Archive for October, 2009

22
Oct
09

iClone 4.0 Showcase “Kingdoms of our Own” by Jim Morrison

This is an iClone 4.0 showcase created in 3 hours starring Jim Morrison. American rock singer and poet who achieved after his death a cult position among fans. Morrison wished to be accepted as a serious artist, and he published such collections of poetry as An American Prayer (1970) and The Lords and The New Creatures (1971). The song lyrics Morrison wrote for The Doors much reflected the tensions of the time – drug culture, the antiwar movement, avant-garde art. With his early death Morrison has been seen as a voluntary victim of the destructive forces in pop culture. However, he was not ignorat about the consequences of fame and his position as an idol. Morrison once confessed that “We’re more interested in the dark side of life, the evil thing, the night time.”  This is his “Kingdoms of our Own” from the Jim Morrison Scrapbook by: James Henke.

The Lizard King and his Kingdoms

The Lizard King and his Kingdoms

20
Oct
09

Softness Strengths and Sliders in iClone 4.0

What’s up iCloners, today’s tip deals with some of the finer details to your scene that were previously unable to be edited. Today’s tip focuses on Softness Strengths and Sliders in iClone 4.0. But more specifically, with the Softness values of both Water and Particle Effects. Why these two areas your ask? Well, I’m sure iClone veterans out there can and will tell you that the additions of both Water and Particle Effects to iClone were ground-breaking features when they were included into the iClone toolset, however cool they were at the time, they still had minor visible flaws. These issues were unable to be modified, thus, the only way to properly deal with these hard edged eye soars was through creative camera placement. Now, whenever you access a Water or Particle Effect you will find located in the Modify Panel there will be a Slider control that will allow you to adjust the amount of Edge Softness applied to any Water or Particle Effect in the scene. For Water you will need to locate the Advanced Water Parameters portion of the Modify Panel and then find the Edge Softness Slider.  For adjusting the edges of Particle Effects you must locate the Softness Strength Slider under the Particle Setting portion of the Modify Panel. Follow the steps below or view the free training resource above to see how in iClone 4.0 using Softness Strengths and Sliders will ensure you never have “hard edge” issues again.

  • Go to the Set Tab
  • Click the Terrain button
  • Place a Terrain into the scene by Double clicking one of the Terrain templates in the Content Manager
  • NOTE: For this example I have used the Canyon Terrain Template
  • Place a Water template into the scene
  • While under the Set Tab select the Water button
  • Place Water template into the scene by Double clicking one of the Water templates in the Content Manager
  • Locate the Advanced Water Parameters portion of the Modify Panel
  • Find the Edge Softness Slider to begin making adjustments to the Waters edge
  • Click and Drag the Edge Softness Slider to a high value to create a high degree o edge softness
  • Place Particle Effect  into the scene
  • While under the Set Tab select the Paricle button
  • Place Particle Effect into the scene by Double clicking one of the Particle templates in the Content Manager
  • NOTE: For this example I use the FOG Particle Effect template
  • Locate the Particle Settings portion of the Modify Panel
  • Find the Softness Strength Slider to begin making adjustments to the Particles edge
  • Click and Drag the Softness Strength Slider to a high value to create a high degree o edge softness

Softness Strengths and Sliders in iClone 4.0 are just a couple of the new functions specifically meant to crank up the realistic qualities of a scene. The simple adjustment of a single slider can make a drastic change to the look and feel of a shot when you factor in elements such as Water and Particle Effects and how the viewer visually translates what you have developed in the scene. Making sure that all aspects of a project are taking full advantage of the customizable attibutes available to them will help to ensure that your next production will convey a sence of quality and realism. Make sure you don’t miss getting a first-hand look at the Softness Strengths and Sliders in iClone 4.0 in action in the free training resource video above, so you too can take advantage of these cool new tools. Enjoy!

Soft edges for your Particle Effects and Water bodies ow available

Soft edges for your Particle Effects and Water bodies ow available

15
Oct
09

Head Randomization in iClone 4.0

What’s up iCloners, let me ask you this…have you ever wanted a new design for a characters face but didn’t want to spend the time adjusting the Facial Features? Well then, today’s tip is for you, this tutorial focuses on the new Randomize feature in iClone 4.0. This new feature allows you to make a single click and instantly randomize the Head Shape and Face design. Located in the Modify Panel, you can quickly and easily access this tool and begin creating countless random Head Shapes and Face designs, then save them for future use in iClone. The new Randomize feature offers a solution to those film-makers out there that don’t want to simply reuse Reallusion’s default character Head templates, allowing them to change the appearance of a character in 1 click is a time saving and customizable solution. How is it a customizable solution you ask? Simple, you just need to set a different Variation value and then click the Randomize button for each different Head shape or Face design you wish to create. These techniques plus a little extra are included in the free training resource video above, or feel free to follow the steps below to begin creating your own Head Randomization in iClone 4.0

  • Add an Avatar into the scene
  • Select the HEAD Tab from the top
  • Click the FACES button if it is not already selected by default
  • In the Modify Panel locate the Facial Features portion of the menu
  • Click the Randomize button to automatically create a random design to the avatars Head Shape
  • NOTE: This will instantly change the Head Shape and Face design of the avatar, to return to the previous design make sure to use HOTKEY: (Ctrl + Z) for undo
  • Click and Drag the Variation slider to customize the amount of random change the Face receives with each click of the Randomize button
  • After you are pleased with the general Head Shape and Face design you can begin to edit individual Facial Features by clicking the Face Feature and using the sliders provided to edit each area
  • To place a new Eye Template into your characters randomized Face design, click the EYES button
  • In the Content Manager on the left, notice the Eye Templates provided for you to choose from
  • Double click the Eye Template you want to use for your new character 
  • To place a new Mouth Template into your characters randomized Face design, click the MOUTH button
  • In the Content Manager on the left, notice the Teeth Templates provided for you to choose from
  • Double click the Teeth Template you want to use for your new character 
  • To Save your new Randomized Head, click the ADD button indicated by the (+) icon at the bottom of the Content Manager
  • Name and Save your file for future use on any avatar you wish

Head Randomization in iClone 4.0 is one of the many new and innovative features included in the 4.0 upgrade. This feature is so handy in-fact it almost is going to feel like cheating to some of you old Pros out there if your anything like me. The simple addition of the Variation slider is enough to give you pin point control when producing with this tool, but you will certainly find yourself using the Randomize feature  along side the traditional Facial Feature editing abilities. A time saver, for sure, a new tool that helps every user at both the beginner and advanced levels…you bet, a Facial Feature randomizing tool better in a real-time package out there…you just won’t find it. Don’t miss out on  Head Randomization in iClone 4.0.

Create countless Heads with the new Randomize feature

Create countless Heads with the new Randomize feature

08
Oct
09

Facial Animation Part 3: Face Key Creation in iClone 4.0

Unlock the power of the Face Key Tool

Unlock the power of the Face Key Tool

Hey hey, iCloners out there, if your like me and can’t get enough of the new Facial Animation functions in iClone 4.0 then today’s tip is for you. This tutorial focuses on Face Key creation, Facial Bone Animation, Face Feature Posing and other lip-sync fine-tuning techniques. But first, let’s talk about what the new Face Key feature, it’s a new menu that allows users to create facial morphing animation that is…get ready for it…able to be keyframed. Not only that but it can also be used in the same manner as The Puppeteering Panel (See Part 2) to create facial expressions. That is the difference between Facial Bone Animation and Face Feature Posing, Facial Bone Animation is used to manipulate the Facial Bones and create the facial morphing animation itself, check out how I make the Jimmy Toon’s nose grow in the video below to see an example of this aspect. Face Feature Posing is also a standard function inside the Face Key menu that allows users to quickly and easily create facial expression using keyframe creation. All these keyframes will be viewable on the Timeline in the Facial Layer Track. It’s a fun and easy to use new addition to your iClone Facial Animation abilities, so give it a try by following the steps below or watch the free training resource provided at the bottom of the post.

  • Add an Actor into the scene
  • Click the Animation Tab
  • Select the Facial Animation button
  • Create a Basic Script (See Part 1) for your character
  • NOTE: In this example I use my real voice for the voice of my actor by Recording my own voice directly
  • After applying Facial Animation to your Actor, Open the Face Key Tool
  • Select the FACE KEY button in the Modify Panel to open the menu
  • Begin creating Facial Layer keyframes using the Face Key Tool
  • NOTE: To view the keyframes you are about to create open the Timeline using HOTKEY: (F3) and then click the FACE tab to view the Viseme, Expression, and Facial Layer Track
  • Notice the 2 sections of the Face Key menu, Muscle and Detail, select Detail
  • Notice the Right Face, Front Face, and Left Face tabs at the top in Detail mode
  • Edit the Face Bones by clicking and dragging the Node you want to change in either Right Face, Front Face, or Left Face modes
  • Move forward in time in your project and then make another Edit to the Face Bonesto create keyframed facial morphing animation
  • To create Face Feature Posing you need to select the Muscle mode now in the Face Key menu
  • NOTE: This will allow you to select Solo-Features of the face and edit them to create Expression
  • Again move forward in time in your project and then make an Edit to the Face Feature Poseto create keyframed facial Expression animation
  • Begin selecting Solo-Feature areas such as the Eyes (as seen in the video below)
  • Select the Rotate or Orbit tool from the bottom left of the Face Key interface and then Click and Drag to make edits to the features position
  • Repeat the previous 2 steps until you are pleased with the Face Feature Pose you have created

Face Key creation in iClone 4.0 is a long-overdue addition to the Facial Animation and editing tool set. I remember my first question when Head morphing edit capabilities were introduced in iClone 3.0 was…”Can I keyframe that?” And now that answer is YES in iClone 4.0. Combine the skills you will learn from Facial Animation Parts:1, 2 and 3 in the new real-time production environment and you are now fully equiped to take on even the most complex of scripts and performances. The Face Key Tool opens up tons of options to choose from in the categories of face shapes, poses and expressions while offering the ability to create and edit the keyframe date you develop, I mean honestly, why wouldn’t you want to learn this new tool? To do just that please feel free to check out the free training resource video below and start making faces! Enjoy!

08
Oct
09

Facial Animation Part 2: The Puppeteering Panel in iClone 4.0

Become a real-time PuppetMaster!

Become a real-time PuppetMaster!

I hope everyone is enjoying the new version upgrade to iClone 4.0. This tip is a continuation of the Facial Animation series, today’s tip focuses on The Puppeteering Panel in iClone 4.0. This is something that CrazyTalk 6.0 users will be fimiliar with from the word “Go” but if you are new to the wonders of The Puppeteering Panel then allow me to explain how this super powerful tool is going to revolutionize the way you both create and fine-tune your Facial Animation in iClone. First, what is The Puppeteering Panel anyway? It’s a tool that allows users to select and manipulate Solo-Feature areas, for the purpose of detailing Facial Animation or creating Expression and Emotion for your character. Sounds pretty good right, well, it is and the best part is the user has the ability to create multiple “Passes” by recording Solo-Feature areas individually, then recording additional areas to layer each over the last. Imagine your first “Pass” only focusing on the Eyes, then your second “Pass” may only focus on the Eyebrows, but the second will contain the animation data you created on the first “Pass” also. This is the method of fine-tuning that you will become acustom to once you have mastered The Puppeteering Panel. Follow the steps below to Create a Basic Script (See Part 1) and then add Expression to the Actor in the scene using the tools found in The Puppeteering Panel. And don’t forget to check out the step-by-step free instuctional video tutorial at the botom of this post.

  • Add an Actor into the scene
  • Create a Basic Script by Importing a WAV file
  • Select the Animation Tab
  • Click the Facial Animation button
  • Click Open in the Modify Panel
  • Navigate to your WAV file
  • NOTE: This animation data will be automatically applied in the Viseme Track on the Timeline
  • Open the Timeline to view this date using HOTKEY: (F3)
  • Click the FACE tab to view the Viseme, Expression, and Facial Layer Tracks
  • To open The Puppeteering Panel click the Puppet button in the Modify Panel
  • Notice there are 8 Puppet Profile categories each containing 6 Full Face Controls
  • Notice the Solo Feature Puppet Profile as well
  • Select a Puppet Profile
  • Then click a Face Control by clicking the thumbnail or use the corresponding HOTKEYS
  • To Preview click the Preview button and then strike Spacebar to Start and to Stop the Preview
  • After striking Spacebar to Start the Preview, click and drag your mouse to begin Puppeteering with the chosen Full Face Control
  • Strike Spacebar to Stop
  • NOTE: The same Full Face Control for one Puppet Profile will differ from the same Full Face Control for another Puppet Profile, for example, The Man ANGRY combination will not give you the same result as the Woman ANGRY combination.
  • Select the Solo Feature Puppet Profile
  • Notice that the Full Face Controls will now effect Blinking, Eye Movement, Head Orientation, Head Tilting, Jaw Movement and Muscle Movement
  • Click Head Tilting or use HOTKEY: (R) to edit the HEAD movement itself
  • NOTE: In previous versions of iClone you would have needed to use a Dummy object to achieve this level of HEAD movement, now with The Puppeteering Panel you no longer have that worry
  • Make multiple “Passes” of your Facial Animation by recording movement using The Puppeteering Panel
  • To record, select the Puppet Profile and Full Face Control you wish to use and then click Record
  • Strike Spacebar to Start the Recording
  • Click and Drag your mouse to begin Puppeteering with the chosen Full Face Control
  • Strike Spacebar again to Stop the Recording, this creates a single “Pass”
  • Repeat this process and choose different Puppet Profiles and Full Face Controls to focus on areas individually until you are pleased with the over-all look of your Facial Animation
  • Notice that when you are finished recording with The Puppeteering Panel your new Expression data will be visible on the Expression Track in the Timeline

The Puppeteering Panel can produce amazing results in only a few “Passes” to any Facial Animation clip, no matter how long or short, stylized or straight forward. It benefits everyone from iClone film-makers who have a lot of Facial animation to work through in their movies to the businesses out there using iClone as a part of what they offer to possible clients, bringing out the realistic qualities we all are used to seeing in everyday life the in faces of the people we meet and converse with. But wait, there’s more, no really, believe it or not The Puppeteering Panel and the endless Expression options that are available to you can be further enhanced by The Face Key Tool and Face Bones. These new tools are also covered in the upcoming Facial Animation Part 3: Face Key creation where you now can actually change and keyframe the shape of a characters Head and Face. That’s right, and The Face Key Tool and Face Bones make it all possible. Put these three tutorials together and you too will have a firm grasp on Facial Animation creation in the new iClone. But before you do that be sure to get a good look at the video below to help get you on your way to becoming a real-time PuppetMaster. Enjoy! 

06
Oct
09

Facial Animation Part 1: Creating Basic Scripts in iClone 4.0

Back to Basics with iCT4

Back to Basics with iCT4

Well iCloners the wait is over, by now the truly hardcore have downloaded, installed, updated, resource packed and cracked open iClone 4.0, the hottest new tool in the real-time universe. If you haven’t yet, then what are you waiting for go download it now and get started, however, if you have then you will be interested in today’s tip, Creating Basic Scripts in iClone 4.0. What is a Basic Script anyway? Well, a Script file is what iClone will use to create the Facial Animation algorithm, and there are 4 basic ways of creating this Script. The 1st is to use the TTS or Text-To-Speech editor in iClone which allows you to directly type in the text or dialog you want your character to say. Fun and easy to master this is the most basic of ways to create Facial Animation. Let me go on record right now though by saying , I encourage the use of TTS for robot avatars, and maybe a couple of other character designs, but if your really looking to impress with your Facial Animation I say stick to the next 3 options. The 2nd option is to Import a WAV file directly into iClone and apply it to your character. This is an appealing option to the advanced user and beginner for sure, but to those of you out there who record your audio in an audio editing external program anyway to achieve a higher level of control over your audio, you will find that this is a life saver and you will enjoy the same results, if not better, than if you would have recorded directly into iClone 4.0. The 3rd mode of creating a Basic Script is by Recording your own voice directly inside of iClone, you’ll need to dust off the old microphone and clear your throat to match the performance level you will instantly get by recording your Facial Animation in this way, I promise, and for you old iClone-Pros out there (you know who you are) I strongly suggest you give this a try, never before have I seen a more perfect live-record playback in the actual Facial Animation itself in iClone, this is going to blow you away I assure you. And for the people that are new to iClone, I recommend you use this technique as well almost everytime.  The 4th and final option is by Importing a CTS file from CrazyTalk 6.0, btw don’t forget that iClone 4.0 only interfaces with CrazyTalk 6.0 so if you haven’t upgraded your version of CrazyTalk from 5.1 then you should go and download that now.   To begin Creating Basic Scripts in iClone 4.0 choose your method of script creation and follow the steps below or check out the new and improved iCT4 training video at the bottom of this post.

  • Add an Avatar into the scene
  • Click the Animation Tab from the top
  • Select the Facial Animation button
  • Notice in the Modify Panel on the right all 4 Basic Script creation options are available to you
  • To create Facial Animation using TTS click the TYPE button to open the Text-To-Speech Editor
  • Type your desired dialog into the Text field
  • Click OK to apply it to your Character
  • To create Facial Animation by Importing a WAV file click the OPEN button in the Modify Panel
  • Navigate to your file destination
  • Select your WAV file and then click OK to apply the audio to your character
  • NOTE: this will apply Facial Animation data to the Viseme Track in the Timeline
  • To create Facial Animation by Recording your own voice click the RECORD button to open the Record WAV menu
  • Click the RECORD button once again in the editor and then speak into your microphone
  • Click the PLAY button to review
  • Select the OK button to apply your voice to the character
  • To create Facial Animation using a CTS file click the IMPORT CTS button
  • NOTE: this will apply Facial Animation data to the Viseme Track in the Timeline
  • Navigate to your CTS file destination
  • Select the OK button to apply the CTS file to the character
  • NOTE: this will only import the Viseme and Expression Track data to the Timeline and CrazyTalk motion clips will be viewed as an Expression clip, and no head movement data will carry over from CrazyTalk

Creating Basic Scripts in iClone 4.0 is fun and easy to acomplish, but to then take that Facial Animation to the next level of detail you need to apply the use of the Puppeteering Panel and the Face Key tool. Facial Animation Part 2: The Puppeteering Panel cover how you can now take full advantage of live Puppeteering abilities, which to CrazyTalk 6.0 users should be a breeze, in iClone. That’s right, be sure to check out Part 2 for more on that here at the blog. And following that, you guessed it, Facial Animation Part 3: Face Key creation is also coming your way with a new function explination you’ve all been waiting for…Animated Facial Morphing abilities with Face Bones and the Facial Layer. Create keyframes for the shape and morph of a characters head, using Front and Profile key selection tools. You don’t want to miss this, but first check out the video for Part 1 below and say “Hello” to your new site host iCT4. Here we go again!