Archive for the 'iClone Tip of the Day' Category



03
Oct
08

Designing Simple Sets for your Shots in iClone3, Reservoir Clones Part 2

Only 6 props total make up this entire scene and keeps polygon counts low

Only 6 props total make up this entire scene and keeps polygon counts low

Hello my real-time accomplices, todays tip is Part 2 of Reservoir Clones, Designing Simple Sets. Why is this important to you? Your asking yourself, what makes this topic worth a tip at all? Well, the answer is simple, I, like other iClone film-makers out there I’m sure, have been guilty of the crime of over-producing scenes. It’s true. Ask yourself this question. Have I ever created something for an iClone project, spent some serious hours putting the set together and not have 90% of my work end up in the final camera angle? Well, if the answer if yes, then this is a good tip for you. Why go through the trouble of creating a city when all you need is an alley, get the idea? This will keep your polygon count low and ensure that real-time playback and production are functioning at a highly efficient level for you. Not to mention, this is the way things have been traditionally done in Hollywood scene the golden age. Why should the virtual age be any different? In this example I have created only what I need for the Fan Film recreation shot of the cult classic Reservoir Dog intro set. That included 1 Floor plane, 1 City Street Prop, 1 3D Block, 1 Sky Dome, 2 wall props, and 5 custom automotive props. That’s all that was required to give the accurate illusion that the characters in this shot were in fact in a city complete with animated traffic. Follow the steps below to create a Simple Set like the one in this tutorial or watch the high-speed video build below.

  • Go to the Set tab
  • Click the Props Tab
  • Select the Custom tab
  • Begin to build the scene with a floor, use 3D Blocks to create your own or use default content from a Reallusion content pack, for example I use a Floor prop for the City Elements pack
  • Add a new Texture if you would like
  • Click the Open icon and select a custom image to edit any props texture map
  • Place some wall props into the scene, for this example I use the same wall with 2 different textures of brick to create diversity in the shot
  • Click the Sky button
  • Select a Sky dome to place into your scene
  • Again click the Props button
  • Click the Template tab
  • From the City Elements pack, place the Bonus City Street prop to create a “large city” feel
  • Then from the 24 Modern Urban Cars pack, take a few cars and place them around the street
  • Set transformation keyframes for the cars you wish to animate
  • Use the Zoom, Pan and Orbit tools to set up your shots and begin to animate your characters

Designing Simple Sets for your Shots in iClone is a must if you want to optimize your real-time performance. You will be surprised if you have not already began to build your sets with this notion in mind how much of a difference it will make in your overall start to finish production time. When I chose to re-create the Reservoir Dogs intro I first found the clip on YouTube that contained only the shots I wanted to develop and then took inventory of exactly what I would need to pull off a believable Fan Film that would pass for a virtual version of the original. Diving directly into iClone can sometimes be fun and can still enable you to make cool movies, really fast. But, if you begin your production with a bit more of a conceptual approach, you will see that your audience will still accept the suspension of disbelief in the shots you create and it will totally appear as if they have been filmed on massively epic stages. When you and I will know the truth. Parts 1 and 3 to the Reservoir Clones Tips will accompany this method directly, and when the 3 techniques are used together you will automatically gain powerful film-making aspects in your next machinima feature and hopefully find it a little easier to convey your stories in the real-time environment. Below is a high-speed video build of the simple set used to create the Reservoir Clones Fan Film. And don’t forget to stake out your next caper before the action begins! Enjoy!

Watch for comparison to the Fan Film render.

02
Oct
08

Instant Walk Paths for your actors in iClone 3.0, Reservoir Clones Part 1

Create Walk Paths by using the Right Click menu and point and click option in Director Mode in iClone 3.0

Create Walk Paths by using the Right Click menu and point and click option in Director Mode in iClone 3.0

Hello iCloners, this is a first for iClone Certified Training, today I am posting the first installment of a 3 part iClone Tip of the Day. Todays tip focuses on Instant Walk Path creation in both Director and Editor Mode. But first, let me explain the method of my motion madness here. You see, I think everybody at one point or another has wanted to be a part of their favorite films, wither it was on the back of a zooming Speederbike through the forest floor of Endor, or slinging webs from skyscraper to skyscraper as you swing around as your friendly neighborhood Spider-man, you more than likely can relate. This is why I think people are compelled to create Fan Films for the movies and stories they have grown to love. Image if you wanted to include an alternate ending all your own to a movie that you think didn’t quite get it right the first time. Or maybe your like me and would like to see the bad guys win every once and awhile. Well, iClone 3.0 is the stage where your Fan Film can become a 3D reality. With new features that directly relate to the right click Shader Menu, users can now direct scenes to resemble actual movies and real-life actor movement. For example, if you are a iClone user of previous versions, I’m sure you can recall the times where Cloners would long for a simple solution to making iClone avatars just walk where they wanted them to with the motion Reallusion provided. If your a new iClone user and don’t remember this, well, you lucked out. Wouldn’t it be nice if Reallusion just made it possible to…I don’t know, just point and click and my character would…you know…just walk there. Sound familiar? Well, guess what, that’s exactly what you can do in Director Mode and Editor Modes right now, believe it or not. Want me to prove it? OK, well here’s how ya do it, follow the steps below or watch the high-speed video build.

  • Go to the Actor Tab
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Load an Avatar into the scene
  • Select the Mode Switch button from the bottom tool bar to activate Director Mode
  • Click the Enter option to set your camera before creating any animation, make sure that you can clearly see the avatar and also where you wish the avatar to walk to
  • Use the Orbit, Zoom and Pan tools to set the camera angle
  • Double Click the character to make sure it is active, notice a Blue Pyramid icon over the avatar to indicate it is active
  • Right Click the avatar to access the Shader Menu, the character animation clip options will vary depending on what Persona you have applied, for this example I am using the default Trey Persona
  • Select Move and click Move Forward
  • Then simply Double click anywhere in scene you wish your character to walk to
  • Strike Spacebar once the character has reached the selected point to stop recording
  • Again, Right Click the avatar to access the Shader Menu
  • Select Move and click Move Forward
  • Repeat this process until your entire Walk Path has been created
  • Also remember that you can produce these instantly in both Director Mode and Editor Modes

Creating Instant Walk Paths in iClone 3.0 is really as simple as pointing and clicking. It may have took 3 versions to get there, but hey, great things come to those who animate right. Now, to explain how Fan Films tie into all of this, and uncover why this is going to be a 3 part tip. I want iCloners everywhere to begin to use iClone not only to make movies, but to have a outlet and a voice to share views and opinions about the things we all love, like our favorite films, art, literature and music. So, with that in mind I decided to tackle reanimating a very popular Pulp movie scene from one of my favorite Tarantino films, Reservoir Dogs, into a iClone 3D remix intro, if you will, I call it…Reservoir Clones. If your not hip to his work I’ll let you know what I mean, in this intro 8 guys are walking in a group down an alley, doesn’t sound very interesting, but seeing it and filming it true to the original directors style and vision makes something that seems very simple, very, very cool. Parts 2 and 3 to this 3 part tip will discuss and explore how Designing Simple Sets for your Shots and Taking Control of the Camera Switcher along with Instant Walk Path creation made a few simple iClone renders come together to match one scene from a true cult classic…Reservoir Dogs. Below is the high-speed video example of Part 1along with Reservoir Clones machinima intro. So you gonna bark all day little dog…or are ya gonna bite? Enjoy!

Watch for comparison to the Fan Film render.

24
Sep
08

Design and Export Web Banners using iClone 3.0

iClone can be used for all kinds of creative outlets such as Web Banners

iClone can be used for all kinds of creative outlets such as Web Banners

Hello iCloners, that’s right you read it correct, I said create Web Banners in iClone 3.0. Sorry for the hiatus as well Cloners, but I am back and ready to tackle your real-time issues, and today’s tip focuses on creating Web Banners with your iClone projects by designing custom output sizes at the beginning of your session. I have always viewed iClone as a multifaceted tool capable of producing things beyond awesome movies. For example, iClone is perfect for producing abstract motion graphic backgrounds similar to those the likes of Digital Juice. Don’t believe me? Well, just open up some default particle systems and play around with the camera. Or, there are users out there that only use iClone to create panels for online comics, using only single image output, no video. These are both one of many paths an artist can walk down in the real-time environment when iClone is viewed in this versatile light, and single image output is what creating custom Web Banners in iClone is all about. There are 4 common sizes that are normally used to create and compose banners, they are a Vertical Banner 120×240, a Full Banner 468×60, Large Banner 780×95 and Vertical Tower 160×600. Follow the steps below to see just how to work from the Export Tab first in iClone instead of last or view the high-speed video example.

  • Go to the Export Tab
  • Choose the Image Format, for this example I use JPG
  • Choose the Image Size, for this example I am creating a Large Banner 780×95
  • Select Assets to place into your image such as Characters, Terrains, Atmospheres, Props, Particles…etc
  • Scrub the Play-head if you have active elements in scene such as Particles or Atmosphere to find a frame you are happy with to render in the final image
  • Return to the Export Tab
  • Click the Export button to render the image
  • Name and Save the image in a location where you will retrieve it later for use on a website
  • Resize the Image Size to correspond with a new banner size
  • Arrange the assets in scene to compose a new layout and Web Banner design
  • Repeat the rendering and resizing process for as many designs as you like

Creating Web Banners in iClone 3.0 is a quick and easy solution to market or showcase your iClone content on your or a friends or business’s website. There are a couple of steps you should also take to ensure you have everything you want exposed in your custom Web Banners, the first is to open your Preferences and turn off MitMap if you are planning on including text in your banner. Sometimes when you use Diffuse and Opacity maps to create text in iClone you will notice a blurred edge, this is because MitMap is checked in the on position, just turn it off and your good to go. Also, using the Diffuse and Opacity maps technique to create text from an external editor is a fast and easy way to include logos or branding in your iClone Web Banners. Below is a high-speed video showcasing the customization and layout of creating Web Banners in iClone 3.0

20
Sep
08

Animate Non-vehicular objects with Vehicle Helpers in iClone 3.0

R2D2 astromech droid animated with Arrow Helper in iClone 3.0

R2D2 astromech droid animated with Arrow Helper in iClone 3.0

Greetings iCloners, you’ve done well to make it this far…sorry, I guess all the Force Unleashed is starting to get to me a bit. Now go and do my bidding….sorry…sorry. Today’s tip focuses on Animating Non-vehicular objects with Vehicle Helpers in iClone 3.0. I know you are all already familiar with the Vehicle Helpers in iClone 3.0 and how they can quickly and easily benefit your productions, but for those that don’t, let me bring ya up to speed, so check it out. There are 4 basic Vehicle Helpers that you can attach objects to, they are a Plane, Helicopter, Car and Arrow Helpers. The difference between them is how they function according to their animation keys in Director Mode. For example, the Helicopter Helper will bank with the function key to go right or left, the Car Helper will curve as it turns left or right, however today we are focused on the Arrow Helper. Why you ask? Because today I want to point out how Helper objects can help you to animate anything…anything that is that you wish to move and function how the helper functions. The Arrow Helper functions kind of like a Tank, it gives models the ability to move forward and backward and pivot on the objects center access…hmm, which would make it perfect for animating those pesky droids…especially astromech driods. For this example I am going to link a Arrow Helper to an R2D2 3D model and animate it in Director mode. To accomplish this on your own, follow the steps below or watch the high-speed video build.

  • Click the Set tab
  • Select the Props button
  • Choose the Custom tab
  • Load the model you wish to animate
  • Click the Template Tab
  • Locate and click the Vehicle Helper folder
  • Double click the Arrow Helper to bring it into the scene
  • Right Click the model you want to link to the and select Link
  • Click Link To
  • Click the Arrow Helper in the scene (A bounding box should flash indicating the link)
  • Locate and select the Link to Sub Node box (indicated by a [...] icon)
  • Check on Align Position to Parent
  • Select the Arrow Helper again and hide it by clicking Visibility Off
  • Click Director Mode switch out of Editor Mode
  • Place your camera angle
  • Strike space bar to begin recording
  • Use the Arrows to begin moving your model in the scene, notice the pivot function as you turn

Animating Non-Vehicular object with Vehicle Helpers in iClone 3.0 will save you time, and might just be more fun than you think once you get the hang of it. Director Mode allows you to Play-to-Create, and Vehicle Helpers can play a big part in that. You can control the speed of each Vehicle Helper by using the + and – keys, this way the droid or any other object you may wish to animate in this fashion, actually moves at the proper speed. Once you are done messing around while traversing a terrain model, (with Follow or Snap To turned on) you then have a bank of footage you then can render and cut into pieces, creating a nice selection of shots that will convey your character has moved along a long distance when using traditional film-making techniques. Below as always is a high-speed video build of this process in action and a bit of a Star Wars throwback Machinima, oh yeah and by now if you haven’t figured out at this blog that iClone is the ultimate Star Wars Fan film production station, well then, go watch some more Star Trek. Long live the DarkSide and Force Grab those droids everybody. As for me I got some neon Rancors to slay! Enjoy!

19
Sep
08

Atmosphere in iClone 3.0 and how to create your own

Foggy night Atmosphere customized in iClone 3.0 with Sky, Lighting, Fog and Particles

Foggy night Atmosphere customized in iClone 3.0 with Sky, Lighting, Fog and Particles

Hello iCloners of the blog-o-sphere and beyond, todays tip is a tidbit about Atmosphere in iClone 3.0, what it is and how to create your own. Atmosphere in iClone 3.0 consists of 3 or 4 things, which are Sky, Lighting, Fog and Particles if you so choose. Here’s how it breaks down, let’s say you want to create a generic night scene, the common elements that would be shared such as a dark scene and sky, deep blue perspective and starlight would be the elements that after edited to fit the project, could be saved together as a custom Atmosphere. You see the dark sky would obviously cover the Sky portion, and the darkness would be partially created with custom colored Lighting, the deep blue perspective that makes night appear dark would be developed using Fog, and the starlight itself would be represented by a Particle system. Particles are optional when creating a new Atmosphere, they can be included by checking on the include Emitter to Atmosphere checkbox, but are not included by default, however the other 3 aspects of Atmosphere will be. Once a new collection of settings have been edited and saved, then custom Atmosphere may be applied to any and all terrains to quickly swap out or add a new feel to the entire scene. To create and save your own custom Atmosphere follow the steps below or view the high-speed video build.

  • Load a Terrain model into the scene
  • Go to the Sky button
  • Choose a Sky template that best fits your desired Atmosphere
  • In the Modify panel Edit the Sky’s default settings to suit your project
  • Select the Stage button
  • Choose the Fog option
  • Check the Fog On box
  • Adjust the Color and Distance
  • Click the Light button
  • Adjust the Light Color
  • Adjust the Ambient Light Color as well
  • Again click the Set button
  • Select the Particle button
  • Particles are optional to include in your Atmosphere but if you wish to you must check on the Add to Atmosphere check box
  • Choose a particle template to place in the scene if you want, for this example I am using a Fog particle
  • Edit the particle emitter settings to fit the Atmosphere you wish to create
  • Click the Play button to review the new collective Atmosphere
  • Once you are pleased with the outcome, click the Stage Tab
  • Select the Atmosphere button
  • Click the Add button in the Content Manager
  • Name the custom Atmosphere

Once you have created a custom Atmosphere in iClone 3.0, you have the awesome ability to swap out the Atmosphere to any terrain you choose, so for example if we have created a night time Atmosphere, you can recall those settings for the Sky, Lighting, Fog, and Particles that you have combined to make the new style. This is great because you can begin to develop multiple versions of Atmospheres, like a misty morning, or a foggy night, or an active volcanic, make any combination you like. Once you have lots to choose from you will always have a 2 click solution to any scene that will allow you to add something that often times seems to be missing, even in some of the best 3D productions out there…proper Atmosphere. Below is a high speed video example of the process of combining the 4 elements and saving custom Atmospheres in iClone 3.0 Enjoy!

17
Sep
08

Lightning Effect by editing Particles in iClone 3.0

Use a real photo of lightning to create custom particles with only 2 image maps

Use a real photo of lightning to create custom particles with only 2 image maps

Hello iCloners, today’s tip deals with Editing Particles in iClone 3.0. Particle effects in iClone are image based emitters that have customizable parameters allowing users to make fire burn as high as they like, or fog roll as slow as they want, or in this case I am going to create a Lightning Particle to accompany a rainy scene. This is also a image editing process so you will need to use an external image editor such as Photoshop. A Particles appearance in iClone is based on two image maps, a Diffuse and an Opacity map. I will show you how to customize these images to fit a bolt of lightning using only I photo of a real bolt. Using this method will help you to become more comfortable with createing your own particles and give you a better understanding of how the emitters work, so you can make them work for you. To open, and edit a particle system follow the steps below or watch the high-speed video example.

  • Go to the Set Tab
  • Click the Particle button
  • Select the Template folder
  • Double click the Basic 01particle template
  • Click the Play button to review the default particle animation
  • In the Modify Panel locate and click the Diffuse map to activate it
  • Click the Launch button to open the default image into an external image editor, for this example I use Photoshop
  • Open a custom image to create the new particle design with, for this tip I use a regular photo of lightning
  • Place and Edit the image to suit your needs
  • Save over the temporary file in a JPG format
  • Return to iClone
  • Click the Update button to apply the new image
  • Click the Opacity map to activate it
  • Click the Launch button to open the default opacity image into your external image editor
  • Use the new edited Diffuse map image to create a Black and White Opacity file
  • Save over the temporary opacity file in a JPG format
  • Return to iClone
  • Click the Update button to apply the new opacity image
  • Click the Play button to review the edited particle images
  • Begin to Edit the particle settings in the Modify panel, note that all the following settings may be adjusted to suit your desired particle output
  • Adjust the Start and End Color to fit the lightning, extremely pale blue is best for this
  • Change the Width and Height settings to 5 times higher than wide to ensure your lightning reaches from the sky to the ground in your scene, for this example I use a Width of 300 and Height of 1500
  • Edit the Life setting to a Minimum value of 3 and Maximum of 124, this is to give the lightning particle the “flicker” it will need by setting a very low Life span
  • Set the Quota to 10 and the Emit Rate to 1 to enhance the “flicker” as well
  • Then give the Emit Volumes for the X and Y axis large values to help spread out the lightning, for this example I use a value of 200 for both
  • Adjust the Position value, but only the Z axis in order to place the particle higher or lower in the scene
  • Set the Spread to the highest value of 179 to help randomly place the Lightning Particle
  • Click Add in the Content Manager to save the custom particle

Editing Particle Effects in iClone 3.0 seems to some users to be a little too complicated for their taste, but I can assure them that particles are easy and fun to customize. When you become comfortable with creating new settings and appearances for particle effects, then you can develop incredible things such as lightning, tornadoes, swarms of creatures, projectiles, motion graphic backgrounds and most anything else you can imagine. The options are limited only to the bounds of your creativity, these are powerful tools that can provide powerful output if you take the time to become familiar with their functionality. Below is a high-speed video build of the production of the Lightning Particle and a rendered showcase example of it in action. Enjoy!

16
Sep
08

Creating 3D Alien Avatars in iClone 3.0

Alien Avatar created in iClone 3.0 using default content along with the Bone Scale and Head Morphing abilities

Alien Avatar created in iClone 3.0 using default content along with the Bone Scale and Head Morphing abilities

Greetings iCloners, I come in peace…of mind, the peace of mind that one receives from creating 3D Alien characters for animation and film-making earth purposes in iClone 3.0. In the not so distant past, iClone avatars did not have the ability to Bone Scale and Head Morph, now they do, but still to achieve a nude base 3D Alien you must use the Converging G2 Bodies with G3 Heads technique along with the Bone Scale and Head Morph abilities. The outcome is stellar and a perfect new solution to implanting extra-terrestrial actors into your next sci-fi Machinima feature. To create this style of Alien Avatar inside of iClone 3.0 follow the steps below or watch the high-speed video build of the custom character.

  • Go to the Actor tab
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Select the G2 Jane Nude Human Base model from the Custom folder
  • Go to the Head tab
  • Click the Faces button
  • Select the Violet head from the Template folder
  • Go to the Actor tab again
  • Again in the Faces menu, locate and click the Head option in the Facial Feature portion of the Modify panel
  • Choose the Alien option
  • Adjust the Weight slider to suit the character
  • Click the Eyes button
  • Choose and Edit an eye template to suit your character,for this example the Whites of the eyes have been darkened
  • Click the Teeth button
  • Choose and Edit a teeth template for your character
  • Again click the Faces button and edit each Facial Feature to appear more “Alien-like”
  • Select the Actor Tab and click the Skin button
  • Locate and edit the Hue slider in the Modify panel to customize the color of the skin
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Edit the Bone Scale to fit the character
  • Use the Width, Length and Depth sliders to give the characters features a more “Alien-like” proportion

Creating 3D Alien Avatars in iClone 3.0 is a whole other style of characters at your access which in turn opens the door to countless science fiction productions that may have been to much trouble before due to the Alien meshes that would’ve had to have been created in an outside modeling source like Maya or 3D Max. The modeling and rigging alone of the characters would have taken a great deal of time and effort to even get to a starting point for the production, this is no longer an issue by using the new character creation features in iClone 3.0. Now Machinimators and traditional 3D film-makers alike can really shoot and produce in an Alien Nation if they so choose. An entirely new race, an completely new culture, a sci-fi of epic size and scale, nothing is beyond the real-time iClone Galaxy now. All that’s left to do is for you to choose where in the universe your next story takes place. Below as always is a high speed video of the character build and rendered output of this close encounter of the “Clone-kind.” Enjoy!




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