trueSpace 7

This might be useful to have. The powerful 3D modelling application trueSpace 7 has become free since I last heard of it. It appears to have gone free in late 2008, after Microsoft purchased the Caligari company and acquired a full-blown $600 3D application along with it…

“This is the full 3D authoring package with no time restrictions and no license restrictions on how you use it”

I think the idea is that trueSpace is, to Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, what Sketchup is to Google Earth. Sadly they’re not actively developing it. But the community is continuing with unofficial patches (scroll right down to the bottom of the page).

Oooh, shiny… version 7 does real-time rendering…

It has a variety of free plugins (although no direct .fbx export for the range of characters that it ships with, that I can find) including a rather useful-looking collision-detecting flocking. Also look-at-camera billboards.

There appears to be no .dae or .fbx support.

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Free 3D dance-ware from Japan

Not that I want to unleash even more 3D dance videos on the world, but… I discovered recently that the Japanese have a complete real-time cel-shaded animation program. It’s devoted purely to producing anime-style dance videos. It’s free, and seems to be iClone’s “Jam Band” pack on steroids and with better cloth and hair physics. What’s interesting is that MikuMikuDance makes it seem easy to do good-looking real-time cel shading, which holds out hope that such a feature could be in iClone 5.

There’s an English version and English tutorials. A Japanese-language ‘PMD Editor’ model editor. And plenty of MikuMikuDance users videos on YouTube.

Fans are currently beavering away on SourceForge to convert MikuMikuDance to the XNA platform (Microsoft’s game-making format). Which presumably means that the characters might be coming to a format where they could be converted to .fbx files and thus be available in iClone? At present MikuMikuDance uses the .pmd format, which even the listing for PolyTrans doesn’t include.

Talking of Japanese free cel-shading software, there’s also the as-yet untranslated CelsView which seems to be Mac-only.

DigiMi

DAZ is now DAZ 3D-Gizmoz. Yes, DAZ merged recently with another company — which anyone who’s followed sister-software Poser‘s convoluted ownership history will know is probably a bad sign for the software. The new combo company has just launched a consumer-friendly 3D avatar-creation website called Gizmoz DigiMi (beta).

It seems to be very much in the same mould as the recently-launched iClone-Evolver partnership and website. It looks like it’s aiming at users of 3D social worlds, and may also possibly be of use to indie game developers. Although at present there are very few real technical details on DigiMi, even on the developer pages. And no forum-chatter that Google has yet picked up. It seems a fair guess that the avatars will load into the free DAZ Studio (which now seems to be also going by the name of “Super Avatar Studio”?), and (I’m guessing here) possibly also into DAZ Carrara? If they do load into Carrara Pro, then the characters presumably become .fbx exportable without needing the $99 DAZ Studio .fbx plugin. Or users may just get an .fbx download as the end-product of the website itself. However, it does seems that a “developer licence” is needed for distribution of characters made with DigiMi, so it seems unlikely we’ll be able to pump them through 3DXchange and then give them away to fellow iClone users.