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.



Free retro-style Disney short, in deliciously misty CG black-and-white…

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…




Noah and the Empty Ark

Dreeko’s new Noah and the Empty Ark, made with Muvizu…


New Muvizu tutorial

Importing transparent props into Muvizu…


Eyebrow raising

Dreeko’s dog explains how to add animated eyebrows to Muvizu characters, for basic facial expressions…


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, 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’s Flash preview player has.



Small W Studio’s new black-and-white iClone short, “The Audition”…


Chinese Riverside Town

Unusual new Classical Chinese Riverside Town pack for iClone, currently available for $69.95 on the Reallusion marketplace…



iClone in winter

This seems very appropriate for the UK today, as the snow is falling heavily. Warlord’s new demo iClone5 video of “Winter in a European city”…


Crayon Creatures

Crayon Creatures, a new “kids’ drawings to 3D” service. Since they make the 3D model to create the shape, why not also give the kid the 3D file along with the physical model, auto-rigged for basic animation?



Water village freebie

A new iClone 5 freebie. A new water-village on stilts, made by Daniel74 in just 64k polys and released on Blendswap. Converted by me for iClone 5, and packed as a project file.


Download here.


The Price

Christopher Salmon’s full animatic of the film he hopes to make, of Neil Gaiman’s short cat story “The Price”…


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.


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…



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


Diablo-icly good!

Lovely demo of a $70 top-down environment assets pack for the free Unity game development software, for a Diablo / Titan Quest -like videogame environment. Worth seeing just for the art direction…

You can, of course, now bring iClone characters into Unity via a robust pipeline…