Archive for January, 2009

31
Jan
09

Silhouettes in Seconds with iClone3.2

Silhouetted Soldiers shot in seconds

Silhouetted Soldiers shot in seconds

Good evening iCloners. Today’s tip is one I have been meaning to get around to because it was a”Reader Request” from one Martin Standard. Martin writes; “I wonder if you might one day make a tutorial that shows how to set up lights and a character in iClone 3 for silhouette/shadow puppetry? As well as “full 3D”, I think iClone 3 must have huge potential for shadow-puppet and silhouette/cut-out animation (a la ‘Jasper Morello’), although I’ve not yet seen it used for such work.

Well, Martin my good man, today is the day! This tip reveals how to create Silhouettes in Seconds in iClone3.2. You will be surprised at what an easy process this one is and how truly effective it will be for you in mere seconds after applying to simple lighting techniques. Here’s the trick and there is nothing to it, first create a scene you intend to produce Silhouettes inside of. Then by setting the only Directional Light in the scenes color to Solid Black, following by setting the Ambient Light color to Solid Black as well will turn everything in the project Solid Black. This creates the Silhouette or Shadow Puppet effect to all objects that are NOT Self Illuminated. In the render example I provide below I again showcase the G.I. vs. Wehrmacht content pack and you will see a Self Illuminated object ( Sky ) combined with Silhouettes for a dramatic shot, Self Illuminated objects and/or 2D Backgrounds can be helpful in the production of this effect in iClone, so keep that in mind. Follow the steps below to create Silhouettes in Seconds or watch the high-speed method video provided at the bottom of the post.

  • Create a scene containing an Avatar, Prop, Terrain and Sky ( include the Sky so that a default Self Illuminated Background object is present )
  • Accessorize and Animate your character for the sake of the composition of the shot ( most important for Shadow Puppets )
  • In the Scene Manager scroll down and locate Directional Light01
  • Click Directional Light01 to activate it in the scene
  • Select the Color swatch in the Modify Panel
  • Use the Slider to set a Solid Black from the Color Picker menu
  • Click Ok
  • Under the Ambient Light portion of the Modify Panel select the Color Swatch
  • Again use the Slider to set a Solid Black from the Color Picker menu for the Ambient Light ( this will create the Silhouette effect for all objects in the scene that are NOT Self Illuminated )
  • Click the Set tab
  • Select the Sky button
  • In the Modify Panel scroll down and locate the Self Illumination slider and adjust the settings if you like

Creating Silhouettes in seconds in iClone3.2 is a rather short process that yields results that go a long way. To further Martin’s ideal for this tip, Shadow Puppets like you are use to seeing people create with only teir hands can be accomplished by simply following these outlined steps and then placing a Custom Camera on the hands of the avatar and animating them using Motion Layers. For that scenario I would also use a 2D Background vs. a Sky or another Self Illuminated object. But do try and play around with adding Self Illumination to certain objects in your scene while using this method and you are sure to create some very interesting and dramatic lighting and Silhouette shots. For more information regarding Custom Lighting and Directional Lights be sure to check out the Online Beta Index. Below you will find a very classic example of a dramatic “War-time” shot where the Silhouette in seconds technique really makes then entire visual effect work in this render output along with the full method breakdown. You’ll see what I mean, now… Fall In Soldier! Enjoy!

31
Jan
09

Focus on the kill. Using Depth-Of-Field and Image Layers in iClone3.2

Take a deep breath and hold it, then squeeze the mouse!

Take a deep breath and hold it, then squeeze the mouse!

What up iCloners? Did you know you can create a convincing Sniper scenario in iClone using only the basic features and the new G.I. vs. Wehrmacht content pack? It’s easy to accomplish and a stunning to insert into your next War-time animation. Imagine this, you want to develop a first-person shot but don’t want your camera to position directly over the avatar itself. Using a combination of Depth-Of-Field and Image Layers can create this visual effect without all the hassle. Then, adding a small bit of zoom animation and effective Lens settings will both provide the desired shot and captivate your audience when utilizing this technique. In this tip I set up a 3 camera scenario, 1 covering my G.I. platoon, 1 covering my Wehrmacht sniper, and 1 that is specifically for advanced Depth-Of-Field and an Image Layer. This camera becomes what the audience will see as the sniper’s point of view, and being that calls for a perspective peering down a scope of a rifle aimed at an enemy target. Sounds complicated when you break it down like that but it is actually a surprisingly easy method to execute. Follow the steps below to create a Kill-shot using a combination of Depth-Of-Field and Image Layers or watch the high-speed video example provided at the bottom of the post.

  • Create a scene that you wish to place a “Kill shot” or Image Layer camera inside of
  • Click Play to review the animation in the scene
  • Click Pause and stop the project where you want to place the new camera
  • Drag the IN tab to the point where you want to place the new camera
  • Select the Preview Camera ( if it is not already on by default ) from the Shader menu on the top right of the view port
  • In the Modify Panel click the Add button to place a new camera into the project ( notice the new camera shot will become active )
  • Use the Zoom, Pan and Orbit tools to position the camera at the angle you wish to portray
  • Once you have your angle, in the Modify Panel locate the Lens section and choose 200MM or higher
  • Click the Image Layer button
  • For a “Kill shot” or sniper-type scenario I use the default Scope Image Layer, double click to activate it ( it is important that you are aware that applying an Image Layer will do so to all cameras in the project. I recommend you render out this camera by itself and use an outside video editor to compile your individual shots )
  • Check ON Depth Of Field in the Modify Panel and make sure Pixel Shader is active to view the D.O.F.
  • Move forward in time in your project or shot by scrubbing the Play-head
  • Again use Zoom, Pan and Orbit tools to position the camera, or follow a subject in the scene in this case
  • Click Pick Target under the Depth Of Field portion of the menu and Click the Subject in the view port
  • Move forward once again in time in your project or shot by scrubbing the Play-head
  • Use the Zoom and Pick Target features to create realistic “focus and zoom” first person camera effects
  • Move forward in time once more by scrubbing the Play-head to the point you wish the Image Layer shot to end
  • Drag the Out tab to this point
  • Click the Export tab
  • Select the Video button
  • Choose your video Format and Size
  • Select your Render Quality and Frame Rate
  • Click Export
  • Choose a Video Compressor and then click OK to render out a “Kill shot” ready for editing

Using Depth-Of-Field and Image Layers is a great idea for many different shots, but using them together to create shots that call for specific effects can be beautifully executed. A sniper scenario is the perfect example of this method and the G.I. vs. Wehrmacht pack is the perfect content to showcase it. You can apply this trick to any camera for any scene but remember that you need to work with Pixel Shader on to view these effects so make sure you set up shot designed for this sort of output early in the production so that your computers resources are not as taxed during your execution. For more information regarding Depth Of Field features in iClone 3.2 be sure to check out the Online Beta index. Below you will find a rendered example of this technique in brutal effect and see first hand how a 6 second camera angle can really help to engage your audience, along with a step-by-step look at the porcess of creating your own “Kill shot!” Enjoy!

23
Jan
09

Ready, Aim, Right Click! Using the new iProp weapons from G.I. vs. Wehrmacht pack in iClone3.2

Open fire with no regrets using iProps

Open fire with no regrets using iProps

What’s up iCloners? What do you want on your tombstone? And don’t say “pepperoni and sausage” because when you try out animating with the new iProp weapons from the G.I. vs. Wehrmacht pack you’ll see what I mean. The real “meat” is in the functionality of these awesome new assets. Here’s what they are capable of as soon as they are placed in the scene, you can simply use the Right Click menu to Link them directly to the character, then you can access automatic animation which will activate particle aspects of the gun as well as create instant character animation with only one click. Also, these particle effects are accessible via the Right Click menu so you can include preset muzzle blasts to add to the overall realistic, and reactive qualities of your battle animation. Sound like the kind of iProp you want in your animation arsenal? Well, trust me when I tell you the animation for a character can be created inside of 1 minute and the rendered output you will get from these presets may just be a bit to realistic for some users. Follow the steps below to use one such iProp weapon from the G.I. vs. Wehrmacht content pack to create a Ready, Aim and Fire type single shot animation of your own or watch the slightly graphic high-speed video provided at the bottom of the post…you’ll see what I mean.

  • Go to the Actor tab
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Select the Template tab
  • Locate the WWII folder
  • Load a Character into the scene by double-clicking ( for this example I use the G.I. Private from the WWII content )
  • Go to the Set tab
  • Click the Props button
  • Select the Template tab
  • Locate and open the WWII folder
  • Find the Weapons folder and expand it
  • Choose a type of Weapon ( for this example I select the Rifle folder )
  • Double Click a Weapon Prop to place it in the scene, I use the Kar98k Rifle in this tip but any weapon from these folders will work
  • Right Click the Weapon and Choose Perform
  • Choose Link to Character, notice that the weapon will automatically be placed in the right hand of the character
  • Right Click the Weapon again and Choose Perform
  • Choose Aim, notice that this will actually animate the character automatically creating motion animation with one click
  • Right Click the Weapon once again and Choose Perform
  • Choose Open Fire, notice that the weapon will automatically create character motion animation as well as particle animation
  • Scrub the Play-head slowly to accurately review the particle “empty shell” and “muzzle blast” animations
  • Right Click the Weapon one final time and Choose Perform
  • Choose Cease Fire, notice that the character will lower the weapon to an idle stance
  • Click the Start button to return to the beginning of the animation
  • Click Play to review the combined iProp Weapon animation

iProp weapons from the G.I. vs. Wehrmacht pack are a highly efficiant way of producing quick and quality character animaiton. Not to mention when you put them together with some blood and guts you really can tell that when small pieces such as individual motions and actions are combined with tasty particles and well thought out prop interaction, the end result is some impressive overall 3D animation. This level of production will allow your viewers to get into your story and 3D world a bit deeper than they might otherwise when you do not take advantage of what assets such as iProp weapons have to offer. For more information on iProps be sure to check out the Online Beta Index information provided by Reallusion, but before you do that watch the high-speed video example below showcasing these weapons in brutal form…Warning, the iClone footage below is not for the faint of heart. Kids leave the room now. Enjoy!

21
Jan
09

Fade In- and Out of your action with Animated Directional Lights in iClone3.2

Create rich and seamless Fade Ins and Outs with Animated Directional Lights

Create rich and seamless Fade Ins and Outs with Animated Directional Lights

Hello iCloners. Did you know that you can create rich and appealing Fade-Ins and Outs with Animated Directional Lights in iClone? It’s true, and your can Fade from and to any color you choose for all 4 Directional Lights in iClone. One of the best parts is this eliminates a step from your post production process as well, while providing a seamless visual effect to the beginning, middle or end of your projects. I don’t know about you but any time and effort that can be saved these days is much appreciated, and taking small measures such as creating your Fades directly inside your projects will help to shave and save a little time in your next production. This is a simple process that is easy to apply to any scene and like I said you can choose any color, but for this example I am showcasing the more traditional Fade from Black. This will require I use both a color key-frame and a solid Black key frame for each light, in this case I use all 4 lights and separate colors for each.  Follow the steps below to create a Fade-In using all 4 Directional Lights in your project or watch the high-speed video example provided at the bottom of the post.

  • Create a Project in iClone you want to Fade-In to
  • Scroll down in the Scene Manager and locate the 4 Directional Lights
  • Drag the Play-head forward in time where you want the Fade In to end
  • Check ON Light 01 to make it the active light
  • In the Modify Panel select the Color Swatch
  • From the Color Picker menu choose a color ( for this example I use a Pea Soup Green for Light 01 )
  • Click OK
  • Repeat for Light 02, Light 03and Light 04 ( for this example I use Light Blue, Cream and Dark Maroon )
  • Drag the Play-head back to the beginning of the project or use the Start button
  • Select each Directional Light one at a time and set the color to Solid Black ( this creates the Fade In itself so use any color you need )
  • In the Modify Panel locate the Ambient Light and set it to Solid Black (during editing keep the color mid-Grey )
  • Click Play to review the new Animated Directional Light Fade In

Developing Animated Directional Light Fade Ins is a classic tranisition into any scene used at the beginnings and ends of most box office films and most likely in your personal favorite as well. Go ahead, pop in the dvd and see for yourself. The point is if the Pros use this intro and outro technique in their films, then why shouldn’t you? Using Directional Lights also give you the option of fading into only 1 or up to all 4 lights and you can even switch up the opening fade in color to…say, White for example. You will find it gives a light drenching effect, which is just one of many creative options and approaches you can take when implementing this method. Below you will find a high speed video example showing you an Animated Directional Light Fade In I creating using the GI vs. Wehrmacht content pack and how you to can quickly mimic this example for yourselves. Enjoy!

16
Jan
09

Designing Hitler, Advanced Facial Fitting and Texturing techniques in iClone3.2

Design one of the most infamous men in history in minutes with iClone3.2
Design one of the most infamous men in history in minutes with iClone3.2

Guten Nacht iCloners, today’s tip will be the first in a series of tips to come both using and exploring the new WWII -GI vs. Wehrmacht Reallusion content pack. But this tip will provide you with a specific piece of the War most real-time soldiers will want to put in their sights. Designing Hitler using a 3 quarter image fitting and advanced texture editing techniques is the focus of this endeavor. This is the plan, first, buy the pack…but, just between us, if you want to follow this tip to create only a Hitler Head then that’s approved protocol. Then use a search engine such as Google to search for large images of Adolf, but just use keyword Hitler and narrow the search to Large Images only. Around page 5 I was able to obtain a photograph of a life-size wax replica of Mein Fuer. This is an excellent texture reference. The secret is we really only need 1 good side of the face, in iClone, most advanced character designers are very used to searching for and using a forward facing image to apply to the face of their avatars. However, a 3.25 image will work if you know how to properly edit the texture in order to remove imperfections from the face. For this tip I use Photoshop to edit the texture after it is fit to the avatar, but feel free to use any image editor you like. Follow the steps below to master 3 quarter image fitting and advanced 3.25 texture editing or watch the high-speed video build which contains classified character creation content for your eyes only.

  • Use a Search Engine to locate a photograph of Hitler ( for this example I used a Google Large Image search )
  • Locate a 3 quarter image of Hitler ( for this example I found a perfect example on page 5 of the Large Image search results )
  • Save and Name the image in the JPG format
  • Open iClone
  • Go to Actor
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Select the Template tab
  • Locate the WWII folder ( if you do not have the WWII pack just use any G3 character )
  • Double Click the Wehrmacht Captain avatar to load it into the scene
  • Click the Head tab
  • Select the Load Image button
  • Navigate to and double click your Hitler 3 quarter image
  • Use the Crop Tool to click and drag a bounding box around the entire head on the image
  • Click Next
  • From the Face List select Male
  • Scale and Rotate the Bounding box to fit the entire head
  • Click Next
  • Rotate the Mask to match the head orientation ( this is the most important step in the 3 quarter fitting process, be sure to use the Scale, Rotate and Move Tools to get a perfect match to the image )
  • Use the Rotate Tool in the 3D Preview window to ensure 1 side of the head mesh texture is perfect
  • Click Next
  • Align the Feature Points to the Eyes, Nose, and Mouth ( check Mirror off for a closer fit )
  • Use the Rotate and Zoom Tools in the 3D Preview window to ensure 1 side of the head mesh texture is perfect once again
  • Click OK and Yes to apply the imperfect fitting to the avatar
  • Name and Save the file
  • Click the Actor tab
  • Select the Skin button
  • Under the Material and Texture settings portion of the Modify Panel select the Face material and Click the Diffuse channel
  • Click the Launch button to open the facial image into Photoshop in this example
  • In Photoshop, make a Copy of the “good” side of the Face texture ( for this example I use the Marquee Tool and a simple Ctrl C – Ctrl V )
  • Flip the new layer Horizontal
  • Drag it to the Opposite side of the Face texture
  • Use a Soft edged Eraser Tool to remove the edges of the new layer and around the Hair line
  • Merge the new layer with the Background
  • Save the file
  • Return to iClone
  • Click Update in the Modify Panel, notice the ‘bad” side of the Face Texture is now perfect
  • Select the Head tab
  • Click the Head option under the Facial Feature portion of the Modify Panel
  • Under the Head portion of the menu choose the Chisel option for a more sinister shape to the head ( for G3 heads only )
  • Edit the remaining Facial Features
  • Click the Avatar button
  • Choose New Folder in the Content Manager
  • Name it WWII
  • Select the Add button under the Content Manager
  • Name the new actor Adolf

using Advanced Facial Fitting and Texture Editing techniques to create custom characters like Hitler, is basically only tweaking the original character creation method and applying one simple texture editing trick. But having the knowledge and ability to create a 3D version of one of history’s most notorious villains inside of 10 minutes is way cool. Imagine if troops back then could have trained with the 3D simulators of today’s military and actually taken virtual head shots at an accurate model of the target. Well, let’s just say Tom Cruise would not have been able to make a movie about killing Hitler with a conference table I’ll tell ya that. The major objective here is to show users that the 3 quarter image fitting process need not be lost on us all as well populate our scenes and cast our characters. By taking only one advanced step beyond the fitting process quickly in and out of a external image editor can produce picture perfect results. Below is a high-speed video showcase of the drug addicted dictator himself and a few other objects from another kick-ass content pack from the troops in Taiwan and the method in which you too can harvest the head of Hitler. Viel Spaß!

15
Jan
09

Animated Fade Transitions created with custom 3D Objects, go from 3DS Max to 3DXchange to iClone3.2 in minutes

Use 3D Objects in iClone to create title cards with animated fades

Use 3D Objects in iClone to create title cards with animated fades

What’s up iCloners, I am back at it and coming up with some new ideas using old techniques that can make some seriously cool and effective visuals in iClone. Creating animated Transitions using custom 3D Objects is one of the techniques of which I speak. Imagine this, think of the 3D Object you want to use as the curtain for your stage. Any camera angle  or content or whatever you please can exist on the other side of said object or “curtain,” but you will use Material key frames to fade out or “pull back the curtain”  revealing the scene behind the Transition object. This allows you, the Director to set up an establishing title card with the greatest of ease, and in this example I turned to 3D Studio Max 8 to create 1 text object and 1 background object and then exported it as a 3DS formatted file for importation into 3DXchange, from there I  easily converted the 3DS for use in iClone as a Transition object to be faded in front of my opening camera angle. Again, consider it like the “curtain” in front of your stage and you will see how many different uses this particular technique can supply when applied creatively. Follow the steps below to create your own 3D Transition Object, for this example I use 3DS Max 8, 3DXchange 2, and iClone3.2, or watch the high speed video example provided at the bottom of the post.

  • Open a 3D modeling suite such as 3D Studio Max or Google SketchUp ( for this example I use 3DS for the 3DS output option )
  • Create a Text model
  • Create a background Rectangle model to bumper your Text model
  • Go to File
  • Select Export
  • Choose 3DS file format
  • Name the file Transition Object
  • Click OK
  • Open 3DXchange
  • Go to File
  • Click Open
  • Navigate to your Transition Object.3DS file
  • In 3DXchange click the Text Node in the Scene Tree
  • Click On Material Color
  • Choose a Color
  • Go to File
  • Click Export
  • Click Make a New Folder
  • Name it Transition Objects
  • Name the file Transition Object
  • Click OK
  • Open iClone
  • Go to Set
  • Click the Prop button
  • Select the Custom tab
  • Locate the Transition Objects folder
  • Double Click your Transition Object
  • In the Modify Panel locate the Material and Texture Settings portion of the menu
  • Select the Pick Tool and Click the Background object Material on the Transition Object first
  • Click Load Material to quickly add texture settings to most of the 6 channels
  • Select a Material from the library ( for this example I use the Concrete Wall Material in the back with the graffiti style font in front )
  • Select the Pick Tool once again and Click the Text object Material on the Transition Object
  • Use the Specular and Glossiness Sliders in the Effect All Materials portion of the Modify Panel to edit the Text
  • Click (F3) to launch the Timeline
  • Enter 300 into the Current Frame field to move forward in time in the project
  • Locate and Click the Material button on the Timeline ( you may need to use the arrow icon to shift the buttons on the Timeline to the left in order for you to view all Track buttons including Material )
  • Again locate the Effect All Materials portion of the Modify Panel and set the Opacity Slider to 0 for both materials of the Transition Object
  • Click Start to move the play-head back to the beginning of the project
  • Click Play to review the new Animated Transition 3D Object Fade

Going from 3DS Max to 3DXchange to iClone creating custom 3D Transition Objects is actually more complicated to type in a sentence then it is to create the 3D equivalent. It’s a great way to not only create titles, but branding, credits, 3D callouts and much, much more like I said if you think about this one a bit. There are a ton of practical applications for this and you don’t have to be a hot-shot 3D modeller or animator really to pull this technique off effectivlly. And don’t forget, throw in a couple of camera key frames and then you have a whole new visual to your simple Material Fade, or dare I say animated cameras and lights…now your talking. Again, play around with this one and your sure to think of something cool you too can create with this tip in mind. Below as promised, is a little rendered example of not only the tip in action but the creation method behind my iClone madness as well. Check it out and be sure to let me know what you would like to see here at the #1 spot for iClone and CrazyTalk Certified Training and I’ll do my best to accomadate. Enjoy!

13
Jan
09

Mastering Machinima, a PC Plus look into iClone3 and the DIY world of film-making by R. Grove and J. Martin

Mastering Machinima with iClone3 by R. Grove and J. Martin

Mastering Machinima with iClone3 by R. Grove and J. Martin

Hello iCloners, I’m back after a much needed short  hiatus from the digital world and I have some great news for the Machinima community. PC Plus Magazine decided to take a closer look into Do-It-Yourself flim-making and wouldn’t you know it, they found iClone. They contacted one of the booming voices of the movement, Ricky Grove to help orchestrate an article and a little sample movie/project for readers/users to open and explore from their Super Disc. Ricky turned to Yours Truly, for a bit of super fast help on the back end of things and together the two of us produced a hands-on example for all Machinimators to enjoy. The article is featured in the Feb, 09 issue of PC Plus and covers everything from setting up your scene, to adding custom cameras and lighting, character dialog interaction and more. I was happy to be a part of this little ditty and hope that you all rush out and purchase copies of your own, it’s a UK published mag so the production quality rocks and you’ll need to check out your local Borders or other major book stores to find it, they won’t have this one at the corner store. The article also features a small blurb about Spotlighting the Machinima community as well as additional film festival information. If you find yourself reading this post then you really should pick up the book, it is my first published work in a PC magazine and another stepping stone in the iClone real-time journey we have embarked upon. Be sure not to miss it and be on the look out for more great tips and techniques here at iClone Certified Training. Thanks and enjoy!

PC Plus magazine looks at iClone3 and loves every minute of it

PC Plus magazine looks at iClone3 and loves every minute of it