BBC developing a visuals engine for storylines

Interesting developments in automatic storyline visualisations. The experimental Mythology Engine was…

“a [BBC] prototype exploring new ways of telling stories on the web. It began as an experiment to bring storylines from Doctor Who to the web. Rather than create a basic page for each episode and character in Doctor Who, the Engine allow[ed] the storyline to be described using an ontology. This storyline can then be presented either in a linear way, mapped to the traditional TV structure of episodes and series, or [extracted] to let you examine a single story arc within a complex narrative, for example. This is particularly interesting when considering the time-travelling escapades of the Doctor. His stories can be viewed at in linear time, or as they are presented in an episode, for example. […] The team demonstrated this as a proof-of-concept by modelling some EastEnders stories and loading them into the Engine with a different visual treatment. There are many remaining challenges: how do you present cliff-hangers or uncompleted storylines without giving away the ending before broadcast, for example? Our colleague, Paul Rissen, investigated this in a follow up project called StoryBox [“which was essentially the next iteration of the Mythology Engine”, says Rissen].

Although someone must be pretty dumb not to be able to follow the plot of Doctor Who — and isn’t one of the pleasures of Doctor Who working out all those extra little fan-bits of who-what-where backstory, afterwards? But as a generative comic-strip software, it sounds interesting.

Another such early automatic story visualisation engine is StoryVisualizer from France.

3DXchange 5.4

Reallusion has announced the nearly-ready 3DXchange 5.4, which will include rigging for facial animation with lip-sync — and also support for animatable DAZ face morphs(!). Sounds fab, and although it’s still “in the testing phase” it should be available in the first quarter of 2013…

“With this new release, not only will we support facial bone animation from any head rig, but we will also support morph-based facial animations made in DAZ, ZBrush and other 3D sculpting tools. In addition, you will be able to create sophisticated morph + bone rig animations with great results.”

It’s my understanding that this was always going to be a free upgrade for existing 3DXchange 5 users?

Also, accompanying the announcement are previews of some fabulous looking new characters, from what seems to be a forthcoming “Big Game Hunter” set…

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croc

The Boy Who Shuddered, from the Brothers Grimm – free audio book

My 22 minute reading of the short tale “The Boy Who Shuddered” (aka “The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear”), from the famous 1812 book of folk tales transcribed by the Brothers Grimm. My abridged and adapted audio book version is now on Archive.org, under a Creative Commons licence. Feel free to use for animation etc. The downloadable MP3 has none of the slight crackle that the audio in Archive.org’s Flash preview player has.

Elite: Safe

I must say that I’ve rather gone off videogames in the last 12 months, other than the occasional bout of UT2004 and theHunter. A couple of games I might have wanted to play in 2012 were delayed (X: Rebirth, Grim Dawn). Perhaps it was the behemoth Skyrim which spoiled my taste for lesser games in 2012. I’ve tried a number of new titles, but I couldn’t even get into Risen 2 having been a rave fan of the excellent first Risen on the PC. And looking through the 2013 release schedule this week, nothing really grabs me.

But now… there’s awesome news for PC gaming, and something to very much look forward to in 2014. There’s going to be a modern Windows 7 version of Elite. Yup, with just 45 hours to go, the Kickstarter campaign for a remake of the famous Elite space-trading videogame has reached its crowd-funding target. The well-known British game designer David Braben has raised a whopping £1,277,927 (about $2m). He and his Cambridge based development team will now create a modern Windows version of Elite (effectively, the fabled Elite 4). Elite: Dangerous will be faithful to the original game, and be made free of the publisher interference and demands which crippled previous versions of Elite such as Elite: Frontier. Sadly, planetary landings are something that will be added only after release of the new version — but hopefully players of the first release will at least get seamless planetfall from orbit, even if they won’t be able to do more than skim the surface.

This fundraising success is also an early vindication of the choice to launch Kickstarter to the UK, which I understand was quietly helped along by top-level interest from the British government.

elitedangerous

There should a deal of opportunities for iClone Elite fan machinima, too, to tell the back-stories in the run-up to release and beyond. If you have £4,500, there are even two Kickstarter slots left to write and publish a royalties-free novel set in the Elite universe.

iClone 4 Pro for free

The UK’s 3D World magazine has a free download and licence for iClone 4 Pro, with its latest issue (Feb 2013), plus a tutorial pitching it as a pre-vis tool…

freeiclone4pro

previs

As usual, their picture-editor seems to have chosen the most unimpressive shots possible to illustrate the software.