The developers of the open source 3D software Blender are cleaning up with the proxy system and geometry nodes. This should make the software more efficient.
It’s available now 3D software Blender 3.2 for Windows, Linux and macOS free to download. The developers have set themselves the task of cutting off old habits and making the software leaner and more efficient. Blender 3.2 also supports WebP files.
Proxies become overrides
When working with 3D files, a lot of data is linked. In order to still be able to edit these, Blender used to work with so-called proxies. The developers have completely removed the proxy system from the era before version 3.0. However, old projects remain compatible, as Blender converts the proxies to overrides as far as possible. Overrides can be controlled much more finely than proxies. They can also be applied to materials and other data blocks.
The developers have added a view for editing overrides to the user interface for overrides in the outliner. Depending on the situation, Blender syncs linked data up to ten times faster than before.
The Blender team has removed most Geometry Nodes from version 2.93. Node setups from this version are therefore no longer compatible with Blender 3.2. The developers recommend converting the node setups using Blender 3.0 or 3.1.
Many nodes that work with curves and all field nodes that combine a set of instructions into a single output now work many times faster. Blender should also be able to write vertex groups that save weights for subsequent operations much faster.
Indirectly, this also makes the new “Duplicate Elements” node faster, since it can create instances of geometry. It doesn’t duplicate the geometry itself, but sets a kind of pointer to it, which saves memory and increases rendering efficiency. Object instances created by said node are also called “Multi User Data” in Blender. So far, no modifiers could be applied to it, since they change the object destructively. Blender 3.2 can convert the instance for this into its own object. The same applies to transformations.
Channel names in the Video Sequence Editor
In Blender’s “Video Sequence Editor” video editing program, you can now give individual channels names, and disable or block channels. For strips that transform underlying ones, you can select bilinear calculation or “Nearest Neighbor” (pixel repetition). The latter has been standard up to now. When transforming, the editor pans the view when the edge of a window is reached. The thumbnails of the strips now show the frame where the handle is located.
File and color management
The Asset Manager supports collections, with which objects of a scene can be organized and placed in the scene as instances. This allows Asset Manager to manage almost any configuration of objects and data blocks.
Blender now imports OBJ files much faster because the previous importer, written in Python, has been replaced by an implementation in C++. The new importer is still marked as experimental. The developers have already updated the export function for OBJ files in version 3.1 with a C++ version.
In color management, you can now select a different profile for rendering than for the viewport. With linear formats such as OpenEXR, there are also different linear color spaces such as ACES to choose from. This way you can output different file formats with different profiles.
Create and edit curves with a few clicks with a new Curve Pen tool.A click directly sets a control point whose handle can be moved immediately.
GPU Rendering with Cycles
Caustics occur when light is refracted by transparent objects such as glass. This effect is particularly difficult to calculate for path tracing engines like Cycles. The engine has to send thousands to tens of thousands of rays into the scene per pixel. She can now accelerate this effect for individual objects. For this you have to mark both the light source, the transparent object and the object receiving the caustics. Cycles calculates the caustics only inside the object’s shadow. Cycles does not yet support caustics generated by reflections.
Cycles now supports lightgroups. These are compositing passes that store the light from a group of light sources, such as the day and night lights of a scene. This proportion of the lighting in a scene can be adjusted afterwards.
On Linux, Cycles now uses GPU functions on AMD graphics cards. The engine requires version 22.10 of the Linux drivers from the AMD Radeon Repository and supports cards with the RDNA and RDNA2 architecture, including the Radeon RX 5000 and RX 6000 series and the Radeon Pro W6000 series. RDNA cards currently have a bug when rendering with textures whose width is not a multiple of 128.
Painting in Sculpt mode
Until now, a special feature was that Blender used color attributes for nodes not in the nodes but in the faces of a mesh. This made it almost impossible to display colored point clouds in the viewport. Also, there were compatibility issues with other software that stores vertex colors directly in the vertices. Blender 3.2 now supports both formats as Color Attributes. You can edit these directly in sculpting mode, i.e. paint on your 3D objects in sculpting mode, which was previously reserved for Vertex Paint mode.
Motion blur and VR support
Motion blur occurs when objects are moving so fast that that our eyes can no longer depict them sharply. So far this was limited to meshes in Blender. Version 3.2 also supports the effect for volumetric objects like fire and smoke. You can use both fire and smoke simulated in Blender, as well as VBD data imported from other software, as long as they contain information about the movement of the individual voxels.
When viewing a scene with VR glasses, Blender now display information such as cameras, light sources or reference images. When you have found a good position in the scene, you can save it as a landmark directly from the current pose of the VR headset.