Reallusion, a pioneer 3D / 2D software developer, has developed a partnership with Pingtung University in Taiwan to establish a real-time animation lab for young people – The Media Learning and Research Center for Youth. Reallusion supports Pingtung University 2D and 3D software to boost industry-academia cooperation. Pingtung University integrates innovative technologies from international 2D and 3D animation software to animate research projects, VFX, and previz courses that foster animation talents.
Pingtung University procures $75,000 in software to fully equip their labs and classrooms with iClone, Character Creator, Cartoon Animator, Motion Live mocap, and a massive library of assets to build characters and animation for animation, government projects, and research.
Besides training talents in the university, Reallusion is also supporting Pingtung University to create educational animation programs for elementary schools and senior high schools. With the help of this revolutionary technology, students can easily turn anecdotes into animation to promote the beauty of their hometowns. To encourage more talents, the county governments also hold animation contests to raise awareness of the importance of animation education.
Bringing a picture book to life – Malin Who Turns in A Stone
Huang Wen Ju, a professor at Pingtung University invites new immigrant women from Southeast Asia to write about their hometown tales, and then completes a picture book “Southeast Asian Bilingual Folktales Series”.
However, to fully convey the ideas of these folktales, students from the Department of Science Communication have a big ambition. They have decided to turn the storybook into animations while adding the voice of new immigrants to tell the stories with their dialects in the project. They started this ambitious animation project with 2D software – Cartoon Animator.
YU JIA HAO, the leader of the animation team, chose the Indonesian folktale “Malin Who Turns in A Stone” and made the script. The story talks about a seditious boy who did not want to accept a poor lady as his biological mother, which caused him to be cursed into a stone.
With a team of seven members, students completed the animation in one month. Animating images should have been time-consuming, but thanks to Cartoon Animator’s fast workflow, students were able to spend more time thinking about how to make the story more engaging rather than spending too much time in the animation process. On top of faster production, Cartoon Animator was also able to help with natural movements and good visual results. This really elevated the story and successfully showed the beauty of their tales.
Television Commercial Animations on a Budget: Ubik’s Story with Reallusion iClone.
In this story, Italian commercial production house UBIK shares how it applied real-time animation tools iClone, Motion LIVE, and 3DXchange to successfully overcome a challenging deadline within budget.
Formed in 1994, Ubik Visual Effects (UBIK) has developed projects for many reputable clients over 2 decades, including the Findus brand from Nomad Foods Ltd. UBIK brought their chameleon mascot Carletto (originally created by Jim Henson Studios) to life in a 3D animated version, helping Findus gain huge success throughout the country.
After seeing the initial results, Findus was convinced of the communication potential of using a 3D version of Carletto, and gave UBIK a tougher challenge: to complete a 5-episode web series featuring Carletto to celebrate 45 years of Sofficini products. The concept was to make Carletto the protagonist, rummaging around in the attic and coming across a photo album from the past.
The challenge: traditional pipeline can’t meet our deadline and budget
The challenge was to conceive and create a minute-and-a-half of 3D character animation in just two months, but all the while keeping the quality and artistic standard high – despite the episodes being intended only for web and social channels. Therefore, with a considerably lower budget than that of television commercial productions, UBIK was eager to find a solution that would help them complete the production. Being impossible both in terms of time and cost, producing the commercials with UBIK’s traditional 3D production software like Maya, was no more an option, and they started looking for an alternative production method.
Finding the right tools for motion capture & animation
Although UBIK had had some experience using motion capture in the past, it had always been for human animations and never for stylized characters. Following some in-depth research into online blogs and demos, UBIK’s team realized that of the many hardware and software options, it would utilize Noitom’s Perception Neuron Pro for motion capture, and Reallusion’s iClone for real-time animation. Before putting this real-time pipeline to the test, their key concern was transferring the model from Maya to iClone, and the complexity of facial and body rigs too.
Putting it to the test
UBIK began to carry out tests using a copy of the 3D model without optimisations. This helped them understand where to intervene in order to adapt the characteristics of the Carletto character to the technical needs of real-time software. The first animation test gave satisfying results, and from these, it was easy to understand how and where to intervene to correct the defects caused by overly complex models and rigs.
Then, after making all the necessary corrections, UBIK immediately moved on to the animations. These had to restore Carletto’s personality of typical funny and somewhat clumsy gestures, accentuated by the fact that the original character was a puppet. Both the client and the agency’s creative directors loved the first tests. So the production was immediately begun: the realisation of each 15 and 20 second episode with simple and complex features like lipsyncing, the addition of props, with accessories and clothes which took on average a full week’s work.
The tests brought extraordinary results when compared to the animation requirements of using Maya. Moreover, given the differences between Maya animations and iClone, combining the two was no sure-fire certainty.
Final results & feedback
In the end, the studio was pleased that both from a technical point of view, and considering the ease and versatility of the hardware and software used, the final results proved to be both highly effective and economical. Indeed the final results were so convincing that the clients decided to use the animations of the character for TV commercials.
Paolo Lato’s feedback: iClone and Motion LIVE is intuitive and a perfect fit for facial and body animation
“Carletto Sofficini is our first production with iClone and Perception Neuron Pro. We are satisfied with the results, and seeing real-time production as an alternative method for 3D animation projects. It did not take us too long to figure out how to animate Carletto in iClone, because the UI was pretty intuitive, and Motion LIVE did serve as a good platform for capturing both facial animation and body animation. We were able to find online tutorials if we needed help, and you can also turn to the Reallusion forum and learn from other users. It is good to know that now we have other ways to complete a production quicker without compromising the quality, while keeping our customers happy!’
Since the beginning of 2020, we were hoping to create an open platform for script and plugin development. Our goal was to invite new and advanced developers to create tools for sharing and pushing the boundaries of the iClone application. Therefore we’ve produced the iClone Python API, inspired by Maya’s Mel script and 3ds Max’s Maxscript.
The python project overview will be discussed in the following three sections:
How we started
Highlights of 2020
What to expect in 2021
How we started
The iClone Python API officially started production around June 4th, 2018, and was released six months later. It was a daunting endeavor that started from just an idea into a full-fledged working scripting language capable of automating most of iClone’s current innate features. This is evidenced by a comprehensive API covering a range of capabilities such as 3D math, scene elements, animation controls, motion capture, user interface, and much more.
We would also like to take this opportunity to mention some highlights of 2020 during the API’s development:
Python of the Month
Python of the Month was a monthly to bi-monthly event that featured a full-fledged free plugin along with five relevant mini-lessons to acclimate new scripters to the full potential of the iClone Python API. It started in June, 2019 and ended in March, 2020, wrapping up a series of tailor made exercises for all to learn from. These lessons are kept for posterity and will continue to be relevant for anybody who wants to get their feet wet in scripting. We’ve handpicked 2 API courses on the WIKI page, and please refer to our Developer WIKI for more details.
Notable plugins: Sprint Joints and Pose Manager
Spring Joints allows you to apply spring physics to designated bone and prop hierarchies in the scene. The spring effect is calculated using an algorithm that takes into account several physics elements such as stiffness, bounciness, and damping. See the Spring Joints Python API page for more information.
Pose Manager can be used to record a character’s pose for the current frame as snapshots. These pose snapshots can be edited, organized and saved as part of a Pose Library. See the Spring Joints Python API page for more information.
Teaming up with Reallusion
Adolf Navarro working with Reallusion on improving Smooth Camera Follow and Hand Gestures Puppeteering. The process was fruitful and made for a much better and user-friendly product. You can install and start using the much improved version of Smooth Camera Follow 2.0 and Hand Gestures Puppeteering 2.0 right now!
Stand out plugin: Motion Trigger
Our partner Digital Puppets took advantage of our available python scripts to create three fantastic tutorial videos. Taking Motion Trigger as a prime example: one can use hotkeys to quickly invoke custom motions. For anyone interested in getting familiar with the power of iClone scripting, watch this video now to experience the charm of working with this exemplary plugin.
Practical usage in indie filmmaking
Solomon Jagwe is an indie filmmaker who was looking for a specific camera solution for one of his productions. In response to his request, Reallusion advised him to download our free Smooth Camera Follow script to satisfy his directorial needs. Check out The-Any-Key’s Move that Camera plugin.
Old hand weighs in
BigBoss gave us some valuable insights during the API’s evolution. We are also grateful for providing another source of revenue for this established super developer, and he had some nice things to say about the API. Take a look at his Marketplace, and please check out the API documentation.
“I really like the Plugin interface. I found it very solid and quite extensive and powerful. Initially, I thought the documentation was a bit difficult to understand but after a few days, I figured it out and it is not bad at all !!!”
Most prolific developer: The-Any-Key
The-any-Key hit the ground running and submitted a whopping 17 plugins within a few weeks. We hope to see more from this talented developer, and recommend you to check out his Marketplace.
Reallusion’s Digital Human Contest launched in September 2020 with the aim of introducing game-changing solutions for character artists to add speed and creativity to 3D character creation. Within 2.5 months, there were more than 160 submissions across Realistic, Stylized and Animated characters categories. 35% of the entrants were new to Character Creator and successfully adopted it into their creation pipeline.
“We are elated by the number of new 3D artists excelling with Character Creator. Among the entries, concept artists, animators, game developers and 3D generalists presented characters with work-in-progress that demonstrated the excellent and diverse skills brought to the competition. We also learned a lot from them. We believe that real-time character creation is the future for artists to revolutionize the process of building quality characters with an efficient workflow and adaptable pipeline.”
– John Martin, VP, Product Marketing
The Digital Human Contest is hosted by Reallusion, and sponsored by industry leaders in character design, including Noitom, ArtStation, ZBrush, Substance, Texturing.xyz, Marvelous Designer, and Faceware. Character Creator’s native pipeline functions allow artists to seamlessly integrate a new workflow designed for rapid creativity with zero sacrifice in character quality.
Watch the video overview of submissions and outstanding entries:
REALISTIC CHARACTER CATEGORY
Under this category, entrants create a realistic human character in Character Creator by combining the character base with tools like ZBrush, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Blender, Wrap, Texturing. xyz, and Maya.
“Character Creator helped a lot in this project as I was able to build and iterate an anatomically-accurate human in just minutes, then spend more time on other things like her outfit and equipment. And the results speak for themselves.”
“It was a whole new way of creating for me. Character Creator 3 is a tool that blends perfectly with other software and makes it an undeniable asset in the creation of characters like the Cyber Boxer. The topology is flexible and you have the possibility to have a rigged character to do your poses and animations.”
– Miguel Soudjay
3rd Place: The Evil Queen of Divine Troop – by Joe Lo, Freelance 3D Artist
“My story began 4 years ago, I spent countless nights mastering various 3D tools after finishing my daytime accounting job. I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to successfully render and illustrate the transformation of a wounded old lady to a perfectly shaped evil queen.”
– Joe Lo
STYLIZED CHARACTER CATEGORY
Under this category, entrants create a non-realistic bi-ped character in Character Creator by combining the character base with tools like ZBrush, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Blender, and Maya.
“I used CC3 Base+ as the basis for the characters, then I did the high poly modeling in ZBrush. Once the stylized anatomy was designed and modeled, I baked the information on the LOW poly model in ZBrush and Marmoset. The difference of the maps created in both programs gave me more variety, to be able to bake different textures.”
– Angel Alonso Garcia
2nd Place: Deep One Hybrid – by Konrad Hetko, Freelance 3D Artist
“In the beginning, I was wondering if Character Creator would be able to deal with such big deformations of the face. But the results were really good. Going back and forth between ZBrush, CC and Substance wasn’t a problem. I would be happy to participate in the next CC Digital Human Contest if it takes place.”
– Konrad Hetko
3rd Place: Sienna – by Andrea Antillon, Character Artist & 3D Fashion Illustrator
“A pipeline where all the tools are fully integrated with each other, allowing the project to flow, and giving the artist more freedom to focus on their actual art, is a delight to use. Participating in this challenge was an enriching experience.”
– Andrea Antillon
ANIMATED CHARACTER CATEGORY
Under this category, entrants animated their CC character using any 3D animation tool like iClone, Unreal Engine, Maya, Unity, Blender, Cinema 4D, etc.
“The contest gave me the opportunity to present my project. A story that begins with an action sequence, with several characters and in environments that allow a variety of different spaces to be shown. In order to do this, I had to focus all my efforts on developing characters that I could create and animate in a very short space of time, with a stylized visual style, that had its own personality.”
2nd Place: The Cyborg Doctor – by RJ Lin, 3D Artist
“Being a 3D artist, I can build up a character from imagination which is really a cheerful thing. Sometimes I’m not sure if I am a pro artist or not. This award makes me feel that I’m a good one. I don’t think my work is better than other entrants, but I really love it!”
“We only made the switch to Character Creator shortly before the contest. We had previously used a character model from a 3D asset store with various modifications. Our primary reason for the switch was the variety of characters we wanted for our game – and it was immediately clear that it was the right choice. Character Creator was the enabling factor for our somewhat unorthodox setup in Unity, like the dynamic wrinkles which are based on wrinkle assets from CC. Overall it was a great experience and well worth it!”
There were tons of amazing entries and it was extremely difficult for the panel of judges to rate all entries as top honors in all categories. 42 artworks have been selected as Honorable Mentions, and received awards from Reallusion to recognize the amazing work by all.
Cartoon Animator 4.4 Releases with 3D Motion Converter and Motion Link Plug-in
The world of animation traditionally has a set of tools devoted to 2D or 3D, now with the release of Cartoon Animator 4.4, 3D Motion Converter, and the Motion Link plug-in the benefits of 3D motion have arrived for 2D animators. The new motion transfer technology from Reallusion connects Cartoon Animator and iClone for a blend of features for 3D motion import and editing through the two animation applications. Even motion libraries like ActorCore are now able to import into Cartoon Animator. The Reallusion ecosystem is innovating to bring the vital resource of 3D motion to 2D animators with Cartoon Animator 4.4 and the Motion Link Plug-in.
AAA motion capture to fit any size project, game, film or budget
Reallusion, the developer of Character Creator and iClone, known for its real-time character creation and animation, launches a browser-based 3D motion platform: ActorCore. ActorCore offers one of the most diverse 3D mocap motion libraries with thousands of high-quality character motions for the Business, Training, Archiviz, Film, and Game industries.
“Reallusion strives to continually revolutionize Character Creation and Character Animation. Motion assets and motion capture is the most time-saving and effective ingredient to give life to all characters, and studios do much of their production relying on mocap libraries. ActorCore is a steady source for the highest quality motion capture. We’ve carefully planned our performance collections and are now delivering thousands of premium and professional on-demand sequences. ActorCore focuses on quality and accessibility to easily acquire the motions you need.” Charles Chen, CEO, Reallusion Inc.
Reallusion, the software developer, today announced its partnership with the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) to establish real-time animation and motion capture lab software for students and studios. The official launch of the Reallusion North American Demo and Training center, located at the CMII, brings together the innovative technology from international 2D and 3D animation software and content developer Reallusion for 3D character creation, real-time animation and motion capture with the production facilities and computer labs at the state of the art emerging technologies center located at Georgia State University’s CMII.
Reallusion and Creative Media Industries Institute
From AI-generated photos to AI-generated characters – Reallusion and Generated Photos launch a total solution for digital crowd generation.
Digital Human toolset provider Reallusion, teams up with Generated Photos – company creating AI headshots , to launch a total solution that converts AI-generated face photos into fully animatable 3D digital doubles that can be used to create crowds for film, game, archviz, visualizations, and more.
See how ASIFA-SOUTH is using Reallusion’s Cartoon Animator 4 to do just that.
Thanks to befores & afters journalist Ian Failes reporting on how ASIFA-SOUTH brings animated mascot into livestreams with the help of Cartoon Animator 4.
With special designed 2D “mascot puppets” and using Cartoon Animator 4’s abilities to live-track facial performance and hand movements and create real-time lip sync. ASIFA-SOUTH has made their video sessions into very different experiences.
The choice of Cartoon Animator came partly from its accessibility. All users need is a webcam or iPhone, while a lot of extensibility can also come from using a Leap Motion device for finger and arm capture-to-animation. The simple set-up brings a lot of value to the sessions. – Marisa Ginger Tontaveetong, president of ASIFA-SOUTH
Tontaveetong is particularly excited about adopting a tool, in Cartoon Animator, that is not only able to assist in communication and interaction, but also likely to be something that animation-centric members will be curious to explore themselves. For example, a recent live animation voice-over battle hosted by ASIFA-SOUTH utilized Cartoon Animator to enable users to make 30-45 seconds of animation as a way of both learning the tool and the art of V/O.