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Italian Film Director chooses iClone and Faceware mocap to lightspeed Pre-Production of My Beast Friend film


Utmost Creatives Film from Philippines is making a magical and unique film titled MY BEAST FRIEND, by combining animation with live actors through a story of friendship and acceptance between a boy and a beast named ‘HUG’.

In their film, they are using iClone and it’s Motion LIVE motion capture technology with Faceware Realtime for iClone, to animate and render their CG protagonists in order to cut down on production time and meet their movie deadline. 

Mario Gatdula Alaman is the founder of Utmost Creatives publishing, a company based in the Philippines that provides full-service publishing. In October 2017, they opened a new division dedicated to the production and post-production of full length films, commercials, visual effects and CGI 3D animation service.

MY BEAST FRIEND is a concept created by Paolo Bertola in 2015, and currently produced by Utmost Creatives. It is the story of JIMJIM, a Filipino boy who lives on a farm in the province and one day casually meets a creature named HUG, that comes from a parallel dimension.

Paolo Bertola, is an Italian film director, with over 25 credits in different movies, who specializes in visual effects design and CGI film animation for 30 years. Paolo, along with Mario Alaman and Angela O. Epit, wrote the screenplay for My BEAST FRIEND.

For the creation of MY BEAST FRIEND, says Paolo Bertola — “I wanted to experiment with different solutions regarding 3D animation and rendering. Obviously for now, we cannot do without some of the most popular 3D modelling software, but with regard to rigging, animation and rendering; the market provides a wide range of valid programs.

In the past I have worked with many software not commonly used for film productions such as Poser Pro and Daz3D Studio, obtaining excellent results. But –

“When I tried Reallusion’s software, in particular iClone and 3DXchange, I immediately understood that I was using something very different and powerful.” – Paolo Bertola / CG Filmmaker

So I instructed Stephen Schlobohm, the head of the 3D department of Utmost Creatives and the 3D artists of my team, to study iClone 7 and 3DXchange, to test the software and push it to the limits, so as to understand how far we can technically arrive and how to insert iClone into the our post production pipeline.

“The results of the tests were extraordinary and actually we are now using iClone 7, 3DXchange and the new Motion LIVE platform for 90% of the CGI visual effects of MY BEAST FRIEND.”

Stephen Schlobohm – Head of 3D Department

Stephen Schlobohm is the Head of the 3D department at Utmost Creatives, and they used Reallusion’s tools for character rigging, facial expressions, lips synch, full body animations and final rendering in 4K.

Stephen says: “To make a simple example, I can say that the iClone rendering, used in the right way, reduces rendering time by a factor of ten (10x), rendering in 1 minute what usually would take other software 10 minutes. This, in productive terms, is a great help if we consider that renderings often have defects or problems that require us to render several times. But the power of Reallusion’s software is mainly in the tools dedicated to animation both facial and full body. “

“The iClone Motion LIVE platform is really impressive, and very intuitive. I don’t know of any other software suite that can compare.” –
Stephen Schlobohm / Head of 3D department

With the use of iClone’s 3DXchange the team at Utmost Creatives, were able to use their favourite modelling tools like ZBrush for sculpting, texturing and blend shapes allowing lots of customization in their character expressions and workflow.

Character Modelling in ZBrush

The team also used Autodesk’s Maya for character rigging, since all characters and their blend shapes, can then be imported into iClone by first converting them through 3DXchange.

Character Rigging in Maya
Character conversion in 3DXchange

After more than 5 months of preparation and study of Reallusion tools, the team unleash more of iClone’s capabilities with the iClone Motion LIVE mocap platform, which allowed them to quickly generate their animations in one pipeline ecosystem. Saving them lots of time, money and efforts with tools that are 100% compatible.

The iClone Motion LIVE universal plug-in helped them create believable expressions by simultaneously capturing body and face motions with Faceware Realtime for iClone, allowing them to create more natural animations in one-go, rather than having to perform facial and body motions separately, and later having to sync them together.

iClone’s timeline editing features then allowed them to correct, and adjust animations through manual key framing in order to fit any specific mood of a scene. That way the facial motion capture data of an actor could further be enhanced to deliver quality facial animation output.

Finally, thanks to iClone’s fast rendering time, Utmost Creatives was able quickly assemble its scenes to later do post-production in After Effects for a polished final product.

My Beast Friend Release date: July 2019

In addition to MY BEAST FRIEND, Utmost Creatives Films are also planning three more films to be made in 2019, as they will continue to use Reallusion’s software as a strong reference point for their pipeline of post-production.

Learn more about the development of MY BEAST FRIEND, by following their Facebook page:

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