Blender in China

Last month I visited Beijing and Hong Kong on a trip through Asia. It seems that everybody visiting China—Beijing in particular—comes back saying “you just cannot imagine…”. I stayed at the Kerry Centre Hotel near the Red Hat Beijing office, and as I walked across the street for my morning cup of coffee, I saw the CCTV building. I was litterally dumbfounded. I got my coffee, walked back to my room in disbelief, called my wife, Amy, 12 timezones away and said “you just cannot imagine…”

Which is the perfect introduction for the Blender 3d content creation suite. I have blogged favorable about Blender in the past, and every time I turn around, it’s getting better. It is not just that it’s a stellar piece of software, but it has an outstanding community of users and developers who truly know the meaning of collaboration. Their rate of innovation is as high as any I know in the world of open source software.

I love the fact that Blender brings together an incredibly diverse range of talents: 3d modelers (who can be further subdivided by their preference in modelling methods—polygonal, nurb, patch, sculpting, etc), animators (who also have their schools of animation), paint & texture artists, material gurus, lighting, compositors (who now have both a powerful node-based system that can work both within and across whole projects), dynamics and special effects, not to mention script writers, character actors, TV producers, web designers, architects, and that’s all before we get to C and C++ programmers, Renderman wizards, Python coders, etc. This incredibly broad range of constituents are brought together by the common desire to create, and the elastic medium of open source has made their creative canvas very large indeed. And the diversity that they bring together is, I believe, one of the reasons why progress is both so rapid and so relevant.

One place where Blender’s growth is really amazing is in China. I was sorry to miss the Beijing Blender event at the Beijing Software Freedom Day, but I was not surprised to see how successful it was. Blender has become a favorite in many emerging creative markets, and Chinese localization has paved the way for a tremendous community of use in China, as you can see from the Blender China home page.

Consider for a moment all the amazing creative innovations the world has inherited from China’s past, starting with ink on paper. Layer onto that the futuristic vision that China is bringing to the world (embodied in architecture such as the CCTV building). Then see how Blender is becoming a democratizing force for creativity, within China as well as between China and the rest of the world. I look forward to the day when we see Blender-created art leaping, spinning, and tumbling from the displays surrounding Times Square, Picadilly Circus, and Shinjuku. It is only a matter of time, code, and content.