Archive for November, 2008

30
Nov
08

Animate all 6 Channel Maps in iClone3.1 with the greatest of ease

Now you can Animate all 6 Channel Maps in iClone 3.1

Now you can Animate all 6 Channel Maps in iClone 3.1

What’s going on iCloners? Along with tons of other cool new features added into the iClone3.1 upgrade, Animating Materials via the Timeline or directly with the use of sliders, is now possible for all iCloners. This means you can easily animate the settings of your 6 channel maps, Diffuse, Opacity, Bump, Specular, Glow and Reflection. If you modify the Diffuse image, the 3D model may then present various appearances. By adjusting the Contrast of the opacity texture, you may define the level of the face to be masked out. When you adjust the Contrast setting of the Bump channel, you are defining the smoothness or bumpiness of the face. The Specular setting is very useful when you want to create a damp or oily effect on your object, such as wet brick in the rain, or a character that has emerged from the water. Adjusting the Glow map to change the level of glowing effect of your objects, and adjusting the Reflection map will effect the range in which the object will reflect the scene around it. There are many options when you decide to edit your materials but now, you can also animate the editable attributes. In the Timeline you can now create Material Keys that will save the settings for your channels as you edit them. So you can fade between maps creating interesting and compelling Material animation, this is not to be confused with saving Materials Templates for further use, for more information on that please reference the Multiple Camera Texture Mapping section of the online help document. However, to quickly just create some Animated Materials follow the step by step instruction below to begin to get the feel of this in-depth new aspect to iClone or watch the high-speed video example below.

  • Go to the Set tab
  • Click the Props button
  • Locate the 3D Blocks folder
  • Load a Ball_001 Prop into the scene
  • Use the Move and Scale Tools to place and size the Ball if you wish
  • In the Modify Panel, scroll down and find the Material and Texture Settings portion of the menu
  • Click the Load Material button to apply multiple preset Channel Maps to your object
  • Select a Material ( for this example I use the Glass04 preset Material for the Crystal Ball )
  • Choose the Channel Map you wish to animate
  • Adjust the Strength Slider for each texture you want to animate
  • Move forward in time in your project and then make additional changes to the desired maps
  • Repeat for each map to the end of the project
  • Add additional Maps or make edits to the existing Material template images using Load or Import
  • Access the edits and key frames you make to each Map via the Timeline by clicking the new Material Track
  • Edit additional features such as Refraction and Reflection by checking on the check boxes
  • Adjust the sliders to make changes to the Refraction and Reflection settings
  • Use the Rotate and Move tools to create prop Transform animation to enhance the Material animation

Animating Materials in iClone 3.1 can grant you the user the power to create fantasy effects like the Crystal Ball featured in today’s tip, or Branding with dynamic text and fades using key-frame animation you can access and edit via the Timeline. There is no doubt, this is a powerful new functionality and it has many new innovative applications I’m sure users will dream up and share soon enough. I can’t even really begin to imagine but it is safe to say that iClone 3.1 is a bulky, and well thought-out release with the revelation of new cools abilities such as this. There is a great deal of in-depth information in the Online Beta Index link posted above and I do recommend for the advanced production artist, give it a good read because there are some new rules and organizations of texturing features that you will want to let sink into you mind for a week or so. At least I know I did, people learn at different paces and what may take some fun guys a while to catch on to, it may take others on 30 minutes of well spent time. So, Beta Index, don’t forget. Below you will find a rendered example of some quickly put together Animated Materials in my Fortunetellers tent and the massively fast and easy method you too can use to edit and animate Channel Maps on your own. Enjoy!

21
Nov
08

iClone 3.1 Get it while it’s HOT!

.1 UPGRADE LIVE!

The wait is over iCloners and holysnikies what an update it is. Are they kidding with the new Springs Dynamics, you know the Dream Girls pack is getting ready to sky-rocket in sales with the addition of this new feature, am I right? This is gonna be great! How to upgrade whether you are a EX, or registered user is easy and only takes a few clicks and minutes to accomplish. The fastest way to do this is of course by simply opening iClone and then click the Check for Updates option. This will take you to the Upgrade Page directly but if your like me and need to see something a few times to get it to sink in then I have provided a little high-speed video showcasing my upgrade to 3.1 and how painless it really was. Watch it if you need to see or stop reading this post already and UPGRADE. What are you waiting for, you could be using 3.1 by now. Red Team go, Red Team go!

21
Nov
08

Unbelievable Daz 3D scenes and how to convert them for use in iClone3

Daz 3D studio content filmed in iClone3 makes for a sick scene everytime

Daz 3D studio content filmed in iClone3 makes for a sick scene everytime

What’s good iCloners, today’s tip deals with just that…something good, something very good, Daz 3D content and how to get it into iClone3 quick and easy. For those of you out there who may not be familiar with Daz 3D but are with iClone let me get you up to speed. Daz 3D is a production studio sort of like iClone in the respect that you can create and animate inside a 3D production environment but falls short when it comes to the real-time capabilities provided to iClone filmmakers. However, Daz 3D is still super cool and there are a ton of loyal artist who produce high quality content with Daz and provide it for sale through the Daz 3D website which can be converted for use in iClone with very little time and effort wasted throughout the process. This can save time and possibly even save your production from time to time if there is that certain shot or scene that you need but just don’t have the time to create it on your own, Daz can come to your rescue. For this example I will show you how to get from one production platform to the other without pulling teeth, you will need Daz 3D studio, iClone 3DXchange and iClone obviously to follow along with this one. Follow the steps below or watch the high speed video showcase to catch a glance of this conversion method in action.

  • Open Daz 3D
  • Load your pre-downloaded 3D Scene Daz content
  • Click the Content tab and then locate your model in the proper folder
  • Use the Zoom and Rotate tools in Daz 3D to review the entire model you wish to convert
  • Go to File – Export to save the file for importing into 3DXchange
  • Name the file and choose the Obj format
  • In the Export menu click the Advanced tab and make sure Write UV Coordinates, Write Normals and Collect Maps are checked ON
  • Click Accept
  • Open iClone 3DXchange
  • Go to File – Open
  • Navigate to the saved Daz 3D Obj file
  • Use the Zoom and Rotate tools to review the model to make sure all textures are intact ( if you run into unwanted Blue texture areas, use the RELOAD button to try and correct the issue )
  • Select all in the Scene Tree and then click the 2 Sided check box ON to cap any back faced areas
  • Click the Align to GND (ground) button to properly position your new scene prop
  • Go to File – Export
  • Select the Props bullet
  • Choose the Browse button if you need to navigate to a custom folder
  • Select a Custom folder destination and click OK
  • Again click OK to Export
  • Open iClone
  • Click the Set tab
  • Select the Props button
  • Choose the Custom Tab
  • Find the folder where it was exported and Double Click the Daz 3D.vns scene
  • Use the Zoom, Pan and Orbit tools to review the new 3D scene prop
  • Add Sky domes, Ground props and other City Elements to create a quick and detailed City scene

Daz 3D Studio is a stellar product and offers some very cool content and features that just might help to push your next iClone production over the top. In this the new age of D.I.Y. film-making and amateur production art development , all tools and tricks of the trade should be used to their highest potential when it is applicable. The stronger and more efficient your production pipeline is, the better the overall ease and smoothness of the animation process will be. Which is one of those unspoken but often times absent aspect we sometimes find ourselves missing in the stress of the things we produce. Whoa, got a little to deep even for myself there, anyway, the point is Daz 3D Studio content contains a high level of detail, textures that already have graffiti on the box cars and dirt on the streets, little but important details included. It has a strong following of outstanding artist behind the creation of this content as well. Daz 3D Studio content is easy to find, convert and merge with existing iClone content to make rich scenes without a lot of hassle. Daz 3D Studio content can be found cheap most of the time and the guys at Daz are kinda like Crazy Eddie with their stuff, they run a ton of sales and deals all year round so you are sure to get what you want for a great price if you just keep an eye on it. I could go on and on but just let me show you what I mean, below is a rendered demo clip with some iClone and Daz 3D Studio content in a little bombin’ session action, notice the nice texture work already included in the scene and then follow along as I take you through how to convert Daz 3D Studio content for yourself. Hit’em up! Enjoy!

21
Nov
08

Absolute Bones, make no bones about it in iClone3

FIRE BAD...Absolute Bone Settings GOOOODD!

FIRE BAD...Absolute Bone Settings GOOOODD!

Hello iCloners, much like the late, great Phil Hartman I too share a love for the electroshocked undead monster from the mountains, Frankenstein. What does the lovable lug of a creature and Setting Absolute Bones have in common? The answer lies within today’s tip and the signature walk of the world famous character. Almost everyone has witnessed Frankenstein walking stiff legged as he makes his way through the village or the castle where he was created. But it’s the trademark extended arms that seems to be leading this character down his path of destruction as he strolls along. So what would be the best way to recreate this stiff armed effect in iClone if you wanted to match this style of walk cycle. Simple, use Absolute Bones, this feature in the newest version of iClone maybe should have been called Lock Bones or Bone Lock because really that is what seems to be happening here and it’s really easy to edit any default motion you have in your library using this technique. Here’s what you do, apply a walking motion to a character then access the Adjust Motion Layer Menu. There you will find both Select Bones and Set Absolute Bones options. Select Bones is meant for positioning your character to edit the pose and Set Absolute Bones is directed more for locking appendage’s in place in relation to the preset motion animation. The Frankenstein example mentioned above is a great case study for a good use of this feature, by “locking” or setting the selected bones to and “absolute” position in relation to the existing animation data. Follow the steps below to execute this method on your own or watch the high-speed video built provided.

  • Go to the Actor tab
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Load an Avatar into the scene (Frankenstein from the Classic Horror Movies content Bonus pack)
  • Select the Animation tab
  • Click the Motion folder
  • Select a Walking motion looping or point to point is fine either way ( for this example I use Walk Frail from the Mega Motion Pack V2 )
  • Locate the Adjust Motion section of the Modify Panel and click Edit Motion Layer
  • Use the Select Bone section and the IK abilities to extend the arms using the Move Tool
  • Click the Set Absolute Bone button ( notice the dummy avatar will now change to a golden tone )
  • Select the bones you wish to lock ( for this example I lock both arms from the shoulders down )
  • To save your newly edited motion, click the Add button in the Content Manager
  • Name the new custom motion file for future use

Utilizing the Absolute Bone settings in iClone is a great way to find solutions to otherwise time consuming simple animations. Frankenstein is a good example, but to simplify this even more imagine you would like to have a businessman carry a briefcase or a woman carry a handbag, but don’t want to animate the entire motion yourself. Then use Absolute Bones, choose a walk cycle and then simply edit the arm position to correspond with carrying the bag. Motion animation problem solved. This is a great technique to use when populating busy backgrounds such as city streets because the motion animations of your extras doesn’t have to always be spot on, it just needs to show believable character movement in most cases. Use Absolute Bones to make changes to a few default motions and before you know it you will have a wide range of custom motion to choose from you have developed with this feature to thank. Below you will find a rendered example of a default motion with and without Absolute Bones editing applied and a high-speed video build showcasing how to use Absolute Bones for yourself. Remember, FIRE BAD, Absolute Bones GOOD! Enjoy!

20
Nov
08

What do Clipping Planes and Custom Cameras have in common in iClone3?

When objects in your scene obstruct the camera view use Clipping Planes to edit the renderable range of your shot

When objects in your scene obstruct the camera angle you wish to shoot use Clipping Planes to edit the render-able range of your shot

What’s up iCloners out there, today’s tip is one that just might take you back a bit. Remember the good ol’ days before Teletubbies and Barney and Dora the Explorer, a more simple time where Grover explained in depth the infinite differences between NEAR and FAAARRR! Well then, your going to pick up on the new Clipping Planes in iClone3 quickly. How do the to relate you ask? It’s like this you see, the Clipping-Planes provide two parameters, Near and Far, to define the render-able range of a camera.

Clipping Planes are effected by the lens of the custom camera in use as well, so a lower lens setting will allow you to use a lower Near value to clip objects in the foreground

Clipping Planes are effected by the lens of the custom camera in use as well, so a lower lens setting will allow you to use a lower Near value to clip objects in the foreground

Here’s how it benefits you in 99% of your projects, if your actors are indoors, the walls of the rooms will always hinder the view of the camera in most cases. Or, if the actor is outdoor you may want to remove obstructions in the shot such as plants or architecture. Use the Clipping Planes – Near to filter out the objects within the foreground or background of your project. Making it easier for you to shoot in tight places in your scene or also help to only see what is necessary for the shot.

Use lower Par settings to drawn your background or sky domes closers to the foreground

Use lower Par settings to drawn your background or sky domes closers to the foreground

Also, if you are dealing with an extremely large scene that is big in simply size to the point that even the Extremely Large Scene camera still is unable to cover all the ground in your project, use the Clipping Planes and set a Far value to expand the visual range of the camera. To edit the Clipping Planes in your production go to the Camera Modify Panel for any custom camera in your scene and follow the steps below or watch the high speed video build.

  • Load a Project where you wish to use Clipping Planes (tight spaces or shots are ideal for this)
  • Go to the Stage tab
  • Click the Camera button
  • In the Modify Panel click the Add button
  • Use the Pan tool to set an obstructed camera angle
  • Locate the Clipping Planes portion of the Modify panel (the Lens MM will greatly effect the values)
  • Set a Near value to clip unwanted objects from the foreground (for this example I use a 50 MM lens and a value of 30 )
  • Use the Zoom tool to get the range just right for your shot
  • Set a Far value to clip unwanted objects from the background and drawn it closer to the camera
  • Once pleased click the Add button in the Content Manager to Save the new custom camera
  • Name the new camera, your Clipping Plane settings will be maintained

Make changes to the Clipping Plane values, then reapply the new camera to see that the values are saved along with any animation data, D.O.F. or other settings that you have created for each shot. Clipping Planes are one of many new aspects to the iClone camera system that when used along side other new features, it can really make a dramatic impact on your viewers. Cameras are one of those most holy of production elements that we all must pay respect to in our projects, like Lighting, they are essential components to all animations. Being well versed in the editable qualities offered to you in any camera related scenario will most certainly prove to be in your best interest and save you a headache or two along the way for sure.

Clipping Planes are simple to master and a sometimes misunderstood and underutilized new feature added to the Camera system in iClone 3. This is sure to benefit users that are a bit more film-makers than production artist, those who harvest others models and props from outside content sources to create their movies inside of. Imagine if real directors could build entire sets that cover every shot in the film, then simply have the power to make walls and other objects invisible whenever they feel it necessary. Then an endless amount of camera angles and shots would be available to them and production time would decrease a great deal I would imagine. But, understanding and using Clipping Planes to your advantage is a simple way to apply props and scenes they way you really would like them to be arranged and still accomplish the shots and angles you have in mind. Below is a output clip of a confined scene, like most of the backyards here in South Florida, that is a perfect example of a case scenerio where Clipping Planes will help to remove some tropical obstacles. Followed by a high-speed build showcasing the method of use. Enjoy!

15
Nov
08

iClone 3.1 Feature Update information released

iClone 3.1 – Sneak Preview – Release Date November 2008

Hello my iClone brethren, I sit here wringing my hands in anticipation. iClone 3.1 is well upon us and I for one can’t wait. our good friend Peter Edwards graced the community today with an extensive list of all sorts of good things to come. But hey, don’t take JimmyJaymz’ word for it, go and see for yourself.  iClone BackStage Live Access, WidgetMe – Transparent Flash Movie for the Web, Enhanced CloneBone Character System, Flexible Spring for Natural Movement, Material Key Frame Editing and Animation, AML Templates and Interactivity, Other Enhancements, Program Bug Fixes and Content Updates are all covered in this Sneak peak. Don’t be left out of the loop, take the time and go read about these topics. You are sure to pick your jaw up afterwards when you absorb some of the new directions Reallusion is moving in. I know I am constantly impressed with the ambitious and innovative new territories we travel into in the world of iClone and CrazyTalk and am fairly certain this update will prove to be nothing less than mind blowing. Check it out for yourself at…

http://forum.reallusion.com/Topic11751-82-1.aspx

15
Nov
08

Professional Lighting techinques for iClone3, Ambient and Impression

Create Warm, Cool, Dim, Night-time or Fantastic custom Lighting Scenarios in iClone

Create Warm, Cool, Dim, Night-time or Fantastic custom Lighting Scenarios in iClone

What’s up iCloners, today’s tip is getting back to the basics a bit. Ask yourself, what really makes for a rich and pleasing scene to the eye of your viewers? Well, let’s see. There are your Actors and Scenes, Props and Accessories, Cameras, Atmospheres, Particles and something else that will either work to enhance all the above or if left alone, will work to take away from it. Today’s tip covers Professional Lighting techniques in iClone. Think about it, your entire life most likely revolves around how much light is available to you on many levels. Not only how much light, but what kind, dim or bright, warm or cold, colored or muted, and on and on. Lighting is arguably the most important thing in your project. Thankfully Reallusion saw fit to re-write the Lighting system in iClone3 and give to the users a wider variety of Light settings and editing options as well as new features like Spotlights, Color and Movement Animation and Key-frame abilities to name a few. But to really get the most from these new additions, you must practice Lighting techniques when creating custom Lighting scenarios. That’s why this tip will focus mainly on Ambient and Impression settings to show you quick and easy ways to create outdoor situations like nighttime scenes, deep shadowed areas, time progression, warm and sunny vs. muted and cool appearances plus more. To begin becoming more familiar with Professional Lighting techniques follow the steps below or watch the high-speed video build provided at the end of this post.

  • Load a Scene or Prop into the scene for the Lighting to react to
  • Click the Stage tab
  • Select the Light button
  • In the Scene Manager click on Light 01
  • Check On the check-box making the light active
  • To create an animated Warm Light situation click the Color Swatch
  • Choose an Light Orange tone
  • Click OK
  • Click the Rotate Tool from the top tool bar
  • Click inside the view port and begin to Rotate the active Directional Light
  • Repeat the Color selection for Light02, Light03 & Light04 with shades of Orange
  • Repeat the Light rotation and positoning for Light02, Light03 & Light04
  • Click the Add button in the Content Manager to save each Light if you like
  • Name your custom lights Warm so you know what scenario they are meant for
  • Move to the End of the project using the Play head
  • Again use the Rotate Tool to move the lights which will create Light Animation
  • Click the Play button to review your light animation *This is a great way to create the illusion of clouds passing in front of direct sunlight
  • Again, click the Add button to save each new Animated Light if you like
  • To create a Night scenario Check Off all 4 Directional lights
  • Scroll down in the Scene Manager and check ON a Point Light
  • Click the Move Tool from the top tool bar and position the Point Light
  • Check ON Decay
  • Use the Range slider to vary the intensity of the Point Light
  • Adjust the Sky in your scene to match the Lighting Scenario
  • Click the Project tab
  • Again click the Add button in the Content Manager
  • Name and Save the Project so that you can save all Lights and settings in 1 Night scene
  • To create a Cool Lighting Scenario select your Point Light and change the color to a Light Blue
  • Check On only 1 Directional Light
  • Edit the color by clicking the Color Swatch and choose a Blue Grey tone
  • Again adjust the Sky in your scene to match the Cool Lighting Scenario
  • Click the Project tab
  • Again click the Add button in the Content Manager
  • Name and Save the Project so that you can save all Lights and settings in 1 Cool or Dim scene

Professional Lighting techniques in iClone will do everything to help make your movies more realistic and appealing to your audience if utilized and not simply left to be effected by the default Light settings only. Take measures such as editing your Sky domes to match your custom Lighting scenarios by adjusting the Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Saturation sliders in the Modify panel, you will find that by working with the Lights and Sky elements in an outdoor scene will prove to be key when creating situations in the light of day or the dark of night. Animated Lights, Colored Lights, Ambient levels and Modified settings in general are all assets in the development of your real-time stage, use them and you will see that these aspects are not to be overlooked. They are to be applied to suit your needs for each and every shot. Sure, there are some differences in indoor and outdoor lighting scenarios but the basic principles are the exact same. Keep that in mind and I promise with a little tweaking your Lighting techniques will soon become a second natured experiment in every project you embark upon before the Export phase is executed. Below is a high-speed video build showing how to create 3 different Professional Lighting scenarios with a demo render showcasing a time progression effect using only these Lighting situations and opacity fades. Enjoy!