The Modern Previsualization Solution for Film
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The Modern Previsualization Solution for Film
6 March, 2019
Animation
Character Art
Interview

John Martin from the Reallusion team talked with us about their software solutions iClone and Character Creator 3 that were used in the movie Replicas. Reallusion will be exhibiting at GDC March 18-22 Booth #P1754, so don’t forget to come around.

About Reallusion

80lv: Could you please introduce your company to us a bit? What technologies and solutions are you currently building?

Reallusion is a 2D and 3D character creation and animation hub built on our own real-time animation software to generate assets for games, previz or live virtual production. The core of our tech is built around character creation, facial animation and motion capture. We provide 2D and 3D game developers a pipeline to create, animate and optimize characters, content, and animation for Unity, Unreal, CryEngine, along with AR engines Spark AR Studio and Snapchat Lens Studio, ARkit and more. We’re connecting the best of industry hardware for motion capture and also enabling the most access to this technology than ever before with the instant face motion capture of a webcam or iPhone. Reallusion is a platform for game developers to access a complete pipeline for game content creation.

Our tools have been used by everyone from The Daily Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live to indie game developers who want to game-ready characters, animation, and motion-capture on time, and on budget. Developers and filmmakers are including Reallusion because our software gives them a pipeline that works to quicken 3D creativity with affordable solutions any indie or studio can afford and adapt to their projects.

iClone 7

80lv: Let’s talk about iClone 7. What does this software do, what are its key features? How could it be useful for developers?

iClone 7 is our 3D product. iClone simplifies the world of 3D animation in a user-friendly production environment that blends character creation, animation, scene design, and cinematic storytelling. And because it is real-time, developers and filmmakers enjoy the fastest and most cost-effective professional tool for film, previz, animation, games, education, and art.

iClone is for anyone who is serious about what they do and is tired of getting locked into expensive solutions. Developers especially should be aware that iClone is an open platform that is meant to play nicely with almost anything they have in their toolbox. Thanks to a broad array of plugins, iClone gives users on a deadline a fully integrated platform for facial and full-body motion capture, scene lighting, advanced Iray rendering, and real-time particle effects.

Replicas & Pre-Viz

80lv: You’ve mentioned the software was used for pre-visualization work in the latest movie with Keanu Reeves “Replicas”. First, could you explain how pre-viz works today? What is the tech the way it’s done today? What is the technology behind it?

Replicas is a new milestone for us and for anyone who has been watching the trend of game tools being adapted by filmmakers. The difference is speed. For instance, when it comes to previz, we give filmmakers immediate feedback on how to shoot a scene. Done the old way, there would be a lag between setup and the final result. Because iClone operates at almost zero latency, directors, cinematographers and VFX folks can try out numerous lighting and staging options without slowing down production or driving up the cost. The secret is a real-time engine, combined with an easy-to-use facial morphing and lip-syncing solution that interfaces with most motion capture systems. Virtual production teams using Unreal Engine will soon have the benefit of our characters and pipeline to mix mocap with iClone Motion Live, our motion hub that captures live performances from Xsens, Noitom, Faceware, iPhone, OptiTrack, Rokoko, Leap Motion.

Utilizing iClone in Replicas

80lv: How did iClone help the creators here and in what cases was it used?

For Replicas, we used iClone for the previz for the crash sequence, creating 3D models for each of the characters to simulate the scene in a third of the time and a tenth of the cost of tools common on big-budget films. VFX duo John Martin and James Martin joined the production crew from Reallusion to produce the previz animatics and motion visuals with Character Creator and iClone.  The main cast of the film was transformed into 3d characters using Character Creator 3, which provides fully-rigged character bases that can be morphed into likenesses and body-types to fit the actors. Scenes matching the storyboards were set up, animated and rendered in-line with other VFX look dev and all flowed into a dailies reviewed with the director and production crew discuss changes and determine physical shot requirements.

As my colleague, James Dodson, who was executive producer pointed out, having previz of the crash sequence made it possible to have detailed meetings with the stunt team and the special effects crew to point out what would be done on set and what would be done in CGI. Based on this info, the special effects crew was able to build rigs specific to the shots we studied.

80lv: iClone has such a huge variety of features – from materials to lighting and camera. In what other aspects, apart from animation, was it used by the movie makers?

Rapid prototyping with iClone’s real-time animation platform provides creatives with an environment where previz ideas can be quickly generated, shared and visualization shifts toward principal photography for films or production for games. Building characters and environments in a toolset that is geared toward storytellers of all skill levels is what our tools are designed to do. Pro and indie developers alike benefit from the speed, compatibility, and productivity real-time tools iClone and Character Creator add for film and games.

The Character pipeline is important for VFX teams to be able to adequately share files and work between various tools  During Replicas we created 3D characters in Character Creator 3 and then sent to them to iClone for motion capture and animation. Once animated, the 3D characters were exported via FBX to Cinema 4D and included in a series of shots to explore the brain-mapping motions acquired from the film’s star Keanu Reeves  The FBX exported characters from iClone work seamlessly with Autodesk, C4D, Unity and Unreal to keep production workflow flexible and moving. Motion capture with Motion LIVE is our new platform that collects data streams from multiple devices. We support Xsens and Rokoko for body, iPhone X and other devices for face and hands. Filmmakers love what we do because we empower them to do cool things fast—without the luxury of a big budget.

© Entertainment Studios

Using iClone in Game Production

80lv: Can iClone be used in games? How could it be utilized in real-time projects?

The game industry has discovered the possibilities of our 3D character pipeline. We allow developers to import or create characters, do some quick mocap and animation, then export to Unity, Unreal or a custom environment. The key is that we are able to integrate data from multiple mocap sources into a single workflow. For indie developers who have been burning studio hours trying to do motion capture, this has been a godsend.

Here are some of the games and game-oriented projects  that have used iClone:

  • The Soulkeeper VR – Helm Systems

  • Anomaly Productions – Brian Haberlin

  • Guts and Glory – Unity

Character Creator 3

Character Creator 3 is our newest tool for authoring and optimizing characters. CC3 also integrates InstaLOD’s model and material optimization technologies to generate game-ready characters that are animatable on-the-fly with multiple LOD outputs.

iClone directly connects to Unreal Engine and Unity 3D with characters and animation that go from creation to animation to interaction via auto character setup for game engines. Not only can our tools help to generate a complete custom game character or a range of NPC game characters, but everything can be optimized for gameplay with our LOD export system and loaded into a game with the auto-shader assignment. Reallusion game tools help developers have a hefty character solution that goes from concept to play.

Experiencing and learning iClone and Character Creator can be achieved through a 30-day full version trial of the software and access to free video training for creating characters and animation for Unity, Unreal and other game development platforms.

Find out more:

John Martin, VFX Artist (Replicas) & VP of Product Marketing at Reallusion

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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