Thanks to the relentless efforts of the Blender Foundation, and the worldwide community of users and supporters of the software after which the organization was named, Blender Renderer now populate the most prominent CG forums and artist portfolios alongside renders from other software. Blender rendering itself has seen some notable improvements with the advent of its powerful Raytracing engine, Cycles, and now stands up quite formidable to popular paid external rendering engines. |
The recognition and success of Blender as a program and the reach of its influence on veteran and budding artists alike are all owed to its creator, Ton Roosendaal.
In 1988, Ton Roosendaal co-founded the Dutch animation studio, NeoGeo. This studio quickly became the largest 3D animation house in the Netherlands. Within NeoGeo, Ton was responsible for both art direction and internal software development. After careful deliberation, it was decided that the current in-house 3D toolset needed to be rewritten from scratch.
In 1995 this rewrite began and was destined to become the 3D software tool we all now know as Blender. In 1998, Ton founded a new company called Not a Number (NaN), to further market and develop Blender. NaN’s business model involved providing commercial products and services around Blender.
In 2000 the company secured growth financing by several investment companies. The target was to create a free creation tool for interactive 3D (online) content and commercial versions of the software for distribution and publishing. Sadly, due to disappointing sales and the ongoing difficult economic climate, the NaN investors decided to shut down all operations early 2002. The shutdown also included discontinuing the development of Blender.
Enthusiastic support from the user community and customers couldn’t justify leaving Blender to disappear into oblivion. Since restarting a company with a sufficiently large team of developers wasn’t feasible, in May 2002 Ton Roosendaal started the non-profit Blender Foundation.
The Blender Foundation’s first goal was to find a way to continue developing and promoting Blender as a community-based open source project. In July 2002, Ton managed to get the NaN investors to agree on a unique Blender Foundation plan to attempt to open source Blender. The “Free Blender” campaign sought to raise 100,000 EUR, as a one-time fee so that the NaN investors would agree on open sourcing Blender. To everyone’s shock and surprise the campaign reached the 100,000 EUR goal in only seven short weeks.
On Sunday, Oct 13, 2002, Blender was released to the world under the terms of the GNU General Public License. Blender development continued since that day driven by a team of far-flung dedicated volunteers from around the world led by Blender’s original creator, Ton Roosendaal. With Blender originating as an in-house creation tool, the day-to-day feedback and interaction of both developing and using the software were one of its most outstanding features.
In first 2.5 years of open source development, it was especially this uniqueness of Blender that has proven to be difficult to organize and maintain.Instead of getting funding to bring together software developers, the Blender Foundation decided to start a project to bring together the most outstanding artists in the Blender community and challenge them to make an exciting 3D animation movie short.
This is how “Project Orange” started in 2005, which resulted in the world’s first and widely recognized Open Movie “Elephants Dream”. Not only was the entirely created using Open Source tools, the end-result and all of the assets as used in the studio were published under an open license, the Creative Commons Attribute.
Because of the overwhelming success of the first open movie project, Ton Roosendaal established the “Blender Institute” in summer 2007. This now is the permanent office and studio to more efficiently organize the Blender Foundation goals, but especially to coordinate and facilitate Open Projects related to 3D movies, games or visual effects.
In April 2008 the Peach Project, the open movie “Big Buck Bunny”, was completed in the Blender Institute. In September 2008 the open game “YoFrankie!” was released. In September 2010 the short film “Sintel” premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival with a sold out screening in a 450 seat theater.
In July 2009, Ton received an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from the Leeds Metropolitan University, for his outstanding contribution to creative technology. Early 2008 was also the start of the Blender 2.5 project, a major overhaul of the UI, tool definitions, data access system, event handling, and animation system. The main target was to reimplement the core of Blender, originally developed mid 90ies, to bring it up to contemporary interface standards and input methods.
Since then, Blender has grown at a steady and dependable pace thanks to Ton, his team and the efforts of the community. With version 2.79 just around the corner, and promising a dramatically improved and expanded feature set, the future of Blender rendering, and subsequently, creative freedom looks brighter and brighter.
Note: Some content in this article was extracted from Blender's web page, which is under Public Domain, and was used within the permissions provided by this label.
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