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Default Cube challenge

Mike Pan is a 3d artist from Vancouver, Canada. He does great art, great books and if you don’t know him yet, you should (visit his website now).
Apart from the previously mentionned talents, he is also a creative self-challenging person.

For his latest project “DefaultCubisme” he decide every day for 30 days to create an artwork based on the default blender Cube… yes the one you get when you start. You can add modifiers,  arrays, move cams, add light, helper curves, but you can NOT modify those 8 vertices, no sculpting or other “modelling” (complete guidelines here)
I have been following his progress on twitter and on his blog, and I have been amazed at all the possibilities. Just check the provided blend file to see how the magic happens.
To be limited by the number of modelling tools, one has to find workarounds, or “hack” tools from their normal use. One can end up with 10+ modifiers on the base cube. So I wanted to try too 🙂

Here is my attempt at it :

Default Cubism #1

Default Cubism #1

And here is the blend file for the scene (try it and enter Edit Mode):

A few modifiers, particles, blender internal with freestyle and some compositing tricks for background. Fun!

Now try it too!!!

It’s really a great way to learn new stuff because you often dont have a goal, you just start the cube, add stuff, turn in circle for a few minutes and suddenly see a shape or composition come out.

I can only suggest you to try it…

Kids are finally asleep, kitchen is clean, put your favorite relaxing tune, sit back,  launch blender, and start playing. You will be surprised by what happens next!


Default Cubism #2

Default Cubism #2 other view

Default Cubism #3

Default Cubism #3


A journey through Architecture and Openworked Creations

Finally there is some interesting commercial project worth mentioning on the blog : “A journey through Architecture and Openworked Creations” , for swiss watch manufacturer Vacheron Constantin .


Openworked technique known in french as “skeleton” , is the art of opening the watch movement so that one can see through it.

here is the movie :

We had to create 3 different 3D universes, each inspired by one of the watch models. Elements of inspiration include shapes, curves and the gravure patterns.

Rendered in cycles (600 samples) on 2 PC. One with Nvidia GTX 690 and the other with GTX 660. Each frame took an average of 15 minutes to render with a maximum of 31 minutes ( when the train passes very close and generates lot of motion blur on the first scene (train station)).

Golden smoke particles are Particular in after effects, we also used Bartek Skorupa’s awesome script for importing blender cameras inside AE . Thanks man! This movie was made at RGBprod.

here is a gallery of some making-of images  :

train and locomotive based on great CC models by  KuhnIndustries and seavenois. Thanks guys

Nearly a year + 5min tutorial

Oh yes…. I thought I’d post something just before nov 17th… So nobody can blame me for not writing on this blog for over a year…
Still it’s very lame from me… but I have excuses …
And no there is absolutely no excuses for letting a blog die !!
Nevertheless we had the pleasure to have a second cool baby (A warm Hello to the handsome Louis that will maybe read me in 10 years from the future !) and thus did a bit less 3D work, more 2D , editing etc…

But now I’m back on track. And it starts with a new 5 minutes tutorial.

I love the 5 min tutorial format. It’s fast and effective… It is also more suited for intermediate/upper users, as it does not allow the time to explain all operations in detail, but draft out general ideas of a specific technique or trick. Fell free to ask for help in the comments.

And lastly, I am working on a nice 3d animation project at RGBprod studio… more to be unveiled at end of january.


Spike the mouse – Shortfilm

Hello mouse lovers!
Today’s blogpost is one about a lovely clever animal: the mouse.  And especially about one called Spike.  He is the hero of our 3d movie that we produced during our sparetime this summer.

introducing: Spike

The competition
It was part of a competition called Golden Velvet (link FR/DE only) organized by the Swiss Textile federation. On first step (april 2012) teams were invited to send in a short synopsis on a A4 paper. All medias and styles allowed (doc, fiction, anim, stopmo, shooting, papercut etc…) We had to chose one of 6 themes provided. Actually more than themes, it was 6 technological innovation of the Swiss Textile Industry. So at end of May a total of 12 teams were chosen to get a small production funding and start the actual production. Our theme was “schock-absorbant rope” and we had to deliver the movie at the end of august.

The result
Well it seems the jury liked the story as we finished 2nd of the competition 🙂

You can see all the other movies on this page. There are some really good ones (much better than Spike in fact…)

Here is a quick-dirty comp of Spike with the trophy 🙂

Cycles rendering!

Very early in the project I decided to render using Cycles. It was a challenge to self, plus a good opportunity to learn the tool on a production level. So was cycle worth? Yes!  and even more now that all the mango optimizations are in. First of all cycles and viewport render allows instant feedback, which is more than great for lighting. Secondly it needs some time to optimize renders ( more on this on a later post). We had a tight schedule (too many scenes) and I only had 2 computers (with each a gtx 560 ), so basically if we wanted to finish the movie and its 6000+ frames the rendertime per frame had to be at around 1 minute. Some too noisy scenes were allowed to 2 mins. Oh yes, don’t even think of rendering on a non-gpu computer.

As a render farm/management I used brender, little software I created with Francesco Siddi 

Coming back from 3 weeks in China with my wife and daughter I thought it would be interesting to make an auto-critic of myself and the movie 🙂
Many details and problems are still present and animation is often not smooth or polished. It was nevertheless a real challenge to finish the movie on time for the deadline. Most of the animations are a one pass work. No refining, or minimal only. If I had only one mistake to point out is that the movie is too long. We had too many shots. Shorter movie would have allowed us way more time to add details, refine characters (yes Mr. Cat I am looking at you), and perfect the animation.
At one point I was really wanting to redo the most ugly anims, re-render the flickering and noisy scenes (now that I could have infinite time/no deadline), but I thought NO. It was made like this, delivered on a deadline, it is all part of the movie. In 10 years when I’ll show it to my daughter (who inbeetween will be making 5 times better movies in 10 times less time on her iPad 9 HD) there will be stories and explanations to be told 🙂

The final movie:

Credits go to :
Character/Set design + rendering + animation : Olivier Amrein
Animation : Andres Bajares
Director+Editing : Luc Walpoth
Sound: Bruce Wuilloud

a making-of might follow if it rains a lot and next sundays are like today: quiet at home.

Quick tutorial for cycles and vertex colors

Here is a quick less than 5 minute tutorial that will teach you how to mix 2 shaders using vertex color map.
This is a “<5min tutorial”. I plan to make some more of those. They are quick and expect some background knowledge so not well suited for beginners, more like intermediate/advanced users
here is the first one :

Blender production Challenges – Call for content (yes still a few months to go :)

Hello Blenderheads,
I’m Olivier, and I presented the Open-Stage blender Production Challenges at last year’s blender conf.
I would like to get your help for this year.
You can see my blogpost about last year here . And also the video here

Possible Improvements for this year:
Some things that will need to be improved :
– The internet connection at the conf venue (not my fault 🙂
– A way to distribute the challenge files faster.
– A better way to interact and discuss with online people (have someone in the room to check IRC and help participate)
– Have more people sending in the challenge files before the conference.

Call for challenge files
So, this post is all about the last point: I would like to get more files from you, blender users.
Usually these challenge files come out from a problem that you had (or still have) during a production or image creation. They have a broad range: Something that weirdly behaves not the way you want or expect (no bug wanted here, it could be just a rig that maybe doesnt bend correctly even with rotation locking, or maybe something that you are stuck with, like how to change the color of an instanced group randomly. Other examples: you try to render an image, but an object doesn’t render correctly.
I will not be able to show all files during the conference, and will have to do a selection of the most interesting ones. The ones that could start a debate or technique sharing. But possibly all will be shared somewhere online after the conf.

what to provide
The best format is a simple lightweight blender file, which focuses only on the problem. We do not want too many useless artefacts around. A bit like when you send a bugreport file, you squeeze it down to only the part that you are interestred in. For example if your challenge is about rigging, you do not need a complicated animated sculpted textured character.
Ideally you should provide a text file (inside blend file or outside as .txt ) with the explanation of the problem (and your solution :p). You can append images if needed. And try to rate its difficulty level ( we need hard ones, as well as easy ones) I might re-edit them a bit + beware that they will be redistributed, so be sure to provide only content that is not afraid to be copied around the world wild web.
If possible size should be reasonable.

Feel free to look at the files from last year and provide better ones 🙂

Thank you and looking forward to get your feedback and maybe files. You can send me a link to files oenvoyage AT or by writing a comment here. I’m also on twitter @oenvoyage and sometimes on IRC

Blender Presentation + Workshop at Libre Software Meeting – Geneva 10-11 July

The Libre Software Meetings (Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre) is a worldwide gathering of enthusiastic FOSS users that usually takes place in France. But this year the organizers decided to change a bit and it will take place in Switzerland, in Geneva to be precise. Although still in a french speaking territory, most of the talks and conferences will be in English.

I will give an introductory presentation of Blender on tuesday 10th at 14h40 (offical schedule here).
This talk will be followed by a hands-on workshop on wednesday 11th at 14h (schedule)

Both are intended for beginners or graphic professionals that would like to know more about 3D creation with Blender. A bit of history, tools and scripting. Come mess around with vertices and meshes during the workshop.

I will also be in Geneva during the public weekend, when the events are more wide-public oriented. So if you happen to be there at that time, drop me a line and we can hangout.

By the way the events are free, and there will be open-source beer (not free though)

Also check out the interesting program for Media, Radio, Télévision, Professional graphics as well as the official website


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