03 June 2012

Pablo Vazquez - DVD Training 4: Venoms Lab! - DVD Training Review

The Blender DVD mill churns out another DVD this time it is by Pablo Vazquez of Venom GFX. The DVD is part of the Blender Open Movie Workshop Training DVD range.

Pablo is well known to the Blender community as an awesome modeller and Blender user. Even if he does like the color pink way too much.
  • Product Specifications:
  • Price : €27.50 (on 3rd of Aug 2009)
  • Video Run Length : Roughly 4 hours
  • Format : DVD

On putting the DVD into my laptop machine I was presented with a Venoms Lab entrance page in my web browser. Unsurprisingly a very brightly pink/mauve design is displayed, although it was very slick looking.

The start page indicates that Spanish language support is available on the DVD, this is true but only in terms of writing the webpages in Spanish. The videos still appear to be in English (after experimenting I found an option to switch to Spanish audio track but this really should of been sorted out when selecting Spanish section of the DVD or at least made very clear on the Spanish sections of the pages.).

The price of the DVD seems reasonable to me given the amount of video content. Though some may find it expensive, although with the DVD being Blender Open Workshop some of the cost of the DVD go towards funding further development of Blender.

The DVD is split into 10 Chapter like sections, each Chapter uses a different character model to describe various features and workflow methods of Blender.

Below is a list of Chapters:
  • 01 - Firulo
    • Subsurface Modeling
  • 02 - Korno
    • Sculpting
  • 03 - Zanno
    • UV unwrapping, Texture Layers, Painting
  • 04 - Fraka
    • Shading, Material Nodes, Light
  • 05 - Carnerito
    • Realtime GLSL Shading
  • 06 - Antonio
    • Cloth Simulation
  • 07 - Merlin
    • Eye Modeling, Shading
  • 08 - Braka
    • Fur, Grooming and Shading
  • 09 - Tibolino
    • Compositing and Environments
  • 10 - Durano
    • Timelapse Video of Making a Character Model - runs over an hour
The range of topics covered are broad but this is not a beginners DVD, a reasonable familiarity with Blender and it's usage is important to get the most out of this DVD.

The version of Blender used in the videos is Blender 2.49, which is useful as some of the newer features of Blender are covered (Projection Painting for example).

Overall the quality of the information contained within the videos is very good. Intermediate and Advanced Blender users will likely find something new in these videos. Also very handy are web links on the video pages which point the viewer to the various relevant web pages which go into more detail on the topics being covered.

The videos are available in both flv/flash format (and playable in directly in a webpage flash player) & avi/high def (playable externally). To my eye both the flash version and high def versions of the videos were very clear and easy to see. Although some of the videos appear to be encoded in better quality than others. Also occasionally the screen encoding appears not to update quickly enough and results in the videos pixellating slightly. Though this doesn't happen often and even when it does it does not really affect the watch-ability of the tutorials. Another issue I had was that the audio seems to be slightly quiet and I had to really crank up the volume on my laptop to listen at a comfortable level. But again so long as you don't have a really noisy laptop things should be fine. I was slightly disappointed that the videos weren't encoded in Ogg Theora video format. But I will keep complaining until someone listens or everyone starts using Firefox 3.5.

Like all good Blender tutorial videos all the key presses are highlighted on screen and Pablo is reasonably good at explaining by voice what he is doing also. Yes Pablos accent is slightly heavy going at times but unless your American you should be able to cope.

All the Chapters of the DVD were very good but my personal favorites were the chapters covering Projection Paint and Material Nodes and the Compositing sections.

The most disappointing part of the DVD for me was the 10th part which was basically a long timelapse video covering the modelling and texturing of a character model called Durano. It was entertaining to watch but I think the space and time it took on the DVD would of been better used on covering other topics in more detail.

A little extra stuff is included on DVD which can be gotten to by browsing the DVD file structure. Also all the textures and blend files are also included on the DVD. One more extra thing which a lot of Blender users may find handy is having access to that hideous pink theme that Pablo uses when modelling his stuff in Blender. So if you want to overdose on the pink you will now be able to do it in just the same way Pablo does!

All in all this is an excellent DVD well up to the quality level of previous Open Movie Workshop DVD Training series.

Now I am going to go close my eyes till the pink haze disappears....

Review Score 85%