Learning Reallusion's iClone 5: Part 1 - Creating a Scene

With iClone 6 (check out the embeded video at the bottom of this post) currently in development and me having bought iClone 5.51 in December of last year I thought it was time to start learning the software. Especially now that my confidence with Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 2 is much higher and in a more stable place.

Note that if you've found this post expecting tutorials, I'm sorry, you won't find them here. This is my journey and experience of learning iClone 5.5 for anyone who may be interested in buying the software but aren't sure if it's going to be too hard to learn. This will probably turn into a series of articles as I'm writing it during my process of learning and not after the fact. I can only write about what I've learned.

If you do have iClone 5.51 and want to follow along I'll be working my way through iClone 5's series of Quick Fix starter videos.

From Reallusion's website: iClone 5.51 is a real-time 3D animation tool with digital actors, environments, visual effects, drag & drop editing, powerful physics and Microsoft Kinect-ready motion capture; designed for rapid production, creative education and cost-effective pre-visualization.

What that means is, just like CrazyTalk Animator, it comes with existing content (and a market place that you can buy more content from) that you can either use as is or modify as much as you need. If you really want to you can even bring in 3D models made entirely from scratch in other third party software.

Watch the video below to really get a feel for what iClone can do.

Personally if you're a fan of 2D animation but would like to dabble in 3D I'd highly recommend iClone as the perfect companion to CrazyTalk Animator 2 (which is, of course, focuses on 2D animation).

Not only are the user interfaces very similarly laid out - learn CTA2 first so iClone will seem less complex - but you can drag and drop motion files from iClone directly onto your characters in CTA2. Something I found very useful when I needed a character in CTA2 to dig a hole with a shovel. I saved a lot of time just by buying an Occupations iClone Motion Content pack.

But I digress, getting onto learning iClone, I began with How to set up a scene. Watch the video at the link if you want to run through the tutorial. Here's the scene I set up, after watching the video to see if I could remember everything I learned.

My first iClone 5 scene.
Although my scene is made up entirely of existing content I wanted to explain a little about what that means. Otherwise you may get the impression that all I did was drag and drop things into place - which I did, but there's more to it than that.

Unedited Combat Zone Stage.
The city scene its self is a war ravaged environment that looks like the image on the right when you first add it to the stage. Notice that there is no water at the end of the central road.

To begin getting the scene to look like my image I had to add in the orange sky.

Next I added in the water which, at first, flooded the entire scene prompting, a change in setting so it would only fill the area at the end of the road.

I wanted the scene to look like it had stood in ruin for a long time so I added an appropriate looking tree and placed it on the road its self and surrounded it with grass.

Next I placed the monster into the scene. Originally he was quite small so I scaled him up to make the image seem like perhaps he had something to do with all the damage.

Finally I adjusted the lighting and shadow settings and changed the light from a white light to something more orange to match the light that would be cast from an orange sky.

Admittedly, all this is not complex. It's merely a case of adding things and adjusting settings but what I want to emphasize is that all of it is about creative choices. That's the real strength of iClone. It lets you concentrate less on the technical side of creating a 3D environment and more on the creative side of how things will look.

My last creative choice was moving the camera around to take a good picture for this blog post. iClone lets you take a snap shot of any angle of your scene with just one click.

When you see the scene animated the water is rippling automatically and the leaves on the tree blow in the breeze. Though I didn't include video of the scene here because I couldn't add any animation to the monster. Usually you can just drag a motion file onto the character and it'll add that motion to the character but for some reason, not this particular character. I'll look into that more later.

I'll leave it there for now. The next tutorial is about how to make your own character which I will most certainly write a post about. In the meantime enjoy the video below which is a preview into what's coming in iClone 6.

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