What is iClone 7?
So, today we’re getting started in iClone 7, by Reallusion, this 3D animation and scene building system is part of a suite of software centered around Character Creator 3, a powerful character creation system, designed with Unreal and others in mind. I’ll admit I don’t know much about iClone 7, beyond an overpowering sense that I needed and wanted it. iClone 7 is a 3D animation system, designed to create and apply 3D animations to your character.
Actually before you read this, you should check out our ultimate beginner’s guide to Character Creator 3 as a primer for learning about iClone 7.
What does iClone 7 do?
iClone 7 integrates with Character Creator 3 and it’s suite of software by Reallusion, to create a user friendly production environment for 3D Animation to animate characters, build scenes, and tell cinematic stories. You can export to Unreal, Unity, Maya, Blender, 3DS Max, and Motion Builder.
You may just wish to create animations outright with it, but it can also be used to export animations to your game characters, and with Unreal Live Link, it even allows you to put characters directly into your game without the need for FBX importing, and you can create and manage and view their animations in iClone 7 and Unreal simultaneously. iClone 7 also has a wealth of other features, including facial animations and lip sync, even for characters who weren’t designed with a facial rig. So we’re going to get into some of them now, and see where it takes us.
How much does iClone 7 cost?
- The Character Animation bundle, includes Character Creator 3 Pipeline and iClone 7 for 398 USD.
- The standard version with 700+ Assets is 199 USD.
Do I need iClone for character creator?
The Character Creator 3 pipeline doesn’t need iClone 7 to function, if you only want to create and export characters. However, you will need iClone 7 if you want to make and export your own animations.
So where do we get started?
First we’ll take our character, and import her into iClone 7, this is as easy as going, Export -> Send Character to iClone.
Many Export Options
Take note as well, that if I were to choose to export the model as an FBX, I have the following range of options.
You can also export just as easily to Unity 3D, or Maya and Blender, Motion Builder, and 3DS Max.
Alright so we export, and…..
So I decide to check out “Face Puppet” under the animation section, and this is what I see:
Ok, so I think I have figured out something of what this does, first of all, it’s giving me control over the direction of the character’s face, and also changing her expression, making her blink, and moving her face around. You can record this onto your timeline, and I think these will be exported with your animation, making your animations a lot more lifelike, and you can also control your character’s head really well.
Then I decided to apply some animations to the character as well, and the result is here:
And she does a spin at the end of it.
Overall, a pretty neat device to be working with. I am happy enough with this. I wonder how easy it is to export the animations to Unreal.
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I also discovered this cool thing.
The motion puppet (Direct Puppet)
You can take control of your character’s body, you can move their arms and hands and legs and head and torso around directly, you just record an animation, press play, and it will change the animation to include your performance, this allows you to take an existing animation and alter it, for instance, my character is now doing, a kind ballet like dancing:
Also I should note, it contains full cloth simulation for the dress, and hair. As well as Realtime Global Illumination. A fine feature indeed, is there anything it doesn’t do? Will it make my breakfast for me? Does it do my taxes as well?
Ok, this seems interesting enough to move forward. Let’s begin testing it in engine. Export to FBX. It just occurs to me that an FBX includes animation, it’s not just a mesh, it’s more than that, it’s a skeleton, with animations, and a mesh, it has layers man, it’s complex, it’s deep, and emotional. Like the setting sun.
The export process is fairly straightforward, just pick your poison and export, takes less than a minute.
Importing into Unreal Engine 4 on the other hand:
Ok, and after all the normalmaps are done importing, and everything is ready to go, this is what it looks like:
The madness begins
The Madness continues, it is eternal
It reminds me of an old story, of one of the world’s first programmers, who was asked, on a number of occasions, “Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” (and in the words of Babbage) “… I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”
Perhaps this is just a case of garbage in garbage out.
Give me a moment to try retargeting something I know works fine to the new skeleton.
Everything resolves itself
Useless for my game design, but let’s try applying another animation from my game, to the skeleton, in a more standard setup.
Before doing this, I decide to experiment with putting this character in the level.
This is how she looks:
iClone 7 is a fascinating and powerful tool. It allows you to build animations easily, and export them easily to Unreal, you can create some really beautiful scenes with this with very little effort. It already added a lot of atmosphere to my project, and it can do the same for you.
Is it worth the price? I’d have to say yes, the ability to create and export your own animations is a really excellent capability, and if you’re serious about game design, this is something you should have on your agenda. The Character Creator 3 pipeline is also a handy tool to have on hand, if you want to export your characters ready to animate, in high quality, with no jury rigged, do it yourself techniques. Your character is just ready to use, out of the box, as soon as you export, or transfer via Unreal Live Link through iClone 7.
Is it worth the money?
Could your money be better spent? Maybe, by the time you’re done building up your suite of software, getting the best bundles, and everything you need, you will be looking at a hefty down payment on a good PC, or a fleet of licenses and characters from Daz3D. You could also buy a small town worth of environments from the Unreal Store, and still have enough left over for Easy Survival RPG v2.5.
Nevertheless, I feel this software has good value for money, and provides a really useful niche, filling a void that was often very difficult, if not impossible to overcome. You will streamline the process of creating your animations, for one, but you can also customize existing ones.
Should you buy this? Yes, it may not be your first major purchase, but this software should be on your agenda, you should have a checklist of things to buy for your game, and this software should be on the list somewhere. Being able to craft your own animations effectively and easily cannot be ignored, it is one of the harder aspects of game design, and this program streamlines it, and makes it easy, and fun. It covers everything from facial animation and lip sync, to puppeteering, scene creation, lighting, you can even use Unreal Live Link to connect directly to your unreal game and transfer characters and animations without conversion to FBX first, it is clean, efficient, and clever.
You can also use this software to create 3D Animated Movies and Cutscenes, and there are so many addons and plugins to choose from, like the high quality Iray rendering, for still images, movies, and soforth, or any number of other features and functions available, you can find whatever you need to with this.
It is definitely worth your time and worth your money, my mind is already racing when I think what I can do with this……
Good morning, sunshine.