Sintel, the Durian Open Movie Project » Blog Archive » Development Update #2


Development Update #2

on October 30th, 2009, by Brecht

Bug fixing and bringing back features in 2.5 has been taking up most of our time in the last two weeks. However a number of new features have been added as well, so let’s talk about those a bit.

Campbell and Martin worked on a Gimbal mode for the transform manipulator, which allows you to see exactly where each Euler axis actually is and edit only the single f-curve corresponding to that axis. It also gives you a nice visual indication when you reach Gimbal lock.


Bone near Gimbal Lock

Work has gone into the shape key editing user interface, focusing on making the workflow more efficient, so less clicking, mode switching and manual work is needed compared to 2.4x. It’s now possible to create new shape keys by blending existing ones, mirror shape keys, edit shape keys with the blending applied, and to switch between shape keys in edit mode. Further the shape key list now shows editable values for each, and the list can be scrolled through and resized. Shape keys can be reordered and weights can be quickly cleared for experimenting with different shapes.

Autosave is also back now in 2.5, and working correctly now with library linked files, which were problematic in 2.4x. This should help the artists recover their work when Blender crashes.

We now have a basic deep shadow map implementation in SVN, it is not very advanced yet but working stable. This will be mostly important for hair rendering. Right now it supports transparency for shadows using a fixed alpha value per material, and lower memory usage than equivalent multi sample buffer shadows. Here’s an exaggerated example of how alpha allows to let more light pass through.

Classical without Alpha

Classical without Alpha

Deep Shadow with Alpha

Deep Shadow with Alpha

Further, Nicholas has been doing an excellent job improving the internal sculpt code. It’s now using a BVH for sculpting and redrawing code, so that those no longer needs to go over the whole mesh when drawing a stroke. I’ll start working on sculpting as well soon, mostly focusing on performance and memory usage.

For interested developers, the feature wishlist is being updated all the time, so please check it out. Also, the 2.5 list has many items that developers could pick up. Some features we think are feasible even if you’re not an experienced Blender developer, and that we could use here (see the web page for details):

  • Connecting node links more efficiently
  • Sequencer strip selection, transform, snapping, .. improvements
  • Bring back Ctrl+L, Link Selected
  • Proportional editing in object mode


Thanks to Martin Poirier for adding object proportional edit mode, Revision 24185

27 Responses to “Development Update #2”

  1. ccherrett Says:

    Great progress!

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Artorp Says:

    Good job, thanks for the update!

  3. Tristan Says:

    Wow, you are heroes!
    It look very usefully and about much work for you!

  4. tyrant monkey Says:

    DSM, yeah devs! Are the any plans to further advance AAO from Big Buck Bunny because if you have seen some of the papers from Pixar on AAO there is so much scope for it to get better.

  5. kram1032 Says:

    looking nice ๐Ÿ™‚
    When it actually reaches the Gimbal Lock, what happens?
    Will the two (in this case red and blue) rings merge to a(n in this case) violet one?

  6. Stephen Says:

    I’d love to help, but being a total noob when it comes to programming, I haven’t even managed to get blender to compile, and these are the only instructions I’ve found so far: … _build.pdf

  7. Dainor Says:

    Brecht says:
    โ€œIโ€™ll start working on sculpting as well soon, mostly focusing on performance and memory usage.โ€

    Yes! ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S.: when I entered this page in the โ€œNameโ€ and โ€œmailโ€ fields it was loaded someone elseโ€™s nickname: โ€œexavoltโ€. Hope iโ€™t not that someone entered my comp.

  8. sebasong Says:

    hey, nice to see so many cool stuff! Keep them coming!

    Now we will get 4 disc instead of 3 disc. haha!

  9. Stefan Andersson Says:

    yes! finally! I’ve wanted euler visualization for bones for a long time now. If we only also could switch the global orientation so that we have Y as ‘up’ I would be even more happy!

  10. qxfx Says:

    Will you include a 3dconnexion support in Blender 2.5?
    Blender 2.49 has it.

  11. D Says:


  12. francoistarlier Says:

    please for the connected nodes take a look at what does Nuke or Fusion try the free PLE and check it out, there is some nice ideas

    good luck

  13. MeshWeaver Says:

    does Gimbal Lock mean bones can only rotate so far in one direction? if so, that’s a cool feature. would maybe help with animating arms, hands, and fingers… just so they don’t stretch further than they’re supposed to. ๐Ÿ˜€


  14. Wahooney Says:

    Great updates, dev team ๐Ÿ˜€

    MeshWarrior: Gimbal lock is when 2-euler rotation angles share the same/or similar axis. The image above shows a rotation that’s close to reaching Gimbal Lock.

  15. Nixon Says:

    Thanks for the updates:) the deep shadow maps seems quite nice already and everybody loves new and improved sculpt tools!


    gimbal lock is an issue wich occurs when rotating objects, it means that 2 axis allign with each other wich results in a gimbal lock. Gimbal lock is usualy to be avoided since it can be difficult to solve when it occurs.
    If u want more details try guerillaCg there some cool vid on euler rotations and gimbal aswell.

  16. Wahooney Says:

    Eulers and Gimbal Lock explained:

  17. Wray Bowling Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, bones in 2.4x were using quaternian rotations which don’t have gimbal lock. What was the reason for changing besides the fact that quaternian flips over Z? I mean… may as well switch 3D splines to euler as well. They exhibit more flipping problems than bones do.

  18. ideasman42 Says:

    @Stefan Andersson, changing global up axis is really not important, importers and exporters you use should be able to rotate the scene data so it works properly with apps that use a different up axis.

    @qxfx, NDof support is not back in blender yet, probably wont be for a while.

    @Wray Bowling, Eulers are an option for bones, quats are still there too, for some things eulers are nicer to animate with.
    Quat/Eulers/AxisAngle can now be used with objects and bones, so gimble is just a display option when eulers are set.

  19. qxfx Says:

    How long is a while? Do you think NDof will be in the first 2.5 final version?

  20. yoff Says:

    @D: This is an english forum, please be so polite as to post you comments in english… :-p

  21. Stefan Andersson Says:

    It would be important to a lot of users that comes from the maya/softimage camp. We keep changing the wrong FCurves all the time ๐Ÿ™‚ 15 years of animating in Softimage has left a few marks in our heads ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. FishB8 Says:

    Ok, these fast developments makes me wonder how the logistics are handled internally for deploying the new builds. Do the artists only update the version they are using when they want/need to, or is this something that is more centralized and gets pushed out over the network whenever you feel like you have a reasonably stable build? What type of system have you set up to deal with this? (Boring details I know, but it’s something I find interesting)

  23. ideasman42 Says:

    @Stefan Ansersson, everyone has a different idea of whats important so we cant give every use case attention, Durian development is focusing on our artists needs (and a bit on 2.5), if Softimage users want to get together and write/fund global axis adjustment feature thats fine.

    @FishB8, all artists use svn and build on their own systems (daily – in the morning or through the day when they need some fix)

    We tried having a central build early on but it makes debugging hard when the user is running a Blender thats a few hours older then the source on the server, which give line mis-matches on crash logs.

    Having their own builds also means we can give patches to artists (for eg, The gimbal axis feature was applied only to Lee’s system the day he asked for it, but gave the patch to Martin to review for inclusion in blender a week later – since Martin maintains the transform system)

  24. Lasse R. Bruntse Says:


  25. David Jordan Says:

    It may be a bit early for this, but you guys might think about making the sequencer more user friendly for editing video. Should make it better for the artists to edit on Durian and would be a huge boon to video editing on Linux if Blender has a good (including shallow learning curve!) ui for this.

  26. bert Says:

    just curious, i know there are alot of people building thier own version of 2.5, but where do you get the most up to date one that is reliable.

    i saw the page where they are listed, but there are sooo many to choose from. which is the correct one?

    i dont do programming, i just want to mess around in it.

  27. ideasman42 Says:

    @David Jordan, we have plans for the sequencer and have already added some small editing improvements but will probably post on this later.

    @bert, Builds that simply give a svn revision number are the same builds the artists are using..
    * svn r24211 linux 64bit
    * Blender 2.5 Freestyle/collada/soundsystem – these are not vanilla builds.