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Monday
Jan042010

Movie Monday - "Echos" iClone film by Raven2Angel

Welcome to the first Movie Monday on the Reallusion blog.  Each week I'll be spotlighting an iClone film, filmmaking project or test reel for discussion.  Some films will be from recent works and some may be classic iClone movies from you that we'd like to once again share and enjoy.  So pop some corn in the microwave and grab a soda for today's movie.

"Echos", an iClone film by Raven2Angel

Echoes from Raven Angel on Vimeo.

Monday
Dec282009

Pro production studio creating with iClone: L4 Kreation

Inside the L4 Studios & Behind the Scenes of MO & MA

 

"I have never worked with a 3D package that gives so much freedom of
creativity, its feels like filmmaking and not like 3d editing. Machinima at
its best!"

Thorsten Strack, Agency Head & Producer

   

IClone is the tool of choice if you are working for a daily news magazine. There is no other 3D package that gives you such a speed!

IClone fits perfectly to our needs, it is wide open for the other tools we use and our mocap-data works flawless in iCLone. In a professional production environment your tools must be reliable and stable, ICLONE was in the last 6 mounth of production solid like a rock. The output section gives you a wide range of media-formats, perfect for heavy post production.

I have never worked with a 3D package that gives so much freedom of
creativity, its feels like filmmaking and not like 3d editing. Machinima at
its best!

As we started with "Mo&Ma", Iclone was the only affordable machinima
package on the market for commercial work. The content stores and the huge
community are a big plus!

Wednesday
Dec162009

Great Scene Lighting screenshots from iClone filmmakers

The http://forum.reallusion.com is a steady stream of creative contributions from the Reallusion software user community.  Everyday there is something there that I find inspiring or a real artistic achievement from the iClone community filmmakers and digital artists.  Lately, I've seen some excellent examples in scene lighting:

 Kurzal: http://forum.reallusion.com/Topic34833-36-1.aspx

 Anima Technica: http://forum.reallusion.com/Topic31653-36-1.aspx

Wednesday
Dec162009

Jim Finch wants your face in his Comic

Digital comic series creator and iClone user, Jim Finch makes a casting call for faces to fill his comics as extras and a slice of web fame.  Checkout Jim's comic series below and go, "Behind the Scenes," with Jim's comic creation process walkthrough.

Jim Finch says, "Faces Needed" - http://www.reallycoolsite.org/mediaelite/faces.html

Jim's comic creation process with iClone - http://www.reallycoolsite.org/mediaelite/behind.html

Jim Finch Comics - http://www.reallycoolsite.org/comics.html

 

Sunday
Nov292009

Naughty or Nice? Save 55% at Reallusion

Cyber Monday, Black Friday and all the way until December 31st you can cram santa's sack full of 3D content during the Reallusion Winter Sale.  Save big on content throughout the Reallusion 3D content store and get some of the latest iClone 3D packs with savings upto 55% off.

Special Coupon Code: 20%OFF
OVER 1,000 MUST-MAVE PACKS IN CONTENT STORE
        

Enter Discount Code at checkout: Content09Xmas20off

http://www.reallusion.com/contentstore/promo/Xmas2009/default.aspx

•       This Code cannot be used with special promotional packs or offers.
•       Not valid with any other offers that provide discounts on your entire order.
•       This Code Expires: 12/31/2009 

Monday
Nov162009

MachinExpo Set for Next Sunday, Nov 22nd in Second Life

Reallusion invites you all to experience a jam-packed entertainment extravaganza next Sunday, Sunday Sunday!  Normally a day held for tractor pulls and swap meets, next Sunday is special.  Phil Rice, Ricky Grove, and their team of organizers launch MachinExpo, a mega movie event to celebrate some of this year's best Machinima films.  This is truly a can't miss event that will take place on NOV 22nd in Second Life where films will be screened and your favorite Machinima filmmakers and friends will gather to support citizen directors from around the globe. 

As sponsor of this years's MachinExpo, Reallusion is excited to particpate and spotlight some fantastic filmmakers and this year's top Machinima community consortium.  I'll be there (Animize) along with my pals from the Wolf and Dulci hour iClone radio show to talk about Machinima and iClone's latest developments.  Head over to http://machiniplex.net/expo/ for full details and if you've never experienced Second Life, no worries... It's free and very easy to navigate.  Sign-up for a free account at www.SecondLife.com and then walk, fly or teleport over to the MachinExpo on Sunday for a monumental day of Machinima.

See you there! ~ John

Congratulations to the iClone filmmakers showcased in this year's event:

(even I managed to fool the Jury into liking one of my films, suckers) ;)

“Coming Home” by Lizard


“The Expedition” by Anima Technica


“Moordenar [0] What Came Before” by Anima Technica


 

“Pinhead: In the S***” by afterThought

“The Shauwshank Detention” by Oliver Manuel


“Charles Bukowski – Splashing” by John Martin II


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.