Hans Ter Horst
Hans Ter Horst is a Director, Cinematographer, and Visual Effects Generalist from Northern British Columbia, Canada. For around 10 years he has worked on a range of different film and TV productions in Mexico and Canada in different areas of production.
He is now focusing his skills on creating a Batman fan film all by himself, with the use of realtime software tools like iClone, Character Creator (CC), the SkinGen plugin for CC3, and the Live Link plugin to bring everything into Unreal Engine.
“I immediately downloaded CC3 and iClone 7 and I was amazed by the software and how it took me very little time to learn and create in minutes a game-ready character. That was my very first experience with Reallusion software and it was mind blowing!”Hans Ter Horst – Director, Cinematographer, Visual Effects Generalist
Q: Hello Hans, and welcome to the Reallusion Feature Stories! Kindly introduce yourself and tell us about your upcoming Batman fan film project.
My name is Hans Ter Horst and I’m a filmmaker from Northern British Columbia. Thank you for having me featured. I’ve always wanted to create a Batman ﬁlm, but I never thought it would be possible, well, not until now. Batman has been a very influential part of my childhood when I was growing up. Even up till now that I’m 34, I’d like to give something back to the new generations and old batman fans like me out there. So I’m attempting my own take on Batman and aiming to bring back some of the stories and underrated villains (Victor Zsasz ) from the old comics. Batman for me is an icon and I need to treat it as such. I want to see Batman back into investigating crimes and dealing with a lot of the madness that his enemies may bring upon him.
I’d love to do a large scale production in the future but first I want to make a short version of my vision and then try to push it as far as I can. I truly hope that I can inspire new filmmakers and animators to continue doing what they love to do especially in these hard and uncertain times while showing them that there are no limits on what they can create.
Q: Recently you have ventured into using realtime software like iClone and Character Creator. How did you discover these tools and what are the advantages over other traditional software?
I first discovered Character Creator (CC3) when I was learning game development and I needed custom characters for my games. I started looking for character creation software until I stumbled upon Reallusion’s website. I immediately downloaded the trials for CC3 and iClone 7 and I was amazed by the software and how it took me very little time to learn the UI and create in minutes a game-ready character. The best part was that with a single click I could export it into iClone and I found myself animating them without having any previous animation knowledge. That was my very first experience with Reallusion software and it was mind blowing!
With CC3 you are able to very easily create photorealistic, fully-rigged, and ready to use characters. There’s no need to model from scratch, rig them, or even paint them. All this saves you not only time but a lot of the headaches of learning a bunch of different software to do very specific things. Especially when you don’t come from a 3D background and you only need a character ready to either previsualize a scene, a concept or to immediately use inside a video game / animation.
With iClone you have a powerful modular animation tool that you can add features based on whatever your needs are. Do you need face motion capture? They got that covered with the LIVE FACE plugin.
Do you need Live Link for Unreal Engine? Well, there is the iClone Unreal Live Link plugin for you as well. It’s almost built for you to customize it to your own production needs.
“Overall, I love software that simply works and makes your creative life easier and nothing can beat that.”Hans Ter Horst – Director, Cinematographer, Visual Effects Generalist
Q: To create your animatable characters, you used Character Creator, Headshot and SkinGen. Typically what is your creation process like, and how long does it take to make a character?
Well, I start by looking for art references that I like or images of people that may have the facial features that may work out for my vision. I normally find myself using a combination of CC3 and ZBrush using the GOZ extension, but I found out a way which I enjoyed more which was simply mixing Headshot and the SkinGen plugins. I may end up using this workflow more for this and future projects.
I always say it really depends on the complexity of the character. Normally, it takes me from 1 to 3 hours. The last time I timed myself it took me around 40 minutes using only CC3, but I’m sure anyone can make simpler ones in less time than that.
Q: Your project will also be using the Unreal Engine, what would you say are the challenges for a filmmaker to make a film like yours?
I have to admit that creating a Batman film alone it’s not an easy task. However, digital technology in the last two decades has grown a lot, as it’s getting us closer and closer to accomplishing high-end looking digital human visuals; making it more inviting for creators from any background to make almost anything that their hearts desire.
I found that capturing face and body mocap has been the most challenging part for me, as even when there are a lot of options out there, very few really work well. And if they do, most of the time they need a lot of time to set up, require additional third party software, expensive subscriptions or workarounds for them to properly work. But luckily all my motion capture problems are 100% being solved with iClone as it just works! I’m able to mix face and body capture automatically and straight to my beloved characters without any retargeting or headaches as its just plug and play.
Q: Please let us know when we can look forward to seeing your final film, and if you will be creating any work in progress materials we can follow.
I hope the film will be completed within a year from now, but we will see how that unfolds. I will be posting my work in progress and update videos of the film on my YouTube channel, Instagram, and the Unreal Engine Virtual Production Facebook group which most of the time I hang out with other very talented creators.
Follow Hans on several channels:
Unreal Engine: Virtual Production: https://www.facebook.com/groups/virtualproduction