Animation Blender 3D Tutorials and Resources

Blender Network Rendering: Revisited – Prism

Almost 10 years ago I built a small basement render farm with a few spare PCs to speed up renders. However, planning and pre-production ended up being far more difficult than rendering. Since I’ve returned to animation I’ve mostly been working in 2D, which is far less render intensive, but a recent 3D project revived my research into ways to use multiple systems to speed up Blender output. The first option I tried, Prism, ended up not being a system manager, as Blender’s previous Network Render panel was, but an entire pipeline manager with some helpful render options built in.

Installing Prism on Windows 10 was mostly straightforward, download from the site, run the .exe install, add your name when it asks, start a project, and in Prism Settings -> DCC apps add Blender. (Reading the manual is definitely recommended.) A few important notes:

  1. Read the manual, saying it again. This is an entire pipeline manager, by it’s nature, it can’t be simple.
  2. When setting up a project, put it in a syncing app such as Dropbox, Creative Cloud Files, or a Network Drive. You probably already have project files syncing but having the pipelines open right away on 2 systems was immediately satisfying.
  3. I had trouble with the Blender 2.8.3 connection not installing a Python Library. I installed Prism to Program Files (x86) instead of the default /prism directory which may cause permissions issues. To remedy this, I manually downloaded the install .zip and copied the Python 3.7 libs into the /prism/pythonlibs/python37. It will still probably bring up the install prompt in Blender, let it run, after that should work. (The auto-install prompted in Blender would present a permissions error.)
  4. Speaking of permissions, Windows smartshield complains from install to each run. Not much to do here but be aware.

After adding a project, the power comes in when going into the assets, or shots, adding a scene, then creating multiple render or playblast tasks. From there the render tasks can run on the machine of choice. While it’s helpful to have multiple CPUs or GPUs tied in together handing off tasks, this management immediately can help even single shot projects by allowing for multiple output settings and a tracker for those tasks.

Oh, and the same folks have a Renderfarm Manager named Pandora. I think that’s what I meant to download.

Web Development

Why use SQLite with Laravel

At first, it wasn’t immediately obvious why to use SQLite, over MySQL, with Laravel but a couple good cases have come up.

  1. For AnimaticBuilder, since a robust user database setup isn’t needed just yet, SQLite works great since it’s fast, portable, and easily versioned. Even later, when a user database is needed, individual SQLite databases could be used for sequences.
  2. On Laracasts, folks have pointed out how to use the SQLite as the database for test cases, Here too, the database can continue to be used as a test bed through the development of an app. (Just make sure nothing secure gets saved there.)
Web Development Wordpress

WordPress 4.4 Sidebar Naming

With WordPress 4.4 rolling out a few issues have come up around sidebars and widgets but one fix is not immediately obvious. When adding a sidebar, the naming previously was not case sensitive but it is now. The example below would not work:

 'name'=>'Homepage Widget',
 'description' => 'Main Area on the Homepage',
 'id' => 'homepage',
 'before_widget' => '',
 'after_widget' => '',
<?php if (!dynamic_sidebar('HomePage')) : ?>
<?php endif; ?>

Now, make sure that the sidebar call uses the exact ID.

<?php if (!dynamic_sidebar('homepage')) : ?>
<?php endif; ?>
Tutorials and Resources Web Development

Want to learn Laravel? Tear apart Illuminate

There are any number of ways to learn Laravel. From the documentation right on to the very complete tutorials over at but there is also great way to learn the basics bundled in the install. Navigate to /vendors/laravel/src/framework/illuminate and dig into the modules that form the key functionality included in the original configuration.

Each one of these modules is registered in the app/config and, since Laravel 5, they now reside in the vendors directory leaving the app directory fairly spartan. Spartan is good but figuring out how the original functionality by looking through that directory is a bit tricky.

The vendors directory holds all packages added to the base install as well as holding the core packages in /vendors/laravel/src/framework/illuminate. By opening up /illuminate you can look through, and learn from, a number of packages including:

  1. Hashing, great for learning simple service provider setup.
  2. View, which has some pieces in the app directory as well and covers middleware.
  3. Authentication was added as core functionality and has a number of working parts good to explore.


Web Development

Laravel and JQuery: Don’t Abuse GET

jQuery and Laravel are amazing libraries and frameworks but they don’t always inspire the best practices. Recently when building a basic app I made a fairly amateurish error without even realizing it at first. In building a simple Create/Edit route I used the Route::resource as a shortcut and for making AJAX requests to the route I used $.ajax() on page. The requests work great and everything seems to working fine until sending a large request and right then I realize $.ajax() is using a GET request rather than POST. There are a couple lessons here, you should have XHR requests properly outputting to console.log() so you see what your AJAX requests are doing. But more than that don’t expect jQuery and Laravel to do all the lifting through their syntactic shortcuts. At times, being more verbose with your code can avoid some nasty mistakes.

Explaining your Resource route with a couple ::get or ::post routes looks messy but actually can help to both avoid errors and aid in development by being more obvious to understand quickly.

As well, $.ajax() in jQuery is an all purpose request and specifying your Type can save headaches and keep requests from falling into the wrong lane.

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