3d cartoon from scratch

    Hello dear Habr

    For the first time I was going to write to you, because there is something to tell and, finally, a little time appeared. The keynote today will be such a topic as teaching 3D animation.
    The point of no return hid behind the back three years ago. Then a small group of dreamers, five years in the hobby mode engaged in animation, decided to make their profession out of this. This is now almost three years old for us, and a good dozen people have been producing 3D animation: children's series and commercials for computer games. And then, with little understanding of how cartoons are made, six people gathered.
    The fact that we had never done 3D animation before, and the fact that no one was left from the original composition, is a separate story. And today's - about how, from scratch, an animation studio was created in Kazan, which is completely running on free software.

    For clarity, a small cut from our work:


    The main tool was the Blender program. Then, just a month ago, the Cycles render appeared in it, which we foolishly rushed to use in projects. It is now stable and almost omnipotent, and then crashed on every second render. But not only did 90% of students never see Blender, we went further and installed Ubuntu as the operating system, which was first seen by 100% of colleagues. They had fun as they could. What can I say.

    Autodesk plot

    Why in Russia animation studios do not use Blender?
    Of course, there is no worldwide secret conspiracy. And the Russian animation studios at the start are guided by the opinion of the specialists who create them. Such key people already understand very well how they can build a workflow and how to optimize it in the future. The experience of such a user often goes beyond the first ten years and it is clear that this is not the experience of using Blender, which in those days was much weaker than Max and Maya.
    Our studio was free from such a load of knowledge, so we frantically rolled Linux, Blender, GIMP, InkScape and others like them and sat down to deal with it.
    The second serious reason to use Max or Maya is elementary in that there is someone to work for them. The fashion for these programs and the illusion of ubiquity attracts hordes of self-taught.
    In Kazan, we then found as many as two students who agreed to help us in our free time from the institute. The third person to know Blender was your humble servant. Then the training looked very simple. We roughly understood what to do to get a cartoon, and I ran and prompted buttons.

    Beginner Training

    As you might imagine, a lot of sweat and blood was spilled. The fluid was also the wildest. But we learned with the speed of downloading information to a USB flash drive. Unfortunately, it was a wear job. Permanent nerves, lifeless studio life, but, moreover, low productivity due to an infinite number of errors.
    As soon as we managed to go through this stage, we set about writing a tutorial. If before this a new employee spent three months sorting out his duties on his section of the conveyor, now with a teacher (!) In two months he knew the whole work of the studio and realized his place in it.
    Everything would be fine, but the teacher was the key figure in this process and now he was working hard. For a long time this could not continue and, of course, did not continue.
    This training system also crumbled. Fortunately for the studio, by this moment we figured out how to work and a new person in the studio was already trained by the studio. He distracted his colleagues from work, was mistaken, got slaps in the head, in general, he studied. And then the picture took shape.
    Learning from scratch in the company of dinosaurs is a difficult and dangerous task. The specialist does many things on the machine, it is not familiar to him that you may not know the alphabet. We are far from bison, but the first stupid question was from a beginner, and the irritation sensor began to go through the roof: “How can you not know this ???” And the beginner has nowhere to know.
    And then it was decided to write an intensive training course “3D-cartoon from scratch” and include everything you need in it: basic knowledge, basic tools, methods to speed up work, a description of typical mistakes and ways to avoid them. And not just book knowledge, but the most applied, everyday. And the work began to boil.
    This course is now ready and even freely available on YouTube - goo.gl/LBzAQL But how it was created is a great story.

    How was the video course created

    To say that I am a lazy person is to say nothing. I categorically do nothing that my life does not depend on. In general, the question of motivation arose firmly, but was decided very simply. I organized Blender courses in Kazan. A group of 10 people gathered and there was nowhere to retreat. But this seemed to me not enough. I organized a public contact - vk.com/blender_kzn , where I promised to lay out this very course for free. And the path to retreat or delay was finally cut off.
    And away we go. There were two lessons in Kazan a week: on Monday and Friday. This meant that from Tuesday to Thursday I edited the Monday lesson and prepared for the lesson on Friday, and on the weekend I edited Friday and prepared it on Monday. Somehow I did not think that it would take me all my time.
    Moreover, videos for 10 minutes are on the Internet, and classes lasted two hours. It would be impossible to adequately mount such material, so I went for a trick. Classes were prepared not just in the form of text, but in the form of a recorded and already brushed voice. And the lesson in Kazan went like this: there were two or three parts, during which I turned on the recorded audio tracks, and at that time I turned the mouse in the program, which, in fact, the students saw, and wrote a program for recording from the monitor. And between the blocks I examined the questions of Kazan students. It was a real sport with elements of self-torture.
    But in the end, both the Kazan students and the subscribers of the public, who in nearly three months gathered nearly a thousand people, were satisfied. The goal of the course was to create his first 3D cartoon. And although there were about 20 works, the course, of course, helped many: some still make their cartoons, others saw games, others just come to get strictly certain knowledge. The BlenderTUT course is free on YouTube - goo.gl/LBzAQL and our newcomers to the studio are already taking it.
    This is how history has come to this day.

    What's next?

    To be honest, it was not possible to include in the course everything that I wanted. I would be glad, but students in Kazan didn’t keep up with what was happening and had to reduce the concentration of new in the lessons. As a result, a couple of points flew out of the announced plan. But, even worse, a taste for this thing woke up. I would really like to write an advanced Blender course. He would help me and hundreds of beginners and continuing “trideshniks”. I perfectly understand that many issues of this course are already beyond my competence, so I enlisted the support of my colleagues. And they will certainly help if the course starts in production.
    There is only one small “BUT”. From the experience of the first year, I understand how much time is needed for this. The new course will take 4 months of full time, and I decided on my first crowdfunding project. I hope no one will regard this as advertising, because the usefulness of this course is tens of times its value. Therefore, I will leave a link here to my new Blender Level Up course - goo.gl/NkuIPk and I hope that uninterested hawkers will look at it through their fingers, and those interested will follow the link and vote in rubles.


    It is almost impossible to create an animation studio from scratch, and even with free software. There is no debugged pipeline or a person who will debug it with this software product. There are no ready-made specialists for this software either ... but ... we do it. I will write about this in the future here, on Habré. Perhaps there will be enthusiastic heads with whom we will find a common language. We will be happy to accept new employees, we are expanding now and there are already people who have moved to Kazan to work with us on the Navigator campus .
    Many thanks to all for your attention. See you soon!
    And, of course, write in the comments if you want to offer your participation or, conversely, want to find out something from us and ask for advice. I will be glad to write about this.

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