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Discover how iClone and HitFilm combine to create 3D animation, 3D models, and video editing capabilities…

iClone and HitFilm combine with outstanding results for incorporating 3D animation, 3D models, and video editing.  Here are the top 5 reasons I’ve found to use iClone and HItFilm together as a power-duo for 3D and video VFX.

iClone is a powerful 3D animation software, that stands out by being affordable, very intuitive and user-friendly. It has a surprisingly short learning curve, and it really boosts the performance of any animation process, allowing us to achieve spectacular results without the need of expensive and complicated resources.

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iClone is not just powerful but is also much easier to learn and use than any other 3D animation software

HitFilm is a very powerful visual effect and editing application that is also much easier to master than most software on the market. Although it allows professional results, FXhome has paid special attention to help beginners and encourage indie filmmakers to include visual effects in their projects.

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HitFilm allows us to improve our sequences, adding shocking visual effects of professional quality

1: Preparing 3D Models in iClone for HitFilm

Filmmakers often need to include expensive items in their productions, like military stuff, buildings, space ships, etc… In these cases, 3D models are very useful as they can be mixed with the real footage, helping us to create the adequate sets without the need to build them.

 

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iClone can manage and animate any kind of complex scene, that once rendered, can be used as compositing layers on Hitfilm

 

Through 3DXchange, iClone can import and prepare a huge amount of 3D props and motions available on the Internet, imported from other 3D apps or captured with Mocap. Any 3DS, FBX or OBJ standard model can be converted in an iClone prop, as well as the BVH motion files can be applied to the iClone characters.

In addition, all the free Sketchup models of 3D Warehouse also can be imported directly into iClone.

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Virtually, any model we could need can be found on the internet. Reallusion 3DXchange is a bridge application that allows you to import and export standard models, in and out of iClone

Once in iClone, we can easily change a 3D model’s  materials, editing the look of the model  in a matter of minutes. The  intuitive tools inside iClone, like Motion Puppet, Lip-sync and the Motion Library can animate the models and prepare them for the compositing process in HitFilm.

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The models imported from Sketchup can look too simple, but properly textured in iClone they can finally appear very convincing

 

iClone goes even further, offering a lot of interesting features like… PBR materials that provide an extremely realistic aspect to standard props. A physics engine that allows the rigid models to interact with them in a very natural way, or soft cloth physics, that adds extra realism to the scenes, simulating the movements of the clothes, while interacting with the wind, the rigid props or the characters.

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iClone provides all these high-quality features in real-time, making the rendering process extremely fast

Even we can easily add trees, bushes, and grass to our scenes, using the massive botanic library inside iClone. All these models can be animated with the wind and “planted” in random clusters following the terrain.

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The moving plants and trees are rendered already masked, making the compositing with the real footage extremely easy

2: Preparing animated characters in iClone for HitFilm

iClone can manage and animate special characters like Robots, Aliens, or even background extras that could be needed in our productions.

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Some types of characters that will require extreme makeup, or special clothes, are perfectly suitable to be animated

Character Creator, from Reallusion,  allows us to create any kind of biped actors, that can be automatically exported to iClone, where they can be easily animated using their very intuitive facial and body animation tools. We can even use mocap devices like the Noitom Perception Neuron Suit or the Microsoft Kinect to capture our movements and apply them to the models.

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iClone has a wide variety of animation tools that allow you to apply facial expressions and concatenate movements to the character in real-time, just using the mouse as controller

iClone animated models can be exported to HitFilm in Alembic format, allowing us to put them in a real 3D environment, using the lights, effects and cameras of HitFilm to set the scene before rendering the final sequence.

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Alembic embeds the character and its animations in the file exported so it can be managed as a real 3D model in the HitFilm project

We can also use the real footage in iClone as background. It helps to place the characters and props and adjust the correct light and camera view. Then, the render obtained from iClone can be used as a compositing layer in HitFilm with very few adjustments.

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If you use the filmed footage as background in iClone, it helps to put the actors and items in place and adjust the scene’s light. The rendered sequence without the background is then used as a 2D layer in the HitFilm compositing process

3- Using HitFilm Visual Effects in iClone scenes

HitFilm allows us to create a huge variety of visual effects, so we can easily enhance our shots, adapting them to the needs of our scripts.

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HitFilm comes with a lot of predefined effects, but you can create your own presets and store them. The combinations are virtually endless

 

In this way, we can do the same with iClone renders. Our sequences will look much more realistic using the particle and camera effects generated by HitFilm in addition to the ones generated by iClone.

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HitFilm visual effects definitely improve iClone animations. iClone and HitFilm particle effects can be combined in order to achieve spectacular results

The atmospheric and light effects provided by HitFilm, add a special touch to our scenes making them much more attractive and spectacular.

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Visual effects like the motion blur, light flares or the volumetric lights completely change the aspect of iClone renders

4- Compositing with iClone Videos

Using HitFilm, we can create high-quality compositing sequences combining real footage and iClone renders.The 3D animated models can be placed over the real footage in iClone, adjusting the lights and the camera view. After hiding the background, we can render the scene as a png sequence that can be placed in a HitFilm layer and modified to obtain very convincing results.

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The PNG sequences rendered in iClone provide the best quality. The 32-bit images include an alpha channel that makes them very easy to be composed in HitFilm, without further keying operations

 

We can render our iClone scene in different layers too, choosing the visible elements of the iClone project for each of the renders, depending on their depth level. These layers provided by iClone can be mixed with the visual effects layers created on HitFilm, allowing us to obtain very sophisticated sequences.

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There is no limit in HitFilm to the number of masked layers that can be used to create a scene. Final grade layers allow you to apply the final effects that are common to all the layers below

5: Adding Cinematic Styles to iClone videos

And there is even more, HitFilm also can provide interesting effects, altering the color and the light conditions of the scenes created with iClone. In this way, we can give a personal touch to our productions with a defined, original look and feel.

 

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Using HitFilm, the sequences rendered in iClone can simulate different film styles. Changing or removing their color, and adding scratches, grain, jittering and other grungy effects

 

Color grading allows us to get different cinematic looks in our shots, simulating film standards or adding artistic ambient effects to our iClone productions.

 

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Manipulations in the color and the luminance, provide dramatic changes in your shots. Once again, HitFilm comes with several presets that you can apply by just clicking and dragging, but you can create your own styles and store them for future use

 

By combining iClone and HitFilm, we can achieve more than remarkable results, but most important, these applications are affordable and really easy to learn. They provide intuitive and user-friendly interfaces that boost our performance, and don’t require expensive hardware like “render farms“.

 

About the Author

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A software programmer who also used to work with design and 3D software. Now writing graphic novels and making animated series with iClone.

 

 

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