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Content

Can Cartoon Animation Be Performed By Live Humans?

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This article is featured on Cartoon Brew.

Animation production as we know it — the type practiced by Hollywood studios — is a laborious process. But with the help of the latest animation technology from Character Creator 4 and iClone 8, a good performer can now create professional-quality animation in a fraction of the time, thanks to real-time animation.

A good example comes from Enoc Burgos, the Director of Partnership Marketing at Reallusion, who was invited by the art team to test out the new character setup for the upcoming Character Creator 4. His spontaneous performance ended up getting more than 400,000 views on his personal LinkedIn account, with more than 17,000 likes and 500 shares.

Read on to understand the workflow behind creating and animating a coyote character using Character Creator 4 and iClone 8.

Step 1: Set up characters the way a concept artist usually does


The process starts with a character expression sheet for style setup.

Step 2: Streamline process to customize facial expressions

A base character in Character Creator supports 70-plus facial expression templates and 100-plus custom templates. Users can choose to customize partial blendshapes or replace all blendshapes at once.

Character Creator 4 includes a GoZ function that lets the user send a character to ZBrush to sculpt expressions in an intuitive and efficient way. To present iconic expressions for this coyote, a total of 114 blendshapes were customized.

Once sculpted, users can update the results to Character Creator 4 by filling in the target expressions into the expression templates.

Step 3: Test perform using face key / puppet

To review the results, animators can use the Face Key editor in Character Creator 4, or send the character to iClone 8 to test facial animations with the Face Puppet tool.

Step 4: Live perform using iPhone

iClone 8 is compatible with several mocap devices, including an iPhone as the character blendshapes have already been one-to-one mapped to the iPhone ARKit signals for precise results.

In this particular case, a Reallusion artist converted a basic-rigged coyote, purchased from Sketchfab, into a mocap performance-ready character. This greatly simplified process proves to be at least five times faster than any custom facial rig, which usually requires a team of artists with different skill sets for modeling, rigging, animation, and more.  

The Character Creator 4 Work in Progress video highlights the complete process from characterizing any character rig by mapping bones to a HIK system, to customizing the facial rig. This makes characters fully compatible with iClone for lip-syncing, facial/body animation, and ActorCore mocap animations to save time in production.

Try It Out For Yourself

Character Creator 4 and iClone 8 are scheduled to be launched in the spring of 2022. Artists who haven’t had the chance to use Character Creator and iClone before can try then now: 30-day trials are available for Character Creator 3 and iClone 7 with over 1,000 ready-made content assets (click links for more information).

Reallusion provides free upgrade offers and combo specials for Character Creator 4 and iClone 8. See the 3D Character Creation & Animation webpage for more information.

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