Free, as in free.

I was thinking of the sheer wealth of free assets that iClone users have at the fingertips. These are just the main / high-quality resource libraries I can think of, with some numbers…

3.5 million 3D models on Google 3D Warehouse and another 12,000 high-quality models (largely modern furniture) at Archive 3D.

30,000 free tiling textures and decals at CG Textures.

Millions of Creative Commons photographs for use in backdrops, textures, or as photo-reference. Plus 6.5 million Creative Commons media files of all types on WikiMedia.

50 million ready-to-animate Spore creatures.

2,500 free motion capture files.

88,000 sound files on Freesound.

Fab free animation-friendly fonts (typefaces) on Blambot and many other font sites.

12,000 classic old radio dramas and serials (and their sound FX). All out-of-copyright before 1972, due to a legislative oversight in the USA.

About 4,000 audio-books at Librivox. Creative Commons. Of variable voice quality, but some are very well read.

What did I overlook?

Epic mountain castle – freebie

I made an Epic Mountain Castle scene (40Mb, .zip file), as a lighting learning exercise. It’s packed as a new free iClone project file, props and lighting preset. It’s all 3D except for the backdrop photo, and is open to a host of camera-angles and close-ups — but despite the mass of 3D buildings the scene still weighs in at around 120,000 polys.

Models from Google 3D Warehouse: “Carcassonne Tower” by LordGood; “Castle under Construction” by LordGood; “Lordly Manor” by LordGood; “Medieval City” by LordGood; and “The Gatehouse at Stokesay Castle, England” by Tom. The Creative Commons background photo is by Al Hikes.

LordGood is a student and his excellent collection of nearly 100 models is well worth examining. He specialises in keeping the polys as low as possible. Several of his buildings are “walkthrough” meaning the interiors are designed like videogame levels. His medieval German street could be a useful set for a shot of the interior streets of the Epic Mountain Castle…

He’s also up for commissions, you can contact him via the Google Warehouse ratings comments…

“Wish I could get a JOB with Sketchup tools, that would be awesome. And people could tell me what to make, buildings… castles are obviously my speciality.”

My lighting preset of the Epic Mountain Castle is not very good — I had to set it to extreme sunset because you need to shadow the ground to hide the tiling effect on the ground plane. This factor made everything else very difficult to get right. Otherwise the moire effect on the ground is very noticeable, because the camera is zoomed so far out. If you want to take the time to put down grass and trees (keep in mind that it’ll take a while, as you’re zoomed far out) then the bare patches could be covered. Or you might be able to cook up a low ground-fog atmosphere preset that would work. No point lights can be effectively used with such a huge vista, unless you’re planning to fly a camera in to a particular building.

Animpeeple

Animpeeple seemed at first glance to be a poor person’s Endorphin, enabling the easy addition of animations to 3D characters. It imports Second Life and Evolver characters, and allows you to add motion to them. Although without Endorphin’s complex rag-doll physics. It also imports Collada .dae characters. And it exports as .fbx (with a $50 plugin).

Could Animpeeple be a simple Spore to iClone pipeline, and one which would allow the easy addition of animations without needing Max or Maya. Sadly not. Unfortunately Animpeeple’s .dae import of Spore creatures is appallingly bad — with limbs flying everywhere, unreadable textures, and dislocated bones. Animpeeple does offer the ability to rename the name-tags it uses to find and import bones, but that’s not going to solve the other major problems. I also tried to import good .fbx conversions of Spore creatures made by both 3DS Max and Maya. These appeared to be about to work, but then nothing appeared in the stage viewport after clicking import.

Nor is Animpeeple a way to get a Second Life character into iClone, complete with some animations. Since…

“Linden Labs asked us to prevent the export of Second Life geometry from Animeeple”.

Animpeeple sounds like a good idea, but I can’t see how it would be useful unless you’re a cheap Second Lifer wanting to add a few free animations to your own character. Because Evolver users can now easily get characters into iClone, at which point thousands of free motion capture files can be applied…

Free destructible plugin for Max

Want to remake 2012 as an anymation? Unless you’re building pre-shattered props, then painstakingly re-assembling them — or can find suitable matching footage in a videogame — you’re going to need destructible physics for the “falling cities” scenes. The rather awkwardly-named Pulldownit! promises just that. It’s free as a plugin for either Max or Maya…

“The standard version is free to download, it is fully functional for dynamics and fracture, only some professional features are not present.”

“By using it digital artists are able to simulate the collapse of structures, such as buildings demolition, in minutes. Its easy setup and powerful stress tools allow for control of the creation of cracks, and [then the plugin] drives the simulation.”

Tutorials are here.