2021-07-20 Asset Browser and 3.0

Attendees: Bastien Montagne, Dalai Felinto, Jeroen Bakker, Julian Eisel, Sybren Stüvel.
Special attendance: Ton Roosendaal - was present in a few moments to reiterate the vision for the asset bundle, the Blender 101, and share his expectations for 3.0.

This meeting happened at the Blender Institute. Its goal was to organize the priorities for the institute developers for the 3.0 release, and to make sure the asset browser will be ready in time.

Topics:

  • Asset browser
  • “Good to have” 3.0 asset features
  • Asset bundle
  • Data-block only assets
  • Monkey Blender 101
  • Work organization

Asset browser

Asset browser (and pose library) is in master as experimental. The shortest path to make it release ready is to strip out the features that are not fully implemented. After that any further improvement can be made incrementally keeping Blender (and the asset project) always ready to be released.

The following is a list of targets which are must-have features, and their suggested order of implementation. It starts by making pose library fully release-ready.

  • Pose Library master-ready (Julian)
    • Remove categories.
    • Remove file browser options.
    • Remove “Mark Asset” for all but pose library
    • Remove from Experimental.
    • Minor Polishing (e.g., forbid edit meta-data for non-local assets).
  • Catalog (Sybren)
  • Technical debt in preparation for materials and object
    • Handle dupli-ids (Bastien - after he is done with must have tasks for library management)
    • Asset view UI template - support multiple templates displayed in parallel (Julian)
  • Material (Jeroen - after the initial Blender 101 exploration)
  • Object (+ Collection?)
  • Geometry Nodes node groups.

“Good to have” 3.0 asset features

There are a few features that would be nice to have for 3.0, but that are not deal breakers. Those tasks are also good candidates for community involvement.

  • Dynamic catalogs
  • Filters (e.g., tags)
  • Batch edit tags.

If there are more developers interested in helping than tasks to be tackled this list can be expanded accordingly. Also if there is spare time before 3.0 after the core features are done.

Asset bundle

There is no one overseeing this at the moment. We need someone that can handle curating or creating the needed assets to be shipped with Blender 3.0.

  • Separate download, a few GB would be fine.
  • “Turn Blender in a great out of the shelf experience: setups, node groups, materials, models”.
  • The idea is to get people something fun to play with.
  • The 3.0 bundle can happen separately from the development of the asset browser.

Data-block only assets

Part of the initial requirement for the asset project was to find a way to integrate matcaps, HDRIs and other presets. This started by supporting pose library. This is enough for the scope of the 3.0 release. After that the other non data-block assets can be tackled.

Monkey Blender 101

  • Proof of concept of a Blender with everything stripped off but:
    • Column with a few assets (monkeys) to add to the scene.
    • Column with very tools.
  • No option should be available (viewport drawing, …).
  • Nothing should be available that wasn’t deliberately intended to be made available.
  • The proof of concept is intended to find out how far we are from making that possible, and map out whether we can make this a 3.0 target.
  • Jeroen will be responsible for the initial work on this.

Work organization

  • Friday 14:00 CEST meeting to present the Kanban board for the project.
  • Community involvement for the non-essential targets.
  • The team’s Summer holidays need to be factored to make sure everyone can work without disruptions.
  • Different parts of the project will have a developer owning the problem. They are not responsible to implement everything themselves, but to help coordinate the related tasks.
  • The Asset Bundle still needs someone responsible and artists that can contribute to it.
11 Likes

@dfelinto I’d like to help out with this.

  • Who should I get in contact with?
  • How’s the review process going to be?
  • Is there a list of assets already?
  • Are there any technical considerations to decide what goes into the bundle?
4 Likes

Duplicate ID cleanup sounds good and the concept of a rolling release with sector based experimental additions to the browser sounds really good.

I also noticed better filtering which is very very welcome, which I am looking forward to it. Search needs to improve (can’t search collections by name) and node groups are lumped in with materials, and there is no way to tell which node group is for what editor.

Also… auto thumbnail generation for collection like objects would be nice, and custom thumbnails for node groups would be very welcome also.

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That’s great! I have some links for you:

You are welcome to join the #asset-browser channel in the chat.

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Thank you Julian! I’ll check them out tonight to see how I can help :slight_smile:

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I love the idea of an Asset Bundle !

I always though that some shader were missing “out of the box” with Blender.

For instance…
-Few liquid shaders : Water/ocean, choco, juice, milk, slime…
-Mantaflow : Good looking smoke/fire shaders
-Lots of procedural brick, wood, marble, ect shaders to quickly texture an archviz scene or a model

I wonder if there could be a more official way to sudmit asset in the future, maybe on the Blender website to bring those to the “official pack”. Just provide a quality check list that must be fill.

There could even be exclusive Materials and Geo mode modifiers on Blender Cloud, in the future :slight_smile:

Edit - Just see @julianeisel post above. Thx !

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@JulianPerez thanks. This is a topic for mid-August. I will keep name around once I figure out how we will handle this.

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This is a very good idea.

In the same way a programmer can submit a patch and that patch has to be reviewed, fixed and reviewed until it’s ready to be commited, could be great to have a place where users can send assets, then they can be reviewed by B.A.S. artists or by volunteer approved artists to a big official library, not sure if it’s viable in the short term, but good idea for the mid term I think :slight_smile:

5 Likes

Like any part of Blender the asset bundle is open for community contributions. Just don’t look at it as something that is planned to grow and grow - it is not supposed be a large database of assets in competition to online asset services. Idea is more to get to a well sized set of generally useful assets to help users getting started or get some rough scene mockups done quickly. And I think a certain stability over versions is important there: You wouldn’t want that gold material that you use all the time to suddenly disappear on the next Blender update. So we have to choose a bit carefully and commit to it.

What I would expect is that we start with a good bunch of assets, add some more until it seems comprehensive enough, and then basically just keep maintaining it (adding new assets as new features become available). It would be problematic if we’d keep getting a continuous stream of submissions of people trying to get their donuts, fantasy characters and what not in.

But really, first I’d personally like somebody to get in touch with some of the greatest Blender artists to get some amazing assets into the bundle. I’ve talked to a few already that are more than happy to provide some free assets.

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Does the Adobe Mixamo plugin tie into the Pose library, or is that planned?

On the Pose Library blog, it suggests that “animation snippets” withing the action strips are not supported. Are the complications for implementing animation hairy?

Regarding the asset bundles i’d like to throw in the idea to ship Blender with a built-in (procedural) lensflare asset.

1 Like

I can’t help thinking about the future of having built in spectral material assets ship with blender after Spectral Cycles merges to master and after Spectral nodes come back. I am thinking about this because someone mentioned gold material above. I find the current way of tweaking metals base color to be kind of tricky. It looks like gold in this scene but looks like bronze in another. In the future in fully implemented Spectral Cycles with Asset Browser we can have a built in Spectral material for gold that works in any lighting conditions. I get excited even just think about this.

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Blendswap.com and other websites and/or Blender users who are prominent on social media will all have their own very popular asset bundles and online services that the asset browser can connect to. The official Blender Asset Bundle should be more focused on helping new artists get started and providing essential things that experienced artists would miss from the other programs they used to use.

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Some ideas for the asset bundle and the various reasons why I think they’d be a good idea:

  • Base meshes for sculpting, humanoids, male/female, realistic/cartoony. Perhaps also a dog, cat and horse.
  • Common ArchViz materials optimised for both Eevee and Cycles. Glass, timber floor, white stucco, gold, stone, concrete, marble, etc. Because there are some materials so ‘basic’ that Blender probably should just come with them out of the box to save everyone who uses Blender collectively millions of hours of gained productivity not needing to recreate them.
  • A handful of natural elements, a plant, a tree, a rock, grass, etc. For practice and learning purposes when experimenting with point distribution with geometry nodes.
  • A rigged humanoid mannequin (masculine & feminine variants) with simplified appearance to use for animation practice.
  • Cloth simulation setups for pillows, tshirts, etc, to use as examples to study or build off to create your own cloth simulations for other purposes. Since the cloth simulation system is sometimes tricky to wrangle, having some cloth simulation examples to play with can help learn it’s ins and outs.
  • Variety of placeholder textures, for level / environment design. Useful placeholders while designing environments can save a lot of time. Placeholders such as simple flat colours with borders around them, textures that indicate dimensions for scale, such as “1m x 1m”, placeholder door shapes, etc.
  • Sculpting brushes for common needs, rock, skin wrinkles, scratches, etc. Just to make a sculptor’s life easier and also to show new Blender sculptors the power of Blender’s sculpting tools much faster.
  • An environment setup for Eevee with baked lighting, environment probes, light coming through windows, etc. To use as an educational example for how to take advantage of Eevee while maintaining realistic lighting.
  • ‘Fun’ assets that look fantastic, to play with for experimenting with what’s possible with Blender before one has finished developing the skills and patience required to make their own assets. Example: A sports car, a shotgun, an alien, cool / attractive female and male characters, a piano, a building, etc.
  • A ‘simple sunny but mildly cloudy day’ world environment setup mixing the Nishita sky with procedural volumetric clouds that expose useful inputs to vary the density and appearance. To easily and quickly create a variety of skies with ease, something commonly desired but tedious to setup.

Just sharing some ideas to add to the discussion.

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Hi there, a huge time saver for those who need to fill up input fields with objects(assets) in geometry nodes modifier would be to allow them to drag and drop an asset from Asset browser onto input field.

Currently, such asset needs to be placed into scene first and then from Outliner onto input field. This may sound easy until one has to do that for up to hundred(or more) objects.

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You can check the list of suggested assets and leave suggestions here: T55239: Blender Assets Bundle

Note that Brushes will probably be included as part of a “Standard Asset Library”, which would basically be a part of Blender, not a separate download. That could easily hundreds of brushes. But that’s a bit of a separate (IMO high priority) project, together with rethinking brush management entirely. See Asset Browser Workshop Outcomes — Blender Developers Blog.

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Since I am not seeing this talked about anywhere and my bug report got closed, I want to stress that shipping Pose Library as the only way to work with animations is not a great look. Right now you can’t even save a simple action as an actual animation and there is no tasks on a workboard for that.

Asset Browser should support full action animations, because poses are only a tiny use case, usable only on a single frame of animation in pose mode of an armature, yet it seems like most of dev time somehow went to it instead of making asset browser more feature complete.

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I don’t think it’s necessary to pre-set a few g’s of assets, I suggest just plugging in the blender store and getting an account login to save the asset library index.

rest assure, they know what they are doing. They are preparing an asset bundle for the user to get started quickly not a full blown asset a library. It is very clearly stated on the blender wiki page
https://wiki.blender.org/wiki/Reference/Release_Notes/Blender_Asset_Bundle

The Blender Asset Bundle is meant to be a basic set of building blocks to get started, not a full blown asset library with thousands of large textures and heavy models.

Animations

As a user who make extensive use of animations, a better way of keeping track of animations is a major step forward for Blender. The asset browser is therefore IMO perhaps the most important new development in blender since 2.8. Blender is after all a tool for animation.

With many characters and each having many animations in one file, the current action editor drop down requiring scrolling to find and select an animation can be extremely tedious and is not very user friendly. (It’s also easy to forget to ensure at least a fake user, which can have bad consequences.) The NLA has been my main means of storing and managing animations and saving animations in individual files as part of the workflow.

Having played around with the asset browser in alpha, I would like to offer a short wish list as feedback. I realize that this is still under development and these may already be in the pipeline, TODO, or reserved for future updates:

  • Ability to mark animations as assets from within the NLA
  • a list view in asset browser for similar looking assets with long descriptive names. The icon view cuts off long descriptive titles, making it impossible to distinguish between animations with identical thumbnails.
  • the ability to create folders in asset browser (when I clicked ‘create folder’, nothing happened - so I suppose it’s still TODO)
  • Some kind of indication of what type of animation it is, or a better breakdown instead of having just an ‘animation’ category (if different types of animations will be supported.)
  • Similarly, some indication of type of object. Is it an armature, a mesh, what?
  • The ability to mark an armature as an asset and simultaneously mark all its animations, child armatures, meshes, etc. as assets as well. Perhaps in own folder. And of course a way to recover it all in one step.

Finally, I could not yet figure out how to save the assets in the (experimental) path specified under preferences for it. I tried a few different ways, but that directory remains empty. If it is indeed already implemented and I just have to read up somewhere on what to do to actually save the marked assets, then I hope it will be made more obvious.

Thanks for reading
DeX

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