Project Gooseberry

We at blendFX think Project Gooseberry is one of the most important things happening to Blender right now.
At this moment there is one day left to collect enough funding so that the crowdfunding campaign can be extended to hopefully meet its goal in 20 days from now.
That’s why we want to take the chance and tell you why we think that supporting Gooseberry is the best thing you can do right now to make Blender a future proof kick-ass 3D production tool.

Development vs. Testing

Reading the various forums nowadays it seems that a lot of people question the Blender Foundation’s Open Movie strategy of Blender development. And it’s true, at first it seems as if it would be better to spend all the money on developers completely instead of funding a bunch of studios and artists.
But the truth is, code and features have to be tested. Thoroughly. And in production.
Look at how well people test the release candidates of new Blender versions. Not well at all! There are always several weeks where people can test the nightly builds and the release candidates. But even then, it’s far too often that once the final version is out, suddenly there is all kinds of new bugs showing up in the bug-tracker that can often only be found when you use Blender in production. Just opening Blender and clicking a few buttons and checking if the default cube renders is not an appropriate test. Only when you really use the bleeding edge versions of Blender in an actual production you’ll be able to find these nasty little bugs that often result in the ‘a’ and ‘b’ versions of Blender. It’s just a huge software and it has to be tested and used by lots and lots of people. And I do understand everyone who doesn’t want to use beta software and test releases in production. It’s risky! And that’s fine! But that’s why it’s not enough to throw some money at developers and wait for them to finish their tools. You need a production driven test-environment.
Think of the artist that work on an open movie as lab rats that have to constantly test crappy and buggy tools until they have the best tools they need to finish the movie. ;)

Open Movies as development environment

Having worked on one of the Open Movies myself I can assure you that it’s almost the ideal environment to develop, test and improve Blender. The Blender Foundation sets certain development targets for every Open Movie Project. That means that the main tools and features to create the film almost don’t exist yet when the project starts! So at the beginning of the production usually the artists have to work with buggy, half-working and crappy tools that are all work in progress. But only by doing that you can give the developers immediate feedback of how the software should work and what has to be improved. At the end of the production you not only have a finished movie but also finished and production ready tools.
Well, for the most part. All the open movies that we had so far took about half a year to produce. During that period of time you can only do so much. The new tools that are created in order to finish the movie are tested, they work, they are mostly stable. But are they polished? Often they’re not. If you work only on a short film maybe you accept to finish it by using tools that are work in progress during the entire production. Doing Tears of Steel with the tools we had was okay. But doing a feature film with what we had at that time? The sluggish compositor? Slow Cycles? Half baked roto tools? No thanks!
For a feature film you really need robust and polished tools at some point.

Longer, better, harder, stronger

And that’s what Project Gooseberry really is about, at least for me!
Give the artists and developers enough time to work on the film and the required tools and features. Put them into a production environment where they can freely test and experiment to come up with the very best solutions for the film and for the tools. Give them the support, time and money they need to create, finish and polish both the movie and the software to make it the most awesome and enjoyable experience for everyone: the audience, the artists and the developers.

So again, Project Gooseberry is different than previous Open Movies. It’s longer! 18 months of production! 18 months of polishing, of working out the nasty details, fine-tuning the software and making the UI as artist-friendly and usable as possible. Gooseberry will be an unprecedented boost in software quality assurance.

You are not only investing in a movie, you are investing in the future of Blender.