Today version 2.41 of the open source 3D software Blender has been released. It follows on the heels of last month's much larger-scale update to version 2.40, but this post is sorta making up for me missing posting about that ;). In particular that version had an overhaul of the animation tools.
Blender is a tool of choice of the subculture of low-budget computer graphics hobbyists. I first came across this culture when I came upon the POV-RAY raytracer and the related online contest, the Internet Raytracing Competition, in early 2002. This is a very "right-brained" program which generates 3D renders directly from a plaintext mathematical description of a scene (so Blender's graphical interface came as a relief even for a math major like me!). POV-RAY certainly has an interesting history behind it on its own, being maintained for over a decade by volunteers on the Net; it has one of the oldest continuosly operating domain names on the Net; and the program's original creator David K. Buck (the program was originally named "DKBTrace" after his initials) recently posted his memories of POV-RAY's beginnings. The IRTC (as it's known) has been running as an open contest since the Net's early days (stills since 1996, animations since 1998); one highlight is John Van Sickle's series of animations about "Rusty" and a bunch of other robots (amazingly, these are in almost every round and are completely done "by hand" in POV-RAY); this round's animation is appropriate.
Meanwhile, selected Blender art can be seen in the official gallery and the Community Journal. One blog that's keeping track of Blender news is the newly started B@rt's Blender News, which has its own post covering the new release.