Animate an entire school of fish with Flex Bases in iClone 3.1

Flex Base to Fish Dinner in 30 clicks or less

Flex Base to Fish Dinner in 30 clicks or less

Hello iCloners. Today’s tip is a creative method applied to an interesting concept, imagine this. Sure you’ve seen image planes used to create crowds sitting in stadium seating in games or soldier formations on the battlefield in movies, but stop and think, what if you applied this concept underwater? Today’s tip of the day explains how to Create and animate an entire School of Fish using Flex Bases. This is an image based process where you will only need 2 assets to accomplish this effect, 1 Flex Base and 1 image of a school of fish to become both the Diffuse and Opacity Maps. Here’s how it works, locate an image of the type of fish you would like to use and set that as the Diffuse Map, then in an external image editor, make the fish solid white and the background solid black and apply that as your Opacity Map. Then once in iClone, from the Modify panel for the Flex Base of your choice, activate the Diffuse and Opacity Maps and apply the images to each and simply animate the Flex Base moving through the scene. It’s an easy solution to what could take a lot of time, animating groups of models can really be taxing on your resources, but using only 1 3D model and an image that represents many things at once like a school of fish is the way to go. Follow the steps provided below to create your own animated school for your next underwater scene or watch the high speed video example at the bottom of the post.

  • Go to Set
  • Click the Props button
  • Select the Template Tab
  • Locate the Flex Base folder
  • Double Click on the Square 3 Lines Flex Base
  • Click Play to review the base animation
  • In the Modify Panel, set a value of 90 in the Rotate Y Axis field
  • Strike the F key to place your camera directly in front of the Flex Base
  • Scroll down in the Modify Panel and click the Diffuse Map to activate it
  • Click Open and navigate to your desired file to apply your School of Fish image
  • After it is applied, click Launch to open the image for editing in an external image editor
  • Make any graphic changes you may want, then create an Opacity Map where your fish will be Solid White and the background will be Solid Black
  • Save the file as a new Opacity JPEG
  • Return to iClone
  • If you made changes to the Diffuse Map then click the Update button to apply the changes
  • Click the Opacity Map to activate it in the Modify Panel
  • Click Open and navigate to your desired file to apply your School of Fish Opacity image
  • Click Play to review the fish animation
  • Save your new School of Fish Flex Base by clicking the Add button under the Content Manager
  • Animate the movement of the Fish by using the Move tool
  • Select a start point for the school, then click End to move to the end of the project and Move the Flex Base
  • Click Play to review the school swimming animation

Sure, Flex Bases are preset animated planes in iClone that can help your scene in many different and exciting ways, but when you apply some simple texture techniques and images that help to enhance the natural movement of the prop such as the fluid motion of a fish swimming and a image of a fish applied. It’s a fun way to populate a scene with assets that have life animated into them and thus will help to create a richer, more natural scene for you the producer in the end. To learn more on your own about Flex Bases and the settings that effect them, be sure to check out the Online Beta Index materials. Below is a video example of how to create an entire School of Fish using Flex Bases along with a short render of a small school I added some Deep Water and Bubble  Particle effects to which provided all the elements I needed. I got the animation for the fish from the Flex Base and the Water effects from the default Particle folders, all I needed was some fresh fish. Thanks again Google! Enjoy!


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