New York Times on the Chinese animation underground

The New York Times covers the dangerous politics of making back-bedroom online animations in China: “Where an Internet Joke Is Not Just a Joke“…

“With a few clicks, he sent “Crack Sunflower Seeds” into cyberspace, posting it onto China’s top video Web sites. In just a few hours, a million or more netizens watched the animation online. Then the video began disappearing from Chinese Web sites one by one…”

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3D Animation Software Market 2010-2014

A new October 2011 report on the global 3D animation software market is out now. It would no doubt make fascinating reading, but sadly it’s one of those humungously expensive ($0000s) market reports aimed at big TV / film / game / software company CEOs, and so I’m not sure how much notice it takes (if any) of the hobbyist and pro-am market. It’s titled Global 3D Animation Software Market 2010-2014 and is by the TechNavio report-publishing arm of Infiniti Research Ltd. Anyway…

“TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Global 3D Animation Software market to grow at a [Compound Annual Growth Rate] of 17.4 percent over the period 2010–2014. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is increasing adoption of 3D animation in the entertainment industry. The Global 3D Animation Software market has also been witnessing the increasing adoption of hybrid animations. However, availability of open source software could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.”

Wider adoption of 3D animation can only be good for the lower end of the market, since iClone users get the cutting-edge tech in mass-market sub-$500 form about two years after Hollywood has moved on to the next shiny bauble. The big software the report offers case studies on are: Autodesk (3DS Max, Maya, Softimage, etc); Electric Image (EIAS); Maxon (Cinema 4D); Side Effects (Houdini, noted for its particle FX), so the report may be pointed toward the broadcast and film end of the 3D animation market, where the big money is. The open source software they mention is presumably the maturing but still-unfinished Blender, which is free. I don’t see much other open source ‘big beast’ software out there. Oh wait, of course… Pony World! Yup, definitely a beast.

New DAZ Studio to iClone 5 tutorial

A new tutorial from BlueMidget. DAZ Studio -> 3DXChange 4 Pro -> iClone 5, while retaining DAZ Genesis character morphs. It appears that Genesis characters, unlike earlier DAZ characters, don’t have their morphs junked at the 3DXchange stage.

This is very interesting news, especially if if works on all Genesis morphs and not just on the standard pre-canned ones, and if one can get DAZ clothing in as well. I’d imagine the “frilly n’ floaty” stuff might not transfer well, but the figure-hugging body-suits and armour types of outfit might convert nicely.

Here’s BlueMidget’s final morphed DAZ Genesis figure, animated with embedded Perform animations, in iClone…

For reducing the polygons and excluding parts of a DAZ figure before export see here.

Warlord’s iClone book is released!

Warlord’s iClone book is out now from Packt! Many thanks to Warlord for making this for us. The final product weighs in at a whopping 500 pages and is titled iClone 4.31 3D Animation [ Table-of-contents PDF here ]. It’s £27.99 in the UK for a print copy, but is a more pleasing £15.63 for the Kindle ebook edition. Nice to see a publisher that knows that ebooks should actually be significantly cheaper than a print copy! If Packt want to send me a free Kindle copy, I’d be happy to review it here and on Amazon UK and USA (I have accounts on both).

How to get DAZ Genesis figures to Poser

The DAZ Studio guys appear to be genuinely fixing the ‘Genesis figures to Poser’ gripes that many Poser users have been expressing. Here’s their new tutorial on porting DAZ Genesis figures such as Victoria 5 to Poser (only the latest versions of Poser). It seems quite clear and simple…

DAZ forum officials also say that… “All download versions of DAZ Studio will have access to the CR2 Exporter.” and that “The CR2 exporter will be built in to all download versions of DAZ Studio… not a[n additional] purchase.”

For those thinking this could be a pipeline by which to ‘bake in’ morphs and thus get morph-retained DAZ figures to iClone, think again. Last time I looked, Poser didn’t allow export of its figures as FBX files.

Victoria 5 released for DAZ Studio

Victoria 5 for DAZ Studio is available to buy now, although only on sale to the DAZ Platinum club members until 31st October 2011 — after which V5 is presumably on sale to all comers.

“Victoria 5 works natively in DAZ Studio and can be exported via FBX and Collada to other 3D tools such as Maya, Max, Poser, Zbrush, and more.”

She’s the flagship Genesis character, so it will be interesting to see if the Genesis morphs that shape her — and her zillion-and-one variants — are passed to iClone in FBX exports. With the old V4, the shaping morphs had all been junked by the time the model was in 3DXchange 4 Pro, and no matter what fancy character you had all you always ended up with plain vanilla V4 in iClone.

I must say that DAZ’s offical V5 FAQ doesn’t shrink from quickly making what might seem to some to be an appeal to the dubious end of the virtual babes market…

“Interested in a new set of Young Teen females? Blend Victoria 5 with the Genesis Kid shape and create your own squad of high school cheerleaders.”

The Pro version of V5 comes with… “Geo-Grafted Genitalia”. Euew….

Endorphin drops price

NaturalMotion has dropped the price of its pro game-motion software Endorphin 2.7 from a humungous $10,000 to “just” $999. The offer is only open until 31st October 2011. If you want to try it out, they also have a free Learning Edition which is export-disabled.

Here are Mike Aparicio’s instructions for using Endorphin to create BVH iClone animations, copied from the Endophin message boards…

1. Start Endorphin

2. Delete default character

3. Create a new character using the character template “EyesJapan” located at:

C:\Program Files\NaturalMotion\endorphin 2.5.2\Resources\Characters\Custom\

4. Apply and or import the motion you want to send to iClone.

5. Simulate it for its complete range.

6. Export BVH file Enabling Auto Motion Transfer, using the target reference:

C:\Program Files\NaturalMotion\endorphin 2.5.2\Resources\Characters\Custom\EyesJapan_ref.nm c

7. Now you are ready to open iClone Motion Converter 3.0 program.

8. Load in the just created BVH file.

9. Select the Default Profile. Launch the Profile Editor. In the Profile Editor ensure all items are set to 0 (Zero), except for Lfoot and Rfoot which SHOULD HAVE ROTATED THE X AXIS BY 60.

10. Hit the convert button! Then Save and transfer the converted motion to iClone!

theBlu

theBlu — an entire ocean simulation available online. That is such a fab idea. We really need a good ocean sim. The best has so far been confined to the Wii ghetto (Endless Ocean) or to the naff ‘screensaver’ format. What’s nice about theBlu is that it’s a global open crowd-sourced project led by artists, software engineers at MIT, and CG animation experts around the world (that’s you!). The aim is to make a computer simulation of the entire ocean — habitats, ecosystems, marine species and more — that’s available online. Currently in beta. Sales of “premium” fish will raise money for ocean preservation charities.

Your body, the iClone camera

Jason1968 is going wild with the Kinect mo-cap tracking in iClone 5. Fit a camera to your character’s head, and a lamp to the hand, and it seems like you have a good set-up for a live-controlled “jittery” horror-style camera and ‘flashlights in the dark’…

Stuckon3D apparently has a special pay-for video tutorial that adds camera damping to a similar setup (i.e.: ‘SteadyCam’).

Aurasama puts iClone into the real world

Aurasama is an interesting UK start-up, offering an ‘augmented reality’ (i.e.: hold your smartphone camera up an everyday scene, and an animation gets instantly superimposed on it via the screen) app for smartphones. It looks like they’re using CrazyTalk and iClone for the animations… I recognise that dinosaur (wasn’t that the dodgy Russian one that turned out to be pirated?), the Mr. Pose, and the Mona Lisa face must be using CrazyTalk. Interesting to see Reallusion’s content being used for ‘real-world’ stuff like this.

Of course, most shopping centres (malls) ban cameras and enforce their bans with pig-headed security-guards, so there’s not much hope of retail/shopping take-off for augmented reality outside of places like Japan. But for heritage centres and visitor attractions, galleries and museums, and upmarket kid-friendly hotels, I can see the potential. It could also bring outdoors and print magazine advertising to life. I really can’t see it ever being more than a niche thing, for tourism/heritage and augmented treasure-hunts. Creating and keeping the content fresh will simply be too expensive for mass deployment.

Hoodies ‘r us

Warlord shows iClone 5 users how to use a secret “Soft Body Advanced Settings” panel in the new iClone, for attaching soft-cloth to the head and dealing with cloth collision around the shoulder area. Example use: The Halloween character of Death, and his cape and hood.

For mo-cap users, Warlord also has a new video tutorial on making a complex mix of Kinect mocap, puppetry, and MixMove motions.