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Redcurrant – Help design an asset management and collaboration tool

The Blender Foundation is famous for two things: their kickass 3D design application, and the films the team has produced over the years.

One has always gone hand in hand with the other. The films allowed the Foundation to bring together artists and developers and have them work on a joint venture. The artists gave feedback to the developers or ideas for new features, and the developers would work on implementing tools the artists needed to complete the film. At the end of the process, we had a new movie to enjoy and a brand new version of Blender with all the functionalities developed for the reel.

But in today’s world it is becoming more and more difficult to bring together all the talent in one single place. Although the project leader may reside in New York, she may be working with an animator located in New Delhi and a modeller with a studio set up in his basement somewhere in New South Wales.

The developers of Open Source programs solved this kind of problem a long time ago. With tools called distributed revision controlled systems, such as CVS, SVN, Mercurial, and, more recently, Git, programmers from all other the world can share their code and create collaboratively online, without the fear of overwriting each other’s work and using a system that allows merging different versions of files together, or rolling back to earlier versions if the changes are not satisfactory.

Redcurrant aspires to be the distributed revision control system (or asset management and collaboration tool, as the Blender Foundation call it) of the creative filmmaking world. Having to take into account not only code, but also images, film, music, scripts, 3D files, and every asset you can associate with a film, it requires for a much more complex set up than Git or any similar existing system can provide.

The project is still in the Request For Feedback stage, i.e., they are still asking users for suggestions as to what features the first version of Redcurrant should contain. And here is where you come in: if you are a filmmaker, animator, designer, musician, script writer or developer, you can send in your input and help make Redcurrant the best (and freest) way to work on a complex multimedia project online.

If there is one organisation that can follow through and make Redcurrant into something real and useful, that is the Blender Foundation, an organisation that has consistently delivered incrementally better versions of their 3D modelling and rendering software, while also expanding Blender to encompass a whole suite of utilities for image and video processing, from compositing to editing.

The Foundation will also use the Gooseberry Project, the project for their next film, to start developing for the team of artists and programmers, simulate some functionalities Redcurrant must implement, and use the feedback from their closest collaborators.