Vital Kinect accessories are officially discontinued by Microsoft, and the technology downplayed. If you rely on Kinect for your body-tracking / motion-capture workflow, now might be the time to hop on eBay and grab a couple of replacements for some vital components.
There’s an interesting real-time PBR viewport for Cinema 4D, PixelBerg which is now in a stable 1.9 beta. It seems to be genuine full-scene real-time, and doesn’t need a powerful graphics-card to run. Which might make it an alternative real-time option to consider before you plunge into an iClone purchase and the Reallusion content/upgrade ecosystem.
Here’s a side-by-side render demo of Pixelberg running in real-time as the main viewport, using a HDR for lighting, alongside the turbo-charged 24-seconds final render. It seems to be genuinely What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)…
Pixelberg may be especially interesting to Poser Pro 11 users, as Poser interfaces smoothly with Cinema 4D via Smith Micro’s PoserFusion plugin. Only the Pro version has the PoserFusion plugins which seamlessly and quickly take your Poser scene to Vue, Cinema 4D etc.
Nice price for PixelBerg, too. $1!
“PixelBerg is available to buy and download now at Pay What You Want Price. (minimum $1)”.
Cinema 4D itself is sadly a lot more expensive, with the cheapest version being $995. But depending on your ‘destination configuration’ for iClone, that may be price-comparable with iClone Pro + extras (provided that you can do things like roll your own figure-animations, or can bring them in from Poser). If you’re in education, note that Cinema 4D has an 18-month student and teacher license which comes in two flavours: free (full featured, but no plugins will run) or £140 (can run plugins in it). Running PixelBerg would require the £140 Educational version.
Update: I hear that Cinema 4D also supports the Indigo renderer, part of which provides a GPU-powered large supposedly real-time preview window. But it costs a hefty 200 Euros, and according for their forums the “real-time” interactive preview window is still limited and buggy at December 2017. The new Cinema 4D R19 also reportedly has a new fast native viewport built-in.
3D World magazine is increasingly skippable, due to its high-end industry/student focus. But this month at least there’s a good review of iClone 7. Though it has a misleading bit which says that “iClone 7 has a very short learning curve”. That seems erm, well… let’s just say it seems over-eager to hype the software. To be charitable to the reviewer, that line occurs over in the sidebar and perhaps was added later by the sub-editor.
The Reallusion blog has all the details on their just-released $1000 Faceware Realtime system, for accurate real-time markerless facial animation in iClone…
The Muvizu website is back again, the Glasgow company having been acquired by Hong Kong’s Meshmellow. Sales also appear to be back, with the £25 Muvizu:Play+ and various add-on packs, though the site appears to be little sluggish from the UK (presumably it’s now hosted in the Far East?). Muvizu is a real-time toon animation animation software based on the Unreal videogame engine, and pitched at a market segment that needs things to be easy-to-use.
An interesting demo of the forthcoming Eevee real-time viewport in Blender, albeit using a powerful $800 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card.
Is it an iClone-killer? No, not yet. iClone runs on a lot less horsepower and it still has an easier user interface than Blender (even after the horrible/sluggish user interface introduced in iClone 6). On the other hand, Blender is free, and liable to optimise and speed up popular features reasonably rapidly.
The Future: Blender 2.8 (current is 2.79) suggests Eevee is based on OpenGL and should be here in stable form in 2018….
“Blender 2.8 brings the minimum OpenGL version to 3.3, with even newer features for compatible hardware. The main use of this technology is Blender’s new real-time render engine: Eevee.”
Apparently those with less-than-uber PCs might benefit from tweaking settings. Go to: the top menu | File | User Preferences | System -> openGL depth picking checked, and set this to use openGL Occlusion Queries.
I was able to get a real-time view with Emiliano Colantoni’s Wasp Bot demo, and a pleasingly large one. Though it took about 40 seconds for the lighting highlights to kick in on top of the partly lit model.
However the output render was not WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). I had expected that an OpenGL render would get you a speedy render of the scene exactly as seen in real-time, just like iClone. But no.
1) Viewport, lit. Size on screen something like 1200px.
2. OpenGL render from the same active viewport. About 40 seconds for 2000px.
Ugh. Not the same. Nor did switching back to the default OpenGL settings help matters, or ticking various boxes in the OpenGL render dialogue. Oh well, maybe Eevee will become WYSIWYG by the time of the final Blender 2.8. But at present it seems to be just another nice-to-have big preview window, and not an actual real-time render production tool like iClone.
Sad to hear that the firm behind real-time 3D toon software Muvizu has entered administration…
“Digimania, the Glasgow-based animation software company, went into administration on April 18th 2017, making 14 people redundant.”
It had rather dropped of my radar, but it’s good to hear that the users have set up a Anizu as an alternative hub. They host the free trial. Apparently there’s no way to activate to the full latest version software after a fresh install, and old users moving computers need to make sure they copy over the old…
“file called playplus.lic found in C:\Program Files\Muvizu Play\MuvizuGame\Licence “
Anizu also has a copy of the last of the 2013 version free-trial in 64-bit, before a lot of features were locked down. I’m fairly sure that version was not time-limited, just slightly crippled. So that’s a good option for making short YouTube videos, until the new owner gets up and running and restores license sales for the latest version.
Apparently there was a purchase by a Chinese company “2017-09-10” and…
“According to Neil, a former Muvizu developer, the new owners plan to use the existing licensing system and hope to restore all existing Muvizu:Play+ licences.”
I see that the real-time 3D software iClone 7 has shipped. On an upgrade from iClone 5.5 Pro the store is currently offering me a price of $219, inc. the vital 3DXchange 7 Pro.
7.0 is running on DirectX 11 and requires a “Graphics Card: NVidia Geforce GTX 600 Series/ AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series or higher” compatible with Pixel Shader 3.
There’s a fixed Toon Effect, apparently. Looks like the 7.0 cel shading is now basically ‘what you see is what you get’, whereas before in 6.0 it got a bit washed out on export and lost definition on the inking outlines…
Kind of glad I didn’t spend on a 6.0 upgrade, if that feature was broken and has only just been fixed with 7.0. That’s beside the horrible new UI and the sluggishness that arrived with iClone 6.
Here are the nicely-formatted specs on what’s new in 7.0…
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. Also by that fiendishly horrible interface, which is Definitely Not In Any Way Like Photoshop, and deeply offputting. 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 “might learn” list.
My current alternatives are the much easier-looking Groboto and Hexagon, even though they’re older now. The more modern, but more expensive, option there would be Modo 10.2 with the MeshFusion plugin. But that latter option appears to be waaay too sluggish on my PC when intersecting booleans, whereas a Groboto 3 test runs as a smooth as silk. Groboto is what MeshFusion grew out of, and they basically do the same thing.
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.
The excellent 2D animation software CrazyTalk Animator is now shipping the promised .PSD Photoshop templates with the $299 CrazyTalk Animator Pipeline version 3.1 (not to be confused with 3.01). This is from Reallusion, and so the new templates are very clearly documented.
This relatively-simple software also looks increasingly useful for re-posing 2D characters of the sort used in webcomics production, to save a whole lot of hand-drawing. So it might be considered by artists, even if you don’t want to plunge into all the pain and fiddly slogging that comes with making a full-blown animation with its backgrounds / video-editing / voice-acting / music / titles etc.
Also, I see Reallusion has iClone 7 on a pre-order with special discounts, for delivery in “June 2017”. Upgrading from iClone 5 Pro would cost $199, and that would include the vital companion software 3DXchange 6 Pro (required for working with the current incarnation of 3D Warehouse, older 3DXchange versions being no use now in that regard, because 3D Warehouse have junked all their old file versions).
I’ve looked at the new features but am not really tempted to get back into iClone, unless perhaps… if iClone 7 reveals a Comic Book inking mode that can do better than Poser 11 can. iClone 7 development looks to be pitched heavily toward meeting a slate of industry pre-vis feature requests, and competing with videogame engines such as Unreal and Unity (both free, but for now they’re stuck with nightmare interfaces intended for game developers).
The free 3D software Blender is getting a real-time render engine. Blender’s Eevee engine roadmap has just been published, and the development team are now heading toward presenting a basic demo at…
“Siggraph 2017 [end July], with a more polished usable version by the Blender Conference.”
Still an insane interface, that no-one in their right mind would try to learn. But this new move raises the possibility that the new engine will eventually be integrated into Poser, as part of Poser’s Cycles integration.
iClone 7 is coming soon. Here’s a just-released peek at the visual improvements. Interface or connections to 3D Coat, Substance Painter, Sketchfab, Marmoset. Emissive textures as light sources. Glow maps as light sources, and more…
The new Marmoset Toolbag (now in version 2.08) has come a long way. The original Toolbag was a gamer maker’s texturing and preview tool. Capable real-time rendering, and able to do glows like iClone can. But texture support was only for game makers, as TGA or PSD (aurgh!). Applying even those materials was a nightmare, and woe betide you if you wanted to move objects around the screen in real-time.
But the new Marmoset Toolbag 2 (summer 2015) is set up much more like a sort of real-time Keyshot (*), and most of the problems are gone. And with version 2.08 it’s now become a welcome contender in the “genuine real-time 3D” arena, though is still not a match for the similarly-priced iClone in terms of overall abilities and wide range.
The public renders made with Toolbag do tend to look better than you might see on a quick Google Images search for iClone pics. But my feeling is that’s due to the ultra high-quality game models being used in Toolbag, obviously of the very highest quality and probably destined for inclusion in commercial games or production portfolios.
As an instance of Toolbag’s features-lag against the likes of iClone, consider that with version 2.08 Toolbag has only just added real-time depth-fog volumes and full FBX import. But by version 3 (late 2016?) I’m thinking Toolbag may well have become very capable and polished. It’s one I’ll be taking a look at again, in about a year’s time.
* — although, arguably, Keyshot is very nearly ‘the real-time Keyshot’ 🙂