A new Blender version is out. Like any upgrade this one is loaded with bug fixes. It also has new features added from the To Do List. You can find the well written Release Log here: Blender 2.58 update log. I’m not going to write about all the fixes and additions, there are too many and I have no idea what a number of them actually do. I’ll touch on a few of the things that are interesting to me as a person interested in Second Life.
Collada is the file format used by Second Life to import 3D models. Those of us working on rigged mesh, used for replacement avatars and clothes, have been using Blender 2.49b to export them. The Collada export in 2.57b has problems with rigged mesh.
Blender 2.58 has 5 fixes to the Collada export/import scripts.
- Fix: light quadratic attenuation exported wrong – #27463, R37454
- Fix: crash on collada import if input_set is missing – #27474, R37658
- Transparency texture import support – R37662
- Fix: instance_node import incorrectly handled – #26821, R37663
- Fix: Collada incorrect names/ids on import – #26912, R37664
As you can see only one export issue is fixed and it has nothing to do with rigged mesh. Doing some searching this morning I find that Gaia Clary of Machinimatrix.org Tutorials has commented on 2.58 and found that Blender 2.58 does indeed still have problems with rigged mesh export. So, you will need both Blender 2.49b and 2.58, if you plan to work on making avatars and clothes. (Reference)
If you have been reading my articles on mesh you know Second Life modelers are interested in changing bone lengths and rotations in the avatar skeleton. The Collada 1.4.0 format used in Blender 2.49b handles those differently than the 1.4.1 version as implemented in Blender 2.57 and 2.58. This seems to be causing the problem with rigged mesh for SL.
The Lab is getting release 1 of mesh ready based on Collada 1.4.0. This seems odd to me as Collada 1.4.1 has been around since 2006. But, Blender, the main modeling tool for SL types, used 1.4.0 in version 2.4x. The Blender 2.5x versions only became stable and usable for production this year, so maybe it is not so odd.
Several of us are using 2.57 and I suppose planning to change over to 2.58. For any mesh other than rigged mesh 2.57 and 2.58 seem to work just fine.
Problem Saver Install
There is a warning on the Blender download page advising one NOT to use the 2.5x uninstall program. It may take more files than you intend. Uninstall is best done by hand. Use the following install suggestion to avoid this problem.
I have other applications that depend on specific installations of Python, the scripting language used with Blender. One has to have the right version of Python installed for Blender. The ‘pathing’ in Windows has to be correct for all my various applications to find what they consider the right Python version. That became an annoying PITA. Fortunately with Blender there is a better way.
First, do not install Blender on Windows using the INSTALLER. The installer will change the paths and Python versions. Grab a copy of the Zip Archive. You should get an unzip program. Windows Vista and Win7 have unzip built-in. So, you can get by without one. But, a program like Zip Genius gives you more control.
Unzip the archive into a folder somewhere on your computer. Navigate into the folder and find the blender.exe file. Right-click and drag it to the Desktop or Tool Bar and drop it. Select Create Shortcut Here. This will make an icon you can click on to start Blender. You can rename the shortcut icom to Blender 2.58.
You now have a working copy of Blender that does not interfere with your other versions of Blender or mess with your Python settings for other applications.
I have one Blender install for my Myst-Uru stuff and another for my SL and other modeling. All one needs to do is extract another copy form the Zip Archive and place it in a different folder. That is not totally necessary as Blender has the ability to save and change between screen layouts. See: Doc:2.5/Manual/Interface/Screens.
To make Blender more useable and easier to learn, you need to turn on a bunch of the add-ons provided with Blender. Click FILE -> User Preferences -> Add-ons.
You can read about each add-on in the dialog that opens. There are links to the web pages that provide more information about and instructions for the add-on. Plus there are more Blender add-ons you will want on the Blender site.
Some things like 3DS export/import are add-ons you will have to download and install.
It will be several days before I have used enough of 2.58 to decide how much better it is. What I am hearing and finding in my research is that it is a big improvement and worth getting. So, far I agree.