RGAC - Khenton's Curse: Recourse

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animagical triangle
I finally have the time to start a WIP thread for my contribution to this contest.

First an introduction. Even though my forum handle is "animagical", I'm actually know as "animagic" over at the RL forum. My specialty is making animated films using iClone, which I have been doing for several years.

I am not a modeler, so I usually use assets and characters developed by others. If necessary I do make changes. For example, I always personalize my characters by creating a face map for them, which is something you can do from within iClone. The companion product 3DXchange, lets you import and convert external models. I use the mostly for props, buildings, and vehicles. 3DWarehouse is a good source, although the texturing is sometimes problematic and it is necessary to tweak the model in SketchUp. I also use Sketchup to create separate components for various parts of the model (wheels and doors of a car for example). In 3DXchange these can be converted to subprops, which will be visible in iClone and can be animated. Otherwise, all you see is a single mesh.

I will talk about this some more with examples as we progress.

As to the contest, when I was first notified about it, I thought that it would be interesting and challenging. Challenging because I know little about games and I don't play them. Interesting because I would have to learn about games while working on my project.

With valuable input from my wife, I came up with the ideas of a story. I do know about stories, as that is the point of filmmaking. The difference with game stories is that those are non-linear: choices along the way influence the story line. Simple example: you get shot and you're dead: end of story. In a film story you try to keep your protagonist alive. He or she will suffer, but work through the problems.

I read about game categories and I think mine would be an adventure/science fiction game. It is definitely not a FPS game. And science fiction is to be understood as classic science fiction where the writer tries to envision a world far away, which we explore, meeting challenges on the way to keep things interesting.

My lack of familiarity with existing games meant that I had to think of a world where the action takes place. In my imaged future, space travel has become feasible and fast and adventurous types have started to venture out to explore the possibility to colonize habitable planets. Many expeditions brought out merchants or mercenaries or both. Others were more idealistic and wanted to created a world that was an improvement over life on Earth.

One of those was Zhakharus Khenton, a visionary philosopher, who had made a lot of money as a successful business tycoon.

More in a follow up post: the wife is honking the horn...

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  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    We will continue. Mind you, this is all backstory, but it sets the scene for the world as we encounter it in the (fictitious) game

    Said Zhakharus Khenton put has ideals into practice and, after researching a database for available habitable planets, applied for a license with the Outer-space Settlement Agency to settle a world on a planet with the designate Z-RE-7.954. As this is cumbersome to pronounce, the planet was given the nick name "Zee-ray".

    Zhakharus assembled a team for a first expedition to establish his world. True to his utopian vision, he called his world Khentopia with the capital Khentopolis. Sick of the political bickering back home his one mandate for his society to empress consensus and cooperation rather than conflict and competition. His ideas attracted many competent like-minded people and his world experienced harmonious prosperity for the first two centuries.

    Success always attract those who have little themselves and renegade elements start to seep into the world. One day, a gang calling themselves the "Wall Street Boys" crippled the financial system and this was the beginning of the end for Khentopia.

    Where there was once trust, suspicion took over and soon society was fractured into many opposing factions. Where there was sharing before, now rivaling factions disputed sparse resources in some areas, which led to a general feeling of discontent.

    The then governor of Khentopia, Dharvis Khenton made a final attempt to regain control of the ideals Zhakharus valued so much. He organized peace talks, but without success, as they broke down after many months. Upset, Dharvis Khenton closed the sessions with one last word, a curse. This became known as Khenton's Curse.

    The curse had the effect of a sort of Babylonian Confusion, communication became almost impossible as language was looked upon with suspicion and words were no longer trusted. This then led to an overall decay of the societal stratum and Khentopia slowly turned into a dystopia of chaos and lawlessness.

    For brevity, I will not talk now about the many other repercussions. What is important though, is that one the characters in my story, Lheandor Tamarindh, was a young boy when it all happened. He was devastated when libraries were destroyed and any form of knowledge acquisition was looked upon with disdain. With his knack for technology (he worked later as a technician) he was able to create a large repository of science, literature, and other useful information.

    The storage and access medium he developed for this repository is called a Crystalloy, which is a very versatile device, as we will see. Lheandor married and had a family, and he silently hoped that one of his offspring would be able to carry on the work that he had started after he passed away.

    To select the right person he devised a test that he stealthily administered to any of his children and then his grandchildren. However, no-one passed and Lheandor started to worry. Great-grandchildren were born. Still no success, until one day he tested Kazhandrah, the latest great-grandchild. To his delight she showed the "spark" he was looking for. This was the one!

    Still stealthily, as not to raise any suspicion, Lheandor started Kazhandrah's training. He took her to his lab and tough her how to use the various apparatus. Obviously, this lab needed to be in secret place and Lheandor had found a suitable cave for this purpose. As opposed to her sister Lheandra, who was very active in sports, including boxing, Kazhandrah was always considered a bookish girl and no one thought anything of it that she spent long afternoons with her great-grandfather, the "professor".

    I think I will continue in a fresh post.
  • Capemedia
    Lot of interesting back story here which is great. But can you show us your progress in building the video, concept art, models, stills from iClone etc. You have me intrigued :)
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Capemedia wrote: »
    Lot of interesting back story here which is great. But can you show us your progress in building the video, concept art, models, stills from iClone etc. You have me intrigued :)

    I have had a few days of solid work on the project, so I have indeed something to show...:poly121:.

    The beginning of the actual story finds Kazhandrah in her underground lab where she is about to initiate a holo-call with Lheandor (due to circumstance L. had to seek exile in a remote area of the world). Here is a still (all stills are iClone 6 renders without processing):

    kazh_in_her_cave_lab_calling_lheandor.jpg

    The lab and the cave are mostly build from two packs from Arteria 3D: the Cave Pack and the Sci-Fi Interior Pack. Some of the furniture and the server rack originated from 3DWarehouse. The object on the table is the Crystalloy, which I created from primitives (with Substance + video textures).

    The torch and the fluorescent lighting feature iClone's now lighting system, which has controls for each light source, as you'll see in the next screen, with the controls on the right hand side of the Preview window:

    ic6_screen_of_scene_01.jpg

    In the next still you see a close-up of the Crystalloy while being used for a holo-call. The gentleman is Kazhandrah's great-grandfather Lheoandor:

    kazh_and_lheandor_in_a_holocall_via_the_crystalloy.jpg


    When a holo-call comes in, the egg-shaped center part slowly emerges. This is all done with transparency in iClone. I set the Diffuse color black to enhance the invisibility; it then returns to a light color, when the object needs to be visible.

    It is also easier now to fade characters in and out because all textures (including teeth, eyes, and mouth) are now in one list and all have an Opacity slider available. You still need to do this separate for each texture, although you can combine this sililar-named textures (e.g., Upper skin and cloth).

    More to come...:poly142:
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    I forgot to mention that I usually don't create separate concept art; it's easier for me to just do everything in iClone.
  • direx
    Looks very cool. Nice to have you on the show ...

    Direx
  • Capemedia
  • Wungun
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    Wungun polycounter lvl 4
    Dang this is lookig good!
  • smallWstudio
    Oh yeah! I'm likin' this Job!!!!!
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thank you all for your encouraging comments!

    Today I would like to introduce my heroine, Kazhandrah, and talk a bit about face-mapping in iClone.

    Here is she:

    00_kazhandrah.png

    The clothing is from various iClone packs (I would have to check which ones). What gives her character though is her face, so this is one of the parts that I customize.

    iClone has a face-mapping feature built in and I would like to review the steps for those not familiar with it. I quickly did an other version of Kazhandra's face. A complaint is often that it is hard to get good results and that the face doesn't look like the original. That last point is not so important to me. For the rest it is really a matter of practice and starting out with a suitable image.

    The first step is finding a suitable image. You want the face to be fairly evenly lit and preferably showing the front. I'll be using this:

    01_acquire_image.png

    There is a few things that need to be done. One is to straighten the face; I usually line the face up with they eyes or the mouth. We then need to remove the hair, because it will use part of that area for the side of the face (unless there is a side view image), which would then have dark streaks.

    If you have good graphics skills, this is where to use them. Mine are adequate:

    02_image_prepared.png

    This done, we will start the real work next.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Hmm, for some reason images no long show up as thumbnails...
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Let's continue.

    First of all, this procedure is for iClone 6, but only for G5 (iClone 5) characters, as iClone 6 characters can not be customized yet.

    What I start out with is a nude character. These don't come standard with iClone, but they can be acquired for 99 points ($0.99) in the RL MarketPlace (http://city.reallusion.com/ContentPreview.aspx?i=JIC676ee96838f0b0ef9).

    The reason for using a nude character is that the face determines the overall skin color. For G5 characters the skin is divided into Face, Upper, Hands, Lower, and Shoes (feet). After creating a new face, all the other textures will adjust to match the Face texture.

    However, when applying clothing (which consists of the same parts) the skin color is sometimes readjusted and will no longer match the face. By starting out with a nude character, you can create a series of "backup" textures that you can load if needed.

    Let's go ahead and load the nude Gwynn, and then select Create Face in the Modify panel.

    03_load_nude_model_select_create_face.png

    This will open a Windows Explorer window, where you can select the image of the face you want to use.

    After selecting the image, the Import Face Image window will open, showing the face:

    04_import_image.png

    Here you will crop the image to the actual face, as illustrated on the right.

    05_crop_image.png


    When done, click Next, to open the Adjust the Facial Boundary window:

    06_adjust_boundary.png

    This an important step. What you want to do here is to adjust the boundary so that mouth and eye outlines match the model on the left as accurately as possible. The top of the boundary will often be outside the image; this is OK.


    When done, click Next to open the Adjust the Facial Angle and Orientation window:

    07_adjust_angle.png


    Here you can do some further fine-tuning if needed. This primarily if your face image is not straight from the front. In this case, no adjustment is need, so we click Next.

    The Adjust the Feature Points and Contours window will open, where we will adjust the details of the face.

    We will continue this in the next post.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    We continue by adjusting the details in the Adjust the Feature Points and Contours window:

    08_adjust_details.png

    Here you will adjust the contours of the whole face and parts such as the mouth and the eyes. To have more control, you can zoom in to a specific area:

    09_adjust_mouth_nose.png


    10_adjust_eyes.png

    I notice now that the forehead is a bit too elongated, but I missed that so I had to make an adjustment later.

    When happy with the contours, it is time to check the side:

    11_adjust_side_contour.png

    If you have an image of the side of the face you can use it at this point. If not, you will try to get the best blending by adjusting the blue vertical lines.

    Once you are satisfied with all adjustments, click OK. A message will open:

    12_save_face_model.png

    Click OK to create the new face model. A Windows Explorer dialog will open where you will provide a name to save the model under.

    Find out what happens next in the following post!
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    It is actually quicker to this, then write it all down!

    After the face has been saved, it will be applied to the avatar, adjusting the skin color in the process:

    13_new_face_added.png

    The default lighting with shadows is not very suitable to judge adjustments, so we will change that first to the "point-4 sides" setting:

    14_change_lights.png

    That's better. I mentioned the elongated head, so I will like to adjust that. iClone is not a modeler, but you can make adjustments of body and body-part dimensions and also of facial features.

    To change the dimensions, we use the Avatar Proportion option:

    15_change_proportion.png

    Here I decided to change Length (the height of the head) to 96%.

    To make detailed changes in the face, we use the Facial Features option:

    16_modify_features.png

    This can be used to make the face rounder and the lips fuller, for example, and to adjust the position of the various face parts.

    For even more detailed adjustments, there is a Facial Features Detailed option, which is accessed by clicking the icon on the left.

    After I made the adjustments, this is the result:

    16a_face_model_changed.png

    I would probably redo this to get a better head shape, but adding some hair helps:

    17_add_hair.png


    The last thing to do is to change the eyes to iClone G5 eyes, as the eyes from the photo only provide a small section of the eye texture. They are also relatively low-res. Here is the model with changed eyes:

    18_change_eyes.png

    At this point you will save the head again to preserve the changes. You would also save the complete character for future use.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    By the way, you can continue to make adjustments as you see fit. It is best to this with a "blank" version of the character without animation (changes in dimension will cause any animation of the character to be deleted, for example).

    Once you have made your changes, you can then save your new version. In any scenes where the previous version appears, you can simply replace it by dragging the new version on top of the old one. You would have to reapply any clothing, unless already part of your new character.
  • Capemedia
    Great WIP going on here :)
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thanks, Cape!

    Well sometimes you're lucky and come across a character that's almost right. I was looking through 4DFans's Wizard school packs and found a suitable character to represent Lheandor Tamarindh, who is a very old man at this point.

    I choose the headmaster, but made some changes to age him:

    creating_lheandor.jpg

    The original face is on the left; the aged one on the right. The main change is making the skin more yellow. I also made some adjustments to the shape of the face.

    The headmaster comes with a beard as an accessory, which doesn't work too well if a character is talking. Instead, I applied a displacement map.

    The effect of that is seen in detail here:

    displacement_map_for_beard.jpg

    on the left no displacement map; on the right the effect of the settings shown in the Modify panel.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    As a little teaser on how to create a vehicle with some built-in animation, here is a small taste of what's to come:

    kazhandrah_and_her_cerberus_2.jpg

    It's a futuristic tricycle that started out as a 3D Warehouse model.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    I've just noticed that the title of my WIP thread has an error: it should start with "RGCA", not "RGAC". I'm slightly dyslexic...:shifty:

    Anyway, this will be another how-to.

    3DWarehouse has lots of useful models, and via 3DXchange we can bring those into iClone. Models exported from 3DX5 work in iClone 5 as well as 6.

    There are a couple of stages we have to go through. In order to animate parts of a model in iClone, they need to be sub-props. We can create sub-props in 3DXchange, but only if the original model is NOT a single mesh.

    To easily identify the parts of the model in 3DX, it is best to create components in SketchUp, so that is what I'll do first.

    The model I'm using came with 3 versions of the same futuristic tricycle, which I loaded in SketchUp:

    01_load_skp_model.jpg

    We only need one (I kept the white), so we delete the other two.

    02_separate_single_model.jpg

    We are now going to create components. This can be tricky because it is not always easy to select just the mesh you want. Here is the right front wheel selected:

    03_select_mesh_for_component.jpg

    Next we select Edit => Make Component. This will open a dialog:

    04_create_component.jpg

    Give the component a name, and make sure that "Replace selection with component" is selected. The component will be created, surrounded by a blue box:

    05_component_created.jpg

    At this point it's good to check if only desired parts of the mesh are included in the component by hiding it (Edit => Hide). If it's not right, simply undo it and try again.

    We continue by creating components for other parts of the model we want to separate: the remaining wheels, the doors, etc.

    This is a somewhat tedious process, and sometimes not all of the desired mesh is included in the component. In that case, I simply create a second component. Both will then be combined in 3DX as one sub-prop.

    The model has lettering that I want to remove. I want to replace it with my own text, which I will include in the texture. In this case the lettering had its own component so removal was easy:

    06_remove_lettering.jpg

    With lettering deleted, I now want to make sure that this part of the mesh has its own texture so that I can edit it later. We can do this by selecting the desired mesh, right-clicking it, and then selecting Make Unique Texture:

    07_make_unique_texture.jpg

    A dialog will open to set the texture size:

    08_set_texture_size.jpg

    I just keep the default as this can always be changed later. As I also want text on the other side of the model, I create a unique texture for that side as well.

    The final step is to save the modified model. We will have to do a Save As, because 3DX requires SketchUp 8 or earlier files:

    09_save_model_as_skp_8.jpg

    This is the SketchUp part. I'm going to take a break, and then we will further refine this model in 3DXchange.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    In this next stage, we are going to import the model into 3DXchange and create sub-props out of the components.

    10_load_in_3dx_and_make_subprops.jpg

    On the left we see the various components we created. In SketchUp, front and back faces are separated, so each component is listed twice. In high-quality SketchUp models you can dispense with the back faces, but often the information is distributed among the two sides, so I usually don't bother. But, you could reduce the number of faces in half with some (or a lot) of extra work.

    To crate a sub-prop, select the faces of the component and then click Make Sub-Prop. A sub-prop will be created with the name of the front-faced part. Press F2 to change the name. I have changed the name to "Body" as it is the main body of the model:

    11_subprop_created_and_named.jpg

    We continue by creating sub-props for the other components:

    12_create_subprops_for_all_components.jpg

    Note that the seat and the headrest consist of two components, because I missed some of the mesh when creating the initial ones.

    The next step is to align the model to ground (which places its center at the world origin). To do this, select the top node of the model and then click Align to Ground:

    14_model_aligned.jpg

    The model will now load correctly at the origin in iClone.

    Next we need to adjust the pivot points for the components. For example, we want the wheels to rotate around their center. This is easy to accomplish:

    15_adjust_pivot_for_wheel.jpg

    Notice that the pivot is actually outside the wheel. To adjust this, click Edit Pivot and then click Pivot Center. The pivot is now at the center of the wheel:

    16_wheel_pivot_adjusted.jpg

    We do the same for the other wheels.

    For the doors we need to make a different kind of adjustment. I want the doors hinged at the top. There is no preset for that, so we need to make this change manually:

    18_door_pivot_adjusted.jpg

    It's a good idea to test the rotation in 3DXChange:

    19_door_turns_correctly.jpg

    It's bit difficult to see, but the door does turn correctly.

    With all the pivots adjusted, we can now make some improvements to the mesh appearance. 3DXchange has an Auto-smooth feature that works quite well.

    To use it, select the mesh to be smoothed, and then click Auto Smooth. I usually leave the angle at 45 and check Weld Vertex:

    20_apply_autosmooth.jpg

    You can do this for all rounded surfaces to improve their look. Here is a close-up of the effect:

    21_autosmooth_applied.jpg

    The model is now ready to be exported. Press Ctrl-E to open the export dialog:

    22_export_to_iclone.jpg

    Make sure to have "Embed external textures" selected, otherwise you will not be able to edit them.

    Next, we will work further with this model in iClone.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    I worked on the Cerberus last night and created a little animation to share.


    I'm not sure how to add a video, so I'll just try a link first:

    [ame]


    We will see... Hmm, apparently, you need to use the full youtube.com link, not the youtu.be link...
  • Capemedia
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thanks, Cape!

    It's actually pleasant to show and discuss our work here without interference to the effect that we should really use something other than iClone. At the RL forum there is currently too much complaining and little is accomplished.

    Anyway, back to work, as I owe you one more stage. Working on the Cerberus yesterday, I realized that iClone and its companion products are really good for tinkering. There is always another, and often unusual way, of doing something.

    Several years ago, RL introduced the iCar Body Shop pack (http://www.reallusion.com/ContentStore/iClone/pack/iCar_BodyShop/index.aspx), which lets you created animatable cars. In its simplest form you will have a vehicle with Move Forward and Move Backward commands as right-click options. To do this you don't need the pack, but you can use the free Mechanical Toolkit instead,

    If this is of interest, you can get the Mechanical Toolkit here: http://file.reallusion.com/ccd/ic/g03t09/iCar_Mechanic_ToolKit.exe and read the instructions here: http://www.reallusion.com/ContentStore/iClone/pack/iCar_BodyShop/Help_Change_iCar_Texture.aspx.

    I will continue in another post, as this stage will take some time to document.
  • Capemedia
    You know that is so true, so much complaining over there. I would consider a WIP on that forum but you just get attacked all the time. People are still upset with iClone 6 and will never upgrade...yes there are kinks but I prefer it to 5 any day :)
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Yes, I really like working with iClone 6 and I think the renders look better. I go occasionally back to IC5 and have now trouble finding stuff...

    So I was a bit in trouble today. What worked yesterday didn't work today and I couldn't understand why. I found the issue, fortunately, and will point it out as we go along.

    I'm using stuff from the Mechanical Toolkit mentioned earlier.

    The first thing we are going to do is load a spring for our vehicle:

    23_load_moderate_spring.jpg

    You want to position this at the world origin (sitting on the ground surface). Since this is a dummy object, also check "Set as Dummy". This allows toggling visibility of the dummy objects using Ctrl-D.

    There are three Spring objects; I choose the Medium Spring. Next we will load four wheels, which we will give a temporary position, mainly to keep them apart:

    24_load_four_wheels_and_position.jpg


    Each wheel dummy needs to be attached to the spring object:

    25_attach_wheel_to_spring.jpg

    This will default to Spring00, which is to the top spring, which is used for the vehicle body.

    To change that, click the ... (3 dots) in the Attach section of Modify, which will open a hierarchy:

    26_ensure_its_spring01.jpg

    Select "Spring01" and click OK. Repeat this for the other wheels dummies.

    This finishes creating the basic vehicle structure.

    We will now load a so-called Drama Script and test things out:

    27_import_drama_script.jpg

    Right-click the spring object, and then select Drama Script => Load Drama Script. A file dialog will open:

    28_select_desired_one.jpg

    The required Drama Scripts will be in a Mechanical Toolkit folder under the path shown above. Select the script required for the deployed spring and wheel arrangement.

    After loading the script, we are now ready to test our vehicle assembly. Right-click on the spring object. A "Move" option should have been added:

    29_choose_move_command.jpg

    Select Move Forward, and click somewhere in front of the car. The car will move to that position:

    30_car_moves.jpg

    Except when I tried it, I got a message "Failed to Add Move Command"...

    The problem turned out to be the name of the dummy wheel objects had "(0)" attached to it, because the Cerberus vehicle was already in the scene. By changing the name back to the original, I was able to fix the problem.

    In the next post, we will be attaching the real wheels and the vehicle body.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    We are almost done! Next we will be attaching the real wheels to the wheel dummies. As there are only three wheels, We will not be using the Right Rear wheel dummy.

    The wheel dummies currently have their pivot at ground level so the will need to be raised. We assume that the real wheels are in position and have been detached from the vehicle body.

    It is the simply a matter of aligning the dummies to the actual wheels, which is easy to do:

    31_allign_wheel_and_dummy.jpg


    Select the dummy and then click the Align To icon. A marker will appear: use it to select the corresponding actual wheel ( left front to left front, etc.). A dialog will open with alignment settings:

    32_allignment_settings.jpg

    Select Pivot and X, Y and Z. The wheel and the dummy are now aligned:

    33_objects_alligned.jpg

    Click OK to close the dialog. Next we wheel attach the wheel to the wheel dummy:

    34_attach_wheel_to_wheel_dummy.jpg

    As we saw earlier, the attachment will not be at the right sub-node, so we need to make a change. Click the ... (dots) in the Attach section. This will open a hierarchy:

    35_change_to_wheeltool.jpg

    Change the node to "Wheel Tool". (The wheel will not turn otherwise.)

    Repeat this process for the other wheels. Attach the rear wheel to the left back dummy wheel.

    Time for some supper...
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    I didn't know this was turning into a book. It's useful though, also for me, in case I forget...

    The wheels are now attached and lined up:

    36_wheels_attached_and_lined_up.jpg

    So we are now ready to add the body of the vehicle, which is attached to Spring00 (top spring). This way the wheels have suspension separate from the body.

    37_attach_body_to_spring00.jpg


    The body should attach to the Spring00 node when Attach is applied; no adjustment should be needed.

    One final adjustment I made concerns the front wheels. Because they need to be turned for steering I moved them inward. I then added a semi-transparent tube for them to rotate around as a sort of plasma drive. There is also a video effect so the plasma seems to be rotating:

    38_adjust_front_wheels.jpg

    You can see this effect at the end of the short video clip I posted.

    This is it for now. Have to get back to my movie!
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    The name for the tricycle, Cerberus, sort of came to me, and then I found that Cerberus had actually three heads, so one head for each wheel.

    What I didn't know and learned from Bleetz' thread, is that "Cerberus" may be translated as "Spot". So I thought, well, perhaps I should add some spots to the body of the vehicle.

    Then I noticed that the tires of Cerberus have a spotted pattern, so the spots are already there! I had applied this pattern a few days ago, BEFORE reading about Cerberus as Spot.

    spotted_cerberus_tires.jpg

    Also, my wife used to have a dog named Spot a long time ago, so it's all coming together. "Serendipity" you call that, I believe.
  • windtalker
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    windtalker polycounter lvl 2
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thanks, windtalker!

    Well it is time for an update. I'm retiring the end of the month from my day job and it suddenly seems that work is piling up. They don't want me to leave but it's time for me to do something else: animation for example!

    I have been working on a hideout for Lheandor, Kazhandrah's great-grandfather, who is dying and whom she needs to reach before he passes away.

    That is the object and the challenge of my imaginary game. I will only be able to show a few obstacles that Kazhandrah encounters and has to overcome. So my contribution will be kind of a cinematic of her journey. As I like the idea I will eventually make a complete movie out of it.

    Also because of time constraints I will use TTS voices for now (acapela-box). Not ideal, but it will have to do.

    As I mentioned, Lheandor was forced to leave Kazhandrah and the rest of his family and go into hiding. He found a remote area that was out of reach of the central powers of the day, and with a group of supporters he constructed a compound in a crater, which is completely self-sufficient.

    In one of the terrain packs I have I found a suitable crater. I then though about the buildings, which needed to look futuristic. I searched 3DWarehouse and found the right set of structures.

    getpubliccontent?contentId=516ebd9a-947d-4ab0-8f55-c9d7bb116192

    I separated the buildings in SketchUp and then converted each in 3DXchange.

    This was a first test of 3DXchange 6, because by accident I had loaded the complete model in 3DXchange which has over 900,000 triangles! To my surprise and delight, it loaded without problems, just as promised in the product announcement (1,28M is the max now). Of course this is still taking on iClone so polygon reduction will be advisable.

    I couldn't fit the whole set as arranged, so I made a new arrangement with the separated buildings. Here is a view from above:

    lheandors_lair_from_crater_edge.jpg

    A few natives survey the construction from the crater's edge. The buildings of the compound sit on an enforced concrete base (they were somehow able to fill the crater).

    There is helicopter to get in and out of the crater (I assume that there will still be helicopters):

    lheandors_lair_helicoptor_2.jpg

    The red building house the main living quarters. There is an elevator to the ground level. Lheandor is in wheelchair and is not able to use the outside stairs. The elevator shaft is a simple square tube (iClone primitive). The elevator doors are from 3DWarehouse.

    Here he is with his nurse, watching over the goings-on from a raised platform.

    lheandors_lair_l_in_wheelchair.jpg

    The buildings that are perpendicular to each other are connected with a square elbow pipe (also an iClone primitive). I used a substance texture. I may make the transparent (glass-like).

    EDIT: I made the change to a corridor with transparent sides and a solid floor and ceiling. I think it looks better. There was also a problem with the texturing of the main building.

    lheandors_lair_building_connection.jpg

    In the distance, you will notice the solar panels for power generation. There is probably something more advanced as well.

    That's it for the moment.
  • Adityaedit
    The competition is very tough so in my opinion perhaps need some variation in concept...
    good luck
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    @Adityedit: Thank you for your comment. There sure are great contributions in this contest. But, even if I don't win, participating is still valuable to me as it has given me an idea for my next film.

    In the interest of time, I am going to show you setups in iClone of scene 2 and 3 of my cinematic and then a clip of the first three scenes. This is still WIP, but I have a pretty good idea of the final project. I may have to finish before June 10 as I will most likely be traveling.

    After Kazhandrah learns about Lheandor's dying, she seeks out her older sister Lheandrah, who is doing her boxing practice in a dilapidated part of town. This scene is a repurposing of a scene where I experimented with physics to get a bouncing boxing ball (this will be clear in the clip).

    The iClone project in this case has just enough props to cover all camera angles, so I didn't build a whole city block for example.

    Here is the scene in iClone:

    kc_s02_in_iclone.jpg

    The rain and the smoke are done with particles. Because particles need some time to get going, I've added about 5 seconds to the beginning of the animation, which will then be removed in the video editor.

    Here is a still of the result, which is quite "atmospheric" I think...:)

    kazh_hastening_to_inform_lhea.jpg

    I use the basic iClone fog to give the background some haziness.

    Inside, Lheandra is practicing her boxing. When using rain, you have to take care that the rain does not extend to the interior. Here is a still:

    lhea_knows_how_to_land_a_punch.jpg

    There is some skin peek-through, which does happen with extreme motions. I will have to fix that in the final version.

    I have shown earlier that Kazhandrah has a secret lab in a cave complex. To access that from the side closest to town, she has made an entrance in an old waste pipe on a deserted beach, and she is going to take her sister there.

    The signs on the door warn of toxic chemicals to deter the curiosity of passers-by. The door is locked anyway and can only opened by Kazhandrah's making a special hand sign, as will be clear from the clip.

    There are blimps flying overhead to spot suspicious activity, so they have to walk, not run, to the entrance.

    Here is an overview of the scene in iClone:

    kc_s03_in_iclone.jpg

    The base for this scene is the beach terrain from a WWII pack, which includes some fortifications and gloomy buildings that are perfect.

    One thing I find greatly improved in iClone 6 are the shadows, and I use shadows to announce the foreboding presence of flying objects (or birds) in the sky. Here is a still illustrating that:

    k_and_l_on_their_way_to_secret_lab_overtaken_by_air_snoop.jpg

    Finally, a nice still of the two sisters near the waste-pipe lab entrance:

    secret_lab_entrance_in_old_waste_pipe.jpg

    I think it's time for a WIP clip, you have all been so patient...:poly121:

    [ame]


    Enjoy!
  • direx
    I love the desert set. this looks very cool with all those shipd in the air.
    I think you should change the swinging door into a sliding one. That's a bit mor sifi ...

    Kepp on the good work ...

    Direx
  • smallWstudio
    I liking that vehicle design for sure. Can't wait to see it move!!!
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thanks, Direx and Mark! @Direx, thanks also for that idea, that would be easy to do.
  • Capemedia
    This is starting to come together, looking good :) Agree about the door.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thanks, Cape. Well, I made the change of the door and it looks better. It also goes better with the sound I have (swish).
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Some projects I plan in advance in quite some detail with a detailed screenplay.

    In this case I had more of a rudimentary idea, but I didn't quite know how the story would unfold. I just wanted to do something that could have originated from a game.

    Kazhandrah was initially by herself, but after creating her face, I didn't like it and made another attempt. Again I wasn't quite happy with the result, so I went back to the first one and fixed it. So I had one face extra and that became Kazhandrah's sister, Lheandrah.

    Adding a sibling introduced a new dynamic, which I think is interesting. Many games have a single character who is associated with the player. In this case there is a pair and they behave like siblings would. I don't have sisters, so the characters themselves in a way have to tell me...

    I think the psychological side of character development is interesting, and while working on this the relationship between the two sisters became clearer.

    Lheandrah is the oldest of the two and feels protective of her sister, who in turn is all grown up and able to care of herself in her own way. Lheandrah has a traditional job as a security agent of sorts, but she will abandon it to join her sister on her quest. Kazhandrah continues the legacy her great-grandfather Lheandor as a Tinkerer and also as an independent spirit. Lheandor feels that Kazhandrah needs a guardian and Lheandrah is most suited for that.

    In one of the posts someone made the comment that this is a character animation contest, which it is. I tend to loose myself in the details of the sets sometimes and a felt I needed a bit more drama. One is in the form of a hooded figure who shows up when Kazhandrah visits her sister. In the beginning this hooded figure just watches, but he is able to follow them on their journey and he will cause trouble.

    Here are a few stills of this new character:

    hoody_watches_kazh_visiting_lhea.jpg

    In the image above, he watches Kazh going to her sister. In the next image, he watches from an elevation at the beach.

    hoody_watches_kazh_and_lhea_at_beach.jpg

    I still have to upload a new clip, so that will be next.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Here, for your enjoyment, is an update of the first three scenes.

    [ame]


    This is pretty much the final version of this part.
  • Wungun
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    Wungun polycounter lvl 4
    Nice making of thread and the story was very interesting.The animation is nice smooth and consistent.Great job on this keep the creativity up!
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Thanks, Wungun!

    It's very inspiring to see the work of others and their "tricks of the trade". I'm really glad we have an extension because there is still a lot to be done.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    I have seen some amazing animation in the contributions of others, so again I think that this competition brings out the best of everyone.

    iClone comes with some animation clips and many more can be purchased. Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection.

    A clip is a pre-animated sequence that can be used as a basis, which is what I usually do. I then use keyframes to make adjustments or to add original movement. You could also do everything from scratch, but that would be challenging. iClone does not have a curve editor (yet), so fine-tuning an animation can be daunting.

    In my story, I had initially Kazhandrah sitting down to speak with Lheandor via holocall (like Skype with a holographic image). However, I needed some time for the title, so I added a sort scene where Kazhandrah stands, engages the Crystalloy, and then sits down.

    There is an iClone pack called MixedMoves, which has transitions from one position to another. The next scene had her sitting (a clip from the same pack: SitC01), so I choose a clip called Idle_to_SitC01, which has her stand and then sit down in a chair.

    As I had made adjustments to Sit01 (she was sitting too low), I started out with the beginning of the next scene and froze the animation (right-click Remove Object Animation), which gave me the start position as a reference.

    I hear dinner, so I will continue this later...
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Well, I just messed up my reply...:poly127:

    It had an elaborate explanation of how I did this scene. Briefly, I used one reference character positioned the same as the beginning of the next scene. The character to be animated was given the same X, Y, and Z coordinates.

    I applied the Idle_to_SitC01 motion clip to that character and then lined her up with the reference character. I could then delete the reference character.

    The position of the character to be animated at the end of the scene is now anchored by a keyframe, so any changes I make before the end will not change the end position. This is usually what you'll do if there are positions you do not want to change: you use keyframes as anchors before and after the point where you want to make adjustments.

    I now had the main motion after which I used keyframes to make additions and adjustments. For example, while the character is standing, she moves her right arm up and down to engage the Crystalloy. Later, while she transitions from standing to sitting, I use keyframes to adjust her position so that she stays clear of the chair.

    We see her from a distance, so it might not be necessary, but these adjustments are easy to do and make everything "neat".

    Here is a screenshot of the scene:

    kc_s00_in_iclone.jpg

    In the timeline, you see the motion clip and the various keyframes.

    I hope this is clear...*shrug*
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Paths in iClone are used to force a character, prop, or camera to follow a specific course. For example, the character may be walking but not in one straight line, in which case a path is called for.

    A path is also used in case a surface or terrain is uneven or has different heights. By having the path follow the terrain any movement can be made to following the terrain as well.

    Something that moves along a path can stop and resume the movement. This is useful if someone walks up to a counter or table stop and do something and then continues. The distance along the path is specified as a percentage, so by setting two keyframes with the same percentages, a character or prop will be stationary.

    Here is an iClone scene with two paths for the two characters.:

    kc_s04_in_iclone.jpg

    I 'm too tired, I'll have to continue this tomorrow...
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    It seems my website is down, so you may not see any images. Bummer!
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    Website is back up again.

    To use a path, you have to create one first. If you have a terrain, then it will be created on the terrain, otherwise it will be created at level 0.00 (Z value).

    My problem is that I have a cave and if I added those to the terrain, the path will be created on top of the cave, not on the actual floor. So for this scene, I first created a path with two points (which was created at 0.00), which I then moved to the right height and expanded. I then added additional points to have the path follow the contour as well as possible.

    If you create a path on a terrain, you can select "Follow terrain" do have the path match the contour of the terrain. However, unless the terrain is flat, I have found that this doesn't always work well, in which case I uncheck "Follow terrain" and do the adjustment manually. The good news is that you can make those adjustments while the item following the terrain is in situ, so you can be as precise as you want.

    For characters walking along the path , there are two ways you can approach this. For simple walks, you can just use the built-in walk cycle (right-click "Walk forward" or "Run forward"). You attach the character to the path, select Walk forward, and then click the end of the path. The character will not move at this point, but enough walk cycles will be generated to reach the end. At this point in the timeline, set the percentage value of the path to 100%. Now your character will walk along the path. There is also an even easier method, where you simply place the character near the path without attaching. Select "walk forward" and click the end of the path. The character will move forward, walking to the end of the path (I think it will even follow curves in the path).

    To have more control over the walk, I usually use the Motion Puppet and select a walk motion. In this case you have to the determine the speed along the path yourself and then adjust the speed and the stride of the walk to match. When you do a preview of the motion, the character will move along the path, so you can make adjustments real-time. If you set begin and end markers on the timeline to just cover the walk segment and enable looping, it is fairly easy to make those adjustments.

    The Motion Puppet also allows you to adjust the walk. For example, if someone is carrying something, you don't want the arms to swing, and the Motion Puppet lets you mask out the arm movement.

    I like to work with paths, and I make good use of them in my contest entry.

    In the next scene (Scene 5), Lheandra crosses a bridge over a pool in the cave. Suddenly, a hydra emerges, spewing fire, and Lheandrah changes from walking to running. For the runs I used "Being Chased" clips from the iClone Adventure Pack movies, as they worked well. She is still moving along the path, so I adjusted the path percentage values to get the right speed.

    Here is a screen capture of the scene in iClone:

    kc_s05_in_iclone.jpg

    This is a short scene, but it took quite some time to get it completed.

    Next, we will look at some more path tricks. I often have to resort to tricks...
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    An extensive path trick explanation will have to wait for another time; I will just briefly explain what I was trying to accomplish. There is a fragment where you see Kazhandrah inside the Cerberus, steering the vehicle. So I needed a way to show her moving a controller (a bit like those in airplanes) that was related to where the vehicle was going.

    What I did was create a dummy that precedes the vehicle on the path. I then have another dummy in the vehicle that looks at the first dummy. So dummy 2 will move trying the keep dummy 1 in sight. Dummy 2 in turn moves the controller. There are two additional dummies attached to the controller, one for each hand. I use the iClone Reach feature to make the hands reach for their respective control dummies. I then position the control dummies so that hands are in a natural position.

    So we have the vehicle moving and following dummy 1. Dummy 2 looks at dummy 1 and needs to adjust to do that. The movements of dummy 2 then move the controller, which in turn moves the two controller dummies that move the hands.

    Enough about paths for now.

    Yesterday and today, I worked on Lheandor's workroom. I showed the high-tech compound earlier, but I felt it lacked some mystique. Developer Warlord has created a Mage Room pack that I used as a basis.

    I needed to make some changes because the windows were not transparent, and I needed to have the sunlight going through one of them. So I replaced the walls with the windows (replacing without modeling can be done by setting the texture opacity of unwanted parts to 0). In the replacement walls, I used an opacity map for the location of the windows as I wanted to keep the original ones.

    The window has a kind of trellis, I recreated by giving the window opacity a trellis pattern. Since the wall is light, I used a Blend map at the location of the window to make the trellis dark. So even though iClone is not a modeler, there is a lot you can do with built-in primitives and by hiding unwanted parts of the original model.

    I also played a bit with Substance for some of the new parts a created. Here is the scene:

    kc_s08_in_iclone.jpg

    I quite like the look. I wanted to have the glass items in the room look like glass, so I played with reflection and specularity. Most important also is Lheandor's viewer, which is built from iClone primitives and then textured using Substance.

    So I think that with care you can achieve good-looking renders with native renderer of iClone 6.:

    lheandor_watching_the_viewer.jpg

    I will post a progress video next.
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    It's live at:

    [ame]
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    A few posts ago I described how I had a steering controller move using "Look at" and then the hands move accordingly by using "Reach". As this might be hard to imagine, I created an annotated screen capture:

    illustration_of_steering_mechanism.jpg

    I hope this clarifies the process somewhat.

    Here is a screenshot of what it looks like in the scene (minus the dummies):

    kc_s07_in_iclone.jpg

    I have to get back and create some more scenes...
  • animagical
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    animagical triangle
    I haven't updated in a while, but I'm still trying to finish my project. One problem is that this week is also the last week before my retirement from my day job. A successor has been hired, but has not been cleared yet so I'm writing a instruction manual of sorts to help him out.

    Meanwhile the project is taking shape nicely. I have completed a scene that introduces some bikers who have been enticed to delay and capture Kazhandrah and Lheandrah.

    As we have seen earlier, the sisters have a deflection shield to protect them, and I hope to show some nice ragdoll action when the bikers try to break through. In vain of course.

    I will show an occasional still about my progress, but I'm saving the moving images to the final version to keep you all in suspense. I don't know how far I will be able to develop the story in this round, so this will most likely be a future project. I really enjoy working on this. I've always wanted to do something with science fiction and this contest is an excellent opportunity. So thanks to RL!

    This from scene 10, called "Night Riders". There is a hooded figure somewhere...

    night_riders.jpg

    Said hooded figure is trying to persuade some bikers to apprehend and capture the girls. There is a reward!

    dark_negotiations.jpg

    The bikers agree and improvise a barricade with their bikes:

    bikers_trap.jpg

    We will see what happens next soon!
  • chami79
    i hope you will finish your project as sonn as possible
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