Arki has another Live training webinar with Digital Art Live, coming soon. It’s in three parts, on the making of Complex Accessories. Booking now for an end-July starter event, and then the in-depth series should be underway in August.
I found the ‘open movie’ Elephant’s Dream production files and .blends, on a steady FTP server, in the form of a copy of the official 1.3Gb elephant.production.tar.gz archive file (2006). It expands to 2.4Gb, and has just the .blend files and the pre-vis animatics.
I’d downloaded it years ago, and still had a few selected .blend files from it. But the original big archive was deleted from my hard-drive long ago. All these movie production assets were issued under a straight Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license, with a fully inclusive credit needing to be to something like: “Orange Open Movie Team with the Netherlands Media Art Institute and The Blender Foundation | www.blender.org”.
The elephant.production.tar.gz file has just the production folder with the Blender assets from which the movie was made. If you want to watch it then the 4K version of the final movie is on YouTube here, albeit with unobtrusive Chinese subtitles.
The movie’s Blender production files used to be freely and widely available, but then the archives began to slowly vanish over time. Currently, a larger 4.4Gb version of the (full?) production assets folders are now behind the paywall at the Blender Foundation’s Blender Cloud. I’m guessing from a screenshot that these folders also have the textures, isolated sound FX, the GIMP .xcf files, the full range of matte paintings (apparently the mattepaintings.tar.gz bit weighs in at 240mb).
If your broadband is slow, Archive.org has a browse-able unpacked version of the lesser elephant.production.tar.gz Blender production archive, at ../ED/production. with .blend files that download and open. I can’t guarantee that all of them will download and open, but the ones I tried did.
You may want to install an older 2006 or 2007 version of Blender to ensure full compatibility. Old versions will happily install alongside your current version, and haven’t yet been placed behind the Blender Foundation paywall. Though keep in mind that a newer version should have vastly better export, if all you want is the mesh + material zones.
In terms of audio there’s only a title medley audio .wav in the elephant.production.tar.gz file. But the movie’s audio was usefully somewhat split into different 5.1 tracks on the release, and the files for that are still freely available here as individual 5.1 channel .flac files, one per track. Not quite the same as having a folder full of all the foley work and FX, as one file per isolated sound, but still useful to have under Creative Commons Attribution. The symphonic music was placed under Non-Commercial.
This is a picture of the original Summer 2006 double DVD which contained the full 4.4Gb of Production files (elephant.production.tar.gz + all the rest needed to re-render the entire movie, expands to 7Gb). Apparently there was a Sept 2006 USA release on a single DVD, which also had the same 4.4Gb of Production files. So far as I can tell none of the production files were included on the later Imagion releases of the film to HD and Blu-ray. The Imagion releases were essentially advanced tech-demos for the then-new HD and Blu-ray formats, and all the possibilities they offered for interactive menus and the like.
Also, here’s the .zip of Jan Morgenstern’s symphonic music track for the movie, which was placed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 license. Still useful though, even under NonCommercial.
DAZ’s new flagship female, Victoria 8 for Genesis 8 Female, is available now for DAZ Studio. She’s making her appearance two years after the release of Victoria 7 for Genesis Female 3.
How to get V8? You first need “Genesis 8 Starter Essentials”, which is “included free with Daz Studio”. In 2015 the easiest way of installing V7 was to 1) get the very latest beta of DAZ Studio, then 2) find the relevant icons in the Content Library, then 3) click the ‘Download & Install’ button there. Looks like it’s the same process for the new V8, which…
“…requires installation of either Genesis 8 Starter Essentials through Daz Connect, or both Genesis 8 Female Starter Essentials and Genesis 8 Female PowerPose Templates through Daz Install Manager, Product Library, DIM or Daz Connect.”
After you have the free Genesis 8 up and running in DAZ Studio, you can then load up your newly-purchased Victoria 8 base figure. Here are the new store content pages for Victoria 8:
V8 has: slightly improved joint bending; the fingers and toes are more realistic; she has better shoe fitting and foot posing; and the skin shader has skin improvements (which are apparently being fully enabled for all Genesis characters via the next full version of DAZ Studio). There’s basic backwards compatibility for content, via a set of clones, which includes male -to- female clones. Nice to have, but it seems V8 may still need some workarounds to take older content. For instance, I see that someone has already felt the need to release a ‘V8 pose fix’ script for fixing old poses which don’t work properly on V8. I expect we’ll see more such ‘fix’ and ‘convert’ scripts for older Genesis content, in the coming weeks. Apparently there are also some types of older Genesis clothes which may break, specifically the sort that expect to ‘hook onto’ certain bones which are no longer present in the new V8. For instance, a bone has been removed from the foot, to enable better-looking bending of the foot when wearing high heels.
Apparently V8’s muscle groups automatically flex a little, according to the pose you apply to the body. Sounds good. Presumably the Body Morphs also work with this new default body behavior?
* There are Victoria 8 Expressions.
They look rather realistic, I must say, and are apparently “sculpted”. I haven’t had time to look into what that means, but they do look good. Apparently there are a whole lot of new bones in the V8 face, and I’m wondering if the V8 face also has the new feature where ‘muscle groups automatically flex a little’ according to the pose?
There’s also a Pro Bundle which is V8 plus a big starter range of dedicated poses and clothes.
The G8 Female Base is reported to transfer fine into Poser 11, using the existing and well-documented (if rather fiddly) workflow for importing G3 characters to Poser.
The new Victoria 8 is also being named in shorthand as “G8F/V8”. But that’s a bit of a handful on the keyboard, and so I’ll probably be typing either “G8F” or “V8” in future.
I expect we’ll also be getting a new Micheal 8 flagship male character soon. Back in 2015, Mike was set for a November release after the June release of Victoria.
The skipping of the Genesis generation numbers also suggests that the long-awaited ‘DAZ Studio 5’ may turn out to be named ‘DAZ Studio 8’, probably complete with a swishy new Moebius-strip ‘8’ logo. Just my guess.
The new version of the digital sculpting tool ZBrush, ZBrush 4R8 is out…
“ZBrush 4R8 is the final iteration within the ZBrush 4 series before we move to ZBrush 5.0.”
It adds major new features such as Vector Displacement Meshes and Real-time Booleans, as seen in this demo/promo video…
The full list of new features is here.
In the past I’ve spent some days with the ZBrush demo and tutorials, but was rather held back by the lack of a pen monitor which would allow me to draw and sculpt directly onto the screen. My recently re-learning of Vue (in its latest 2016 R2 incarnation) has made me weary/wary of learning yet another huge complex chunk of software, and navigating through all of its inevitable and frustrating roadblocks. But these new feature additions, plus my new pen monitor, have definitely moved ZBrush up my “must learn, soon-ish” list.
The Blender community has such great content under Creative Commons, on sites such as BlendSwap. But Blender is so often a nightmare to export content from, for people who care nothing about their precious Cycles renderer and who loathe wrestling with Blender’s horrible User Interface. I must have tried at least a hundred such exports from Creative Commons .BLEND files in my time. But roughly 50% of the time you just have to give up, as there’s no way on earth that the mesh and its loading textures are coming out in a viable and easy manner.
So the rest of us are still in need of that mythical simple “blender to .OBJ with textures” exporter. It would export…
* the mesh as .OBJ… automatically excluding lights, domes, grounds and similar scene clutter.
* a proper .MTL file, with clear editable texture references in it (e.g.: map_Ka mapfile.png), rather than a jammed-together block of Cycles gibberish which only Blender understands.
* all the embedded texture .JPG files if they exist, neatly and automatically output in the same folder to work with an aligned .MTL file, so that they actually load up in any another 3D software.
So just a really pure and simple exporter, an exporter which works even when the .BLEND file author has fiddled with all sorts of settings and switches which mess up such a simple export to .OBJ or .FBX.
Perhaps this could be enabled by having BlendSwap enforce or retrospectively apply a simple word-tagging of the core mesh, and also any bitmap textures, inside Blender. The export script would then look for these tags inside the .BLEND and hook onto them?
It’s sad to hear confirmed that Poser scripter and store vendor Ralf Sessler (Dimension3D aka D3D) has recently passed away. His fine and robust Python scripts, such as ‘XS – eXtended Shader Manager’, came up many times during my recent intensive perusal of the Python scripts which work with Poser 11. On the Renderosity forums, I see that ‘renapd’ reports that materials and information have been requested from Ralf’s family, in order for the community to — in due course — make a fitting memorial for him and his work.
There’s a new page on this blog, Stuff for free. Opening with a free version of the prehistoric trilobite which I found a few weeks ago. Converted from the legless Maya .MB format to .OBJ. Added legs, fins and the correct material zones, to allow you to apply your own textures. Also included in the package are some free Creative Commons materials taken from the open movie Sintel — use of these will require you to credit “The Blender Foundation” on your pictures.
I’m assuming that this one spends most of its time scooting among the dappled shadows of sparse weeds on the shallow seafloor, like those seen in this scientifically-accurate museum diorama, so the green I’ve applied may be camouflage…
There’s a new Vue Environment Competition 2017. Over $30,000 of prizes, top judges, deadline 30th September 2017.
Discover how an epic science-fiction scene is devised and built with Vue and Photoshop, in a webinar masterclass with Chris Hecker. Chris is one of the most accomplished Vue/Photoshop artists. Free and booking now…
What new goodies were released in May 2017, for the Poser/DAZ content ecosystem? Here’s my survey of what caught my eye this last month…
A new set of matching Greeble City Blocks from Stonemason.
Also some modular Eco buildings to add a bit more greenery to your Greeble city.
UFO crash site looks very cool. Someone will presumably give it an additional texture set in due course, to make it more steampunk / The War of the Worlds? Perhaps also a retro ‘Roswell’ 1950s makeover?
Storm Robot for Poser by Moscowich. A homage to the Mass Effect videogame, so probably not suitable for commercial use.
You Medbot (above) could be the robot tattooist in Coflek-gnorg’s new highly detailed Tattoo Salon for Poser, which has a Blade Runner / cyberpunk vibe. There’s also an equally detailed Tattoo Machine.
Starship Wanda, an unusual fish-shaped spaceship.
Cyberia Dress V4, a basic but rather good-looking 1970s-style sci-fi dress for V4.
Greylien For Genesis 3 Male, from a hand-sculpt in ZBrush and with detailed textures.
There’s a free Mane in fibermesh, which fits the vast herds of Genesis 3 centaurs which have recently been released onto the DAZ Store. Could possibly also enhance an alien G3 character.
Fantasy and monsters:
Any new set from DM is usually worth looking at, and his latest is DMs Mystic AtmoSPHERE. G3F poses, matched to an emissive glowing iRay sphere. It looks perfect for wizards and seers and the like.
Cheech Evolution for G3M and poses. He looks like a remake of the free Poser character Creech, which shipped for free with Poser 8 and which I seem to remember was modeled on a public domain B-movie monster from the 1950s. In his new DAZ Studio incarnation he now has various add-ons such as the deep-sea King of the Deep outfit and poses.
Monster Skulls, including a cyclops.
Death Stalker, an unusual hybrid between an insect and a dinosaur. Just the sort of thing for your explorers to encounter in a Lost World or alien planet.
Legionnaire for Genesis 3 Male. There’s already authentic Roman military gear floating around for M3 and M4, but if you need it for G3M then these do look rather good. They also include fits for a couple of G3 variants.
Satine Detective Outfit for G3F.
Dr. Graverobber by Cybertenko is a complete 1930/40s Indiana Jones outfit for Michael 4, plus whip.
The new Palm Road seems to fit well with Dr. Graverobber. It’s detailed enough for Vue users to also be interested in this.
Pirate Dining, the cabin of a pirate ship. With a bit of work and some candle-light it might also double as the inside of a hobbit-hole. I’m thinking of the scenes with the singing dwarves in Bilbo’s kitchen, at the start of The Hobbit.
Classic Rickshaw, possibly also useful for a steampunk Fu-Manchu vs. Sherlock Holmes type of adventure-mystery.
Old_Revolver for Poser, another high-quality prop and texture set from Dante78.
An authentic Texas Ranger Outfit for G3M, complete with some really nice Wild West boots. Probably needs some “And I just rode thu’ that there desert…” MATs, to dust up the clothes.
Got milk? A traditional milk-churn and related props.
Double Trouble Braids for G3F. A nice Celtic look, and slightly mussed up, which would suit shield-maiden battle scenes. Audrey Hair is similar and shorter, with a pony-tail effect on top. Apparently the Bronze Age people used heavy metal crimped stoppers on the ends of the braids, to weight the hair braid.
Everyday characters and clothes:
H&C Casual B outfit for G3M has a nice simplicity about it, while also being quietly futuristic. Designed to work well in close-ups and I foresee quite a few texture makeover packs being made for this set.
A Paris-style Metro Train interior.
An Island House complete with island and ocean.
There’s also a new Downtown Loft : Living Area, new from Stonemason.
Animals and nature:
SongbirdRemix’s bird expert Ken Gilliand has turned his attention to frogs, and he’s just released the Nature’s Wonders Frogs of the World Vol. 2 for Poser. It has those highly colourful, but highly deadly, ‘poison dart’ frogs. Created with Ken’s usual attention to detail and scientific realism.
Sea Washed Beach Rocks in hi-res for Poser, plus sand and a scene preset. May also be of interest to Vue users who want to do rock-pools and low-tide scenes.
iReal Animated Dandelion for DAZ Studio. Vue users already have a dandelion, but it’s not animated.
Country Ford for DAZ Studio and Carrara, a classic English ford. A useful addition for those with horses, hounds and historic vehicles in their runtimes. Also for stream-dipping scenes with child characters.
Wild Mossy Bamboo Forest for Poser.
The Forest could probably work well with Flinks Mossy Rocks HD for Poser and Vue.
Garden pottery for DAZ Studio. Very nicely textured with weathered textures that get past the ‘3D always looks too clean’ thing.
Vue users also have Ground Cover No.7: Pine Forest Floor which uses instancing to make sure each patch is unique. So you can apply it as an ecosystem on small patches of ground and not get repeating moire patterns.
Plugins and tutorials:
Scene Optimiser for DAZ Studio 22.214.171.124 and later, which allows you to drastically lower the memory required for certain types of scenes, and thus speed up your renders. I didn’t feature this last month because I wasn’t sure how well it worked, or how easy it was to operate. But I’m told it does work and it works well. It doesn’t only reduce the size of the big 4000px textures, but also seems to offer many other tweaks. Only for DAZ Studio 126.96.36.199 or higher, as it apparently calls a function in the software that has only recently been introduced.
The Ultimate Guide to Creating Complex Outfits, a big multi-part training series with digital clothing expert Arki. Learn exactly how to make quality long dresses, full-length skirts, long-sleeved and multi-layered outfits.
Poke-Away3! for Genesis 3 aims to help cure clothing ‘poke through’. Often it’s just a case of making the offending body parts invisible, but there are times when that’s not going to work and you might need help from something like this.
DAZ Studio also has a Billboard plugin which gives you 2D billboards that always face the camera. I’m guessing you can probably do this by hand in DAZ Studio, but it’s likely that the plugin makes it easier and faster.
Lastly, currently on $2 clearance is the Poser Format Exporter for DAZ Studio 3 and 4, which from DAZ-only formats “generates Poser format Pose (.pz2), Face/Expression (.fc2) and Hand (.hd2) files from directly within DAZ Studio”.
That’s it. More picks next month.
fClone is a new facial motion-capture software that works via a webcam, and can output to Poser’s .pz2 format for use in Poser and DAZ Studio. It’s a little fresh in terms of its versioning, but it’s now in a 1.05 bugfix version.
There’s a free trial available, then it’s $199 for the Standard version, or $50 if you just want to ‘rent’ it for a month of gurning and grinning production work. I’m guessing that $199 price is probably about on a par with iClone’s more mature desktop mo-cap offerings, though I haven’t looked at those or their pricing for a while.
As far as I can tell, the software has nothing to do with iClone or Reallusion, despite the similar name.
I found a scientifically-correct base trilobite in 3D, made in 2003. Because… trilobites! One of the most famous fossil types. They ruled the earth for 270 million years, although the closest thing to a trilobite which most people encounter today is a cute little wood-louse standing on a wood-pile.
The 3D model appears to be the best available for free, and…
“features the basic properties evident in the species but no specifics of any of the many subspecies … as anatomically accurate as possible, based on current knowledge.”
Sadly the model’s in Maya 4.5 .MB format from 2003. But if anyone with an (old?) copy of Maya wants to convert it to .OBJ it seems they can. The model is OK for non-commercial educational use only, as per the original rights notice. There are various bits of software which claim to be multi-3D-file converters (3DWin5, PolyTrans, SAP Visual Enterprise Author etc) that can open .MB files, but I’m told they all require a copy of Maya installed before they’ll actually open an .MB file. I haven’t found any simple “.MB in, .OBJ out” utility.
And here’s a picture which suggests the coloration of your trilobite, and the sort of soft parts that don’t survive to be seen in the famous polished fossils…
We think of them today as hard and black and like an Alien face-hugger, but in their time they were perhaps as attractively coloured as modern-day cuttlefish can be.
There’s also an un-rigged $12 Trilobites Set for Vue, although it’s a bundle so getting it into your wishlist seems to be impossible. There’s nothing worth having for Poser and DAZ Studio.
Of course there’s also some on Turbosquid, but they also come with the usual ridiculously high Turbosquid prices ($250!) that appear to be aimed at big advertising and movie production studios.
Google Images is such a pile of manure for picture research these days, even when you know how to search and can knock out all the search-pollution coming from Pinterest and Wikipedia and YouTube. For many types of searches, DuckDuckGo’s Images Search is now far superior in terms of relevancy. The range of search modifiers is not yet perfect, but they’ve just added a new “Extra Large” to their search.