Blender Conference 2011 in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the beautiful capital of the Netherlands, was crowded with Blenderheads last weekend again. For the 10th time already!
The Blender Conference 2011 was held from 28. October to the 30. October 2011 at De Balie, near the Vondelpark.

It was the third time I visited Amsterdam and the Blender Conference and it was the greatest one so far.

Amsterdam in the morning

Day 1: Friday

Me and some other Blenderheads, arrived by train at 9 o’clock in the morning at Amsterdam Centraal. After checking in at the hostel, we went straight to the conference at De Balie.

This year I was not only a visitor. Nathan Letwory and I have been assigned as speaker assistants, to make sure the schedule is being followed as good as possible (you can’t avoid delays though) and to help the visitors, if they have any questions. But this went really smooth and it was a lot of fun too! Thanks Nathan and Ton!

We already had some great presentations on the first day.Ton Roosendaal’s keynote talk at 11 o’clock was great as always and he gave an good overview of what will happen on the next year, to name a few things: Project Mango, the Blender Network, and the Blender proceedings (a magazine, with Blender documentation). It will be interesting.

The next highlight came right after Ton. Brecht van Lommel, one of the developers currently working for the Blender Institute, gave a talk on his new render engine Cycles. He talked about the design and the goals of the engine, the new node-based shading system, and the plans for it. The most important thing to know:

  • Cycles will be merged to trunk in 1-2 weeks, and will be included in the upcoming Blender 2.61 release.
  • It will be available as an external render engine and NOT replace the Blender Internal anytime soon!

He will focus on the texture workflow, presets, border rendering and stability for the next few weeks, and afterwards work on speed enhancements (He talked about 2-3x faster rendering speed , maybe even more is possible) and then one feature at a time will be added.

Brecht, talking about Cycles

After this visual start, Jörg Müller showcased his Audio system and thew new 3D sound in 2.60!

In the afternoon I listened to Keir Meirle, the developer for Libmv (tracking) and afterwards to Joery Kassenaar, who talked about the history of Blender in the 90ies. It was very exciting to see many animations that have been done with Blender this early.

In the evening a small group went to a pizza restaurant and had some fun.

Day 2: Saturday

The second day, started with lots of tomatoes! At 10 o’clock, Sergey Sharybin introduced his Motion Tracker, which will also be merged to trunk very soon! Sergey also gave an quick overview of the code and invited everyone to help with it (writing patches, reporting bugs). From source code to arts: The audience laughed a lot, when they saw Big Buck Bunny rope skipping inside a crowd of people in Amsterdam. Sebastian König, showed how mature and stable the tracker already is.

Sergey (with Sintel t-shirt) right before his presentation

Rope skipping Bunny

At 11 o’cklock, Elizabeth Mix from Butler University held her presentation “Blender in the context of Art History and New Media”, which was really great. She showed some paintings from several artists and compared style and techniques to Blender art. Very profound talk.

Afterwards, I talked a lot with other people. That’s the most important thing at a conference in my opinion. You meet so many people from all over the world. A great way to socialize! We actually had people from all continents there. :)

Okay, we had the Cycles render engine and the Motion Tracker, what else could blow away your mind? Right! The new Compositor by Jeroen Bakker. He demoed his latest improvements and showed how fast the new compositor is, compared to the (only single threaded) one we have currently in Blender. And that was even without OpenCL yet. He will now start with the migration of the Nodes to OpenCL, which will give another big boost. Help for that is welcome!

At 19:45, the annual Suzanne Festival Award Ceremony was awarded. I had the honour to announce the nominees of the first category (Best Character Animation) and the winner! Nathan Letwory did the second category and Pablo Vazquez the third one.

Me, announcing the winner of the first category (image by Sebastian König)

The winners of all categories are:

  • Best Character Animation: Studio Midstraeti – Iceland Express Ad Campaign
  • Best Designed Short: Jonathan Lax and Ben Simonds from Gecko Animation Ltd. – Assembly: Life in Macrospace
  • Best Short Film: Mathieu Auvray – Babioles

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for all the great submissions this year, it was a pleasure to watch the screening.

To celebrate the winners and to have a lot of fun, most of the conference people went to the Saturday dinner at the Vertigo restaurant. Lot’s of great Italian food there!

Day 3 : Sunday

The third and last day of the Blender Conference begun with stunning visual shots from Project London! Ian Hubert definitely knows what he is doing! :) He screened the Project London trailer and some other VFX film work of him. Right afterwards he and Ton talked about the Mango Open Movie project, which Ian will direct. This will be so exciting, they have high goals, hopefully they can accomplish them. Project Mango will also have a developer sprint before the project starts this time, which is great. They want to fix Blender’s dependency graph, which will finally make the “animate everything” feature work as the user would expect and will improve the animation system to be multi threaded.

Ian Hubert during his presentation about Project London

At 13 o’clock I held my presentation (in German). There have been about 35 people from German speaking countries at the conference, which is great! I talked about the past 3 German Blender Conferences (BlenderDay), our forum blend.polis and the other great resources and events we have here.

Right afterwards, Gottfried Hofmann did his “Simulation Masterclass” and blew away the audience with stunning smoke simulations!

Lukas Tönne showcased his “Node-based Particle System Development” at 16:45. Great new possibilities with it, but the project is still in the beginning. But this looks very promising, it will give more flexibility to particles.

The master of giant Node setups, Andy Goralczyk, presented his new Stop motion film project Omega together with Eva Franz. This is visually really an extraordinary film. Stop motion, very detailed, with Blender CG effects and After Effects compositing. The teaser they showed us is mind blowing!

Eva and Andy giving us an insight behind the scenes of Omega

Sadly, all good things come to an end. Ton did the “Closing session” at 18 o’clock. Everyone was a bit sad and we applauded a lot! Thanks a lot to Ton, Nathan, Anja and Anne for organizing/helping and for making the conference what it is, a great place to be every year for all Blenderheads!

We went to an Indian restaurant today, first time I ate Indian food. :D

But no worries, we still had the chance to visit the Blender Institute the next day.

Day 4: Monday

From 11:00 to 18:00 the Blender Institute was open for visit. :)

Me, sitting at one of the workstations at the Blender Institute

We had a lot of fun there and I talked to many people, especially with other developers. This was a great opportunity to discuss future ideas and plans to implement. I have lots of ideas in mind at the moment.

Ton gave a tour on the institute as well, he showed us all the rooms, the Justa cluster and the new Renderfarm sponsored by Dell.

Ton, showing Big Buck Bunny storyboard drawings

Some of the conference highlights:

  • Lots of great presentations about new development features (Cycles, Tracker, Compositor, Particle Nodes…)
  • Lots of stunning work in the Suzanne Screening
  • Great people and talks
  • Yummy dinners :D

I want to thank everyone who made this conference possible! Ton you rock! :)

Also thanks to my room mates Jonathan, Sebastian, Sergey and Tobias for four funny and great days!

See you next year again!

10 Gedanken zu „Blender Conference 2011 in Amsterdam

  1. LswaN

    Sounds like some great stuff has been happening over in Amsterdam, I’m looking forward to watching the archives on youtube. Will you guys be doing a podcast about the conference?

  2. Pingback: Training in Open Source Multimedia Instruments. » Upgrade!Sofia presents Blender 3D – sneak preview of recent developments and projects. With Bassam Kurdali and Sebastian Koenig

  3. Pingback: » Blog Archive » 3D Animation and Visual Effects with Blender – Presentation by Bassam Kurdali and Sebastian Koenig

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