Search Blog Posts
Subscribe

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The Wolf & Dulci Show: indieRadio iClone Podcast
John Martin II : Animize

Follow me

Navigation
Top
Tuesday
Nov102009

"If you fancy yourself as the next Pixar..."

During each product release we hit the streets to talk with press about the new features and goodies inside our latest product.  Afterward, the press then takes the product and does their best to bust, break & succeed with our new tools.  Fortunately, our developers are awesome at weaving our dreamy wishlist spec into a solid build that can take the abuse and use through each product review. 

These reporters are not just regurgitating our press release or marketing talk, they really give it a full test and I know because I get lots of questions from them everytime we release.  In the end, what's published is their take on the product features and details of their brief experience with the new tools.  iClone4 has some excellent ratings publishing now.  So don't take our word for it... their's will do just fine ;)

Here's a list of current reviews and links to get the full scoop:

  • PCPlus & Techradar - iClone4 - 4 stars

"If you fancy yourself as the next Pixar – or, better still, have slightly more realistic ambitions – this is the tool to make it happen."

http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/software/graphics-and-media-software/3d-modelling-software/reallusion-iclone-4-pro-646745/review

  • About.com - Animation - iClone4 - 4.5 stars

"Film-quality animation is now available starting at $79.95. Reallusion's iClone has grown in leaps and bounds from its original incarnation, and now brings the world of Hollywood CGI home to the personal computer."

http://animation.about.com/od/softwarereviews/gr/iclone4_review.htm

  • Renderosity - iClone4 review

"Reallusion expanded their user base with iClone4 Pro by extending it's functionality to include motion graphics. You can now place video on any surface of 3D objects and create layers of video for foreground, background, titling and SFX."

http://www.renderosity.com/news.php?viewStory=14811

Sunday
Oct042009

iClone4 & CrazyTalk6 in one project

(note: strong language)

I've been captured by the real-time facial puppeteering in iClone4 and exploring the use of it through a series of monologue animations.  For now, I'm enjoying Charles Bukowski's pieces from, 'The last night of the Earth poems," collection of poetry.  The short writings fit well for a project that's about 1.5 - 2 minutes in total.  Since the goal for me at the moment is to create completed projects, but in a short period of time.  Poetry as spoken word really works to meet that requirement and also is great for the muse.   

Once I recorded my voiceover into iClone, I previewed the initial lip-synch and decided to throw it over into CrazyTalk6 using the 'launch' button found in the iClone4, Animation, Face, Modify panel.  Once in CT6 PRO I chose a model to be a dummy for my editing, then opened the Script and dove into the timeline where I went directly to the Lips track.  The auto-generated mouth shapes on the Lips track are all editable, movable and removable.  I zoomed in my timeline and took my time to go across the timeline and play my voiceover in increments while I changed the mouth shapes that needed refinement.  You can just double-click on the mouth shape key frames or in an empty area of the timeline to add or edit the mouth shape using the popup wizard.  It's not hard, it does take some time and patience, but even this project was created in one day.

After I got the full script edited with the changes I wanted for select mouth shapes, I went back into iClone4 and selected the, 'Import CTS' button to bring my voiceover back into iClone.  A quick preview actually showed me that I had made it... well, too perfect.  Now before you think I've got a big ego, what I mean is that I made the Lip shapes for every single sound which produced a real staccato performance and that was not exactly what I was after.... argh, so really perfecting every mouth shape is not necessary.  This is important.  When you consider the persona of your actor, their intended stage presence, their demeanor.  This is one of the core components in transforming your lifeless avatar into a living actor.  It's important.  So, although you may have spent a ton of time working on a perfect lip synch or motion performance, you need to always keep in mind that you have to sell that performance through your actor.  The edits you choose to make should be guided by this simple rule.  However, we learn by doing.  Right?  So, I went back into CrazyTalk6 and removed some of those mouth shapes to make the speech a bit more realistic.

Even with this extra CrazyTalk6 step in creating with iClone4, the total production process was pretty quick and steadily progressive.  Most important, it was fun.  iClone4's facial animation tools are outstanding and the real-time puppeteering really gives you the direct control to puppet the facial expressions that convey your actor's emotion.  Add CrazyTalk6 to the iClone4 mix and you've got a truly dynamic animation duo.  I look forward to hearing about your experiences with iClone4 and watching your movies.  Thanks!~ John

Wednesday
Sep302009

iClone4 Facial Animation, Motion Paths, Hair & Clothing system

Were coming down to the wire with the long anticipated release of iClone4.  Believe me, we are as excited to get it out there as you are to latch on to the latest arsenal in real-time filmmaking technology.  The bag of tricks inside iClone4 has some massive mojo and I wanted to share a few new videos prior to release.  Thanks for standing by as we prepare to unleash this monster.  And please, if you see a software developer or engineer... give them a hug, high-five or buy them a beer.  No matter the tool, it's the genius of the coders and developers that really put the life inside the products we love. 

I <3 our dev team.  You guys & gals simply rock!!! ~ John

 

 

Tuesday
Sep222009

2 hours inside iClone 4: Facial Puppeteering

There is a lot of hype about performance and speed of creation with today's digital filmmaking tools and we are continually promoting iClone with emphasis on how much time you can save and how much more productive you can be with a real-time engine.  However, it's really more than that.  It's more than just real-time, it's about how well the tools within the real-time engine can make you a better animator and storyteller.  So, yes... real-time is paramount, but real-tools with real-innovation and real-power are what really makes the difference.  This is my experience with the facial puppeteering inside iClone4.  I've seen our engineers knock down some amazing things, but this lone feature in iClone4 is astonishing. 

  

So to explore this new tactical feature I grabbed my paperback of Charles Bukowski's, 'The Last Night of the Earth Poems,' and I searched for a short monologue.  I have many bookmarks in this book placed for just when the animation muse may hit, but this time I was looking for something specific.  I found it.  'Splashing,' right there on page 238 with a crisp corner I'd not yet bent.  

I had already created the character which just took a few minutes.  I spent most of the time on the head deformation sliders to change the shape of the face and also with the skin texture to get the specular settings to cast a moist, greasy sheen to the skin.  The specular settings on the skin combined with the Normal bump map can be seen when the actor turns his head.  The pores and wrinkles in the skin are revealed as the light changes across the movement of the face. 

The voice recording was done inside iClone.  I did not use any external audio editor to capture or edit the voice.  I cut it raw, one time and went to animating.  I think where you record and what you record with is the key.  I am using a Blue SnowflakeUSB mic that sells for around $60 USD.  When I first watched the lip-sync automatically generated by iClone I was impressed.  Then I started working with the facial animaiton and puppeteering tools.  First, I assigned an 'Angry' emotive to the overall timeline as a general mood for my character.  That gave me a good base for how my actor would emote.  Next came my first production experience with the facial puppeteering panel in iClone.  Woah!  Again, these engineers are insane. 

With my project playhead set at the beginning I used the preview function on the puppeteering panel to audition a few facial puppet actions.  You can select from a list of facial emotions or you can select your own group of muscles or individual facial features to affect during the puppeteering session.  Once you have the combination selected you hit 'record' and watch as the playhead advances and plays your project in real-time, while this happens you use your mouse to puppet the face along with your audio.  All your puppeteering is recorded in real-time as a motion clip for each session.  For a cg animator this type of automation speed mixed with total custom control is so amazingly valuable.  It's not presets and looped movements... it's really you pulling the strings, the artist is in control.  This is also where any knowledge of non-verbal facial performance, general acting technique and a good mirror can come in very handy.  The fundamentals will always be part of what makes us better, no matter the tool.

For the Bukowski poem I made two passes with this technique.  First I focused on the jaw and brows and next on some head turning and overall grimacing.  I previewed my results instantly and saw what would have taken me a very long time to do before completed in just a few minutes.  Of course, that was just the first draft.  I tried a few more times and saved each result as a CTS file so I could choose from the best of a few attempts.  The only thing that slowed me down here was that fact that it was fun and I was likely doing a few more takes than normal because I was playing.  Finally I went back to a few spots and and did some editing with the Face Key window.  This is a tool that is just like the puppeteering panel, but is meant for single frame editing of the face pose.  What's cool is that this can be an overriding layer that will blend with the action already recorded to your face.  In short, you can spot edit the face pose... anywhere.

I threw in a camera and did some camera 'look-at' commands to get the actor looking at the camera and away from the camera at specific points of the monologue.  The actor's motions are a blend of key pose animation (the 'jesus christ' arm swing) and mocap clips (other hand gestures) broken and aligned with easing to match the movement of my actor. 

In the end I decided to keep it simple and only do lighting on a black soundstage.  I decided to forgo the set, secondary characters, weather, etc... I wanted this one to be all about the actor, the face and the 'real' time it took to make it...  This was how I spent 2 hours in iClone.

Sunday
Sep062009

Reallusion Streamlines Social Media App.Creation with WidgetCast™

Reallusion Streamlines Social Media App.Creation with WidgetCastT

Flash® Web Developers, Interactive Ad Creators Now Have a Micro-App. Tool That Brings the Engagement of Rich-Media to the Browser and the Desktop in Just a Few Clicks 

San Jose, CA (PRWEB) August 17, 2009 -- On the heels of a successful SIGGRAPH 2009 preview, Reallusion, Inc., an award-winning developer of video creation software for real-time 3D animation, today launched WidgetCast, a new micro-application tool that makes it easier than ever before for web developers and interactive ad creators to bring the excitement and consumer-engagement of 3D animation to their social media campaigns and branded desktop environments. 

"WidgetCast is an extremely practical addition to any Web 2.0 developer's toolbox," said John Martin II, VP, Marketing, Reallusion. "The micro-application development trend is evolving at such a rapid pace that developers 

need to build smart rich-media objects on the fly." 

Adding to the useful suite of Reallusion's creative media tools, WidgetCast is compatible with the output of iClone and CrazyTalk avatars and assets, while constructing royalty-free interactive agents for websites and desktop campaigns. 

 

 Key Features: 

 •    Full-featured Flash media authoring 

 •    Hovering web or desktop ad creation 

 •    Support for chroma key to popVideo conversion 

 •    Support for jpg, swf, mp3, flv 

 •    Twitter feed builder 

 •    PowerPoint conversion into Flash 

 •    YouTube video gallery creator 

 •    Picasa & Flickr photo gallery creator 

 •    Yahoo! Interactive Maps 

 •    RSS Feed creator 

 •    Unlimited feature extension with Flash component 

 Need to transform a YouTube video with a client's brand icon into a web-based ad and the tech's gone home for the day? Or how about creating a quick mashup or reusing assets from the latest sales presentation in a mock campaign? No problem. Whatever the challenge, WidgetCast can help get the job done.  

 What DreamWeaver did for building websites back in the day, WidgetCast does for the Twitter-ized, hyper-connected Web 2.0 world. With WidgetCast, busy web developers or interactive ad creators can quickly build an interactive object, then post it to the web or export it to the desktop as an Adobe AIR-powered floating avatar. 

 "Between tighter budgets, staff reduction and the never-ending challenge to deliver compelling rich-media, expectations are higher than ever," added Reallusion's Martin. "WidgetCast gives you that edge that makes the difference between getting that client, hitting that deadline, or not. It's that simple." 

PRICING and AVAILABILITY 

Download versions of WidgetCast are available from the Reallusion Online Store at www.reallusion.com/widgetcast, with the SRP as follows: 

 •    WidgetCast PRO: USD199.95 

 •    WidgetCast Standard: USD69.95 

 •    popVideo: USD99.95

Thursday
Aug202009

Photos from Siggraph 2009

Siggraph was full of fun and innovation.  We tried to have as much of each as possible.  The following photo gallery was created with our new WidgetCast (http://www.reallusion.com/widgetcast).  You can mouseover and set the slideshow settings.  Having a background in Flash design, I really love this tool.

Read Ricky Grove's SIGGRAPH 09 wrap-up on Renderosity.  He really covers the show comprehensively.  I have witnessed the phenomena of the Ricky Grove roving-motion-blur while traversing the show floor and talking to everyone that's really on the frontier. 

http://renderosity.com/news.php?viewStory=14689

Monday
Aug172009

iClone 4 Revealed PT. 3 - 3D Face Puppeteering

Recorded live during Siggraph 2009 at the Reallusion iClone 4 demo day with partners, press & power users.

Monday
Aug172009

iClone 4 revealed PT. 2 - Video Textures & Visual FX

Monday
Jul202009

iClone4 Revealed: Drag & Drop Editing

Reallusion reveals the full features of iClone 4 at SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans.  A series of videos covering iClone 4 were recorded during the demo give you a front-row seat to the action.

Siggraph gathers the CG community from all over the world each year to discuss, showcase and dream.  This year we were honored to host power users and friends that gathered from across the US and Canada.  Special thanks to Bill, James, Wolf, Lizard, Ducli, Rainman, GToon, Biggstrek and the folks from Renderosity & Digmeco for an awesome time in New Orleans. 

We recorded everything from the full day of events which included a comprehensive demo and unveiling of iClone 4 followed by an afternoon of discussion live on iClone Radio with Wolf and Dulci.  Checkout their podcast from AUG 5th for their reaction to iClone 4.

http://wolfanddulcihour.blogspot.com/2009/08/one-where-iclone-4-preview-knocks-our.html

 

Thursday
Jun252009

"For the love of Sprog!" an iClone animation

For the love of Sprog! from The Martin Brothers on Vimeo.

This animation idea came about while testing the dynamic springs inside iClone 3. I started by constructing the Sprog character and attaching and linking various spring props. The result gave a very liquid motion effect and the story of our two underwater lovers evolved from there. After developing the idea with characters and scenery, I decided that I wanted to try and do a single project with multiple cameras and film the animation in real-time. What I mean is that this movie is one project from beginning to end that you could watch it inside iClone, in real-time 3D. So, the project in iClone is the same as the rendered movie. All editing was done inside iClone so the cuts are camera cuts. No video editing was done except for the final text credits and the shimmer effect on the logo. I found that springs can be very effective as accents for characters or even as total characters. You can find most of the props I used to make the Sprogs inside your iClone 3.2 props folder. Music and sound are always needed and for this project I needed above and below water ambient sound and a slue of water sounds. I relied completely on the royalty-free resources: Freesound.org for all sound FX and http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/ for the Tango music. Each audio library has a wide range of sound fx and music. One tip, on Freesound.org, you can actually search for the sound you want, like 'Whoosh, Splash, Yahoo, etc..." You'll likely find what you need.