03 June 2012

David Ward - Johnny Blender - The Complete Series - Training DVD

I have had a peaceful time recently, so I was getting a little restless and was looking forward to reviewing another Blender product and as luck would have it I found out about a DVD produced by David Ward called:
  • Johnny Blender - The Complete Series
This DVD goes through all the steps from beginning to end that are needed to produce a fully modelled, textured, rigged and animated character model. I bought it from a company called Lulu.com, which I had never bought anything from before and I was a little nervous about giving this company my money because their sites seems very disorganised. But I really didn't have a choice as this seems to be the only place you can actually buy the physical DVD. Having said that the site accepts Paypal so at least I knew my payments would be processed correctly.
  • Product Specifications: Johnny Blender - The Complete Series
  • Price : £8.62 (on 10th of Nov 2009)
  • Video Run Length : Roughly 10 hours 54 mins
  • Format : Streaming Video

Part of the proceeds from the sale of this DVD go towards funding Blender's software developments.

The content of the DVD are also provided on David Ward's youtube channel for free so if you don't want/can't spend the money you can still get access to the videos. Though obviously you will be doing good by the Blender development if you buy the DVD.

Looking at the price of the DVD you would think that there would not be many tutorial videos but there are 29 video sections on the DVD with a total runtime of roughly 11 hours! There are some good and bad points to such a large amount of video tutorials. The bad points mainly from my point of view being that I had to sit for 11 hours to work my way through the DVD! Though for the most part it is worth the effort.

The DVD is split up into small 20 to 30 minute sections covering various aspects of character creation.

There are 29 sections listed below:
    Part 01 - Beginning the model - 21min 24sec
    Part 02 - The face - 20min 11sec
    Part 03 - The head and ears - 22min 54sec
    Part 04 - The mouth - 20min 51sec
    Part 05 - The torso - 19min 2sec
    Part 06 - The arms and hands - 20min 38sec
    Part 07 - The fingers - 24min 10sec
    Part 08 - The fingers, continued - 20min 58sec
    Part 09 - The legs - 24min 37sec
    Part 10 - The legs, continued - 29min 35sec
    Part 11 - Clothing - 26min 40sec
    Part 12 - Clothing, continued, Creating Seams - 19min 49sec
    Part 12b - The goggles - 23min 56sec
    Part 13 - UV Mapping - 21min 13sec
    Part 14 - Painting the texture - 23min 31sec
    Part 15 - Eyeball and texture - 23min 35sec
    Part 16 - Particle hair - 25min 39sec
    Part 17 - Particle eyebrows, lighting - 28min 55sec
    Part 18 - Rigging the body - 18sec 7sec
    Part 19 - Rigging the hands - 26min 5sec
    Part 20 - Rigging the face - 24min 11sec
    Part 21 - Bone shapes - 24min 38sec
    Part 22 - Skinning - 22min 7sec
    Part 23 - Skinning, continued - 22min 7sec
    Part 24 - Tweaking a few things - 17min 9sec
    Part 25 - Creating a walk cycle - 25min 33sec
    Part 26 - Walking on a path - 19min 1sec
    Part 27 - Lip syncing - 26min 45sec
    Part 28 - Normals and cloth simulation - 24min 6sec
The individual videos are for the most part very well produced and most things are explained very clearly. They are encoded in wmv format which is not an open format. Video makers really need to get the message about open video formats like Ogg Threora. The web page interface makes it very easy to access the various tutorial videos and not having flash based interfaces certainly helps keep things simple for people on platforms like Linux (which I am on).

The DVD is useful for both Blender Newbies and Blender Intermediates. From a starting cube Mr Ward goes through the basics and introduces many new features at a regular rate.

The only real problem I have with the DVD is that Mr Ward when first modeling the mesh of the character, occasionally ran into problems which required him to use triangles in the modelling of his character, which as all Blender users should know is a bad thing. Sometimes the odd triangle doesn't matter (depending on where it is in the mesh). But in this case some of the triangles on the character mesh were in places that were likely to be animated. Things were made slightly worse by Mr Ward not explaining why triangles are bad and just saying in effect oh well it happens. It would have been very helpful to Newbies to explain about the issues it can cause with items such as subsurface modifiers. That is the only really serious issue I have with the DVD and it doesn't happen very often, everything else is very good and for the price it is a really good quality DVD.

So all in all a great foundation/intermediate level Blender tutorial DVD, which does teach you all the steps you need for a simple character setup, on top of all that all the material is freely available on Mr Wards youtube channel, you can't get much more user friendly than that.

Review Score 90%