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How to make 3D animations with opensource software

So you've seen Despicable me, Megamind, Piranha 3D and want to have a go? Well the same revolution in technology that has brought 3D back to the cinema also makes it much easier for you to do it to.

The software
Fortunately one of the best animation programs is actually open-source, and free. Blender is an ever expanding community-developed/modelling/animating/editing/UV-painting/mixing/tea-making piece of software available from the Blender project. It can be downloaded at, www.blender.org where you can also marvel at the work produced in it.

Creating the animation
Do the tutorials. There are a host of good 2D animation tutorials directly accessible from within Blender, so go on, have a play.

Creating the 3D viewpoints
Once you've created a sequence and are ready to turn it into a film you'll need to set-up the 3D cameras. Insert a plane object where you want your screen to be in relation to your action; and define any movements you want it to make. Select it and the single camera you'll have already made, and press ctrl+t to make the camera track to the centre of the plane. Now use duplicate to make a second copy of the camera, this will appear floating around the first until you left-click to fix it, place it a little to one side. This will leave you with two viewpoints converging on the same spot, now make the plane invisible and render a movie file from each camera.

More software
Now you have two versions of your masterpiece, shot from subtly different positions and require the catchily titled Stereo Movie Maker to stick it together. You'll find this here , this is dedicated shareware that will enable you to combine two movies (best name them right and left when you make them) into your preferred stereoscopic format. Under file you'll find open left/right movies, select your respective files and press F5. This will show you both files and the combined output file on screen. Select anaglyph (all you'll need then are the classic coloured specs) unless you have access to some other system; in which case you'll know which type to select. Then all you have to do is save stereo movie, invite you friends round, sit back and pretend you James Cameron.