The 2020 Billboard Woman of the Year and Grammy-winning artist – Cardi B teamed up with Facebook for a series that featured Cardi in a number of experiences which were all caught on camera. Cardi B was joined by her husband – Offset, to experience motion capture, create a game character and get themselves into the game as they go through the motions at a rapid pace to see what it takes to build a game featuring custom characters from Character Creator, animations from Reallusion’s ActorCore, mocap with Xsens motion tracking, iClone motion editing, all into the Unreal Engine. This is “Cardi Tries… Gaming”.
The reality TV series features custom characters, motion capture and animation from the Reallusion pipeline wielded by Atlanta, GA based crew from Actor Capture featuring James Martin (master of ceremonies and TD), Joel Mack (Unreal Engine, Xsens MVN, iClone), Max Thomas (Unreal Engine, LED wall), and John Martin (Reallusion Character Creator).
Episode 7 was filmed December 2020 in Pacoima, CA near Burbank on the XRStage. The team from Actor Capture worked with Jesse Collins Productions, Director Brenden Carter and Facebook’s production team to plan the shoot, find the location at XR Stage and develop the experience of the characters, mocap, and game levels from start to finish. Actor Capture utilized Xsens, iPhone, Character Creator, iClone with UnrealEngine to bring everything together for the two games.
The motion capture was made possible through the Reallusion pipeline, Xsens and the iPhone powered by iClone Motion Live to animate the Character Creator characters of Cardi and Offset.
James Martin welcomed Cardi and Offset to the stage after they were briefed on the events of the day and suited up in their Xsens Link motion capture suits. The motion capture led Cardi and Offset through sword fighting, melee combat and special finishing moves. James directed the combat scenarios while Joel Mack and Max Thomas were engineering the stage and capture workstations. A camera and production crew of over 40 people were surrounding everyone to shoot the show during the capture.
The character building process for the game characters included feedback from Cardi and Offset during the shooting as they directed their design in realtime. We started with four characters prepared in different game genres using Character Creator.
Cardi even got in on the creation and took the controls to customize her digital double’s body, face and hair. Character Creator enabled fast creation, on set collaboration in real-time and quick export to the UnrealEngine projects.
Cardi and Offset selected items from the Character Creator library to customize their characters during the production filming. The entire episode was filmed in one take with the duo truly sharing their reactions of each step of the process.
The character creation process was displayed on the XRstage LED wall while John worked with Cardi B and Offset to design their game characters. The couple enjoyed making some tweaks to their characters and experienced the speed of building digital humans in real-time with Character Creator.
Behind-The-Scenes iClone Animation Cardi B and Offset for Cardi Tries Gaming
After Cardi and Offset finished their motion capture session with James, and they each worked with John to design a character with Character Creator, we captured some impromptu dialog with iClone.
Facial animation captured during the shoot was simple with iClone Motion Live, iPhone and LiveFace. The end result was provided by Actor Capture and used by Facebook Watch as a cut-scene throughout the episode. The full animation was given to production as 4K video renders from iClone and the producers at Facebook selected clips to add in the episode. The final edit added animated shots from Cardi and Offset using the iClone capture. This was a great example of Reallusion Character Creator and iClone going from concept to production and approval, for inclusion of multiple shots in the final edit.
Unreal Engine game characters and scenes were created with Character Creator and the assets from the Unreal Engine Marketplace. Cardi Quest and Cardi Combat featured 3rd person fighting in two different styles that allowed Cardi B and Offset to face off in head to head combat or try and clear all the levels while fighting enemies to win. These vertical slices were made to provide an end to our story and finally get Cardi and Offset into the game. With the massive help of Reallusion tools, Actor Capture was able to make it all happen. The games created for the show are featured in a reel below with some clips for each game level.
The full production took place over the course of one day of shooting and since airing on Facebook Watch the “Cardi Tries Gaming,” episode has reached 3.9 million views.
Digital Puppets is a UK based animation studio that specializes in Cartoon motion capture, both 2D and 3D. The studio is run by brothers Scott Evans and Antony Evans.
As well as creating real-time performing avatar puppetry, they also work in developing and designing custom characters for their clients, in a wide range of styles, though they can replicate any existing licensed character or company/product Mascot. The studio not only creates motion capture characters for online Entertainers, Educators and marketing/advertising agencies, but they can also take the characters that they produce and provide their customers with fully animated shows.
The duo have recently completed a 50 episode run for the UK nationwide radio station ‘RADIO X’, in which they animated the hosts and turned their weekly podcast for their online audience to enjoy. The studio also does work for multiple worldwide known broadcasters such as the BBC, Cartoon Network and more which cannot be disclosed due to NDA’s.
“iClone & Character Creator have dramatically increased how fast we can produce character designs and animations, which allow us to create client content at a more affordable price.”
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.
Veteran Cartoon Animator character designer, and 2D animator Garry Pye discusses how he was able to assemble a small group of talented designers, animators and voice over artists working remotely across the globe; to produce a broadcast quality, 2D animated short film from concept-to-finished project in under two weeks using Cartoon Animator.
My name is Garry Pye and since 2014 I have been a content developer for Reallusion. I am privileged to work with a number of talented people, experienced industry seniors from across a wide spectrum of skills in the animation industry. For some time, several of us had floated the idea of collaborating on the production of an animated short film inspired by the television cartoons of our youth.
Problem was, we were all in different parts of the world and couldn’t get together. So we needed to find a way to all work together with a single goal – Cartoon Animator was able to help us achieve this goal.
It’s fair to say that I like to test myself. Each time I create a new project, I like to focus on specific aspects and set myself goals so I learn new skills. With my new Cartoon Animator G3 360 Degree character Buz Blowfly and his debut film “Steak Out”, I set myself several challenges.
First, to create a character whose design was incredibly basic and see if I could breathe life and personality into him and create a performance audiences would engage with. I chose Buz Blowfly because he is essentially a blue ball with four little black sticks for legs and little else going on. I thought, if we can make this 2D character look more like a traditional hand animated cell cartoon and less like a cardboard cutout floating aimlessly across the screen from one point to another, then that will be an achievement.
In addition, there was now the challenge of working remotely with a group of people, each of whom would be required to work independently and provide their input on this animation to make it work, while never having the opportunity to meet together in one place to discuss it. Everyone would have to do their bit, ultimately requiring all the pieces to be assembled as a finished product.
And finally, the hardest challenge of all. Could we pull this off in under two weeks. Fourteen days from pencil sketch to finished animation.
Step 1: Creating Buz Blowfly
Buz Blowfly is little more than a blue circle with four sticks for legs. As far as an overall character build, that’s pretty much it. And that was very much a conscious design choice. I wanted the challenge of creating emotions for this character using his face and wings as well as his overall body movements. With only a simple sphere to work with, I would have to experiment with squash and stretch movements, as well as being able to incorporate the Cartoon Animators Deform tool, which I had previously toyed with but never really put to proper use.
After scanning the original pencil sketch into my PC, using CorelDraw I was able to draw bezier curves over the top of the sketch for each required sprite, creating dozens of new mouths and eyes for almost every emotion possible.
One of Cartoon Animator’s greatest abilities is to take any character design and quickly, and easily, add your own internal skeleton framework, complete with joints, so your character moves freely in front of your eyes within minutes. It is a simple matter of dragging your bones about over the top of the character and previewing the results in real time.
Once the framework of the character and his bone structure was set up, I went about creating the G3 360 Head for Buz as a Talking Head. With this character, his head and body were essentially the same part, meaning his head is also his body. The benefit here was that once I had him set up properly using the 360 Head Creator, Buz would be able to turn his head and look around with natural movement, again making him appear less like a cardboard cutout and more like a hand animated character.
Setting up the 360 Head for this character is not only easy, but for me extremely fun with Cartoon Animator. Being able to make adjustments to your characters face in real time as you’re building them is so satisfying, sometimes it seems more like sculpting than assembling. The 360 Head Creator gives the animator total control over the movement of the facial parts, which can later be fine tuned further with the Transform and Deform tools during the animation process.
Step 2: We Need a Plan!
When working on a larger animation project, planning is essential. Multiple scenes and camera shots require forethought so that continuity is in place and you don’t find yourself having to backtrack to correct mistakes. When working as part of a creative team with a single goal, planning is even more important so all parties know what’s happening and what’s expected of them.
With a story outline and script written, it was time to hit the drawing board with a good old fashioned pencil and paper to roughly sketch out each camera shot in a storyboard sequence so that everyone involved in the project could visualise the cartoon and share their input into how each shot could be made better.
Since our voiceover actors would never get to record together at the same time, each needed to understand their role in order to deliver a recording that would fit each scene. Having worked many times with both William and Kelsy, I knew any lines of dialogue in their hands were going to be perfect.
We agreed that the feeling of the cartoon was to be inspired by the old Looney Tunes cartoons of Sylvester and Tweety Pie we had watched on television growing up. So the background elements were kept simple and built inside Cartoon Animator in a way that allowed the Buz Blowfly character to freely move around in the correct perspective. Cartoon Animator gave us the freedom to make changes quickly and easily as each sequence developed and changes were required. One of my absolute favourite functions of this software is the Z-axis which allows correct perspective layering and smooth camera control giving the scenes a depth that would otherwise be extremely difficult to achieve.
Step 3: Veteran Animator brings Buz to Life
My friend and animator Declan Walsh is a legend in the art of traditional hand drawn animation, having worked with Disney, and Don Bluth, and animating films such as Thumbelina and Anastasia. We felt that the wings on the Buz Blowfly character would be used to express his emotions and almost become a character with a personality of their own. So Declan went about creating the most visually impressive animated wing prop (ctProp) for Cartoon Animator. Hand drawing 17 individual frames of motion, when combined in a sequence, Declan was able to give the wings 4 separate motion speeds that could be used to propel Buz across the screen.
So while the head and body of Buz was being constructed on one side of the globe, his wings were being developed on the other, and eventually the two would pair up and Buz Blowfly would take his first flight.
Step 4: Giving the Character’s Voices
I cannot stress enough the importance of using professional voice artists if you want to elevate your animations to a professional level. When we were first exploring the idea of this collaborative project for Buz Blowfly, William Schenold and Kelsy Little jumped at the chance to be involved. I always make sure I have my voiceovers finished before I start frame one of animation because a good audio clip can often steer your scene in a different direction than expected, especially when you have fun people like Bill and Kelsy who like to ad lib and go off script. You never know what you’re in for and often the best line is the one that comes when the actors are goofing off.
Even though both these talented artists recorded their dialogue in totally different countries and were never able to read together, with Cartoon Animator that doesn’t matter, as I was able to instantly drop in both recordings, align and trim them where necessary and then start my animation process.
Step 5: Let’s Get Moving
With the storyboards designed, character developed and voice overs recorded, it was now time to start on the final animation. For me, this truly is the fun part. Taking a flat illustration and bringing it to life. Making him twist and turn, express real emotion and interact with the world around him.
Thanks to Cartoon Animator’s 360 Head feature, I was able to quickly rig Buz Blowfly’s face in real-time, giving him the freedom to look about in every direction and speeding up the animation process by weeks. But for this project, I felt even that wasn’t going to be enough. We needed Buz to move as if he has weight and I wanted his movements to be fast and energetic, while not being so fast that the viewer would miss the action. This is where Cartoon Animator’s Deform Tool became my new best friend. After blocking in the general movements I was able to go back through the scene to squash and stretch everything from Buz’s body to every element of his face, so his performance became much more fluid and life-like.
Previously I had relied solely on the sprite swapping method for facial expressions, which works perfectly well, but the ability to smoothly transition from one sprite to another through keyframing with the Deform Tool enhanced my character performance to a level I had never achieved before. Because animation is much more than an object moving from one point to another. It is about capturing the true feeling of movement and emotion. And the Deform Tool absolutely delivers this result.
Step 6: Editing and Effects
With all the clips completed, it was time to assemble the footage into the final cut, which is a simple process of joining each clip together in your favourite editing software. I use Pinnacle for editing and for my sound effects and music I use Audioblocks.
When the movie was complete, the final decision was made to add some effects using Adobe After Effects which would give it the look and feel of being a retro tv cartoon. This is where artist and animator Warwick Hays brought his skill set to the table. Warwick is a master at using After Effects and with the help of Reallusions plug in which quickly and easily creates a bridge between Cartoon Animator and After Effects, Warwick was able to take the original film and desaturate it to give it a more retro look. In addition, he added a blur effect to Buz Blowfly which gave him more natural movement and finally a vintage film grain effect was added to give the project the feeling of being a recording from an original television program. All of this was done in hours rather than days, and results could be increased or decreased in real-time to get just the look we all wanted.
And We’re Done!
Incredibly, a project that I estimate would have taken several months to complete, had it been created any other way, was finished from pencil sketch to final movie in exactly two weeks, thanks to the passion and enthusiasm of a group of talented artists. And best of all the project was genuinely fun to work on for everyone. This is because Cartoon Animator allowed us to see our results in real-time, making spontaneous adjustments without the need to redo work. All while having fun with the process of collaborating remotely and enjoying animating instead of being impeded with tedious and monotonous technical work. And because we were able to create the project in such record time, it meant that the enthusiasm for the work never had time to wane.
At the beginning of every new animation I try to push myself to learn new skills, polish those skills I already have and discover new possibilities within the limits of Cartoon Animator. As this software grows with new plug-ins and tools, so does the potential for me to create bigger and better animated projects. And at the end of each project I hope to be able to look back and see growth in my work. ‘Steak Out’ was a journey in collaboration and character animation that ultimately demonstrates Cartoon Animators ability to produce a quality production by a remote team of enthusiastic, creative people in a very short time frame.
Combining wonderful 3D renders with 2D animation and post production effects created in Adobe After Effects, animator Warwick Hays is pushing the limits of Cartoon Animator to create stunning animations and content for 2D animators.
In this interview with Reallusion, Warwick discusses both his current works and motivations behind his planned future projects.
“Cartoon Animator allows me to take the best of 3D and combine it to make the best in 2D.”
Warwick Hays – 2D & 3D Animator / Content Developer
Ishan is an Indian animation filmmaker. He graduated from the 3D Sense Media School in Singapore in 2008 and since then has spearheaded projects ranging from TV commercials to TV series. His animation shorts and artworks, featured and screened all over the world, have won dozens of awards.
His first animated short film – Schirkoa, qualified for the Oscars 2017 becoming the rarest of Indian animated films to do so. It also won ‘Best in Show’ at SIGGRAPH Asia, ‘Best Animated Short’ at American Movie Awards, Bollywood Film Journalists Awards followed by 122 film festival screenings and 35 international awards.
Ishan is now working on his debut animated feature film ‘Schirkoa’ where Ishan is adding the use of realtime animation tools Character Creator, iClone Live Link and Unreal Engine to accelerate his traditional animation worfklow.
” If you are limited on resources, funding, team and time — then the smartest thing you can do is find and customize the tools that can serve YOUR purpose. What Reallusion tools and Unreal have done is exactly that. Giving independent artists like me the power of highly specialized tools that democratize the whole animation filmmaking scene and just let us focus on the creative aspects “
I am 51 years old and my creativity has manifested itself in various ways throughout my life. I made films as a teenager with my Super 8 camera. Later I became a singer/songwriter and performed with my band.
Eventually I settled into a career as a graphic designer and web developer. As a hobby I became a Halloween haunter and that passion grew into quite a production.
Our annual Halloween walk through attracts thousands of visitors every year. In 2011, I began to do 3D projection mapping on my house as part of my Halloween decorating. The videos I created went viral on YouTube with more than a million views. The animations I am able to create with iClone have been critical to my success. I have since turned my passion for projection mapping into a business, helping other people do the same.
Richard Chalmers is an online English teacher committed to using technology to create innovative and engaging ways to teach English to students around the world. After developing an online presence through his YouTube channel and websites, he coined the word Britlish in 2014 and has been developing the brand ever since.
Teaching English in Spain from 2003, Richard moved exclusively to online teaching via Skype in 2009. Thanks to the success of his YouTube videos, Richard has taught 188 students in 42 countries. He has also created over 800 video English lessons which have gained millions of views. Richard also writes books and other English learning material. He sells digital versions of this material through Britlish.com, and printed versions, and Kindle versions, through Amazon.
When not teaching, writing, or making YouTube videos, Richard enjoys cycling through the Spanish countryside with his wife, and generally enjoying an idyllic lifestyle in Seville.
The Creative Media Industries Institute at Georgia State University hosted the inaugural US round of the Reallusion ASIAGRAPH 48hr Animation Jam June 29, 30 and July 1st 2018. The participating students represented Georgia State University, Savannah College of Art and Design and Interns and recent grads that are now working with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.