Monster Workshop tutorial videos

Video tutorials for the new iClone 5 Monster Workshop…

1. Monster Workshop Tutorial – Intro to Avatar Toolkit UI & Basic Assembly (15 minutes):

You need the Avatar Toolkit to animate the Puppet Parts, but it appears (at 7:54 in the video) that this is included in the Monster Workshop Kit.

2. Monster Workshop Tutorial – Facial Animation Fundamentals:

Avatar Toolkit: Monster Workshop – released

iClone 5‘s new Avatar Toolkit: Monster Workshop has arrived on the main Content Store. Includes a bunch of Spore-like creature components, to swop and mix at the whim of your inner Mad Scientist, to build a unique monster for animation.

Puppeteering of your Monster Workshop creatures requires the iClone Avatar Toolkit plugin, a plugin that controls all the unconventional monster-ish bits of the creatures (like fins, spikes, tails, horns etc). Although I’m unclear if the Avatar Toolkit is actually included in Monster Workshop? The Avatar Toolkit isn’t named in the “What’s included:” bit of the Monster Workshop specs page. And yet the Reallusion store currently says… “Avatar Toolkit is coming”. Confusing. But then… I guess it would seem rather odd to release the Monster Workshop, if it requires a plugin that hasn’t yet been released? It seems, judging from an official tutorial video, that the Avatar Toolkit control panel is included.

There are also three Monster Motion expansion packs (currently $60), containing 130 monster motions.

Element 3D for After Effects – new realtime plugin

Very interesting new $150 real-time plugin for Adobe After Effects CS6, called Element 3D. And no, it seems that it’s not the usual dubious claim of “I got two grainy frames per second, and I’m calling it real-time”.

3D Artist magazine reports…

“At first we couldn’t believe we were rotating over 100k polygon models, with 4k textures on them, in real time, and they were still looking amazing […] incredibly good results”

The software uses an OpenGL render engine (I’m not sure which version — the DAZ Studio viewport still uses the ancient 1.6), and has light presets, 20 shaders, multi-pass rendering in a dropdown menu, and a particle system. That all looks very tasty for a mere $150, especially for video and motion graphics people who find it scary once 3D goes beyond “3D spinning logos”.

Drawbacks seem to be that, unlike iClone, it isn’t optimised for complex or long scenes. Nor does it seem to be set up in any way for character animation. Plus, from what I remember of using After Effects back in the day, rendering the final video at full resolution is likely to take a lot longer than iClone.

Another drawback is that there’s no FBX import, which may limit your ability to speedily access 3D models from a big DAZ/Poser content library. Import is currently just plain old OBJ (with all the inevitable hassles arising from external textures) and Cinema 4D import.

For pro video makers who need a little 3D with some level of ease-of-use, it sounds like many people might be better off with Keyshot 3 ($900), rather than After Effects + Element 3D (around $850 all told). Since the simplicity of Keyshot 3 (learn it in one day) would save you months in having to wrestle with learning After Effects. You’d also get a better quality of render (not real-time, admittedly, but very fast). But if you already have and know After Effects, then Element 3D sounds like a very interesting realtime plugin, and one that can hopefully only get even better as it moves to version 2.0.

Carnivorous plant for iClone

3dFoin’s Elongata is now available for iClone for $19 (with animations), at 3Dfoin.

I’d love to see Foin tackling a full set of the original H.P. Lovecraft monsters (Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Old Ones, Shoggoths, Azathoth, Mi-Go, Ghouls, Night Gaunts, etc) sometime, since they’re now all in the public domain. I’m sure they’d sell, especially at Halloween.

3DXchange 5 Pro Pipeline – tutorial videos

A new roster of tutorial videos for 3DXchange 5’s Pro Pipeline version:

* Applying Motions from iClone to Characters in Daz Studio

* Importing iClone Content to Unity 3D

* Applying Motions from iClone to 3DS Max CS Biped Characters

* Importing iClone Standard Characters to Maya

* Export of a BVH Motion From iClone to DAZ Studio 4

Leap Motion

Does the Kinect have competition, for low-cost motion capture? Recently the Leap Motion device

“has sent shudders of delight through gadget lovers and computer designers alike by promising a new kind of ultra-accurate, and very cheap, optical 3D tracking for your desktop or laptop computer. Forget the Kinect, Leap Motion is cheaper ($70), more precise (down to 0.01 mm), and much smaller (think “pack of gum” proportions).”