Stacy DeRuiter's How To Make Almost Anything Blog - Week One
Using Blender for 3d CAD and animation

September 26, 2005 - 11am

This week we were supposed to make a movie rendering a final project in Blender (or some other 3D CAD software). I found out that I am not a prodigy at Blender - and in fact, I have been avoiding posting anything on this site, since for several days it was all I could muster to get Blender to draw a gray sphere and render a video of it flying across a blank screen. I finally have a video - but it's a huge avi file, so we'll see if I can get in into mpeg format and online in the next hour. (It's no huge surprise that I did not quickly take to the mencoder program, either.) I ended up making a video of an acoustic/position recording tag for harbour porpoises, which is my dream final project (but may be impossible due to the difficulty not only of fabrication, but also of getting all the necessary materials). However, I guess I thought the point of this assignment was more using blender than making a real design of a project. (No one is going to be building anything with my movie as a blueprint.) I ended up finding a dolphin model online, and modifying its shape and color to make it a porpoise. If I had more time, I would have fixed the jaw a bit more (it's still too dolphinlike) and made its tail fluke move when it swims, and I would have had it catch a fish, and added audio of harbor porpoise clicks, and had a boat on a rippling water surface with scientists tracking the tag with a radio antenna as it surfaced...alas, I am out of time. What happens in the movie is that the porpoise (underwater) swims toward the viewer, then away, wearing its tag. Then the tag falls off and begins to float to the surface. That's it. It does not really look like something that took upwards of 20 hours to produce, but, did.

September 26, 2005 - 12:41pm

No one will be more surprised than me that I was able to find a GUI-equipped mpeg encoder, encode my movie, and get it on the site in only about 45 minutes! I know I am still not a real computer geek because I will take a GUI anyday over something where I have to type a command for every function, and also type lots of paths with no mistakes - but at least I know what a GUI is, so maybe I get the best of both worlds. I am still not too proud of the actual movie, but I have that sense of accomplishment you get for working on something for ages and then finishing it just before the deadline. Hopefully my swimming porpoise is not too sub-par!

Here is the video...