Archive for August, 2008


Showcasing Snap-To and Follow Terrain

Snap To and Follow Terrain allows objects to recognize and follow a models surface.

Snap To and Follow Terrain allows objects to recognize and follow a models surface.

Hey iCloners, sorry I’m late, was grazed by Gustav last night. He came crossing our terrain which is what brings me to todays tip, Follow and Snap to Terrain. In iClone 3.0 terrain models are objects that are assigned as terrain and then animated atop where the surface of the model causes the prop to react. This is a really cool feature because you can move and animate your characters or vehicles along a terrain surface by simply using the Move tool with click and drag. There is a small difference between Follow Terrain and Snap To Terrain, with Follow, your object will move and rotate its axis based on the terrain surface and angles. Snap will still react the same way to the assigned terrain but will maintain its original origin axis angle. For vehicle animation this feature is way too much fun to play with, you can run a tank across a battlefield, or race a car along a curvy mountain road, or as I showcase in the video example below, a snowmobile across snow covered hills. To assign Follow or Snap to an object and begin animating on terrain follow these steps…

  • Load or Assign a terrain model into the scene
  • Go to the Set tab
  • Click the Props button
  • Add a prop you wish to animate
  • Place the prop in the scene
  • Locate and click the Align to Terrain arrow
  • Choose Follow or Snap to Terrain (whichever works best for your situation)
  • Select the Move tool
  • Click and Drag the prop along the terrain, notice it will follow the model surface

Use Follow and Snap to Terrain to create fast and fun object animation where it needs to relate to the terrain in your scene. Mountains and hills especially are a blast to traverse in this manner, but the more creative you get with this feature the more impressive examples you will think to try this function out on. Maybe a pinball machine, or a skate-park will be featured in your next Machinima film or 3D short? Everyone will have fun watching it, but you’ll have as much fun making it. Check out the video below to see an example of a snow mobile animated using Snap to Terrain. Good travels, enjoy!


Composing conversations using the Face Track

The Face Track is a multi-track editing option now found on the Timeline in iClone 3.0

The Face Track is a multi-track editing option now found on the Timeline in iClone 3.0

Today’s tip touches again on the Face Track in iClone 3.0, showcasing how quick and easy it is to set up a conversation between two avatars. Now with the addition of the Multi-Track editing feature users have the ability to Record or Import a .WAV file and then line them up perfectly creating flawless facial animation timing and character interaction every time. This is great for Machinimators and professional voiceover artists because it allows you to use other audio editors to create the high quality .WAV file and then, with 3 clicks apply this as facial animation to an avatar. Further edit the emotion and coinciding motion animation to complete the effect. To apply a .WAV file to a pair of characters for the sake of creating a conversation you will need 2 audio tracks and then follow the steps below…

  • Load a set of Avatars
  • Go to the Animation Tab
  • Click the Facial Animation button
  • Locate and click the Open button in the Modify Panel
  • Navigate to your .WAV file
  • Repeat to second actor and .WAV file
  • Use Hotkey: (F3) to launch the Timeline
  • Locate and click the Tracklist button
  • Select the first character
  • Expand the Timeline and click the Face Track
  • Click and Drag the facial animation clip to the desired area on the Timeline
  • Select the second actor from the Tracklist
  • Click the Face Track
  • Align the second facial animation clip the match the beginning or end of the first clip

When this technique is combined with character motion layer editing and animation, a very natural conversation can be quickly created between two avatars. Another tip is to make sure you use Look At with both avatars selecting each head as the target for the other. You can now make clips of just about anyone carrying on with one another, find free .WAV files and make you own spoof clips, try your hand at sketch comedy, whatever you like. Really try and reach the full potential of this new feature because it can make all the difference in your next 3D short film or Machinima feature, by taking a once tough and never quite perfected method and revamping it to be a quick and easy way to create realistic conversations using the new Face Track. Below is a high speed video of the steps listed above and a very Lampoon example to appeal to the Griswald in us all! Only the best Clark!


3.02 Patch released, plus the iConverter Tool, what is it and where to find it.

Hey iCloners, just FYI if you haven’t upgraded your iClone 3.0 yet then what are you waiting for? It’s quick and easy and to Upgrade to the 3.02 patch, just click the tag below. You can also find the Version History there for a list of fixes. Plus, I’m sure some of you out there have had issues with some of your 2.5 content. Well, Reallusion has addressed that, now things like your 3D Scenes and props can be converted using the iConverter tool. Here’s the steps and tag for how to use it and where to find it.

How to Use iConverter?

Step 1: Unzip the zip file, and execute the iConverter.exe
Step 2: Click “Start” to import a 3D Scene or Prop VNS file from iClone 1.x or 2.x
Step 3: Process
Step 4: The file will be saved as a Prop file (iProp) for iClone3
* Since iConverter will change the content data to fit iClone3 spec, we suggest you don’t replace your old file directly, you may save as a new file.


The creation power of CloneBones, Lego Lord Vader

Lego Vader made using Google 3D Warehouse, 3DXchange and iClone 3.0 CloneBones

Lego Vader made using Google 3D Warehouse, 3DXchange and iClone 3.0 CloneBones

Ever wanted to make you own character in iClone, but didn’t want to model it? Have you ever wished that there was a preset bone bi-ped you could just attach models to and use .VNS motions to animate. Well, the wait is over with the introduction of iClone 3.0s CloneBones. This is a bone structure that inherits the the features of Bone Scaling but allows users to link any 3D object to this preset character rig and literally build new avatars piece by piece. CloneBones have every single node represented down to each finger digit, even including a Jaw bone link option so facial animation is not counted out in this powerful new iClone Actor. Many, many character styles are now possible to create with CloneBones such as Mechs, Robots, Suits of Armor, and much more, for example in the video below you will see I have created a Lego Man capable of being animated inside the real-time platform. To use CloneBones to create a character follow the following steps…

  • Go to the Actor tab
  • Select the Avatar button
  • Load a Clonebones template
  • Use Bone Scale to shape the bones to the proper character propertions
  • Go to the Set tab
  • Click the Props button
  • Load a prop into the scene you with to link to the actor (such as a 3D Head model)
  • Right Click the prop
  • Choose Link – Link to
  • Click the desired CloneBones node (such as the Head to link the Head to)
  • Locate and click the Link to Sub Node icon
  • Check Align Position to Parent
  • Position the prop directly on the node using the Move tool
  • Repeat for each body part

CloneBones are a new an easy way to create a wide variety of characters, they are not just good for creating robots, they can be used for any number of designs so make sure you get creative with this tool. The added Jaw Bone feature again makes facial animation possible as well for these characters so that you are not stuck with using elements such as helmets and and masks only. I strongly suggest you use the Bone Scaling options before attaching objects to make the animation for your new actors more precise in the end. Below is a high speed video of the bone scaling and building of the Lego Man with a little added bonus on the end for all my brethren Sith Lords. Now with iClone 3.0, you are the Lego George Lucas in the Star Wars Lego saga! Now…May the DarkSide of the Force be with you!


Converging G3 Heads with G2 Bodies

This valuable tip will allow you to have the best of both worlds, G2 body styles with Head Morphing capabilites

This valuable tip will allow you to have the best of both worlds, G2 body styles with Head Morphing capabilites

Hello iCloners of the world, today’s tip reveals a character combination tip that most of you out there probably haven’t stumbled upon yet. If your like me, when you are playing around with characters in iClone 3.0 you are more than likely using a new G3 avatar to do so. But, did you know that you can replace a G2 character head with a G3 head and then something very cool happens, you now have an G2 body style that has a head that is open to the new Head Morphing features, where G2 heads are not. So, if you want to use a G2 Natural Human Base but also wish to use the new Head Morphing options, simply switch out the head for any G3 template. To do this follow the simple steps below…

  • Click the Actor tab
  • Select the Avatar button
  • Load a G2 avatar into the scene (G2 Xor Natural Human Base is used in this example, notice that the “Head” option in the Facial Feature section is grayed out and not currently functional)
  • Go to the Head tab
  • Click the Faces button
  • Load a G3 template head (G3 Trey face is used in this example, notice that the Head Morphing options are now available to the character)
  • Choose a new Head style for your character
  • Use the Weight slider to adjust the style
  • Again click the Actor tab
  • Begin using the Bone Scaling options to customize the G2 body proportion

This is the kind of tip you won’t hear anywhere else because it is a little known fact regarding the character creation process in iClone 3.0. But, by executing this process you gain the best of both the G3 and G2 worlds. Being able to customize the character from head to toe regardless of avatar generation is great because it extends your iClone 3.0 content dramatically and opens up countless avenues for character stylization. And if you want the texture from your G2 head models simply load it using the fitting tools in iClone 3.0, it’s that easy. Below is a high-speed video showcasing this technique to make a new “Strong-Man” type avatar. Hope this helps you out next time you are developing actors for your iClone animations.


Drag and Drop Forests in iClone 3.0

Did you know that creating a Forest in iClone is as easy as Dragging and Dropping it into the scene?

Did you know that creating a Forest in iClone is as easy as Dragging and Dropping it into the scene?

Today’s tip is one that the Arbor Day Foundation could really wrap their arms around, get it…tree-huggers! It focuses on using the Drag and Drop features to create a Forest in super fast fashion. There were trees you could access in previous versions of iClone, sure, but the new trees offered can be animated and edited but they can also be placed in your scene simply based on where you Drag and Drop them from your folder. It’s a innovative and new way to populate your scenes with the speed that every 3D animator / Machinimator wants when in the throws of production. To begin to the Drag and Drop Forests process follow the quick-guide below…

  • Go to the Set tab
  • Click the Terrain button
  • Load the Hill or Field terrain model
  • Click the Tree tab
  • Select the Template folder
  • Begin to Drag and Drop trees into the scene
  • Place the trees at different points in the project
  • Adjust the Wind Strength slider to customize the tree animation
  • Choose different tree models to create variety in your forest
  • Click the Grass button
  • Paint in grass for added detail
  • Click the Sky button
  • Double click a Sky template to round off the scene
  • Click Play to review your forest

For most 3D animation software trees can be the largest resource hogs in the world, bogging down machines with insane poly-counts to the point that it becomes a bad idea to even attempt to shoot forest scenes or deep wood shots. But this is a thing of the past for iClone 3.0 trees can be placed and edited fast and easy and best of all they won’t kill your machine in the process. Not to mention that creating an entire forest terrain has never been faster or easier to accomplish. Below is a high-speed video showing just how fast you too can find yourself lost in the wild. Enjoy.


Customizing UV iProp Bases

Use images to customize UV iProp Bases and create a variety of animated surface assets

Use images to customize UV iProp Bases and create a variety of animated surface assets

Today’s tip will make you want to break out the polyester, buff out the platforms and crank up the Bee Gees. What would make me bust out the Bee Gees, you ask? Customizing UV iProp Bases in iClone 3.0, that’s what. There are a number of cool effects that you can create using the new UV iProp Base templates, but one of my personal favorites is an animated disco floor that would even make Travolta twinkle his toes! This is basically a texture editing process with tons of power on the animation end of things and to edit these UV iProp Bases follow the steps below…or watch the Super Funky High Speed video version below.

  • Go to Set
  • Click the Props button
  • Choose the Template folder
  • Open the UV iProp Bases folder
  • Choose the UV 03 template
  • Click Play to review the template animation
  • In the Modify panel click on the Diffuse map
  • Click the Open icon to import an image to the UV iProp Base
  • Select a Custom Image and open
  • Scroll down in the Modify panel and slide the Self Illumination slider to 100%
  • Scroll up and click the Glow map
  • Click the Open icon to import a Glow image to the UV iProp Base
  • Select the same Custom Image and open
  • Locate the Strength slider and slide it down until the desired effect is achieved
  • Save your new custom UV iProp Base

These new UV iProp Bases make many cool effects possible, from this supa-fly disco floor, to repeating road or street images that allow users to fake ground movement. Get creative….get Funky….these bases can turn into all kinds of things that can take your scene from flat to fresh. Below, as always, is the high speed method video, however, today I suggest you warm up the lava lamp for the example of this technique in action at the end of the clip. You hardcore Tekken fans out there may recognize this little attempt at a Machinima-Mini. Get down with the boogie…try to shake it around!