Sketchup, Blender and “The Barrier”

demoscene1aThis week I tried out both Sketchup and Blender for a revised version of scene 1 of “The Barrier”. Initially I thought Sketchup was the better choice, but then changed my mind.

I used Blender to do the backgrounds of the public meeting scene in “The Barrier” and had planned to use it to do a new version of scene 1. In the current version it is difficult to understand what happens, so I want to make it more obvious.

I found it difficult to learn how to use Blender, so I decided to see if I could find an easier alternative. I found some reviews on-line and they help me identify several other programs I could use. From what I read it looked like the best option was Sketchup. The reviews said it was easier to use, which was my primary goal. The reviews did note that the output quality isn’t as good as Blender and it doesn’t have the flexibility of Blender. I decided it sounded good enough.

After I installed Sketchup, I tried it out with some simple figures. I found it was easier to learn and I was able to get results quickly. I felt good about it and prepared to move on to work on the actual scene. Before I did, I checked the licence restrictions again. I had thought I could use the free version, but it turned out that I would have to buy the commercial licence. They cost about $600, so I decided to try Blender again.

I made good progress with Blender. I found that what I learned from Sketchup helped me work out how to get what I wanted from Blender. As a test, I created some terrain, a road, and some trees. I also made a short test animation where a vehicle drives down the road. It was actually just a block and not a car, but after all it was just a test.

I created the roadway for the scene 1 set, based on some calculations I’d done earlier. I found the roadway awkward to work with. I found it difficult to move around, and image. Sometimes, some of the roadway would vanish for no reason I could come up with.

The set is about a kilometre long. I think that I need to redesign the set somewhat, and maybe change the scale as well. I did some calculations and think I can cut the size down quite a bit.

At the end of the day, this exercise made me feel more confident about Blender.

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