Hot pussy

I’ve found the free beta version of Piazzo‘s lovely KloneKat housecat (30Mb, .zip file) for iClone. It’s a very fine-looking cat. And it’s animated.

  [ Update 10th July 2011: Piazzo revamped his website this week. It seems like Pussy was taken to the great litter tray in the sky. If I find a new link I’ll add it here. ]

It’s 66,000 polys. Piazzo has included basic but purrfectly-acceptable “walk” and “run” iMotion files. The cat is fully posable and animatable, via iClone’s Motion Edit option. It includes realistic moveable whiskers and ears, and an articulated tail (the tail apparently has a spring in it, but I haven’t got quite that far with it yet). The bone structure seems to offer the possibility of moving eyes, opening jaw etc, but I can’t seem to grab onto anything other than the head in Motion Edit. It seems a user would need to add an additional jaw prop, and attach new eye spheres over the old ones, for more facial expressiveness.

If you’ve made any good animations for this free cat, please share them via adding a comment on this post. A sitting position would be especially welcome.

To install:

* Put the cat iAvatar in: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Reallusion\Custom\iClone 4 Custom\Character\

* Put the two drag & drop motion files in: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Reallusion\Custom\iClone 4 Custom\Motion\

You may want to create new “KloneKat” directories on each of these paths.

New textures can be made by clicking on the cat to activate it, then scrolling down the right-hand panel in iClone until you get to “Material & Texture Settings”. Now click on the “Launch” button to load the diffuse texture map in Photoshop. From there you can see how the cat’s map works, start changing the colours, etc.

However… I delved down down into my Poser runtime directories — …/Runtime/Texture/DAZ/Animals/MilCat — and I can vouch that all the DAZ Millennium Cat‘s textures packs will fit this iClone kittee puurfectly and without any alteration being needed. Just make sure you’re loading the textures into the pzr-fx_Fur material, and not into the eye textures or suchlike. There are several places online to find free texture maps for the DAZ Millenium Cat — Lyne’s Travis, Punkin and Clancy textures look like good free options (registration required).

[ Hat-tip: Creative Commons background photo by S. A. Young ]

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“Breast Size Tool – 100% done”

MakeHuman is a new free open-source tool for making bone-rigged 3D characters. The paint is still wet, and it’s only a version 1.0 alpha4 with basic functionality…

“This is not a full-function release and, most notably, does not provide functionality to allow the figure to be posed. It does include examples of all of the different tools and techniques that this software will provide to enable you to easily model the anatomy of a human figure, although some of these functions are not yet complete and are not necessarily in their final form. This release also provides the 3D graphics community and the developer community with a preview of the functions that this human modelling application will provide.”

Still, they have a large team assembled, and a steadily-progressing roadmap, and it looks like they can pull it off. The goal is that…

“Using MakeHuman, a photo-realistic character can be modelled in less than 2 minutes”

The exported MakeHuman character seems to have a fairly open usage agreement. As far as I can make out, you can sell characters you make with this. But you’d have to include the source files along with the pack. You would own copyright on your character (if distinctive enough), but someone could use your character’s source-file as the starting point to develop a new character. Presumably your buyers couldn’t use your textures, hair, morphs, distinctive look etc.

You’re also free to use the character models in commercial movies, online worlds, or games. Online worlds or games would presumably need to have a Sporepedia-like function enabling download of any other player’s character. Assuming MakeHuman remains relatively dummies-friendly, or someone can fork it be so, then MakeHuman is going to remove a lot of the pro-am users from the Evolver / DigiMe user base.

It certainly seems easy enough to use. The only bugbear appears to be the export options. Or should I say, the single and only export-for-masochists option…

“exports a [ Lightwave .obj ] also exports a .bvh file … that can be imported on Blender to build a skeleton.”

So I’d question the point of making it so easy-to-use and newbie friendly, if they’re going to then throw the poor newbies out into the bear-pit of Blender armed only with a .obj and .bvh file? Why? Still, I guess someone will write a converter to help get a character into the OpenCollada .dae format.

MakeHuman looks like it’s really intended to be an independent standalone module of Blender. And it seems as though the developers could have a really-functioning beta as early as the mid/late summer, which would sit nicely alongside the probable release date of Blender 2.5. One to watch.

The next version of Blender is apparently also set to add rag-doll physics.

Cartoon Brew festival

The heavyweight Cartoon Brew blog has announced an inaugural student animation festival. If you’re chosen it seems they actually give you money (hurrah!) — so make sure your movie is wholly built with royalty-free content…

“We want to give the spotlight to student shorts of the highest caliber — the most original, the most thought-provoking, the ones that make us laugh out loud, the most emotionally engaging. Screenings will begin on Brew TV in May, one new film a week for up to eight weeks, depending on the number of submissions that are accepted. Here are the rules: Obviously, it must be a student film. Films cannot be posted online anywhere before their premiere on Cartoon Brew TV. Only works completed after 1st March 2009 will be considered. Submission deadline is 30th April 2010. To submit, please email a private link of your film to studentfest (at) cartoonbrew (dot) com (for example, a password-protected Vimeo page or on personal web-space). This is NOT a contest; every film that we choose to present will be compensated with the same fee that we pay all filmmakers who participate in Brew TV.”

Talking of royalty-free, with the advent of popVideo 2 I guess that film-makers should have actors sign a standard model-release form. Especially if they’re intending to enter competitions and cash-prize festivals.

Jimmy Toon does Lowbrow

Jason Brown in the official iClone forum has showcased a radical new re-textured look for the Jimmy Toon character…

Note that the eyes blink, so the face can presumably still be animated. Press Esc on your keyboard, to stop the animation.