The main topic of my Blender Conference 2016 keynote was the Blender 2.8 project; where are are and what to expect from it in the coming year. The biggest news is that we are really going to start working on it, with more developers than ever – especially thanks to the support we get from the industry.
The main sponsors currently are (in parentheses amount of full timers):
- Blender Foundation (2+)
Thanks to donations and Development Fund we can keep supporting developers to handle daily tasks – especially for bug tracker reports and patch reviews. For the coming period we can keep supporting two (near) full time positions on this job. Aim is to involve the active volunteers first, with them discussions are ongoing or will start soon.
- Blender Institute, Netherlands (3+)
Thanks to Blender Cloud, subsidies and some sponsoring the Blender Institute can hire a team of 12 people already; which includes myself (general coordination), Francesco Siddi (pipeline and web development), Sergey Sharybin (dependency graph, Cycles), Sybren Stuvel (web tech, pipeline), Pablo Vazquez (web design, UI team).
- Nimble Collective, USA (1)
This Mountain View startup is investing a lot in Blender, via own channels and by supporting a half year developer seat in Blender Institute.
- Tangent Animation, Canada (2+)
This Toronto+Winnipeg based animation studio recently completed their first 100% Blender made feature film – Run Ozzy Run. They currently work on their second feature, a scifi story with robots. Tangent hired own developers to work on Blender and Cycles, and supports 1 year of two full time developers in Blender Institute to work on Blender Viewport.
- AMD, USA (2+)
AMD already hired Mike Erwin to work on upgrading Blender’s OpenGL, they recently hired a small team to add ProRender (open source OpenCL optimized engine) in Blender, and now support one Blender Institute developer to work on Cycles for OpenCL GPUs for 1 year.
- Aleph Objects, USA (2+)
The makers of the popular LulzBot 3D printer accepted a proposal from Blender Institute to fund the “Blender 101” project – which is a release-compatible version of Blender configured for kids (education) or for occasional users. This is closely related to the goal of the Blender 2.8 “Workflow” project anyway – we want users to more efficiently make (or use, or share) optimally configured Blenders for their own workflows. This would support at least two full time developers on “101” and “Workflow” for a year.
The result is we can roughly assign 10 full time developers on Blender 2.8 in the coming period!
What it means is the following:
- At leat three full timers will work on the Viewport, including PBR, new shader editing, layers, compositing, etc. Which means we totally get something in the course of 2017!
- Workflow and usability will get a good amount of attention. We still have to be realistic with the goals but we for sure can make another big step forward to finish 2.5 goals and make sure we’re ready for future development.
- Work on Dependency graph (animation system, duplication, overrides) and asset management will move on as well, including Alembic caching. We might start a flirt with USD?
- And of course we keep our flagship render engine Cycles up to date for all platforms!
- Blender 2.8x (and branch) will be tested in highly demanding production environments.
What stays open for now:
- The “everything nodes” concept will have to wait a while. It’s not something for 1 person (or part timer) to do in a short time, especially not now we’re doing so many other projects already. This project also depends on successful completion of “depsgraph”, which will take many months – if not half a year.
- Better news: the Blender Game Engine project might be getting a revival. The UPBGE team is very motivated to keep Blender engine work, and help with aligning BGE with the goals we set for 2.8 – at least to use the new viewport and pbr shader system. A new logic system is still undefined.
- Workflow issues for non-open pipelines: we will try to cover some of the topics (UDIM support), but most pipeline-specific issues to integrate Blender well in production pipelines with other (closed) CG programs is still something we’d need active help for – preferably code contributions by the companies who need such features themselves.
Next weekend (25-26-27 November) there’s a 12-person “2.8 Workflow” workshop in Blender Institute with active coders and contributors to Blender. Participants are Jonathan Williamson, Pablo Vazquez, Julian Eisel, Paweł Łyczkowski, Daniel Lara Martinez, Sebastian Koenig, Bastien Montagne. Brecht van Lommel, Mike Pan, Sergey Sharybin, Dalai Felinto and myself. I expect we then can align a lot of ideas and requirements and agree on design decisions that will help everyone to move on for several years! Expect elaborate reports from this team here and on the usual bf- mailinglists!