With the release of Blender 2.78 a new, game changing feature has been slipped into the program with very little fanfare, but one that deserves a red carpet and a ticker tape parade. Well, to be fair it is actually two new features, adaptive pixel subdivision and polygon microdisplacement.
Each of these features on its own is a ridiculous achievement. Releasing both, at the same time in relatively run-of-the-mill update shows that Blender definitely has the most insane amount of positive momentum of any software package available. I am more excited about these features than I am about Maya acquiring Solid Angle and shipping Arnold with 2017.
What do these new features do? Adaptive pixel subdivision will allow a mesh to be subdivided based on proximity to the screen. It is also applied by simply clicking the “Adaptive” check box in the “Subdivision” modifier. Polygons closest to the perspective window in preview mode or closest to the camera for rendering will be subdivided more than polygons further away.
Polygon microdisplacement utilizes a texture plugged into a shader to guide the creation and displacement of micropolygons (polygons smaller than a pixel of a given rendered image). Geometry is calculated at the time of render which allows for massive “simulated” polygon counts that would be impossible otherwise.
When combined these two features will allow Blender 3D artists to do what other programs are incapable of. It will allow them to work on HUGE scenes with INCREDIBLE detail, all within Blender, no third party render engine needed.
Obviously this is a boon for animators on the filmmaking side of CGI. But game devs now can utilize this function for baking in textures to low poly models with normal maps that will rival any digital sculpting program available.
The impact of these features within the industry will be felt. It will cause studios, production companies, advertising agencies, and all institutions and organizations that use 3D in any capacity to be more accepting of Blender as a legitimate tool for production and development.
In articles across the internet I have seen a common thread that I notice is the norm. When speaking about CGI I see comparisons between “Maya, 3DS Max, and Blender” or “Maya, C4D, and Blender.” The downside? It will not be a feature for Mac computers… so making the switch now to PC is an obvious choice.