Prologue to ‘The Big Issues’ – What we are doing wrong (Part I.)

For example this survey, at least partially.
And – just because I like irony-  my opinion is mostly based on this survey.
It shows significant matches to the mistakes of the development of Blender: a wonderful conception with unclear goals, not proper questions and sometimes the ‘result’ is not explained correctly.
I know, I’m evil again.
Well, someone has to be.

I suggest to read it, if you didn’t do that yet.
Then think about it: what was wrong with it?

Then read this post below plus the others. They are coming soon.

A prolouge to my opinion

As Andrew Price wrote, the survey is about: ‘What we are doing wrong’ and also ‘Who is using Blender and why?’

These are very important questions, I completely agree.
I also have to make clear that I really respect Andrew, because of his professionalism as an artist, his efforts and dedication to make something as good as possible.
I learned a lot from his awesome tutorials and I think the world would need more people from his kind to make anything better in general.

But we all have our limits and being professional  in something doesn’t make us professional in other things.

With an example from my life:

Although I wrote a medical questionnaire in last year in Africa to filter the completely incompetent nurses for an NGO (God, imagine a nurse with certificates who has no idea which end of a thermometer should be in the armpit of a child), I don’t think that I should make a presentation from it, because it is not my profession.
I had a very limited knowledge on medical issues.
It is a shame is that even that very limited knowledge outperformed the knowledge of the well-paid employees in Africa in some cases.
But it does not mean that I’m a medical expert.
So I did the questionnaire, because no one else made it and it was necessary to save lives.
Then I asked a doctor to correct the mistakes I made (I made some).

Now I have to admit that I’m neither a survey-expert.
Making proper surveys, analyzing the data is a profession.
I learned statistics like 20 years ago, related to biology.
I remember nothing from that.
I just realized some obvious mistakes in ‘The Big Issues’, but I could be wrong, although I believe that I’m not wrong.

So let’s see what we are talking about – in general

If someone had asked me about Blender before reading the ‘results’ of this survey, I would have answered in this way:
‘If I should take a guess, I would say it is used mostly by young hobbyists without any relevant knowledge of other tools’.

And here the funny part comes: the survey resulted exactly the same.
You maybe say that it is not true, related to Andrew’s results; well, I will make it clear for you later.
You maybe say that I’m a noob in Blender, why do I write posts about it?
You are right, I’m a beginner.
That is why I write these posts. Anyone who comes from another 3D package will look for proven work-flows.
If I was a pro in Blender, I wouldn’t recognize the problems a beginner has to face to.

So, what did make me to have this opinion about the user base of Blender without any relevant incoming data and survey?
It is easy to answer.
There was incoming data, even if it was not too ‘numeric’ or ‘scientific’.

Here is my explanation:

The CGI industry is part of our capitalist world.
In practice it means that the studios are permanently competing with each other for the clients and the profit.
They are competing in price, in quality, in speed, so they are looking for a balance in these things to be successful.
The overall targeted level of this ‘balance’ defines the ‘overall’ rating of a studio on the market.
You could expect higher results from ILM than from your far cheaper 3D freelancer when it comes to animation or compositing.
As everybody is going for the bigger profit, there is a permanent motive to reduce the costs, speed up the work-flow and increase efficiency in general.
It results that people who live from CGI are continuously searching for faster tools, cheaper tools, more stable tools, etc. As an example this attitude let VRay to win over Mental Ray as a industry standard renderer for archviz.

The studios also go for ‘standards’, so they used to act in a quite ‘conservative’ way at the very same moment, because they don’t like risk.
Using ‘industrial standard’ tools based both on rational thinking (‘we have a very good experience with this tool compared to other tools’) partially rational thinking (‘everybody use this tool among our competitors, so it should be good enough’) and completely irrational thinking (until we use the same tools as our competitors, we cannot loose against them).

‘Industrial standards’ give us the promise of reliability, safety and quality. And – most of the time – they offer these things, but not without compromises or lies.
It goes back again to the generic survival strategy what I mentioned earlier: ‘if I’m part of the crowd, I’m defended by the crowd’.

But – and we saw it several times – a new product could be easily capable to ‘steal’ markets from old ones, if it offers superiority for specific tasks (SketchUp, VRay) or it offers better general workflow (Unity3D).

All the CGI guys know that having a tool which is free and gives more efficient work-flow in their pipeline, offers them advantage over other studios.
So using a superior tool is obvious in capitalism, although it needs a few years to become widespread.

But what do we see?
Blender is not really widespread among pros.
Why is that?

Once I heard it from a psychologist, related to relationships:
“For having a successful relationship,  it is essential to own at least average skills in the things what matter for our partner and to have at least one outstanding skill what makes us to differ from the rest.
In my opinion it is something what worth to think about.

In the field of architectural visualisation I personally never met any team using Blender as a ‘replacement’ of an industrial standard package.
It is very important to note: this is not a ‘proof’ for the superiority of commercial packages.
It is a proof that Blender was not able to make the breakthrough for some reasons – in my opinion because of this ‘swiss-knife type’ development (unclear goals results random implementation of specific tools- I completely agree with Andrew on this).
Or – because this is an option, too – I just met wrong people:)

But, I just cannot get over this:
What is the goal of a studio?

Think critically and logically: if Blender is capable at this very moment to beat leading commercial apps in overall functionality for example in the segment of architectural visualisation, it should be more widespread.
Even it would cost money.
Even it would cost more than the regular packages (recommended post: Let’s count!).

Is a Canon 1D a pricey camera?
Do professionals – who work on the field – pay the price of it?
Yes. They have the possibility cut their cost with using an entry-level Canon 1100D, but they choose the 1D over it.
Because it comes with different features (general reliability, better overall image quality, weather sealing, etc.) and that matter for pro photographers who live from taking photos in various environments.

Another point:

Are you old enough to remember for the crisis of the music industry, related to downloading mp3 files instead of buying CDs?
The media companies were very powerful, they had an unbelievable amount of extra profit formerly.
They fought against illegal copies, they even used the police and the law against downloaders.
Sometimes they even told the truth: CD offers better quality than a crap MP3.
And – one of the most funny memories I have related to these battles – Sony as a media company fought against himself  because of MP3 players…

They missed their extra profit.
They didn’t respect their customers with reasonable pricing.

And although they won several battles…….they lost the war.

In 2013 we buy music through the net and we do it for a far more reasonable price.
This kind of changes couldn’t be stopped.

If Blender offered a real option, no one would be able to stop it to change the product preference of the CGI industry.

So, after this huge amount of talk you maybe ask:
What is the point, related to your ‘so-called prejudice’ without numeric data?

If Blender had all the necessary professional features, it would be used by professionals (obviously).
If it is not used by professionals (at least widespread), it means that it does not give them the efficiency offered by the competitors.
If it is not for professionals, then it is for hobbyists/amateurs.

Furthermore: if these hobbyists had any relevant experiences to commercial packages, they would ask the developers to integrate the important toolsets into it, instead of the ‘Blender is Blender’ circular reasoning… And because it is a must for a dedicated user to be open-minded for new features and only ‘the time spent in the industry’ could affect the general level of knowledge about other tools, the users should be beginners and/or youngsters.

The next time we will see that I am wrong or right – with the help of Andrew’s  survey.


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