to make absorbing images using 3D as your
medium. I'm more interested in whether they're using lighting well for
emotional effect than choosing the perfect resolution shadow map or trying
some expensive plugin. Sometimes simplicity and charm trumps detail or
photorealism, sometimes the other way around but the kids have always been
able to acquire the skills they need to make the images they want to make
whether directly through me or through resources I point them to. Quite a
few have gone on to work for the above-mentioned companies, as well as many
others, but it's really just a secondary result of the class.

On Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 8:27 PM, Juan Dario Rodas M. <jdrodas at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Hello everyone, hope you're well.
> I'd like to share my experience as a teacher using Blender, the
> documentation used in the course and the work opportunities for my students.
> Last year when the alpha version was at the oven's door, I had the same
> concern expressed in this thread: Will I use 2.49 or 2.5x version? Ton
> offered me the vision of a relatively stable beta version by the end of
> spring term. Teaching CG with an alpha version is a real headache,
> especially when the options change their behavior or disappear altogether
> ("Add to toolshelf", we miss you!), no to mention the endless times it
> crashed. A big part of the class material and documentation had to be
> rewritten, so we encouraged our students to use video tutorials like
> BlenderCookie. The good thing is that by the time we started to see fluids
> and rigid bodies, the beta version allowed us to finish the topics of the
> course. One year later, the doubts have gone and the 2.5x version stayed.
> In terms of career opportunities in my city, the major initiative proposed
> around this issue is to use the tools from Autodesk, which has agreements
> with almost all educational institutions in the area. A big portion of the
> Local Studios require specific expertise in tools like Maya, 3ds Max or
> Nuke. The problem is that the average student doesn't have the computer
> needed to run Maya or 3ds Max in a productive way; so they were very
> grateful we tought them the initial courses in Blender. Some of my students
> still use Blender as part of their professional skills and try to share the
> passion for the product in their workplaces, but they recognize that still
> there is much work to do in marketing of the open source alternatives.
> Greetings from Colombia!
> Juan Dario Rodas (JuanD)
> --- On *Tue, 4/5/11, Jessica Cortes <lou.jessica.cortes at gmail.com>* wrote:
> From: Jessica Cortes <lou.jessica.cortes at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Bf-education] 2.49 or 2.5 this academic year
> To: "Blender Educators and Trainers" <bf-education at blender.org>
> Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 5:37 AM
> Hi everyone !
> I am following your discussion with great interest and I would like to ask
> a question.
> If you teach Blender in school, do you know company that can already take
> this student to wook with Blender ? In France for exemple ?
> Thank you and have a nice day !
> 2011/4/5 Doug Ollivier <doug at flipdesign.co.nz<http://mc/compose?to=doug@flipdesign.co.nz>
> >
> I get a lot of confused people (students, management, teachers, IT
> department etc...) about the following:
> [*] sing the beta versions over the stable versions (although they were
> convinced after i just said i was doing it, and told them i can teach
> 30% more in the same time simply due to 2.5x being so much mroe logical)
> [*] When to write a new book. i.e. they were waiting for a new version
> before writing another book, not realizing that the blender naming
> scheme is totally $#*(%ed.  I managed to convince them it is an entirely
> new package now.
> [*] When to stop distributing the old book. i.e. they are still handing
> out 2.45 version books thinking it will be fine for the whole 2
> series..... Uh-Oh, wrong!
> This is a serious serious problem, and only gets me flack every time i
> have a new class etc.... I've simply stopped defending Blender on it,
> and say that it is great software with poor version numbering.
> I wish Ton would understand the headaches the current numbering system
> causes, It is a tangible issue that is holding Blender Back no-matter
> how much it improves technically.
> On 5/04/2011 11:41 a.m., Graham Hall wrote:
> > Hey I teach @ FE college in UK
> >
> > Getting some stick from management for using 2.5 beta rather than 2.49
> > - anyone else getting any?
> >
> > thanks
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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