iClone 5.5, HP’s ZBook 17 and The Foundry’s Mari 2.5. by Todd Sheridan Perry
iClone is now in iteration 5.5, with hundreds of animators, filmmakers and game designers not only using the software, but contributing to the Content Store, where you can browse and buy a gagillion characters, scenes and motions.
Version 5.5 is a big step up, with the advance of Reallusion’s MotionPlus data format, which jams all the animation data into one file. Facial animation, body animation, props and dynamic spring effects all get mooshed in. Even the new bake constraint data — things like foot contact, picking things up, look-ats and path constraint — is included in the MotionPlus data. And all this info can be transferred between multiple characters. But don’t worry! All you professional Maya, Max and Cinema4D users still can use the data through the FBX format. That way, all your work can be rendered with higher-end engines like VRay and Mental Ray. The facial animation tool, Create Face, has been enhanced to make it easier to bring in a video of you talking and map the performance onto a 3D character. But iClone doesn’t stop with characters. It also includes terrain-generation tools with Level-Of-Detail options; ideal for game development in software like Unity. Additionally, a bunch of easily swappable materials and skies are there to quickly create new environments. You even have a height-map editor to adjust or create custom mountain ranges. Do you want tanks driving through? The terrain has physics parameters that work with the iClone plug-in Physics Toolbox to help with vehicles and tracks (like tank treads).
Lastly, iClone is now available in 64-bit, an oft overlooked bonus. While most of the target demographic seems to be real-time games and hobbyists, I am very excited about the potential for smaller films to be able to use the iClone technology to develop pitch-viz — previz uses to raise filmmaking funds — and actual previz to help directors make choices before going onset with 150 people waiting for a decision.