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I have been working in the architectural field for about 30 years. I started in an engineering office as a draftsman, then I learnt CAD and I moved to a building company. In this period I took the chance to focus on my real passion: 3D. I attended a Maya intensive course at "Darkside Training Centre" in Verona and then a meeting about 3D architecture using Maya software. One year later I attended a new architectural Maya intensive corse at "Darkside Training Centre" in Torino. Thanks to theses courses I started working as a 3D architectural artist in an architectural firm. In this period Autodesk bought Maya and this software became the best for special effects, so no more suitable to my needs.
For this reason I changed software and tried using Blender, being struck by its potential. Since 2009 I'm a freelancer and I publish videotutorials on my Youtube and Vimeo channels. I created two website blenderfacile.it and umbertooldani.com to show how to learn Blender from the ground up in a easy way.
It's needless to say the present economic crisis in Europe and in Italy business is very quiet especially in the building market. Construction companies build and sell less and less, for this reason the investments in this sector went down greatly, and for these reasons in these last years the demands of architectural rendering has shrunk too. However, using Blender is really advantageous because there are no licensing costs, and that allows to give a quality service at a very cheap price for the customer. Of course I hope for better days, but currently in Italy nothing moves.
Blender is very good for any 3D visualisation, both for modelling and image rendering, especially since the introduction of Cycles such as unbiased engine. Version 2.5 made Blender more intuitive, but the recent UI debate has shown that there is still room for usability improvements. I create my images using only Blender and softwares such as Gimp or Photoshop to modify textures. Regarding rendering, currently I am using only Cycles and I am really happy with it. To import CAD files into Blender I use SketchUp to open the file in DWG format and export directly in OBJ format to read it in Blender. This is a great and simple system to import a CAD file into Blender so to start with modeling, only using free software. I have recorded a video tutorial on blenderfacile.it to explain this steps.
I issue videotutorials and courses mainly because I like the idea to advance open source, in this case Blender, and to show that in the market there is free software as excellent as the commercial one. I think if the tutorial is done well, in a simple but detailed way, anyone can understand the basic concepts. Currently my free tutorials in English can be found on my YouTube and Vimeo channels. I created a blog in English on umbertooldani.com, where I regularly post articles with new images and brief explanations.
I saw the video presentation and taking into consideration that it is always necessary to get integrated tools with your own software that allow you to create images quickly, I think the idea is very good. In fact, for people like me who often develops architectural projects, it would be interesting to provide the client with a customized view of the interior of the building, and using this system gets very fast. Concerning this tool I have written an article visible here where I summarise the potential strengths.
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