Wolf & Dulcie’s 1yr show, live in a few hours

Don’t forget, Wolf & Dulcie‘s one-year anniversary show will be going out live in a few hours!

[ Hat-tip: Joana Braganca for the photo ]

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LunarCell

I was looking at Vue’s ability to make planets, and then I vaguely remembered some old 2D planet generator software I used years ago. I just found it again — Flaming Pear’s $59 LunarCell (planet generator) + Glitterado (star-field generator) plugin combo for Photoshop. If none of the thousands of free NASA and Space Observatory photos are suitable for your iClone sci-fi competition backdrops, this could be what you want to generate the perfect planet or starfield…

I’m guessing, but you could presumably do something like stick a really big detailed planet image on an iClone 2D plane in the background of the scene, then slowly draw it towards a spaceship as the spaceship remains static — thus giving the feel of a following camera during planetfall, but without actually having to set up any model animation or camera paths?

New official Vue 8 – 3DXchange tutorial

There’s a new official tutorial showing the “Vue to iClone” 3dXchange 4 pipeline. It’d be interesting to see what the very low-poly versions of Vue landscapes look like when they’re inside iClone — anyone have experience with this?

I’ve worked with Bryce in the distant past and Vue 8 seems a similar but much more powerful 3D natural landscape generator which can produce photo-real renders. It’s $400 (in the version which seems to have the best balance between affordability/functionality). Vue’s sales website proclaims an “Easy learning curve!” and Warlord certainly found it fairly easy to use

“Vue has the most intuitive 3D interface I’ve ever used, and that includes some expensive software like 3D Studio Max and Maya”

Just keep in mind that Vue is still a major quad-view 3D application, one which is used on many Hollywood films, and in its useful versions it’s going to take a while to learn it fully. It seems there’s good documentation and a large user community. But learning Vue may be overkill if one just wanted to make static screenshots of woodland scenes to use as high-quality iClone backgrounds. It’s true that Vue’s output can certainly look very pretty with the help of a few tutorials, or if you have the cash for pre-built scene packs. It also seems useful if everything in the movie needs to be royalty-free, or for portraying extreme environments (snow, extreme weather effects, alien planet-scapes) in movie backdrops. The $600 version can have wind blow the trees and grass about in animations. Animations that take, er… one hour per frame to render(!). So after a week of rendering, I’d have seven seconds and my CPU would probably have melted through my motherboard. No thanks.

For those who can’t afford $400, I’d suggest that building up a good set of FRAPS screenshots from a copy of the “open world” games Far Cry 2 (use the excellent Map Editor for HUD-free tropical woodland and forest) or the free TheHunter (in-game HUD-free deciduous woodland and forest) might be far simpler (and arguably much more enjoyable) — just as long as you don’t mind using non royalty-free game backdrops in your iClone movies. Both games, from the same machinima-friendly studio, have realistic weather-cycles and night-day cycles. In TheHunter, by equipping yourself with the camera you can get virtually all the interface elements off the screen…


My in-play screenshot from TheHunter.


Lake Sunset by Kenwas, on the official Vue website gallery.

I know which of these I’d choose as an iClone backdrop. And TheHunter one can be animated, by grabbing screen video from the game via FRAPS. Because it runs at 40 frames per second, not one frame per hour. If only Avalanche realised it, they own not only a hunting game but a fledgling real-time Vue-killer.

Of course Vue can also render luscious photo-real architectural backdrops from pre-built sets. It can even import rigged characters. But then so can the free DAZ Studio or Poser — and either of these seems arguably a more useful application to learn, in terms of having the ability to green-screen animated characters for use in iClone via popVideo Converter 2. And don’t forget there are plenty of free photos of real places which have Creative Commons licences.

However, there is one final point in Vue’s favour. Judging by the Reallusion tutorial, it has an interesting plant-model generator module as part of it, which can export models to standard formats. If it’s better that the well-respected $20 Plant Life or not, I can’t say.