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Sunday
Sep252011

iClone5 launches Mocap, Physics & VisualFX

The long-awaited evolution of iClone has arrived!  iClone5 is now available from www.Reallusion.com with an assortment of power-tools to take 3D real-time animation to the extreme.

Motion grabs the headline among the features you'll enjoy in iClone5.  There have been many updates to iClone over the years, but the motion tools in iClone5 are the ones we've all been waiting for (including me).  Motion design & animation get massive help from the new Motion Puppeteering, Direct Motion & Kinect-ready mocap.  Further refinement of the motion, once you've created it is better than ever with the inclusion of Autodesk's HumanIK which makes every 3D actor in iClone a fully poseable figure that behaves like a real human.  Pull the character's hand and  his body and arm will follow.  

 The Physics inside iClone5 give every scene a chance to take on fully interactive physics-based performances.  Want to make a dangerous rock-slide for your action film?  No problem!  Rigid-body object settings will help create an instant set of dynamic boulders.  Need a shower curtain to quckly slide open in your horror film?  Drop a soft-body object in the scene,  attach some prop accessories and you'll have the perfect effect!  

The eye candy continues to evolve in iClone with the new real-time FX like ambient occlusion, toon shader and more!  With the new post FX features inside iClone5, users can have a real, hands-on experience with visual possibilities that transform any dull project into amazing scenes. Make use of toon and visual effect templates like blur lens, color filters, and NPR (Non Photorealistic Rendering).

There is also a great set of new G5 actors to add to the character library with a fresh look and body-styles you can customize with a variety creative results utilizing the updated body transform panel.  It's alive!  It's alive!!!  http://www.reallusion.com/iclone/iclone_whatsnew.aspx

 

Thursday
Aug252011

Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! goes CrazyTalk for animation


Jesse Griffith delivers just-in-time animation for late-night laughs

 

During our trip to Comic-Con San Diego we met Jesse Griffith, a member of the Jimmy Kimmel Live graphics crew and a fan of CrazyTalk.   Jesse shared his CrazyTalk experience with us and talked about animating on a deadline with JKL.  We enjoyed it so much we asked him to answer a few questions for the community.   Watch Jimmy Kimmel Live! weeknights on ABC (www.jimmykimmellive.com)  Also, don't miss Jesse's award-winning sci-fi short, Cockpit:The Rule of Engagement, which premiered during Comic-Con and is currently invading the world.

Here's a bit of Jesse's handywork with a Twilight spoof:

You're an artist for Jimmy Kimmel Live, tell us about your work on the show.

JG: I work in the graphics dept, which means I do something different every day.  Some days I create title graphics for fake news bits or fictional movies, other days we are putting members of our staff in current blockbusters as a gag through the magic of green screen, and on other days we are requested to create three minute animated bits that need to air that night.   The latter is the doozy, so we are always looking for a way to animate faces faster.   I consider myself a “Fast Food Graphics artist.”  It may not be the finest cuisine, but it is darn funny and we reach millions of people a day. 

How has CrazyTalk worked for you in the studio, with the writers and with deadlines of a daily TV show?

JG: I use a lot of different software packages in my line of work, and CrazyTalk is one of those blades in my graphic “pocket knife” that gets me through the day.  Quite simply, CrazyTalk has made bits possible that would have otherwise missed deadline.  Jimmy Kimmel is big on topical jokes, so often the bits he selects to produce need to be completed that day for air that night; otherwise someone else might tell the joke or it gets stale.  We get our scripts between eleven am and noon, sometimes later.  So that gives us 3 to 5 hours to do several animated shots.   That could take forever if key-framing mouth movement by hand.  On top of that, scripts change and performances are swapped.  CrazyTalk allows me to easily swap voice files at the last minute and to meet an otherwise impossible deadline.

Beyond JKL, you are also a filmmaker and recently released, "Cockpit," with a great cast and CG.  How has new tools like those from Reallusion helped independent filmmakers?

JG: I don’t know how it’s affecting the indy community, but I know that it should be making waves.  And if it isn’t, then I need to be making the waves.   Your software is amazing and a literal dream come true. Since I was a seven year old boy, I have always tried to do effects way out of my league.  I used to shoot super 8mm (J.J. Abrams wasn’t the only one) and to scratch laser beams onto film with a razor blade, and make spaceships out of Legos and Milano cookies.  Endearing… but lacking.  The tools were just not there.   And now I see iClone, and I wish I had something like that back then....  and my mind starts percolating.  What can I use it for now?  Ooohh do I do a story about someone trapped in a video game as a video game character?  Do I shoot another all greenscreen piece with iClone’s library of customizable sets?  I’ll let you know.

The dynamics, the environments, and the fact you can isolate any one element and composite it in another package gives the power of an entire effects studio at the hands of one artist.  When I look back on the “The Last Starfighter” which was the first space movie to do entire CG exteriors, the computer that was used cost 8 million dollars.  I bet you could do every fx shot with a $1500 computer and a copy of iClone.

When I first saw CrazyTalk, I admit, I was skeptical of another consumer or pro-sumer animation package.  But when the writers of Jimmy Kimmel Live had more and more last minute ideas, CrazyTalk’s ability to non-destructively swap audio files for an animation made it an indispensable tool that saves me hours.  I am now a Realillusion fan:   They create inexpensive tools that are great to let amateurs dive in and create professional looking work, and those same tools belong in every professional’s bag of tricks when they need to create something overly ambitious in a short amount of time.

 

Monday
Aug152011

SIGGRAPH 2011: iClone5 Kinect & CrazyTalk Animator

‎"Looking for a great mocap-friendly, animation software? Look no further as Reallusion gives you iClone5!" - KinectHacks.com


This year's Siggraph expo held in Vancouver, B.C. August 9-11 was another CG overload with no shortage of innovation from ReallusionNvidiaIntel and Lucasfilm.  Reallusion and Animation Magazine's booth #244 gave visitors a chance to test-drive the iClone5 motion capture and real-time animation with Kinect.  Reallusion's John Martin was there to demo the new featueres of iClone5 including Kinect mo-cap, Human IK Animation, Physics, Actor customization and virtual actor performance.  Studio professionals working on feature films, as well as educators teaching 3D and media arts found iClone5 and CrazyTalk Animator to be go-to tools for teaching animation, previz and just-in-time animation production in the studio.  

View 360 of Reallusion Booth


Animator and iPhone app developer, Steven Elford,
"I work a 50+ hour week on studio animation projects so for my own personal projects I have very little time.  CrazyTalk keeps things simple and quick meaning I can finish a scene in one sitting."

 - Steven Elford, www.ZombiesDrule.com

Among the many students and industry professionals attending Siggraph we were delighted to see the original iClone filmmaker, Gabe aka AnimaTechnica.  Gabe's shirt says it all!  Along with gearing up for a new batch of films for iClone5, Gabe has launched a Kickstarter around his Nobbit series.  He's also an organizer for the upcoming Silicon Valley Film Festival.  Submit a film!

One of Reallusion's most popular content producers and community contibutors also paid a visit to the booth to get the low-down on iClone5.  Guy aka BigBoss took a play-by-play account of what's in iClone5 from the show demo and put it all in nice show diary. Check out BigBoss' diary here.

Power-users Chris, Missy & Mike

 more photos...

Friday
Jul292011

COMIC-CON 2011 - POW! Zap! BOOM! [photos & video]

Reallusion and Animation Magazine partner to showcase super-power animation technology at the 2011 Comic-Con. 


We talked with so many great folks at Comic-con and heard some stories about our tools powering hefty studio projects.  Comic illustrators and indie publishers were interested in the Reallusion CITY marketplace and also how they can create motion comics from their existing catalog with CrazyTalk Animator.  The iClone5 Kinect mocap preview wowed with instant calibration and real-time puppetering with record.  We also announced today that iClone5 will be available in September.  There are iClone5 videos and a preview of features here.

We talked to directors like David E. Duncan a storyboard and VFX artist for Ironman, Snow White & The Huntsman and more.  His VFX and Previz studio, Flying Sorcery, specializes in innovative r/c aerial shots, animatics and previz. iClone's Kinect-powered mocap and 2D facial animation with CrazyTalk impressed a seasoned pro, but what's really impressive is the IMDB page for David.  That's his storyboard from Ironman.

Comic-Con is a pop-culture crossroads.  The entertainment industry is there in full force and nearly everyone is relaxed, having fun and ready to enjoy the ride.  Open minds reign supreme.

The combination of industry-insider coverage with a free copy of Animation Magazine and Reallusion's in-booth Kinect mocap experience made for steady crowds at the booth.  iClone5 kinect animation and CrazyTalk Animator Motion-Comic demos were a hit and we got some great feedback from animators, illustrators, directors; even  famous TV shows (ahem, Jimmy Kimmel Live!) are using Reallusion to make funny, fast.  

A perfect ensemble of storytelling at its best.  Writers of comics and celebrities from all genres are onsite for meet and greet or autographs, which makes for some major geek-freak (Ok, ok... I'm guilty. see cheese photo with Garth Ennis #kidforever) 

Indie studios have found CrazyTalk and Reallusion tools to be a just-in-time solution and we caught one film on-the-rise at Comic-Con's Martial Arts Film Festival, "Justice For Hire."

 

Zach Shelton, director, Willow Road Animation met us at our booth and shared their story of coming to Comic-Con and how CrazyTalk Animator played a big role in their film. Zach shares his experience in the following video interview I did with him the day after the premiere.

 The film, "Justice For Hire," motion-comic trailer DID premiere at Comic-Con's Martial Arts Film Festival. 

Justice For Hire Motion Comic Trailer from Willow Road Animation on Vimeo.

The Reallusion experience at Comic-Con invited attendees to see the powerful, time-saving and budget-friendly tools for 2D and 3D animation.  2D Animators see how fast CrazyTalk Animator can animate their existing 2D illustrations or rig their custom sketchs or vectors into fully animated sprite-based characters. Facial animation is solved with CrazyTalk Animator.  Define the character, record audio and see your comic panel or storyboards come to life.  Previz and feature production artists applauded CrazyTalk as a "pocket knife," in the studio.

Wednesday
Jul202011

Reallusion & Comic-con 2011

Reallusion joins Animation Magazine for Comic-Con 2011.  We're bringing CrazyTalk Animator to Comic-Con for an onslaught of animation creativity! Learn the workflow to bring character sketches to life with the facial animation and body puppeteering of CrazyTalk Animator.  See CrazyTalk Animator and catch a sneak peek at iClone5 Kinect mocap at Animation Magazine's Comic-Con booth #1535 on July 23rd and 24th.

Tuesday
Jun142011

Kinect 3D animation coming to iClone5 (VIDEO)

Reallusion confirms the buzz around the forth-coming Kinect & iClone revolution!  3D real-time animation and Kinect avatar performance goes to the next level with iClone5 (Winter 2011). 

"iClone5 is a 3D animation production studio combining the power of Kinect's user interaction for a new level of human-driven digital storytelling.  A new technological element of expression coming soon to a community of directors that before only watched the likes of masters such as Peter Jackson & James Cameron flex these type of tools in previous years.  iClone5 will represent a close in the gap between big budget and big ideas.  iClone5 and Kinect, 'All the world's a stage,' indeed." -  John Martin, Reallusion

Real at-home studio quality 3D motion capture and real-time avatar puppeteering along with Reallusion's award-winning facial animation tools equip a digital visual effects studio on-a-dime.  Virtual Actors?  Sure.  Real life performances for animation shorts, in your living room.  OK!  iClone + Kinect is a DIY animation studio you can operate with 8 feet of space for full body motion puppeteering. Further enhancing the Kinect performance, Reallusion has added the human-element to animation created with Kinect through the integration of Autodesk's HumanIK.  Now, motion in iClone5 will pose more natural in key-framing and constrain to human characteristics when puppeteered by motion devices such as Kinect.  Realluison's Winter release, iClone5, will offer real-time puppeteering viewing and simultaneous recording.  The time for performance animation and serious motion capture with minimal hassle or investment comes to independent animators and budget concious studios.

iClone5 (private-beta Summer 2011 - release Winter 2011)

Wednesday
Jun012011

Animation Magazine Pitch Party!

The Tenth Annual Animation Magazine Pitch Party contest is going on now through (better get busy) June 10th and offers Reallusion members and storytellers worldwide the chance to pitch their story to industry pros and finally knock Trey Parker and Matt Stone off their high-horses.  Well, maybe you'll just get a shot to make it big.  Good enough?  We thought so too and that's why Reallusion and Animation Magazine have partnered to encourage iClone and CrazyTalk filmmakers to prepare their pitch!  The contest requires you purchase and submit a 1/6 page ad for inclusion in the upcoming Animation Magazine Pitch Party issue.   Animation Magazine has extended a special offer of $50 OFF their 1/6 page, Pitch Party ad for Reallusion members.  Get the full details and know more over at Animation Magazine's Pitch Party Contest page.

 Reallusion and Animation Magazine have an exciting summer planned with events and contests. 

  • In June we will launch a special spotlight opportunity to have your movie and art featured in a full page within Animation Magazine... details coming soon. 
  • We are joining Animation Magazine at Comic-Con San Diego this year to showcase CrazyTalk Animator July 23-24. 

"The partnership between Reallusion and Animation Magazine connects our storytelling community to AM's media portal for all-access industry coverage, careers and green-light opportunities.  Our partnership is in the spirit of the independent animator and encourages citizen directors to bring new and innovative works from groundbreaking studios." John Martin, Reallusion

Stay-tuned for more upcoming contests and events with Reallusion and Animation Magazine.

 

Monday
Mar212011

Intel, Visualize This! podcast interview with Reallusion's John Martin


Monday
Mar212011

"There be Monsters!" iClone film finds festival success

Interview with writer and film-maker, Tom Weston.

Award winning writer, Tom Weston, moves into the director’s chair for the animated adaptation of his short story, There be Monsters! Tom’s previous work includes the screenplay, fission, which was selected as a finalist at the 2008 London Independent Film Festival, and which is scheduled to be published as a novel in early 2011. Tom’s other works include the Urban Fantasy novels, First Night and The Elf of Luxembourg, collectively known as The Alex and Jackie Adventures. Currently, Tom is writing the third book in the series, titled, Feathered: being a fairy tale. For more information, visit Tom at his web site, http://www.tom-weston.com.

When did you first get involved with iClone?

 We go way back – to version 1.5, I think. In fact, it’s almost like I’ve come full circle now, because the reason I got iClone in the first place was because I had a script for a ghost story, which I thought would make for a nice little animated film and we took a look at everything which was on the market back then to see if a film could be made without a budget or army of animators -iClone was the only one that came close for a neophyte such as me.We didn’t make the film, but I did use iClone to make a short test animation of the film’s ending. And it was seeing the beauty of that animation that made me realize the story I was trying to tell was much bigger than I had first imagined. So I shelved my plans for a rewrite of the story. That story became my first novel, First Night. But I think it was seeing that test animation fromiClone which inspired me to write a better story.

So you set aside iClone and turned to writing?

Turned to writing, yes; set aside iClone, no. What I try to do is

tell stories. Today, there are several platforms for telling stories: the printed word, sound, visuals. I named my production company tom weston media, so that I wouldn’t be limited as a writer. For me, it’s ‘Here is the story and here is the appropriate platform for telling that story.

I should point out that in the interim, we found iClone to be a really versatile piece of software. We began using it for all manner of projects – business cards, posters, web menus. The book cover design for First Night was created in iClone. We wanted to create a Boston skyline based on the locations featured in the book, rather than the real thing; so we downloaded models of individual buildings from the Google 3D Warehouse and created our own skyline in iClone. The software worked really well for that.

And with There be Monsters! you found iClone to be the appropriate platform for the story?

The story came first, but as soon as I had written it, I knew that it would be the first animation to come out of the company and I knew that iClone was still the only software we could seriously consider.

Why is that?

We do keep tabs on the software out there - we have several in house, so we know the pros and cons of most of them, but iClone remains the only one which allows me to work as a director on a film set would work; to think in terms of characters and costumes, sets and camera angles. With the competition, it’s as if I need a PhD in physics just to create a still image, let alone an animation. And then there is the rendering time.

Rendering time?

I don’t know how iClone works its magic, but the real-time rendering is amazing. To be able to create a scene - and it may be a 30 second scene - but to do that in real time, to run the animation, make a change in lighting, run it again, make a change to the camera, move a character,  add a prop, change a costume, whatever – to do all that in real time and then be able to say ‘OK that’s a wrap, print it’ – and to do all that in a fraction of the time it takes the competition to render a single frame – I’m impressed.

But as you said, all software has pros and cons. Do you feel you that using iClone was a compromise on There be Monsters!

I’ve seen work produced by various software packages. Some of it is amazing – well beyond my capabilities – but I think that credit for that must also go to the artists. I’ve seen equally stunning work produced from iClone. Great art is dependent on the artist, not the tools. I think a lot of people, when they use software, whether it’s iClone or not, underestimate the artistry and assume that it is simple to duplicate. And they get frustrated when they don’t.

When it came to There be Monsters! we chose to go in a different direction. We were never going to emulate the animation or photorealism of a Pixar full length feature. We just don’t have the artists, the budget or the time, even if we had the software. If I had wanted to create that type of animation I could never have even started the project.

Instead, we played to iClone’s strengths. In iClone, we were able to create the characters and sets very quickly. We were also able to use iClone to create the Storyboards. And then we were able to turn the Storyboards directly into animations, with no wasted effort.

Production Stills (Facebook)

There be Monsters! is a 9 minute animation. How long did it take to produce?

Our narrator, Tony Impieri, finished the voice-over of the story in April, 2010. I had done some preliminary work on the characters and sets before then, but no animation because I wanted his interpretation of the story to set the tone. We wrapped up the project in November, 2010 and started to submit to the Film Festivals in January. So in total, the project took about 7 months. We were juggling this project with a couple of others, so the actual real-time effort spent on the film is less than that.

I assembled the animation, but I would like to point out that in the time-frame allowed to us, nothing would have been possible without having off-the-shelf models and motions available to us from Reallusion and Reallusion’s community of content providers such as Alley, Bigboss and Shygirl. Having those resources at hand were indispensible. And as I indicated, the content providers are the real artists in the world of There be Monsters! so I take my hat off to them. This is their animation as much as mine.

There be Monsters! will now be screened at several film festivals.

Yes, we got the ball rolling with an acceptance to the 2011 Worldkids International Film Festival in Mumbai, India. What’s really exciting about that is that There be Monsters! will also be shown to children around India as part of the Worldkids Foundation’s ‘Lessons in the Dark’ program.

Closer to home, There be Monsters! will have its world premiere right here in my home town of Boston, on April 16th at the Loews Cineplex / AMC on Tremont Street, as part of the Boston International Film Festival, April 15th to 24th. So I am even more excited about that.

And then I’ll be making a trip to the west coast and Santa Monica for the Edgemar Short Film Festival on April 28th to May 1st at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, California.

If anyone reading this is going to be attending those festivals, and whichever others we are lucky enough to be selected for, I’d love to hook up and talk iClone.

Monday
Mar142011

Game Developers Conference 2011

Reallusion & Intel partner for the 25th Anniversary Game Developers Conference ~ San Francisco, CA - March 1-4 

GDC had a booming turnout with major releases and news from top title makers and console creators.  The show floor was packed with lines to see the Nintendo 3DS (yep, it's rad), live talks from Intel and famous game engine and developer middleware from Autodesk, Havok and Speedtree.


Intel featured Reallusion, Autodesk and even Lady Gaga remixer, Justin Lassen.  The technology buzz inside the booth included new rendering achievements with Intel Sandy Bridge, exciting real-time special effects from Confetti, Havok Destruction & Cloth and live podcasts from Intel Software Network TV show, 'Visualize This!,' hosted by Arti Gupta.  John Martin joined Arti for a podcast interview that will be posted soon.
The Intel Visibly Smart theater gave Reallusion's John Martin the stage for a talk about 2D animation for game designers and the new powertools for simplified animation in CrazyTalk Animator.  John discussed the shifting size of game studios and increasing development platforms that is now creating an environment for faster production and cost effective solutions. 

 

"CrazyTalk Animator equips game studios with a simplified solution for animation creation without the cost of a hefty license or commercial fees.  CrazyTalk Animator's tools provide a complete 2D animation solution for gamemakers and with 2D sidescroller and platform games on the rise, 2D is back with a force.," said John to the gathering of game developers during the Intel demo and tech talk.

The 2011 Game Developers Conference website

Intel GDC website

Intel Sandy Bridge Core