Fundamental

Taiwan — home of iClone’s dedicated code-writers — has a new International Student Design Competition

“This year’s theme is ‘Fundamental’ — at root a word associated with quiet exertion, calm reflection, and the concept of growth from the earth. […] The contest is open to students currently enrolled at senior high school level or above. Participants must also have been born after 22nd May 1984, and be younger than 26 year old.”

“There are three categories: Product Design , Visual Design , and Digital Animation”

First prize: US $12,000. There is no registration fee. Registration deadline: 22nd May 2010. Submission deadline: 8th June 2010.

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Stills and APEs

Those who haven’t heard the Wolf & Dulci radio shows for a while might like to check out the two most recent download shows (19th & 26th of April 2010) — each show had a fab snippet of useful “pre-release info” about two new upcoming add-ons to the Reallusion sci-fi competition, which will be available to the community via the Reallusion blog and Wolf & Dulci. New special “unofficial” categories, extra prizes!

Wired for speed

Gaming consoles may be nasty loathsome closed-platform things, but they certainly do have nice comfy controller pads. My keyboard gaming skills, built up over 15 years, were finally defeated by Ubisoft’s lazy so-called “PC conversion” of Assassin’s Creed II. So I gave in to the dark side — and picked up an £18 Xbox 360 Wired Controller for Windows

All of a sudden, the game is actually playable. The pad runs fine on Windows 7, and games auto-detect and use it if the official drivers are running. Hurrah!

Team Fortress for iClone

All the Team Fortress characters, freely available in .max format, and ready to load up in 3DS Max…

I tested one of the characters, saved it from Max as an .fbx, and then successfully opened it with textures intact using 3Dxchange 4 Pro. Very low poly, and it even seemed to have a couple of animations embedded…

I’m not a fan of the game, so I didn’t take the conversion any further. But someone else might want to convert them all for iClone, and with correctly segmented and named Perform animations attached. The texture resolution could probably also be increased, and detail added.

Even if you don’t want the characters, there are some cool low-poly guns and accessories. For non-profit fan-movies only, of course.

DepicT! – 90 second film competition

Can you do it in 90 seconds? DepicT! is a super-short filmmaking competition that…

“challenges filmmakers on any budget from anywhere in the world to create tiny gems of under 90 seconds — distinctive, imaginative and engaging.”

Deadline: 6th September 2010. DepicT! is run by the Encounters International Film Festival, which is held at the Bristol Watershed arts centre in the UK.

Metropia

In a dreary Kafkaesque grey world, a little guy uncovers the plans of an evil mega-corporation … vast global conspiracy … /yawn/. The story is by all accounts nothing to write home about, but the unusual method of animation used in Metropia is getting some attention…

It seems it was made in Photoshop and After Effects, using alpha-channel cut-outs for scenery and for devising complex layered characters…

“A typical Metropia character contains over 80 [2D] layers that can be animated and controlled”

Quite an achievement. But, considering the method, I guess it’s not a surprise that it took six years to make.

LuxRender

A free external high-quality renderer for your Blender…

LuxRender [makes] realistic images of photographic quality. LuxRender is free software – both for personal and commercial use […] The program runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. […] LuxRender is an external rendering program and relies on exporter scripts that export a scene from a 3d modelling program […] The primary exporter is LuxBlend, which tightly integrates LuxRender with Blender.”

The only (major) drawback…

“tends to take longer than other rendering approaches”

Another free alternative is YafaRay. There may be others, I didn’t look too hard.

The pictures these ray-tracing engines make certainly lovely, and they’re nice to have at the “free” price-point, and all that — but after iClone, can anyone go back to three-day renders to get a few seconds of animation?

Crow with animations

I just noticed 3D Bud has a new $14 animated and rigged low-poly crow for 3DS Max. I know several people were wanting the free Blender raven recently, so this might be the next best thing.

It comes in a 3DS Max (2009) .max version, and has animations. So it can (with a bit of luck) be pipelined into iClone via .fbx and 3DXchange 4 Pro, with animations intact.

Also other animals, including a $9 cat (the walk-cycle looks rather mechanical and heavy, but you could probably refine it in iClone’s Motion Editor), a snake, scorpion, butterfly, pig, rat, bat, dog, camel and alligator. The really cool animals (unicorn, tiger, Tyrannosaurus Rex) are at a more normal 3D model cost, at $29 each.

New Media Writing Prize

The Poole Literary Festival in the UK has an open New Media Writing Prize

“the UK’s first major prize for new media writing … Poole Literary Festival have partnered with The Media School at Bournemouth University to establish the Prize, which will allow writers working with New Media to showcase their skills, provoke discussion and raise awareness of new media writing and the future of the written word. The competition is now open for entries. The deadline for entries is noon [UK time] on 15th September 2010. Show us that new media can do things ‘old’ media can’t!”

[ Hat-tip: Andy Campbell ]

CrazyBump

CrazyBump is a fairly easy-to-use application for taking a standard tiling 3D texture photo, and quickly make extra versions of it to slot into the special texture boxes in iClone. The idea is to make textures look more convincing. My output in three minutes, from my tiling bricks texture…

The textures it outputs slot in here in iClone…

However the naming conventions on the CrazyBump output files seem confusingly different from iClone. Here’s now they seem to translate into iClone usage…

CrazyBump “Diffuse / COLOR” = iClone “Diffuse”

CrazyBump “Specularity / SPEC” = iClone “Specular”

CrazyBump “Normal / NRM” = iClone “Bump”

CrazyBump “Displacement / DISP” = iClone (??)

CrazyBump “Occlusion / OCC” = iClone (??)

Anyway, there’s a 30-day trial. Video introduction to using CrazyBump…

Schalit video

You may have seen in the news that Hamas terrorists have released a nasty little propaganda animation, taunting the father of a hostage they hold. I took a quick look at it, with much distaste, and can confirm it wasn’t made in iClone. I’d say it was made using one the big dogs of the 3D world, perhaps Maya.