New Muvizu beta – now with fembot chests, fat girls, and furry costumes.

The new beta of Muvizu is out now, and available as a 478Mb download. For those who somehow haven’t heard of it, it’s a fab free 3D animation package built on the Unreal 3 game-engine. It needs a good gaming PC to run it.

The list of new features and fixes is here And yes, chaps — it now includes those all-important

“fembot accessories – chest objects” :-)

However, these might not be quite as exiting (or as bouncy) as in your fevered imaginations…

…and I couldn’t possibly suggest how you might combine them with the new fat girls and furry animal costumes.

There’s no mention of this beta being time-bombed or crippled and — since I blocked the net on install and first launch — I’d say it doesn’t even need to “phone home” when installing or launching. The 1280 x 720px movie export is still in there.

This is a most generous gift to the indie 3D animation community, and the Muvizu team are to be congratulated not only for the great product that Muvizu is shaping up to be — but also for not tying the beta up in things like closed registrations, DRM, time-bombing, claiming royalties rights on a creator’s film, and similar corporate foolishness. The only slight limitation is the small Muvizu logo in the bottom-left of the screen, and the limited range of video compression codecs (which hasn’t been expanded by the new beta).

The new pre-built “Jungle” set, showing the new spotlight feature…

It doesn’t look like there’s any “new beta features” tutorial videos online yet, and there’s still no PDF manual for any of the betas (I’ll write one, if they want to pay me) — but they do have one new set-building speedrun video on YouTube today, made with the new beta. It shows off some of the new lighting capabilities and the new sports car…

Lord Good’s Large Teutonic Fortress

I’ve converted Lord Good’s “Large Teutonic Fortress” for iClone, bringing it down to only 86,000 faces. I’ve retextured for a little more grunge too: grunged down the wall texture a little to try to take some of the “nearly new” shine off it; used a variety of open source Ryzom textures on it including the walkways; given it an attached ground plane. If the ground plane forgets its tiling setting for some reason, then set its tiling to 15.0 / 15.0. The main stone wall texture looks great when the camera is near, but it “moires” badly in distant views.

Download here (13Mb, .zip file)

Click the picture for a larger version.

Mattes

Don’t have the artistic skills to “matte paint” the backgrounds for your film? Do it the easy way and composite Creative Commons pictures and your own renders (or game screenshots, if you’re not bothering about the “royalty free” thing). Animator Cathy yesterday showed an excellent Evil Castle example made from just three pictures…

A couple of Photoshop tips for compositing:

* Choose images that are photographed “head-on” and have similar contrast. Or try to select pictures with much the same angles. As you can see above, both the castle and rock are seen from about the same angle. Combining shots taken from different angles usually ends up as a mess.

* The images will likely have different color-casts or tones. Auto color-matching of images rarely produces satisfactory results. Keep the parts of the picture on separate layers, and tweak the colors and brightness/contrast by eye.

* When you’re ready to “cut it out” from the original image, a right-click on the selection you’ve made (i.e.: inside “the marching ants”) is your friend. Select “Refine Selection” first, and shrink the selection in just a little — three or four pixels perhaps, sometimes more. Then after that, “Feather” the selection by one or two pixels depending on your image size. You’ll get a less harsh-edged blend between elements that way, and there will be less unwanted fringing.

* Colour grade the whole image once you’re finished. Unless you’re a Photoshop expert, don’t expect to get a “natural look” in all the colours in all the elements you used.

And don’t forget that an iClone render of your main object (one of Lord Good’s excellent free castles, for instance), can first be lit and rotated against your other main element (the rock, for instance – seen above) and then a white background can be dropped in once you’re satisfied. The resulting render will make the extraction of the castle in Photoshop very simple, since there’ll be no fiddly background to have to cut it out from.

Or you could just hand-paint it all :-) Head on over to Animation Backgrounds if you want to see how the hand-painting pros do it. Actually, I’m wondering when the first color animation background-mattes will fall into the public domain? Not for another 20 years or so, I’d suspect. And in Disney’s case, probably never, since they’ll have the lawyers tangle them up somehow.