Tom Jantol with CTA

Tom Jantol’s work using CrazyTalk Animator

CrazyTalk Contest – I am not there, I did not die. from Tom Jantol on Vimeo.

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Skyrim – first-person, completely removable interface

Good news for machinima people making fan-works. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (due 11th Nov 2011), the major game of 2011, will be very machinima friendly. Just released is news that the game…

“allows you to hide the user interface”.

You’ll be able to tone it down to a barely-visible 99% opacity if you want, or just make it vanish completely. Officially. Joy. Why don’t other developers offer sensible stuff like this? Even more sensible is that the primary camera is a first-person view, like all the other games in the series (Oblivion, Morrowind)…

“the primary camera angle for Skyrim is first person”

Although it works equally well in third-person, according to the independent hands-on-testers. The PC game will also ship on day one with a complete uncrippled Construction Kit editor, and will then have (quite literally) an army of modders working on it — so even if your character’s hands/weapons are not completely able to be taken off the screen, there’ll be a mod to make them invisible, and quickly. When Oblivion was released, I remember there were close to 1,000 mods made in the first week. We’re going to get a completely clear view of this massive ‘open world’ and the characters (which are vastly improved over Oblivion‘s unconvincing ‘pasty potato-head’ people).

Of course it won’t top Morrowind played with mods, nothing will. But I’m looking forward to it. Skyrim will be a Christmas game for me, even though it’ll be released in just six weeks. The snag is that they’re not releasing the major DLC add-on packs for the PC until 12th December (the Xbox 360 konsole kiddies get them first, little ***’s). By that time there will also be v.1.2 mods and hopefully a bugfix patch, all of which puts starting the game well into the middle of December for me. And I’m not a ‘blast through’ and ‘beat the game in 15 hours’ kind of player, so it’ll go on into the New Year.

Some gratuitous Skyrim screenshot droolware…

Such a pity that videogames still haven’t cracked “the hair problem” (above). Look how angular and polygonal its silhouette is.

iClone 4 content to iClone 5 content in ten minutes

Painlessly moving your iClone 4 content to iClone 5 in ten minutes:

Be warned that this is a “lock stock, and barrel” move, and means you can no longer use iClone 4! I also assume that your iClone 4 Custom folders are rationally organised and not a mess.

1. Copy and merge C:\Users\Public\Documents\Reallusion\Template\iClone 5 Template subfolders into C:\Users\Public\Documents\Reallusion\Template\iClone 4 Template. This should take about five minutes, if you tell your files management software to skip the copying of identical files.

2. Then create a backup .zip file of the iClone 5 Template folder and subfolders. This will take another five minutes. Then just delete the iClone 5 Template folder.

3. Rename the “iClone 4 Template” folder to “iClone 5 Template”.

4. Copy and merge C:\Users\Public\Documents\Reallusion\Custom\iClone 5 Custom subfolders into C:\Users\Public\Documents\Reallusion\Custom\iClone 4 Custom. This shouldn’t take long, as you’ve probably not made much custom content with iClone 5 yet.

5. Create a backup .zip file of the iClone 5 Custom folder and subfolders. Delete the iClone 5 Custom folder, and rename “iClone 4 Custom” to “iClone 5 Custom”. For those with large content libraries, you just saved yourself a four or five hour disk-grinding file-copy transfer.

If you want to use iClone 4 again, you have .zip backups of the original iClone 5 content folders and can just reverse the process.

iClone 5 cel-shading effect

I’ve been trying to get the best cel-shading effect on the new G5 Characters in iClone 5. Here they are in a simple “in the wild” render…

And this is the characters after applying some of the new real-time render effects, with recipe included. This works with old Trey as well, so it’s not dependent on the characters/props having special materials on them…

The hair is the big problem. We’re going to need special hair for this type of render. With no use of opacity (all polys) and a pre-“drawn” texture. The opacity used on eyelashes is also a problem, but one that’s not likely to noticed at 1280 x 720px once your video service’s compression has done its work.

Big 3000px version of the render…

You can do it in colour, as well — I just like B&W. B&W can also composite better, when blend modes / opacity is used to combine it with a filtered colour render in Photoshop. If you are planning to make comics with iClone, this is definitely an improvement on even the very best filtered sketch/toon-edges effect in Photoshop.

iClone 5 Pro + bonus packs downloading now.

Well, my iClone 5 Pro is downloading now. Many thanks to those who helped defray the cost with donations. The upgrade price for me was actually $118.98 after UK sales tax was added, at $1.50 to the UK pound. £80, basically. UK buyers should convert the online checkout price to dollars, or you’ll get bilked with a silly 1:1 conversion rate. Paying via PayPal is probably also a good idea, in case your credit company charges a fee for dollar conversions.

Slow download? While away the time with the latest Wolf & Dulci Hour iClone podcast radio shows

Toon Shading / Physics machines in iClone 5

Toon Shading preview video in iClone 5. Looking much better than the preview stills…

Be aware that the “toon shaded” version of the Gorf character is only available in the Kinect add-on pack. I’d presume that the mushrooms and acorns are also part of the same add-on pack. To get toon cel-shading of that clean quality seems to require specially-textured characters and props?

Making a cool Rube Goldberg (UK: Heath Robinson) machine with the iClone5 physics…

Now, how cool is it going to be to combine these? To have a video of a real ‘toon machine’ with real physics?

iClone5 video tutorials galore

A whole slew of new iClone 5 tutorials just landed on YouTube. Here’s the list, so you can search for them on YouTube or just look for them on the Reallusion channel sidebar…

Tutorials:

iClone5 Tutorial – Intro to Human IK

iClone5 Tutorial – Intro to Body Puppet Motion

iClone5 Tutorial – Intro to Lighting

iClone5 Tutorial – Intro to Physics

iClone5 Tutorial – Physics 101 Dynamic and Static Object Interaction

iClone5 Tutorial – Physics 201 Kinematic Object Interaction

iClone5 Tutorial – Intro to Camera

iClone5 Tutorial – Prop Puppet

iClone5 Tutorial – Object Movement and Manipulation

Tech Demo’s:

iClone5 Functional Demo – Rube Goldberg Machine

iClone5 Functional Demo – Indoor & Outdoor Stage

iClone5 Functional Demo – Toon Shader

iClone5 Functional Demo – Height Map Terrain

iClone5 Functional Demo – Post Effect

iClone5 Functional Demo – Rigid vs Soft Body

iClone5 Functional Demo – Rigid Body

iClone5 Functional Demo – Dynamic Sky System

iClone5 Functional Demo – Human IK & Reach Target

iClone5 Functional demo – Soft Cloth

Bonus goodies:

iClone5 Destructible Props Bonus (these are only in the Kinect add-on pack??)

Add-on module:

iClone5: Animate in Real-time with Microsoft’s Kinect Motion Capture

New Muvizu sets

New fan-made freebie sets on the Muvivu website. An open-plan office and a modern “big shed” warehouse, for your workplace skits. A gloomy Whitby Pier scene for your “stay-at-home British holiday” skits. A useful “Earth seen from orbit” scene. And a retro 1950s American diner. Some of these need the latest Muvizu to run.

Magix Music Maker 17 stops being wholly royalty-free

If you’re using the excellent Magix Music Maker to create movie soundtracks for your films, watch out with the lastest version 17. While versions up and including to 16 created music that was royalty-free, this is not the case with 17. For 17 you either need to purchase the $200 “Audio Pro Unlimited license” to create commercial music, or avoid using the new Soundpool 17 soundbank (i.e. the new samples content pack) that ships with 17. I assume this also goes for the forthcoming version 18 too. It’s difficult to believe that the company could be so dumb, as to throw away one of its biggest selling-points for the sake of a few extra bucks from a small pool of users.