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04 October 2012, 11:01

Blender 2.64 improves green screen and compositing

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Zoom The effects used in Tears of Steel have greatly influenced development of the latest Blender version

The latest version of the open source 3D modelling and movie production application, Blender, has been released by the Blender Foundation and its developers, who have been concentrating on green screen and compositing functionality in the software. The release of Blender 2.64 includes a number of features that were developed as part of the Blender Foundation's fourth open movie project. The aim with Tears of Steel, which was formerly known as Project Mango, was to produce a film focusing on live action scenes integrated with computer generated imagery (CGI) – the new features added to Blender reflect this focus.

Blender 2.64 now includes a mask editor in the image and movie clip interface. Masks can be defined by manipulating splines and have fine-grained feathering controls. This allows movie makers to add effects into shots and block out unwanted objects or parts of objects. Blender's motion tracking abilities have been significantly improved, a fact that is clearly evident in Tears of Steel. This improvement goes hand in hand with the refined green screen abilities that the developers have also added. Both of these features allow film makers to better combine video footage with 3D generated characters. Additionally, a new compositing backend has been implemented and Blender now sports a redesigned colour management system based on the OpenColorIO project.

Where CGI creation is concerned, Blender 2.64 offers improvements to the mesh and sculpting tools. A new Skin Modifier option allows users to generate a polygon skin from a skeleton made out of vertices. This should make character creation easier to achieve and while the result is not perfect, it can of course be refined manually afterwards. The new release also includes a large number of bug fixes and several other improvements throughout the application. More information about all of the new features and bug fixes is available from the Blender wiki.

Blender 2.64 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and FreeBSD from the project's download page. The source code for Blender is licensed under the GPLv2 and its development is sponsored by the non-profit Blender Foundation.

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