The End of MBL?

Yesterday saw the tragic announcement that the Manuel Bastioni Lab was dead. For those of you who have missed the opportunity to use it, it is an incredible free program for creating human models in Blender. Here is the announcement:

Bad News

07 November 2018

A week ago an announcement was published to explain how to support the lab project. The lab started in January 2016 and during these years has requested thousands of hours of programming, coding and modelling. The roadmap for version 1.7 is gigantic and would require an incredible effort and motivation.

Unfortunately, it seems that nobody cares about supporting the lab.
After seven days from the announcement the amount of contributions is negligible.

I don’t understand why.
I’m very, very sad.
A so expensive project cannot survive without a community that supports it.

The lab project stops today.
In next days I will gradually modify the site.
I’m not writing this message to ask more contributions: to survive, a project needs a constant, motivated and regular community, so a temporary short help will not change the things.
I’m just informing you about the reason of the end of a dream.

It’s sad that the project was quit so abruptly, and on the MBL Blender Artists’ thread, there were many people complaining that they never saw the funding request and certainly I did not either. To be honest, as a Volunteer, my finances are limited and I don’t know if I’d be able to give or give much, but as I use MBL frequently–most notably as references for my comic book–I would certainly be interested in contributing somehow, and if I ever made any money from my comic I absolutely would return some of that to the creator.

I feel it’s sad that a project which is so valuable to so many was dropped so suddenly and wish there had been more of a warning. Blendswap, for example, was able to seek out a developer from the Blender community and now seems to be humming along again. Hopefully Manuel Bastioni will go back on some of his words.

Another option is that since it is an open source program, maybe someone else can pick up the code and continue with a new branch, perhaps with a better funding model. This is really important because we’re on the eve of Blender 2.8 and so if the addon doesn’t get some sort of update we won’t be able to use it without keeping an older copy of Blender handy.

This is yet another reminder of the painful reality of open source software. On one hand the software frees us from planned obsolescence but we do sometimes still get software lockin despite the promise.

I’m not too worried about this affecting my graphic novel as I’m a very adaptable person. I’ll find ways to convert the models I already use to 2.8, perhaps using Rigify, and can always use the final version of  MBL on an older system if necessary, use MakeHuman, or just get better at drawing! (I am about to start attending some drawing classes, so the latter is obviously my preference.)

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