This Exquisite Forest

This Exquisite Forest is…

“an online collaborative art project, presented by the Tate [Modern gallery, London] and Google, which enables people to create short animations that grow from each other’s contributions. It can be accessed via a website and through a physical installation at Tate Modern.”

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.

Cypher Wolf’s new iClone content website and store

Impressive new iClone Store seller Cypher Wolf (not to be confused with the Wolf), has set up his own online website/blog/store, in which he points to a nice freebie he currently has on the store. It’s a semi-toon anime-style face for iClone, which at present is only available in the new store

This sort of small-eyes anime look is one of the areas where iClone and CrazyTalk Animator might seem to be lacking at present. Not for much longer in iClone, though, as Cypher Wolf’s website gives us a preview of his forthcoming pack of 10 anime heads…

“I present to you my latest head package, a pack of 10 anime style head for your iClone characters. […] fully compatible with facial animation and face puppeteering […] will also include 10 sets of eyes and 5 face makeups”.

There’s also news of his new Gothic style for Women pack — Cypher Wolf’s excellent male version of this expansion pack for the G3 New Look is already on sale on the official Reallusion store.

His new packs are currently discounted on his website store, until August 2011. PayPal accepted, but you have to go through the usual tedious ecommerce vendor account setup process.

An interesting animation blog

Todor Imreorov is undertaking a university animation degree and blogging about it, with much to say about learning the latest in mocap and compositing. His explaination of his 2D vector workflow (in Inkscape) may help some of those CrazyTalk Animator people who are wrestling with the deeply unintuitive nature of vector drawing for character/cartoon work. At the end he ponders some of the reasons why wizards with Photoshop or Painter shun drawing with vector software, despite the many obvious advantages of scalable compartmentalised drawings. Of course, if only we had a Photoshop plugin that smoothed out shaky hand-drawn curved lines the instant we drew them, just like vector software does… then I imagine we could just make really big Photoshop 5000px bitmap drawings and run them through vectorisation conversion utilities like Vector Magic.

3DTubeMe

3DTubeMe. Here’s the blurb…

“Create and share on the web amazing 3d models using your digital camera. Add a whole different dimension to your photographs. Just take several pictures of your favorite objects, people or places from different points of view from your digital camera and upload them to 3dtubeme.com. We will turn them into amazing digital 3D models that you can share with your family and friends.”

Interesting experiment, and apparently the pointclouds are denser than those in Microsoft’s Photosynth, but the models all appear to have horrible fringing artifacts that would make them unsuitable as 3D CG props.

YouTube Create

YouTube Create integrates three basic free animation tools into YouTube, using your existing account…

* GoAnimate is like a very basic CrazyTalk Animator, with some branded theme-packs and characters (none of which are currently available on the YouTube version). You can also record voice from the microphone, and import your own images (if you pay to upgrade to a ‘premium’ account). The best of the bunch, I’d say. Although for a mere $38, CrazyTalk Animator completely outclasses it and (once you consider all the apparently complex and fiddly ways GoAnimate entices you to spend money) is much better value.

* Xtranormal has what looks like 3D CG, although in a limited range of themes. There appears to be no way to actually see your rendered movie before you post it to YouTube (although you can preview it as a storyboard with sound). Audio appears to be limited to text-to-speech?

* The rather stupidly named Stupeflix is capped at 60 seconds in length, and is more of an animated greetings card / Powerpoint thing. Ugh.

Servers on these services may be slow, since about 50 millions kids are no doubt visiting right now.

i can haz doodles?

Meowdoodle, a new blog on designers/illustrators and their cat illustrations.

If you’d like to run up a few of your own, using iClone, there’s the free iClone Klone Cat. And I recently found two new textures for it…

1) A nice free Bobcat texture here for DAZ Studio from 2001, that still works and looks superb in DAZ. It’s actually on a rigged character model, but regrettably 3DXchange repeatedly chokes on the .fbx conversion. Still, the texture is quite nice, and it fits the free iClone Klone Cat perfectly.

2) The second texture is Lyne’s free Tabby Cat texture which again will fit the free iClone Klone Cat perfectly.

For both of these textures, just make sure you load the texture into the main skin (pzr-fx-fur), and not the eyes which are first on the Klone Cat’s skin/materials list. Don’t apply the bump map for the Bobcat texture, since that repeatedly crashes iClone for some unknown reason.

If you want a more stylised look, there’s the Content Paradise styled Halloween cat for $5.99, which you can export from DAZ as an .fbx with the Game Kit. And also for DAZ, the various Millennium Cats, of course.

Google Body

New from Google Labs… Google Body Browser, a sort of Google Earth for the human body. Based on Zygote models that can be real-time animated in a web browser, so I’d guess the quality of the model is probably about the same as Poser 4. Screengrabs might be useful if you wanted to compile a ‘body scan’ video sequence in iClone?

To remove the naff underwear, just type:

javascript:Oh.skin.drawGroups.pop()

…into your Chrome web browser’s address bar.