Avatar in iClone

Wolf (of podcast fame) has done a quick iClone 4 speed-test animation which reproduces an Avatar-like jungle environment and adds a walking vaguely Na’vi-like character. I thought Avatar was a bad movie on several levels, but certainly the effects were excellent. So it’s a tribute to iClone that it can rapidly approach the look of Pandora’s jungle without needing any post-production work — Wolf’s video is just a straight render. Avatar fans wanting to make their own fan-stories set on Pandora, stories which look reasonably good on the screen, should take a look at iClone 4.

I’d say he needs more foliage in the bottom tenth of the screen, though. There is some, but it looks a little empty down there and more is needed to hide the flat-looking ground texture. The ground-snake is nice but it could work better in silhouette on one of the trees. I know the low-poly iClone foliage can look rough in close-up but, if this shot was to be worked on more, what about applying an alpha-channelled foliage-image to a camera-facing billboard?

Artistic Innovation and Participatory Culture

A long report from The World’s Fair “Fair Use Day”, specifically the first discussion panel on “Artistic Innovation and Participatory Culture”. Which included Halo machinima series creator Chris Burke…

“Chris wants to make a living from ‘This Spartan Life’, but not yet. Game companies are supportive, but [it’s] tough to make a living, particularly in New York. Others are doing it, but [game] machinima out there is free because [creators] can’t pay legal fees. We’re in it for the long haul; he makes a living from audio.”

Free audio recording podcasts of each panel coming soon, hopefully.

Animation World’s top ten webtoons

Rick DeMott, director of content of Animation World magazine, rounds up 10 webtoons you need to see in 2010. Fine work, but why are none of the 10 made with iClone or machinima? There could be. There should be, given the power and ease-of-use of iClone 4. Breathe by Stephane Hamache could easily have been made using iClone, although not with the refined cel-shading…

Breathe is a lovely film but is unfortunately paired with a very banal bit of French pop music. It’s also available at her site as a 28Mb Mov file, along with a more recent blipvert in the same style.


iClone users are, of course, happily used to real-time rendering. So when you occasionally go to use an application such as 3DS Max, the lack of real-time viewing seems very noticeable. But this free set of Max shaders, easily applied, enables real-time rendering in the 3DS Max viewport.

Real-time Max viewport render, using the Xoliulshader shaders.

If you’re interested in Laurens’ shaders, you may also be interested in this short free tutorial on enabling real-time shadows in the Max viewport.

DIY filmmaking in the New York Times

The New York Times today, on the new wave of independent filmmaking. What with the new NYT paywalls and all, the article may not be free for long. So here are some choice quotes…

“The D.I.Y. world isn’t new, but what is novel is how filmmakers and other industry insiders are sharing their nuts-and-bolts experiences and blue-sky ideas both in person and online, creating a virtual infrastructure.”

“One of the most critical problems facing [bricks and mortar] art-house cinemas is what’s been deemed a ‘hair problem’ — meaning, an aging clientele that’s either gray or bald and whose declining numbers are worrisome to independent exhibition. […] Any future alternative film culture will depend on the cultivation of younger patrons who are used to receiving much if not all of their entertainment at home and on hand-held devices.”

“This year’s Sundance [film festival] was abuzz about entries that were available for rental on YouTube or through video-on-demand during the festival, as filmmakers try out new ways to make an impact. These small-screen efforts have met with skepticism even while reaping the expected publicity, because it’s unclear how they might affect a movie’s [commercial cinema] distribution [deal] chances post-festival.”

How DIY filmmaking used to be: wind-up clockwork cameras, 3 minute reels of 8mm film, and your editing-suite was dad’s old razor-blades and a beer-mat. Creative Commons photo by Joi