Hi my name is Alvin Snerling, and I live in St. Louis MO. I have been using iClone for about a year and a few months now. I also use MotionBuilder and sometimes Blender to make animations effects
I refer to myself more as a Machinima artist than an animator, and I am working on my next project which currently I don’t have a name for, but it is going to be a tribute to Monty Oum who inspired me. Just be on the lookout for it when it drops!
Q: Hello there Alvin, its great to have you as feature story here. Please tell us a little about your work and your background.
Well, I will start with my background as a comic-book enthusiast as I always wanted to draw comics. I came close but never had a book published. I later took a stab at 3D animation around 2003, starting with LightWave and Blender. I liked using Blender more so I stayed with the program and learned how to use it. Then around 2006 I had a copy of iClone 3, it was OK but at the time I was also messing around with Daz Studio.
After my trial ended with iClone, I started using Daz more. My first animation with Daz Studio was a naked tattooed girl running for no reason. I soon discovered Poser 7 and it was way better than Daz Studio. Then, along the way I picked up MotionBuilder and started learning it.
I eventually discovered iClone 5 in 2013, and that’s where things changed for me. I found a Reallusion video using a Genesis-1 figure that was talking and it looked very real and very good. So I went back to the Reallusion website did my research, and bought iClone 5 PRO, the 3DXchange 5 bundle and later the Pipeline. The first animation I did with iClone was a female sneaking into a lab and attacking a robot.
I did this animation a couple of days after I bought iClone 5. I then realized that substituting iClone for Poser in my pipeline actually worked, and that both my workflow and animations significantly improved as iClone gave me a platform with hardly any limitations.
The iClone software gives me versatility, consistency, and fast production every time I want to be creative. I can use it with the Autodesk Suite with no problems, and import my Daz characters easily and quickly. My pipeline is storyboarding in SketchBook Pro, and then character creation in Daz Studio.
After, I use MotionBuilder if necessary, to refine or create animations. I will then use 3DXchange and iClone for the rest. I will be receiving a Neuron Perception mocap device soon, hopefully sometime around October 2015 (fingers crossed). That device will really help me push iClone over the top and beyond.
Q: You won first prize in the Reallusion Game Character Animation Contest. What are you thoughts on the contest, and what were the secrets to you winning?
To be honest, originally I didn’t think I was going to win as I was up against some really incredible talent. Winning was not the goal, participating and gaining knowledge was, and making friends. I thought I was not as good as the veteran users, those guys before me are awesome.
Here is something nobody knew, I quit the contest 2 weeks before it ended. The reason was that I was stressed out about my father being sick and hospitalized and I did not know if he was going to make it. He finally recovered, and a week later he was fine but still in the ICU. When I finally returned home I had homework to catch-up on, so I turn on my computer monitor and there it was… my entry.
I looked at it and I was going to delete it, but for some reason I just started working on it again. I think I wanted to finish it because I wanted to have something good to tell my father next time I saw him. So with eight days to go I had to make it happen, I wanted to do this for me and my pop. So I was really shocked when I won because it was the furthest thing from my mind!
In my opinion, the contest itself made the talent come out, it pushed iClone users while gaining more users in the process. I believe the contest was also about the versatility that iClone had to offer to animators and game makers. I am glad the contest gave us an opportunity to include other software in the process of making our submissions.
I used MotionBuilder with iClone and it worked perfectly. I could have used 3ds Max, or Maya, but I didn’t. For years, some people constantly said that iClone was not a professional tool, but after this contest I think that these folks are now eating their words.
I don’t think that there was a secret for me winning. I just wanted to do an animation and learn in the process. Along the way I made videos of just about everything I did from beginning to end. It was like every time I did a scene I would make a video, and try to go as in-depth as I could. I could have done screen shots and typed a huge word salad to go with it but I didn’t. I was on a journey, and I wanted everyone to ride with me.
The day after the contest, I woke up and saw the videos of who won the contest. I saw Best Animation winner, I was in awe. I had to watch it twice just to be sure! Me and my dog were happily jumping up and down on the bed! One of the things the judges said about my work, and I was surprised, was the way I did the videos. The judges also liked the use of MotionBuilder, and how polished my animations had come out.
They could not tell the difference between the blending of key-frames and the mocap I used. One thing they didn’t surprise me on was my passion for making animation. I love to animate. If there is a secret — it would be to not give up, don’t stop trying, and don’t give into trolls. Because your family and friends are behind you, and you can never be stopped!
Q: You mentioned that you have been using iClone for about a year, how did you learn about iClone and what is your opinion on the learning curve of the software? Are there any significant advantages when using iClone?
Yeah, so I bought iClone 5.5 PRO when it went on sale in March 2014 at the Daz Store. (yep I did not buy it at Reallusion Store) I bought it because I found the video of Victoria 5 talking and looking very realistic. For a long time I have been wanting for Poser and Daz to do right, and that’s why I changed to iClone. I thought it would take me months to learn it, but it really only took me a few days.
I know afterwards I had to be doing something right, because my work was showing up in the Reallusion iClone ads. By then I had been making animations with it for about 3 months and Reallusion had noticed my work already. So I felt really good about it and told my friends, but they were all like “what-ever”.
But, I really didn’t care because I was happy! The advantages of using iClone is the pipeline that let’s me work with other software to produce animations. For the contest I only used Daz, Photoshop, MotionBuilder, 3DXchange and iClone 6 . iClone is fast and easy to learn, and there is a lot of material out there to get you started; material on YouTube and on the forum boards
Q: In the contest, you titled your entry The Archive of Infinity. Please tell us more about this project.
The Archive of Infinity is about an intergalactic treasure hunter named Stella that is looking for the Archive. Stella cannot remember who she is from the time she was found as a child by a clan of space pirates. Raised and trained by space pirates she then left, and joined the Galactic Federation of planets.
Stella became a solider and later became aware of the Archive while serving in the Galactic corps. She finds the link between her origins, the Archive, and the artifact she was found with as a child. Afterwards she sets out to steal all the artifacts to recreate the Archive, making enemies with the Feds and pirates in the process. Now a fugitive and running from the bad guys, and the really-really bad guys, she has to make a decision and gain support from people who can’t trust her.
I started this project 1 year ago as a comic book submission to Lion-Forge comics. Lion-Forge had other plans for me, as I was drawing covers and pin-ups for them. I then said to myself; why I don’t I animate it? So I took a few pages and animated them. It looked good, but I was too busy with school at the moment so I stopped working on it.
I posted what I had done in the Reallusion forums as ‘red head assassin girl’. About three months later, the contest came up and I had some free time so I started working on it again. All I had were 36 seconds of animation, so I took those 36 seconds and made a 9 minute animation out of it.
So it is now post contest and I took my idea back to Lion-Forge, and now we are talking. I have a lot of things I want to do with this idea of mine. I am wanting to do a 30 min pilot, but I may have to go the route of crowdfunding to see that happen. The project as of now is being rewritten and tweaked. I am currently making new characters and animations for it so just watch out for when I am done.
Q: We are also curious to know more about your upcoming Monty Oum project. Could you share some details on what the community can look forward to from Mr. Snerling?
Ah yes! I am a big fan of Monty Oum’s work since I saw Haloid in 2007, and from then on I followed his work. It was him that gave me the inspiration to even want to be a film maker. He was like — “with a few resources and a laptop you too can be a film maker”.
That was 2010, I heard that from him and it stuck in my brain. He died a while back and I was kind of upset, 33 and gone just like that. I have been thinking about this for a while and what to do as a tribute to him. My first step is buying the Neuron motion capture set up. Next is hooking up with folks who can do martial arts, and who are also fans of Monty.
Then I had to make a decision – Poser or iClone? But you know that I am going to use the clone! I was thinking about using FF characters and D.O.A models. But I think I am just going to make original characters and animate them like he would have. NO! I will not use any RWBY characters because they are copyrighted. I am going to stay away from copyrighted stuff because I don’t want the drama. I am going to try to get as close as I can to making something he would have enjoyed if he were still here. So all I have to say is “just wait and see”.
To see more of Alvin’s work, visit >>
Game Characer Animation Contest: https://www.reallusion.com/iclone/event/2015-contest/prizes.html