If you have ever created a 3D animated film, or any film for that matter then you know how labor intensive it can be. The planning, the scripting, the editing, the everything! There is so much to take into consideration that we often ask ourselves —
- What is the fastest way to start?
- Can a single person do it all?
- What tools do I even use?
… just the thought alone is enough to put anyone off from such a production.
The Good News is — YES, there is a fast way. Yes, you can do it all on your own. And yes, there are tools for all of this.
The challenges of CG filmmaking encompass content creation, scene production, 3D video and audio editing, 3D video effects, and final post-production. One of the longest and most expensive steps is the initial content creation where one has to not just generate 3D stages, props, and characters, but also all body and facial animations along with camera movements, and special video effects.
1 – ROYALTY FREE CONTENT
When starting your project, the first thing we need is content. Either generated content or acquired content. This can be easily solved thanks to iClone’s huge online library of 100% royalty free assets. Inside the iClone Content Store, and the Marketplace you will find everything from sci-fi robots, fantasy creatures, movie monsters, virtual scenes, natural trees & plants, and thousands of ready-to-animate 3D models for royalty-free, commercial projects.
2 – CHARACTER GENERATION
Thanks to the iClone ecosystem, you can also choose to design your own 3D characters and clothing with the Character Creator tool. This FREE add-on tool can help you create animation-ready 3D human characters for use with iClone and other 3D tools. You can easily create unique character designs through the use of shape morphs, customizable high-resolution skin textures, and outfits with clothing containing your own fabric designs.
If you have external characters, you can choose to import them through FBX to add custom animations or physics behaviors but you will need to use iClone’s converter – 3DXChange, which will automatically map and rig characters for use with iClone’s tools. And of course, you can always choose to go the quick route by simply purchasing characters from the iClone Content Store.
3- REALTIME ANIMATION
Once your assets and characters are in place, then we move onto the animation part. Now, this can be tricky as getting animation right is an art form that takes years of experience and training with traditional tools. Fortunately, iClone has you covered as it is designed from the ground up to make facial and body animations effortless thanks to automatic lip-syncing from audio, intuitive puppeteering, & facial key editing panels.
With iClone, you can naturally control body animations with HumanIK and motion layer editing that allow you to quickly generate base animations prior to layering new animations on top. Best of all is that inside iClone you will find hundreds of these base animations at no additional cost. You can also choose to purchase thousands of themed motions from the online content store to speed things up.
If you wish to create even more authentic animations, you can choose to work with iClone motion capture plug-ins like the; Microsoft Kinect or Perception Neuron from Noitom. With these affordable plug-ins you can use your own body motions to animate your 3D characters at a fraction of the time, and cost, it would take renting a live motion capture studio.
4- PARTICLE EFFECTS
Once your scenes are produced, then we start the special effects process. HitFilm Pro’s particle simulator uses real-world physics to create form-based shapes from a point grid, or from any 3D model. The simulator works in an open 3D space so that you can easily add 3D video effects to layers of green screen footage and animation. This allows you to maintain a realistic look by fully integrating your iClone assets with 3D cameras, lights, and shadows.
5 – VIDEO EDITING, 3D VIDEO COMPOSITING, & VIDEO TRACKING
The meat and bones of any video editing software is measured in its ability to slice, trim, and blend footage. Any video editor will tell you that HitFilm provides numerous advantages over other free editing solutions due to its multiple video and audio tracks. This flexibility makes HitFilm much better suited to professional video production editing as it allows for indispensable J and L-cuts which are essential when working on studio-quality projects with multiple tracks.
3D Video editors can also composite virtual 3D elements by accurately tracking masks and corner pins for a fast and easy workflow, taking the guesswork out of positioning and tracking objects to your special effects.
6 – COLOR TONING & POST LIGHTING
Finally, we move into the last stage of the process which is post-production. Here we can use HitFilm Pro’s color grading and correction tools to create our own unique film style, as it allows us to instantly analyze and modify color elements to pull elements back from blending into the background. For this HitFilm offers a harvest of tools for color grading, color correction, and white balance manipulation.
In the end, there are many reasons why upcoming CG filmmakers are using this dual combination of complementary tools as they are a great way for content creators to step up their 3D video editing and 3D video compositing workflow.