I can’t properly explain why I am so obsessed with 3D animating and modelling.

No wait. That’s utter bullshit.
I can. Easily.
In the virtual world I have all the time to set up my studio and scene, without being under pressure, and with freedom to explore beyond what is humanly and financially possible for me in the real world.

I am a photographer and a videographer in the real world with 2 decades of experience, oodles of creativity, almost zero personality, and a limited budget.

I know why you should shoot video with sliders and why you should have at minimum a 3 point lighting system. I know about diffusion. I know about power supply for on-site lighting. I know about time pressure for talent, and for crew. I know about lenses. God do I know about lenses.

But in the real world, this screwed up thing called money, that we all believe in for no easily explainable reason, determines who gets to play with the nice toys, and admittedly, people who have proven themselves worthy do get to play with the goodies, but for the rest of us, it is only to know and to dream, but to never do.

Or is that really true…?

In the 3D world I have unlimited access to any piece of photographic gear, whether sensor or lens or lighting or light control, and my talent never gives me grief because I’m a perfectionist.

In this world…

I can start a basic “grow” animation and get some 5 point lighting set up

One of the lights is underneath the plants, in an impossible location, which would require a shit-ton of work in post to clone out the physical light source if you were doing it in the real world.
In Blender, you get the lighting, without the naked bulbs, the housings, stands, modifiers, wires, or shit-talking gaffers.

Camera movement to snap your neck

The most tricky thing for me to work with is the iteration time involved in development and testing of a 3D scene. I have old but incredibly willing hardware so it takes me longer than most. To see the results of a camera animation of just 5 seconds (for this somewhat simple scene, and using Blender’s EEVEE real-time rendering engine at the lowest possible settings), takes 10 minutes, for each time I need to tweak a setting.

Progress can feel agonisingly slow sometimes

The previous camera movement was too fast. So, now, with an animation of 10 seconds, the movement feels more natural, but my iteration wait time has doubled to 20 minutes before I can assess my progress.

as I lift the camera’s viewing angle I notice some geometry that needs fixing

Because of iteration waiting times, and oftentimes deep detective work required in troubleshooting, a project becomes all about managing efficiencies.
Like, if I pull this curvy line and it’s jusssssst straight enough to give me jusssssst enough decent looking leaves for my camera angle, then, do I really need to bother myself with the faulty geometry that is out of shot?

The correct answer is “No.”
In case you were wondering, it’s always no.
If the bothersome stuff is not reflecting in your scene nor visible in any disturbing way, before or after, then don’t bother yourself with it.

Until you make a change…and that geometry comes into your shot. At which point your object and data naming discipline within your Blender file had better be well in place, or else you could be searching for bezier.017182 of 026399, if you know what I mean.

Let’s dance…

Here I got a little freaky with one of the plants and gave it a bunch of animated rotation about the Z-axis to see what that would do.

Well obviously it became a mess, but one of those interesting messes. One of those messes that you file in the back of your head for later when you need to create a little vegetative visual interest in a scene without resorting to grasses in a particle system. A “later”, when you would take that plant for a spin in a new scene, and use it to create some messed up greenery to act as grassy and shrubby texture in a soft focused scene such as this, because one day on a Saturday that you could have wasted watching soccer, you accidentally discovered how…

Or use it for/in something else… whatever.

So, for the price of my Saturday I taught myself the brand new skill of animating leaves off a plant, or twig, which I can in future make use of as modular twig units, and then grow them out of tree branches, and a tree trunk, which will be the next piece of recreational 3d modelling I will teach myself.


Because I want to create motion graphics and animations to help learned and educated people break down complex but highly important concepts for lay-people, into easily digestable and highly memorable factoids, because (1) our planet needs wayyyy more well educated people, and (2) if people don’t want to read (they don’t) then I see it as my sacred duty to do what I can to reach out to people pushing great causes, and help them to make the important information they are sharing, entertaining and impactful, and easily consumable for the masses.


I’m like a C.A. doing some recreational spreadsheeting before bedtime.

Blender’s EEVEE render engine doesn’t do fantastically well at volumetric lighting, as near as I can work out. You can tell, I hope, I’m going for those “god-rays” streaming out.

Limited hardware means an ability to only do so much. The CYCLES render engine in Blender is the correct one to use, but I simply cannot run this geometry, physics, volumetrics and lighting at an acceptable rendering quality on an early 2013 MBP.

People who even slightly have an idea what I’m talking about suddenly spat their tofu into their bowls.

I kid you not.

not that I’m going to let that stop me trying…