CP17 | iClone

The process of creating my iClone animation was a heavily complicated one in which I spent a long time watching video tutorials on how to do create certain effects (the full list of videos at bottom). Once my bunker model was imported into iClone I first experimented with animating characters – here I played around with moving the puppets and testing out the timeline.

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I further experimented with figuring out how to attach characters arms to things, knowing that they would be holding guns. To test this I created 2 boxes which I pared to the arms, this allowed me to control the arms through the boxes, I then paired a rock to the man and was able to reposition the hands around the rock. This allowed me to move the rock and his arms would follow.

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To begin my actual animation I started by importing all 6 of my characters – due to an overly complicated project I had to remove 2 of the Vietcong soldiers from my scene. I then attached the characters weapons to their hands by using the box technique I previously learned; this included the AK47’s, Gareth’s pistol and Johnny’s knife.

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Before I began the animation process I added the light sources to my scene; this process involved using a spot light from the lighting panel, then repositioning it and changing the intensity.

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– I also added the red light which would be used later on. At first I had a major problem with the shadows not showing up, but I fixed this by sacrificing my wall lamp and replacing it with an overhead fluorescent bulb.

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When it came to animating my scene the timeline proved to be incredibly tricky to organize, especially considering I was animating the characters overall motion, arm movement, facial expression, voice, eyes and props separately. I began by using the motion puppet modification and masking out the arms (I would do them later) – to record an animation it was a case of holding space for as long as I wanted the animation to last.

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Once the basic movement was in place I had to match the props movement up with that of the characters. For this I used the direct prop function where I could change the movement/rotation of the prop in real time, I tried to sync this up as closely to the characters as possible, but it proved to be a very difficult process as the movement was so sensitive.

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After the props and characters basic movement was completed I created a script through text which the characters would mouth. The mouth movements looked very unnatural at first so I had to edit each letter until I got the correct motion.

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From here I animated the facial expression of my characters by using the face puppet tool. This was a case of selecting an emotion and the parts of the face I wanted affected, and then I simply moved my mouse whist playing to increase or decrease the motion. I also animated the eye movement in a similar way by purely selecting the eyes and moving the mouse in the direction I wanted them to look.

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Finally I animated any individual body part that looked out of place e.g. arms/legs/joints, this left me with all of my characters animated and I was able to start working on camera movement.

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Animating the cameras was a far simpler process than the characters. I started by creating a new camera and then positing it into the correct position, using the options on the side  to change lens size, focal range, etc. Then by using key frames I moved the camera into their finishing position and once played back they looked fluid. Certain camera angles where used to signify different things; the spinning camera around Sebastian symbolised confusion, the high angles signified his powerlessness and, the extreme close ups highlighted an important element of the film I wanted to be seen.

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In order to create the tracking camera when Sebastian is walking towards the VC soldier I simply attached the camera to the root of the body, thus following his every movement. When piecing together each individual camera I used the switch tool which allowed me to add key frames for when I wanted a camera to display and stop.

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After the cameras were completed I moved on to adding the blood puddles which expanded from the bodies. To do this I created a simple blood splat in SketchUp and imported it to the scene, then I positioned it under the bodies and increases the scale of it as the film progressed. This created realistic blood which poured from the characters bodies; I was particularly happy with this effect.

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Finally because my version of iClone was only a trial, I had to record the screen using screen capture software and played the animation all the way through, this resulted in my completing my pro-vis animation.

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As much of a success I felt my animation turned out to be, there were still a few issues with the construction process. A major struggle I had was using the timeline; whenever I recorded a new motion it would seem to replace the one placed down before, and without being able to access each individual motion on the timeline, I had to re-record most of the motions whilst the other animations were in progress – this was especially difficult for the arms and props as each one was reliant on the other.

I also found lighting incredible tricky to do, especially the red light in the ending sequence. My original aim was to make this light blink whist the alarm went off, but every time I selected the blink option every single light in the scene would disappear. In the end I had to sacrifice this element as I was unable to find a fix, this demonstrates how although iClone may be useful for structuring scenes, it does restrict some aspects of my vision e.g. the red light, the blood on characters face’s, and elaborate character movements.

One of the biggest problems I had was when Sebastian kneels down to help the dying Vietcong soldier. After animating it all perfectly I came back to find that during these 5 seconds he would move forwards out of the scene and jolt back after. When I checked the timeline there was no sign of a key frame out of place, and after ages of looking online for a fix I had to be the bigger man and giveup; iClone 1- Brett 0. In order to fix this problem I was forced to reposition Sebastian every single key frame during those 5 seconds which was a complete pain, hence why he still moves unnaturally in the final animation. It still bugs me thinking about what caused this problem, but that shows how unreliable programs like iClone can be.

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Another huge issue I had which is really noticeable is the map on the wall. Whilst animating my model the map would keep glitching and flashing a white colour which distracts from the story. In order to fix this I would have had to redo the entire bunker model which would have been incredibly difficult to do considering I had finished animating.

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Creating the whole bunker in SketchUp also proved to be a problem as the model was one big group, meaning I was unable to move each individual object like the radio computers. Although this did mean the animation process was much faster, it also meant the animation was less dynamic as I was unable to fully visualize my final sequence where the bunker has been shot to pieces.

Benjamin Tuttle. 2016. iClone Film School- Animated Blood Puddle. [Online]. [Accessed 25 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmFznHNIERE

  • This video taught me how to create the expanding blood puddle in SketchUp and iClone

Reallusion. 2015. iClone Beginner’s Guide: Animating with Motion Clips. [Online]. [Accessed 26 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAFrMYqLpx4&list=PLNV5zSFadPdncuC3Ox8_FIgVITSKMmTcv

  • This video taught me the basics of character movement and using the timeline to animate motions

Reallusion. 2011. iClone5 Tutorial – Human IK and Prop Interaction. [Online]. [Accessed 26 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eha1cLjALcE

  • After struggling with the prop puppet tool this video helped me fix the interaction between the guns and the characters.

Reallusion. 2015. iClone Beginner’s Guide: Basic Scene Lighting. [Online]. [Accessed 26 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTaMpVG6mb0&t=1s

  • This video taught me how to light a scene, especially how to create a flashing light

Reallusion. 2015. iClone Beginner’s Guide: Basic Camerawork. [Online]. [Accessed 26 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOFDJLz0jPM&t=117s

  • This video showed me how to do camera movements and how to use the switch timeline

WarLord720. 2015. Animating Characters in iClone. [Online]. [Accessed 26 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fz1ZVhLNVg

  • This video helped me with using boxes to pair character hands to objects, it also taught me how to mask out body parts when animating
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