New version of 3DXchange coming

An official snippet from the forums…

“A new version of 3DXchange is in the pipeline but there is no news on pricing or a release date as yet”

Interesting. I wonder what will be added to justify a major “new number” upgrade? Surely not support for DAZ morphs, although now that DAZ have their new Genesis range one wonders if they might allow it for the old stuff? Support for auto-conversion of game-industry texture types, like .dds, would be welcome. Robust polygon reduction inside 3DXchange would be cool. Basic mesh shaping tools, like Argile but inside 3DXchange? A semi-random “animation remix, and apply” button?

My guess would also be that (once iClone 5 and 3DXchange 5 are out the way) there will be a version 2 of CrazyTalk Animator out in early 2012, possibly even with some of the physics ported over from iClone 5?

Addons for addons!

Motion Pack 2 for CrazyTalk Animator gets a new $20 addon, Motion Profiles Communication, releaased today. It seems to be a sort of “animation body morph”…

“There are over 10 sliders that can be adjusted such as; short/long stride, hip/torso motion strengths, body bend forward/backward, and arm swaying.”

…and it expands the range of CTA’s new Motion Library Vol.2. Both together are currently on offer at $40 through a bundle offer.

Looks like a bit of a rush release (“Band forward”?) — I wonder if it’s the product of an early attempt to port the IK slider code from iClone 5 to CTA — but it could be useful.

iClone 5 : release-date, price, pre-release offers

iClone 5, officially announced.

* We have a release date! Sept 2011! (As I always predicted, hem, hem…). There was talk of a big long summer/autumn beta test, but it now seems Reallusion is just going to “go for it” in a few weeks time and then knock any rough edges off later. That seems fine to me, if it means we get it in Sept instead of just before Christmas.

* We also have a price. It’s going to be $99 for the Pro upgrade, for registered users of version 4. (As I had suggested, hem, hem…). eBay some junk now, and you could have the price in your PayPal account by Sept, effectively making it “free”.

* Anyone who buys iClone 4 Pro from now on will get a free upgrade to version 5 Pro (this doesn’t seem to apply to the Standard version, but I guess it may apply to those who buy Standard from now on, then upgrade to Pro before September?).

But there’s also a tempting offer. Buy $200 of any $ content at the official Store (not including the core software, but including CrazyTalk Animator stuff and DA points for the Marketplace) before the middle of Sept, and you’ll get iClone 5 free. So if you’ve always yearned for a particular set of expensive packs, now might be a good time to purchase them. For existing iClone 4 Pro users they would effectively be half-price, in terms of the money you’d be saving.

I must say, though, that the first look at the ‘toon shading effect’ preview is very disappointing, looking like just a standard Photoshop “trace edges” filter which isn’t going to wow anyone who knows about graphics. I really hope these can be adjusted and blended together so that we can get away from that bog-standard “trace edges” look.

The Kinect feature will be an extra $99 plugin, which suits me fine, for now. There might be a time when I go for it + the Kinect kit required, but I don’t need it for now.

Other cool news, the Human IK Motion Editing is the same as that found in Autodesk’s Motionbuilder — Reallusion licenced it. Awesome!

From the forums: suggestions that iClone 5 will ship with new G5 type avatars, but also official confirmation that: “Older avatars and content will still be able to be used in iClone5”.

Source engine SDK is now free

The Source videogame engine is now free with its software development kit (SDK). The download, docs, and tutorials are here.

Source is one of the ‘big beast’ videogame engines, along with Unreal Engine 3 (free in beta) and CryEngine 3 (due next month, free), and Unity 3.

Source is, apparently, not a perfect game engine for modding and level creation. Also, I’m told that those just starting out with making game levels could look at easier on-ramps. For instance, Bethesda’s tasty new engine will also effectively have an SDK when Elder Scrolls: Skyrim comes out with the full-blown Construction Kit editor in November. And Bethesda’s existing Construction Kit for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion gives you the opportunity to learn the tool now, and with an immense and long-standing modding community to support you. There are also older games, such as Far Cry 2 that has an absolutely superb and intuitive free level editor, plus there’s also an excellent book on how to use that editor.

The Source decision was apparently taken because, with the Source games Team Fortress 2 and Alien Swarm now being free, access to the Source SDK could be had for free that way. They’ve now released the SDK in a way that doesn’t require you to download one of the free games.

“The Source Software Development Kit (SDK), for those of you who’ve never clicked the Tools tab in Steam, contains everything you’d need to make a mod, except for personal ambition. It has everything from the infamous Valve Hammer Editor to Face Posers and Model Viewers”

It’s generally great to see game engines opening up in this way. But I guess you also probably need to read the small-print on the licences for all these engines and kits, re: making a major machinima film with them. You apparently also need beefy gaming PCs to run these ‘big beast’ SDKs along with their adjunct third-party dev tools. With iClone you wouldn’t need to worry about such things or see /shudder/ code.

  [ Hat-tip for the news: Tom Jantol ]

DAZ Studio ‘free’ to stop being free, will charge $50

This month’s 3D World magazine has some news from DAZ that I’ve not seen elsewhere. The current DAZ Studio we’re all used to being free… is to stop being free. They’re going to charge $50 for it. Get your free version now, while it’s still free.

There’s still going to be a “sort-of” free version, but one that will be much more limited than at present. My guess is that the new three-tier structure: DAZ Baby Walker free, DAZ Studio $50, and Daz Studio Advanced, will be put in place when they release DAZ Studio 4 Advanced.

I wonder if iClone4 SE will be more widely available, when iClone 5 is out, as a potent “on-ramp”. And if it will perhaps then attract some of the people who would previously have gone for the free DAZ Studio?

The Power of Open

The Power of Open. It’s a new free brochure-book that collects capsule case-studies of creative people who have benefitted from Open works and Creative Commons licences.

A terrible choice of font for the website and body copy (it’s the open source Goudy Bookletter 1911 which really doesn’t work for the Web and is only really pleasantly readable at 300% magnification), but The Power of Open looks like an interesting read — it’s free online as a PDF.

CGSociety Moving Innovation contest

Still two days left to enter the CGSociety’s Moving Innovation contest with the potential to win a share of a $15k prizes pot or get a cool Nvidia graphics card…

“explore your vision of the future of moving innovation. The challenge is to create stunning product designs for [portable] devices integrated in our daily lives. Make it artistic and awe-inspiring, but make it something we can all aspire to in the decade to come. Not sci-fi, just amazingly creative.

Show how your device integrates with the daily human experience in a revolutionary – yet realistic, attainable – way, delivering groundbreaking new thinking on performing everyday tasks.”

Images have to by exactly 2560 x 1600 pixels, landscape .jpg. Deadline: 18th July 2011!