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The Easy Way to Create a Populated Park Scene


Learn how to generate an animated pedestrian scene using ActorCore, iClone & Omniverse

Pekka Varis is a cinematographer, 3D animator from Finland and the official NVIDIA Omniverse Ambassador.  He is also the CEO of an Omniverse-based startup called Cineshare.

In this tutorial, Pekka Varis shares his ways of enlivening large-scale exterior settings by filling a 3D park with animated people using iClone and Omniverse Machinima with ActorCore 3D characters and mocap animations.

3D-Ready Content on ActorCore Asset Store

Hi, my name is Pekka. I started this journey with Brownstone City (a free asset from Omniverse), then I actively browsed the ActorCore website to download all kinds of character and motion packs to fill a busy commonplace street with kids, workers, police officers, and citizens.

The ActorCore asset store is the secret to my success with 3D works. I find the motion library super inspirational and useful for all sorts of projects and genres like fantasy, commercials, and even dramas! I begin by building my storyboards based on stock motions, then I fine-tune them if needed. In addition, the provided lightweight content for 3D people and mocap animations are extremely important⁠—even more so because they come fully rigged from head to toe!

ActorCore interactive 3D people for crowds usage.

Import to iClone for Animation

After selectively exporting the crude street geometry of Brownstone City from Omniverse to iClone in FBX format, I deployed all the 3D characters and dropped their idle motions, then applied some paired motions, e.g., people having a conversation.

The Digital Souls content pack is crafted to meet real-world needs, especially for jack-of-all-trades like myself, or what I like to call “modern-day Da Vincis” who don’t have the ample time to manually animate facial expressions. Digital Souls has distilled the process down to simple drag-and-drops! I can easily apply believable facial animations to all digital actors with subtle and natural facial performances that can truly engage the audience.

The Pedestrian Actions content pack is ideal for populating any 3D scene with busy streets that call for a variety of natural, autonomous background characters. With fourteen walking styles and eleven idle poses, Pedestrian Actions is a genius concept and I had fun directing all the city people around the park.

Pedestrian Actions used inside iClone.

Walking Around with Motion Director

With idle motions setting the mood and the city as the staging area, I began to direct all the pedestrians while making sure they don’t cross paths and crash into one another. The entire process was a game-like experience for me and, in the end, I had over fifty animated people walking about. 

Using alt+click in Motion Director gave me all I needed to move characters around—a method that I applied one by one to every pedestrian until the streets were roused with activity. I enjoyed building the look and feel of my city which resembled a hodgepodge of ‘80s fashion mixed with present-day aesthetics. Finally, exporting the scene in USD format from iClone took a bit of time, so naturally, I fetched another cup of tea.

Using Motion Director to navigate characters in the scene.

Prop & Camera Movements inside Omniverse

In Omniverse Machinima, I animated my camera and added free props found in NVIDIA’s massive asset store. Following the path of the camera, I focused on decorating parts of the street that needed some extra characters to keep the entire scene reasonably light. As a finishing step, I added flowing water and rendered everything in Path Traced mode which gave the movie the final touch that I wanted.

Decorating the scene with props inside Omniverse.

Best 3D Content and Tools for Crowd Simulation

I have been making videos all my life starting from twelve years old—back in the days of Commodore 64. Lights, camerawork, and timing are my strongest skills, but now with tools like iClone and Omniverse Machinima, I can perform miracles!

In a nutshell, the combination of iClone and Omniverse offers a powerful, fast, and intuitive way to create large-scale outdoor renders. Combining characters, natural motions from ActorCore’s asset store, and content from Pedestrian Actions is a powerful way to “colorize” and customize your cityscapes.

For free ActorCore 3D characters and mocap animations, visit here.

For a free trial version of iClone , visit here

For more info about Pekka Varis and Cineshare, visit here.

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