New Muvizu version out today – add toon shaders

A new version of the free real-time animation software Muvizu trots out of the gate today. Muvizu v0.19b is available for download now, and has fab new bits such as…

* multiple audio tracks

* toon shaders (!)

* the Morpheme animation system has been tweaked to improve animation blending

* characters “can now be customised with some visual effects”


New Douglas Adams animation competition

A new animation competition, with a science-fiction flavour…

“An international competition is inviting creatives to produce an animation that illustrates a rare and prophetic audio recording of British sci-fi author Douglas Adams talking in 1993 about the evolution of the book.”

* use part, or all, of the Douglas Adams recording to create an animation to complement the words.

* the winner of the competition will win an iPad 2 with Douglas Adams books

* the deadline for uploading entries is 15th April 2012.

Above: Douglas Adams, by Tom Fowler

TMOA University

TMU University

“is something we’ve been talking about for at least a year, year and a half. Think of it as online machinima classes. We’ll be running distance-learning software, and featuring workshop-based classes on both general filmmaking subjects (writing, editing, sound, etc.) and engine specific subjects (iClone, MovieStorm, the Movies, Second Life, etc.).”

New TMOA shows are also being mooted, along with the fab possibilities of TMOA radio plays using the wealth of voice-talent that hangs out there.

Windows 7 Kinect dated and priced

Just announced: The motion-sensing Kinect for your desktop Windows PC, which Microsoft says will be out in America and the UK from 1st February 2012. Price will be $249 U.S., and I guess that means it’ll sell at £199 in the UK. That’s quite a hefty price in a recession, especially considering hacked Windows drivers for using normal Xbox Kinects with a desktop PC have been around for ages.

But apparently there will be a new “near mode” with the official Windows Kinect kit, so it’ll work at a distance of around 20 inches. Possibly that’ll be new-model dependent, meaning the hacked drivers won’t be able to do “near mode”. At 20 inches maybe we’ll even see viable markerless facial animation capture (my guess), which would be very interesting for getting more natural-looking animation. Possibly we’ll also be able to do “virtual cameras”, which will also be useful since setting up nice smooth camera glides and turns is one of the things that’s still a real chore in iClone.

Reallusion is also set to release improvements to its Kinect interface add-on for iClone, at around the same time. They’ve specifically talked of better sensing for “elbows, heads and feet”. And I seem to remember that the recent iClone 5.1 upgrade also added a lot of new Kinect features.

  [ Hat-tip: CCliffy ]

Dragon leads character stampede for Reallusion

Kurzal has a super new Black Dragon ‘toon dragon’ character for CrazyTalk Animator, complete with excellent facial and body motions…

For some reason Kurzal’s items don’t show up in the “What’s New” on the CrazyTalk Marketplace. But if you type “Kurzal” into the search box, you’ll find his content. His Black Dragon is a steal at a mere 212 points. While you’re there, you’ll also see that Kurzal has three nice new “retro” 1950s-style versions of his office characters that would be fab for webcomics. I bought all of Kurzal’s new characters, and still had change from 900 points.

Reallusion is also in on the toon animals stampede, with the official Content Store now having $20-each ported versions of three DAZ Cartoon Universe characters, for iClone. They are non-standard characters and come with poses, not motions. They’re pretty good value compared to buying from DAZ and converting yourself. For instance, the Giraffe + poses pack would currently cost $32 on DAZ.

Meanwhile, over on the iClone Marketplace, the folks of the recent official Chuck & The Neighbours character pack are now available as individual characters — and these are bundled with their motions — for a reasonable 3,400 points each.