Discover The iclone studio Mocap series
Reallusion’s series of motion-captured animations are ideal for delivering timely and professional results with iclone; graphics artist M.D. Mccallum details how to use the dynamic Assassin Moves series in a scene
a nimation is a competitive field plagued with battling budgets and short deadlines. Throw in the complexity of most animation programs or worse, lose control with the limitations of programs that try to simplify animation, and the frustration levels and costs are amplified.
Reallusion’s iclone is a realtime animation environment that provides ease of use to new users, while giving seasoned professionals the tools that they need to deliver timely and quality results.
Drag-and-drop motions are a mainstay of iclone, and are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the tools it provides to animators. Keyframing along with the Curve Editor give the animator more choices to help them complete the job professionally, and more importantly to slice, dice and otherwise bend pre-packed motions to the needs at hand.
As you can see iclone is not short on handy animation tools, and Reallusion has now developed its own in-house motion capture studio with skilled actors to provide high-quality and easy-to-use motions, such as the Assassin Moves Studio Mocap Series. These pro motion series enable users to select from a base motion and then branch out into other related animations with just a simple double-click or a quick drag and drop.
The advantage of using Reallusion mocap animations is that they have a specially designed motion graph system that ensures seamless transitions between primary and secondary stance modes. This offers high flexibility for professional animation production and interactive character controls.
Additionally, Reallusion’s vast library of motions include the Rifle Combat series which contain Patrol, Guard, Assault and Prone motions. There is also a Pistol Moves (Search, Guard, Take Cover, Shoot) and Pistol Stunts (Perform, Execution, Melee, Hit) from their Pistol Fight series.
These high-quality motions also work on custom characters that have been rigged to the iclone system, making this growing library of motions available for your favourite characters and projects. Now continuing development with established story and game characters is a snap, and easy on the production budget.
For this tutorial we will be using motions from the Assassin Moves professional pack, which features around 75 professionally captured performances.
01 Clear the workspace of Visual Clutter
First, clear the environment of any items that are not directly needed to accomplish the animation. If the scene is already laid out, then mass select all the props and turn off the visibility, leaving only the characters for us to focus on. This also enables us to clearly see what is going on as we animate.
02 Animate the GUARD Character
This scene involves a Guard and a Assassin character, so we’ll start by using the Motion Puppet to animate the Guard in a neutral motion, while looking around as if keeping an eye on things. Of course, we all know that most screenplay guards are very bad at their jobs, and will most likely end up a corpse. This poor fellow is no exception.
With the Guard character selected, open the Motion Puppet. Under Idle select Male 01_Natural. Move the Exaggeration slider back to 78 and the Speed back to 49. Mask out the arms and hands. Run the motion all the way to the end of the timeline.
03 ADD initial Motion to Assassin Character
Next, select the Assassin character and we will start adding motions from the mocap system. We’ll finish the Guard after we move the Assassin character to the Guard’s location. Use the search tool to find SNEAK_IDLE_TO_CROUCH_IDLE in the Motions tab. Make sure that ‘Auto-play motion clip after apply’ is checked in Preferences. Then with the Assassin character selected, double-click on the motion or simply drag and drop the motion onto the character.
04 Apply timeline Motion to Assassin
After the previous motion has finished playing to completion and without moving the timeline scrubber (if you did move it then go back to the end of the motion), you are now ready to search for and apply the CROUCH_WALK_ SLOW_START move to the Assassin character.
05 ADD initial Crouch Motion to Assassin
As before, do not move the timeline scrubber. Search for CROUCH_ WALK_SLOW_LOOP. Apply this to the character with a double-click, or a drag and drop.
06 Apply Crouch to sneak transition
Now search for CROUCH_TO_ SNEAK_WALK, and apply it to the character.
07 set up the Assassin Attack Motion
Search for DAGGER_ATK_ COMBO_A and apply it to the Assassin character. NOTE: Some motions will have unneeded movements. We will trim them out later. For now, just let each motion run to its completion.
08 ADD final Motion to Assassin
Now let’s search for our final assassin motion, SNEAK_IDLE_TO_ STAND_IDLE. Apply this motion to the character.
09 load the Dying Motion for the GUARD
Time to go back to the guard. Search for ARROW_HIT_DIE_02. On the timeline add the motion somewhere after the Assassin plunges the knife in, as his hand is coming back out. In the video example that was around frame 1,015. Apply the motion to the Guard character and let it play out.
10 trim unwanted pose from GUARD Motion
The new motion will make the Guard transition to another pose that we don’t want, so locate a place along the timeline to break the motion starting from the beginning of the motion clip. In the video example that was around frame 1,033. Right-click on the motion and select Break, then discard the small portion from the beginning of the clip and move the clip up to match the knife plunge. In the example video that was around frame 1,010.
11 edit unwanted Motion
Now we edit the Assassin for unwanted motions. Select a place on the timeline to break the motion after the knife plunge. In the video example that was frame 1,054. Right-click on the motion and select Break. Select and delete the rest of the clip after the break.
ease the load Being a real-time engine, it’s advised that you use basic characters instead of more resource-intensive or complicated ones when animating. This will make for less dropped frames while working, along with less surprises in the final render. The advantage is that with iclone you can swap out the characters at any time without losing any work.
12 Move the orphaned idle Motion
The next step is to move the orphaned idle motion up the timeline. While this could be part of step 11 it deserves its own step due to timing considerations. This is where we put it all together. This orphans the SNEAK_IDLE_TO_ STAND_IDLE down the timeline, so we want to pull it up to the end of the proceeding clip. Adjust the transition handle to your liking.
NOTE: You can also set the Assassin character to ‘Look At’ the Guard at any point in the scene. This would result in the Assassin’s head following the Guard’s body down to the ground as they fall for a more convincing visual. •
eliminate clutter and distractions When animating a complicated or busy scene, turn off the visibility of other props and items in the scene so that you can focus on the immediate animation task.
M.D. Mccallum An award-winning graphics artist, 3D modeller/animator and published author with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. www.mdmccallum.com