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Popular Japanese animation studio Khara, announced on Friday that it will be moving to open source 3D software Blender as its primary 3D CG tool. Khara is a motion picture planning and production company and are currently working on “EVANGELION:3.0+1.0”, a film to be released in June 2020. Primarily, they will partially use Blender for ‘EVANGELION:3.0+1.0’ but will make the full switch once that project is finished. Khara is also helping the Blender Foundation by joining the Development Fund as a corporate member.

Last month, Epic Games granted Blender $1.2 million in cash. Following Epic Games, Ubisoft also joined the Blender Development fund and adopted Blender as its main DCC tool.

Why Khara opted for Blender?

Khara had been using AutoDesk’s “3ds Max” as their primary tool for 3D CG so far. However, their project scale got bigger than what was possible with 3ds Max. 3ds Max is also quite expensive; according to Autodesk’s website, an annual fee for a single user is $2,396. Khara also had to reach out to small and medium-sized businesses for its projects. Another complaint was that Autodesk took time to release improvements to their proprietary software, which happens at a much faster rate in an open source software environment.

They had also considered Maya as one of the alternatives, but dropped the idea as it resulted in duplication of work resource.

Finally they switched to Blender, as it is open source and free. They were also intrigued by the new Blender 2.8 release which provided them with a 3D creation tool that worked like “paper and pencil”.  Blender’s Grease Pencil feature enables you to combine 2D and 3D worlds together right in the viewport. It comes with a new multi-frame edition mode with which you can change and edit several frames at the same time. It has a build modifier to animate the drawings similar to the Build modifier for 3D objects.

I feel the latest Blender 2.8 is intentionally ‘filling the gap’ with 3ds Max to make those users feel at home when coming to Blender. I think the learning curve should be no problem.”, told Mr. Takumi Shigyo, Project Studio Q Production Department. Khara founded “Project Studio Q, Inc.” in 2017, a company focusing mainly on the movie production and the training of Anime artists.

Providing more information on their use of Blender, Hiroyasu Kobayashi, General Manager of Digital Dpt. and Director of Board of Khara, said in the announcement, “Preliminary testing has been done already. We are now at the stage to create some cuts actually with Blender as ‘on live testing’. However, not all the cuts can be done by Blender yet. But we think we can move out from our current stressful situation if we place Blender into our work flows. It has enough potential ‘to replace existing cuts’.

While Blender will be used for the bulk of the work, Khara does have a backup plan if there’s anything Blender struggles with. Kobayashi added “There are currently some areas where Blender cannot take care of our needs, but we can solve it with the combination with Unity. Unity is usually enough to cover 3ds Max and Maya as well. Unity can be a bridge among environments.

Khara is also speaking with their partner companies to use Blender together.

Khara’s transition was well appreciated by people.

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