Paul McCree (aka Turjan Starstone) – 3D Animator

Paul McCree (aka Turjan Starstone)

Paul McCree (aka Turjan Starstone) has a somewhat eclectic creative background. At university he trained as a potter and glassblower, and he has also worked as a magazine cartoonist, a caricaturist, a pyrographer, a mold-maker and sculptor of metal and resin figurines, and most recently has branched out into the world of video-making and animation.

Prior to making the move to YouTube, the only video making he’d done was editing a cousin’s wedding video on VHS, and his animation experience was limited to one childhood attempt to make a plasticine figure walk across the screen using stop motion animation on an old Super 8 cine camera – so he was just as surprised as anyone when in 2017 he won a video making competition run by videogame developer Frontier Developments. Since then his “Turjan’s Travels” YouTube series has racked up over a quarter of a million views.

It was while making “Turjan’s Travels” that he was introduced to Character Creator and iClone by a couple of fellow videomakers, and immediately caught the digital animation bug. iClone is now at the heart of his creative workflow, serving as a way of bringing his ideas to life onscreen, as well as often also being the inspiration for those creative ideas in the first place.

” When introduced to Reallusion software I was immediately hooked – here was the exact toolset I needed to bring my characters to life onscreen! “

Paul McCree (aka Turjan Starstone) – 3D Animator

Q: Hello Paul! I mean… Turjan, and welcome to the Reallusion Feature Stories. Kindly tell us about yourself, Elite Dangerous and your adventure channel.

Hi there, thanks for inviting me! Online I’m known as Turjan Starstone, and I’m the creator of a YouTube series called “Turjan’s Travels”. It’s a whimsical story-based sci-fi series set in the galaxy of the online game Elite Dangerous.

The Elite series of computer games is one I’ve been a fan of since the first game appeared in 1984 on the good old BBC Model B. The latest installment in the series, Elite Dangerous, was released in 2014 and features a complete 1:1 scale galaxy for players to explore.

My Turjan’s Travels series is centred around the adventures (and misadventures!) of galactic explorer Commander Turjan, along with his temperamental twin sister Turjanna, three illegal artificial intelligences,  and an alien engineer who happens to look almost exactly like a giant potato.

When I set out to make Turjan’s Travels I had no idea of the complexity I’d be letting myself in for : basically I found myself making what amounted to mini-tv shows, complete with writing the scripts, then setting up, shooting and editing the video I needed along with learning how to work with audio, including music and special effects – as well as being the voice actor for a lot of the roles in the show (including female ones!). Thankfully my varied artistic background has caused me to become something of a creative jack of all trades, and that’s definitely proven quite handy in dealing with unexpected challenges along the way.

Q: You’ve been a big fan of iClone, Character Creator and the rest of the Reallusion software. What inclined you to use these tools in your channel?

The more Turjan’s Travels episodes I made, the more my characters developed and grew – but sadly I wasn’t able to show that extra depth onscreen. Basically, ingame footage of starships and disembodied voices just wasn’t enough for me any more – my cast needed to have a more physical presence that my viewers could connect with. Luckily for me at that time, two of my videomaking friends (Ascorbius and Mach1ne)  had already started experimenting with iClone in their own work, and when they introduced me to Reallusion’s software I was immediately hooked – here was the exact toolset I needed to bring my characters to life onscreen!

I am a little embarrassed to admit though that I’m the kind of creator who doesn’t tend to read instruction manuals, so I jumped right in to using Character Creator and iClone with a “What does this button do? And what happens when I move this slider?” mindset instead… but it’s served me well so far because both CC and iClone are quite user-friendly in that regard, so most of what I’ve learned has come from pure trial and error tinkering!

If I ever I do get totally stumped by something though, I’m not too worried – there a lot of great iClone users out there, and I can usually find the answer I need either in a tutorial video or from the helpful creators over at the Reallusion forum.

Q: Earlier in 2020, you made a comparison video on the old shaders for iClone. Later you reviewed the new SkinGen plugin for Character Creator 3. What are your thoughts on the evolution of these tools? And what benefits / advantages do you think they bring?

When I got CC2 and iClone in 2018, I thought the digital actors that I made with them were pretty amazing – but then when Headshot and Digital Human shaders arrived followed by SkinGen, I was simply blown away! The overall improvement in visual quality was just amazing, and that leap in realism is what inspired me to make my ‘before and after’ comparison videos. I was excited about the potential of the new content and wanted to share that enthusiasm with my viewers.

” Talking of which, a commenter on one of my recent videos said he thought for a moment that I’d actually started using live action actors – I can’t think of any higher praise for the new Headshot and SkinGen tools than that! “

Paul McCree (aka Turjan Starstone) – 3D Animator

As I said earlier, the reason I started using iClone was to give my characters a physical presence my viewers could connect with. Headshot and SkinGen have taken that presence a step further, making my characters seem ever more real as people the viewers can relate to. Also, as an added bonus, the new, more realistic avatars are forcing me to put more thought into how I light my scenes now. And learning how best to light my CC3+ avatars is a skill that will ultimately help me light other scenes better too, so that’s an extra win.

Q: Congratulations on reaching your 50th episode in Turjan’s Travels last year. Are there any special plans the community can look forward to in your Adventures?

Elite Dangerous is receiving a major update early in 2021 where players will at last be able to leave their spaceships and walk around on planet surfaces. For me this literally opens up a whole new horizon of potential storytelling opportunities!

I’m also planning to work on some video collaborations with my fellow Elite Dangerous iCloners Ascorbius and Mach1ne, as well as doing a lot more with the new SkinGen tools. Turjan’s Travels is a sci-fi series after all, and SkinGen is just the tool to create some amazing looking alien skin, so who knows what new creative paths that will lead to?

To follow more of Turjan’s Travels, visit:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TurjanStarstone

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/turjan

Donate: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=GY2GL5HBJ5CPW

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