Archive for September, 2008

29
Sep
08

REPuffS, you know you want some more…of the same!

99% More of the SAME

99% More of the SAME

Hello people of the world, here’s another little ditty by the boys from the boondocks. I have been away fear and loathing on the ol’ animation campaign trail for a couple of days but …no worries my fellow Cloners, the Tips will continue today but for now, rest your carpel tunnel for a tick or two and enjoy REPuffS. A good ol’ fashioned look into the hearty well-balanced views of the GOP. Repuffs is a satirical take on how the McCain Palin campaign is rushing to rebrand themselves, but can’t escape the fact that it’s their party that has been at the wheel for the past 8 years. Repuffs, 99% more of the same. Created with Reallusion iClone 3 by the Martin Brothers. Enjoy and feel free to make your views known to us if you like, we love to hear from the real people that matter in this wonderful country of ours…because remember, this country does belong to the PEOPLE and we all have a voice. Nows the time to USE IT, wouldn’t you say?

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25
Sep
08

The Puppeteering Panel Explained in CrazyTalk 5.1 Pro

Use the Puppeteering Panel to perfect your 2D and 3D facial animation for both CrazyTalk and iClone

Use the Puppeteering Panel to perfect your 2D and 3D facial animation for both CrazyTalk and iClone

Hello CrazyTalkers, todays tip focuses on a feature in CrazyTalk Pro known as the Puppeteering Panel. The addition of this feature to CrazyTalk 5.0 was a God-send for animators everywhere 2D and 3D alike, Why? Because the Puppeteering Panel literally allows users to gain control over every facial feature, or muscle if you will, and animate them in the same way you would animate a puppet. For example, you can select just the eyes and click to blink, or grab, click and drag the brows to scowl or lift the eyebrows, or of course, click and drag the Jaw to open and shut the mouth. You get the idea, but for perfecting facial animation for either your 2D CrazyTalk models or for your 3D iClone avatars, mastering the Puppeteering Panel is a must. But don’t worry, it’s really a lot less complicated than it appears to be. The other aspect that lends the Puppeteering Panel a great deal of power when perfecting your facial animation is the fact that CrazyTalk allows you to make as many animation passes or recordings as you like will getting your lip-sync and emotion juussst right. So imagine this, you simply focus on individual areas one at a time to get each facial feature animated exactly the way you wish for your character to emote. Reallusion encourages the use of the Puppeteering Panel so much in fact, that when you click on the Timeline Tab it will automatically open the panel ready for you to use, this tip will explain how to open and edit a few features and their range of animation, while all the time creating and refining your final lip-sync output. Follow the steps below to become more familiar with the Puppeteering Panel or watch the high-speed video.

  • Load a Model in CrazyTalk
  • Select the Script button
  • Click the Timeline Tab
  • Place an Audio Track onto the Timeline either by recording or importing
  • The Puppeteering Panel should already be active, but if not, click the Puppeteering button
  • Click a Facial Feature you wish to begin editing
  • Select the Preview button to see how the feature will be affected before recording
  • Strike the Spacebar to begin the preview
  • During the preview Click and Drag to animate the feature
  • Strike the Spacebar to end the preview
  • If the animation range is to high click the Edit Property button, for example if the Jaw is the feature you have selected and the mouth opens wider than you would like then use Edit Property to solve that
  • Input a new higher or lower Value to edit the range of the facial feature, then close the window
  • Click the Record button to create an animation pass for that feature
  • Strike the Spacebar to begin recording
  • While recording Click and Drag to animate the feature once again in relation to the wav file
  • Strike the Spacebar again to end the recording
  • Click the Clear Selection button to deactivate the feature
  • Click the next facial feature or features you wish to edit
  • Repeat the recording process and make multiple passes if you like, just use Hotkey: Ctrl + Z to undo the recording after striking Spacebar to end the pass
  • Use the Puppet Profile to quickly select multiple areas to edit at once
  • Click on a Full Face Controller to edit facial and Head Orientation as well
  • Again, Repeat the recording process and make multiple passes if you like
  • Click on either the Head Movement or Camera Movement tools to create animation passes of head movement as well, Note* these movements will not apply to iClone avatar facial animation
  • Right Click the Timeline data
  • Choose Ungroup to edit motion clips on the Timeline after making passes
  • Click and Drag a selection around areas you may wish to save as individual Motion Clips that can later be applied to other models
  • Click the Add button under the Custom Script Tab
  • Name and Save your CTS file
  • Select the Output button
  • Choose your Media Type
  • Click the Export button from the bottom to render your animation

The Puppeteering Panel in CrazyTalk 5.1 Pro is the gateway to great facial animation output in both CrazyTalk and iClone. It should be viewed as the not-so-secret weapon in your facial animation arsenal. There is a CrazyTalk artist out there that I read quoted as saying that, “Sure, you can animate something in 30 seconds with CrazyTalk, but if you spend 2 days refining the animation then it will be perfect.” I thought about that as a Pro CT user, and that guy was spot on. No matter how high you consider your skill level of being in relation to CrazyTalk, the Puppeteering Panel will always help to make your lip-sync and emotion that much better with every additional second you choose to put into your animation. Don’t be hasty, take time and get it right the first time through. Any other notion is well…crazy talk. Below is a high-speed video example of the Puppeteering Panel in action, making multiple animation passes, refining them, saving a custom motion clip and rendering a puppeteered CrazyTalk animation. Now that’s a mouthful. Almost forgot, I use Daz 3D’s Victoria Model in this showcase and there’s also a little something in there for you Leonard Cohen heads by way of Concrete Blonde, you can thank Christian  Slater for it. Enjoy!

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

iClone 3.03 Patch released, don’t miss it!

Hey iCloners out there, just a heads up on the new patch available now for your iClone needs. Make sure you upgrade to stay on top of your real-time game, just takes a few seconds and you’ll be set with 3.03 Here’s the link http://www.reallusion.com/iclone/ic_upgrade.asp so pop over and grab it today!

Upgrades

This upgrade page contains details of the latest release version.

Available below are upgrade patches and packs to ensure you have the latest version of iClone3 product installed. A version history is included so you can better understand the new features added or issues solved within a specific release.

Official Release Version: iClone v3.03

Release Date: 15th September, 2008

*Check out the System Requirement and Full Feature Matrix.