Blender, Lambda, and NFTs — Oh My!

Introduction

Johnny and I (Spools) have known each other for a long time, so when Johnny approached me in the spring of 2021 about a NFT project with a truly physical aspect, there was only one response I could provide:

What the heck is an STL and how do I make it beautiful?

One of the main challenges of a physical collection is, well, making sure that it can actually be 3D-printed, so we had to ensure that our algorithm could output to a file formatthat was widely accepted across most modern 3D printers. The name STL is an acronym that stands for stereo-lithography which is a file format fully supported by the majority of 3D printers, as well as most CAD applications. Moreover, STLs can be easily imported into Blender, which made them a perfect choice for satisfying the digital rendering aspect of the Causeways collection.

An image generated via our Blender Lambda.

Okay cool, but how do I avoid manually calling this command 2500 times?

The Causeways collection consists of 2500 unique pieces, all of which would have to be rendered after the NFT is minted (the trait metadata and seed that are used to create the STL is only generated once a token had been minted). For quite obvious reasons, waiting around for an individual to mint from our collection and then running our Blender automation manually was not really a tenable solution (A developer as to sleep sometime, right?). Thus, we needed a way to systematically trigger our Blender script. Moreover, because people can mint at any time we had to ensure that this could happen asynchronously.

  1. A Docker container that uses a NodeJS runtime for handling logic and running commands, which was then built on top of the available New York Times Blender Image.

Putting the Pipeline Together

So we have our Blender script for our renders, and we have a way to run it asynchronously in a fully automated manner. The final pieces required to complete our pipeline were:

The full Ethentic mint-to-render flow.
The 3D viewer on the Ethentic site in action!

Conclusion

There were many challenges along the way in terms of getting Ethentic ready for our launch of the Causeways collection. From the novel use of sorting algos in the smart contract (article to come!), and the additional complexity required to showcase a 3D-printable asset, the journey to completion has been a long but extremely gratifying one.

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Ethentic

Ethentic

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Platform empowering generative CodeCAD artists with 3D printable digital collectibles. https://ethentic.art