The Best Free 3D App Just Got Better—Blender Conference 2022

Blender user interface
Credit: Blender
Some major initiatives were announced at Blender Conference 2022 that will help the open-source VFX and animation software become an industry standard.

Free isn't always good, right? I mean, you get what you pay for with filmmaking tools. So you should always pay a premium? Right?

Well, the Blender Foundation has something to say about that. 

The Blender Conference was a big hit, which took place in late October 2022 in Amsterdam. The famous open-source VFX and animation software held its annual event in person for the first time in a few years (with virtual options), which gave developers and users a chance to meet and discuss their favorite 3D software, how to get the most out of it, and what's on the horizon.

Spoiler alert—the horizon is bountiful and free.

What Is Blender?

Thanks to Blender, creatives can harness the power of high-end visual effects, animation, sculpting, and modeling without the headache of high-end fees. As an open-source software package, Blender is free and can be modified in any way to fit your needs. (How? More on that later.) It can be used by anyone in the world looking to step up their VFX game, get a start in the industry, or work freelance without spending big bucks on Maya, Nuke, or Adobe.

Blender has been around for many years, and some of my friends who create VFX and animation use it to this day. Early 1994 is considered the official beginnings of Blender, and it was primarily developed by company co-founder Ton Roosendaal. The first full version came out in 1995, and by 2002, Roosendaal created the Blender Foundation to continue the development and promotion of the software. 

Created with Blender
Created with BlenderCredit: Piotr Krynski

Over the years, creatives used Blender for artistic projects, film and video VFX, previz, 3D animation, and even video game development. The latter feature was removed in 2019, allowing the company to focus solely on 3D and CGI features.

Blender features a huge and tight-knit community where you can learn more about the software, including mastering specific techniques, developing add-ons, sharing your knowledge, or even helping with development. Even major companies officially support Blender, such as Adobe, with its development fund.

Blender Conference 2022 Announcements

Over 700 Blender users and developers attended the Blender Conference, which took place in late October 2022. As demand for CG rises, particularly with the Metaverse, apps like Blender are becoming essential for this new world.

During the conference, Blender unveiled three new initiatives to help it grow and become an industry-standard application.

Credit: Blender

BlenderLAB

The Foundation will fund innovators worldwide to develop new technologies, including for Blender. The plan is to develop and enhance tools for AR, VR, networking, collaboration, and sharing. This also includes their core principle of the "Freedom to Create." Imagine Frame.io-type workflows using Blender!

Blender Apps

Remember we mentioned you could modify Blender? Well, this initiative will allow those using Blender for specific techniques to create standalone apps within the Blender platform. What makes these Apps so handy is you won't have to dig around Blender to do something simple. Just pull up an App to work on that specific technique.

For example, adding different textures to 3D models can be done quickly in a Blender App. You'll be able to use these on a desktop, but there are rumors they could be available on a mobile device.

Extensions Platform

Add-ons in Blender are arguably nearly as important as the software itself, and many users and the developers themselves all agree that they make Blender a terrific app to use. They add more features to the app and help enhance and even speed up workflows.

The Extensions Platform will allow Blender to control the add-on market, which has grown to over 26,000. But it's a little bit too scattered, making it difficult to easily find an add-on to use on a specific project or in general. Now you'll be able to go to one place, sort of an "app store," and find the add-on you need. The add-ons will remain free, which is great news.

A Detailed Recap

If you missed the conference, you can check out the Blender Conference 2022 Recap. There were many talks offered at Blender Conference 2022 and you can check them out here, as well.

Blender is definitely growing in popularity, and the community is a key part of that, but it still maintains its "outsider" cred. However, that is slowly changing more and more as Blender grows. More creatives are getting access to powerful tools as technology continues to develop.

If you haven't tried Blender, you can get your very own copy right now.

Do you already use Blender? Let us know in the comments!     

Learn more at Blender's site.

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