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Getting started with iClone - what do I need?

Posted By jrm21 4 Years Ago
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jrm21
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I have seen some similar topics, but haven't seen some of my questions answered - though a new topic would be appropriate.

First off - hello. Brand new here. Looking at iClone 6 and think it might suit my needs. I have been playing with Carrara on and off for several years. My main desire is to make short animations. I am not really a modeler - I prefer "pre-made" content. I have a decent library of DAZ figures and props. From what I see, iClone may be better suited as an animation tool.

Question 1 is what software package do I need? It looks like iClone Pro + 3DXchange bundle might do it. Pipeline looks like a need only if I wanted to export everything back to Carrara. I am hoping that the iClone renderer is all I would need, and could simply render my video out from there.

3DXchange looks like it has everything needed to bring my DAZ library over to iClone. I have seen tutorials for figures such as "Genesis" people. What about other props - clothing, building, vehicles, scenery elements? What about animals - horse, dog, etc? Can these all be transferred to iClone and then animated? Do the textures translate as well?

I have been pretty happy with the render engine in Carrara. Can similar results be achieved in iClone? How is render speed for animations?

The big question is hardware. I am on a Mac (I know). With no Mac version of iClone, I would have to boot the machine into Windows. It is a MacPro tower - 2x2.4GHz Quad Core Xeon with 20GB RAM. ATI Radeon HD 5770 video card/1024MB.

Booting to windows, will this machine deliver acceptable iClone performance?  Also, which Windows OS should I run - 7, 8? Home, Professional, Ultimate?

I've nothing against windows, but do not relish learning a new OS. My hope is that iClone can deliver enough of a performance and functional benefit on this machine that it will be worth my while to run a separate OS for it.

Ideas?

Thanks in advance for any help.

--Joe




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4 Years Ago by jrm21
animagic
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Is it possible to replace a graphics card in a Mac? The card you have now is not a great performer judging by one benchmark (http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=Radeon+HD+5770). Ideally you're looking at something like a NVidia GTX 970 or 980. Video memory is important in 1GB is not enough. The cards I mentioned have 4GB. It is all related to larger textures and models (to put it simple).

I believe some here run iClone 6 on a Mac. Windows 7 is preferred I believe, but it may not be readily available.

As to software, you would want iClone 6 Pro combined with 3DX 6 Pro. You wouldn't need Pipeline if you are not exporting.

As to rendering, the Carrera renderer is very good, especially if you are after a photo-realistic look. But the iClone 6 renderer is also quite capable, it's just a different look. I like and people have done great things with iClone, including iClone 5.

I've been using iClone since 2006 and I find it a great tool for making animated movies. If you are using DAZ characters, you may find that their higher polycount is a problem. There was a recent post by someone who used the Decimator effectively to reduce the polycount. We had a preview of a now Character Creator for iClone and there has been much enthusiasm for that. Similar to DAZ you can adjust characters and clothing using sliders, so you would feel right at home.


https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/1a09220f-ab50-42ac-ad1a-33ec.pnghttps://forum.reallusion.com/Uploads/Images/d14339d0-cd32-4b35-88f9-40a0.png


jrm21
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As far as I know, you cannot change the video card on a Mac. From what I understand, the drivers are built into the OS and cannot be installed separately. I am now looking at possibly building a windows PC for this. The graphics card in my Mac doesn't seem like it will deliver acceptable performance.

Windows 7 wouldn't be an issue. I still see a few places I can buy it from.

I do like the renderer in Carrara. How does iClone compare? Can similar results be achieved? What about speed? If iClone significantly faster? When rendering animations, it is all about trading off features for render time. I can usually find a "sweet spot" with Carrara - just wondering if that "sweet spot" on iClone results in lower, higher or similar output quality.

If I do decide to go the pipeline route... can an entire animation be brought back to Carrara for rendering? Is that practical on a larger project with many elements?

How bad are the "problems" with using DAX characters? My reason for a switch would be to improve workflow and performance. If using DAZ characters and props are going to slow things down, it puts me right back where I started (only poorer).

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4 Years Ago by jrm21
Grimhilda
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Hi Jrm21,
I haven't posted here for a long time and - for a number of reasons - have been unable to use iclone6 very much at all since I bought it.

Since I did take part in a discussion over at DAZ (As M Severus) I can't add too much to what I've said.  But, in writing here, I hope that perhaps others might correct me or add a bit more.

In comparing Carrara's renders with Iclone6's, I find it difficult to give advice.  "When I render in iclone, I can often be rendering a scene which has effects such as rainfall, mist, particles from an emitter, etc.  If I wanted to do such things in Carrara (I'm not practiced in doing so) I think the effects might look a lot better but they would really increase render times.
I've only just bought the course on Rendering and Lighting in Carrara, so I'm currently no expert  there.  Iclone 6 has much better lighting capabilities than previous versions which is one factor that would improve many renders.  There are also the new features using displacement/substance (?? I haven't gotten to grips with any of this yet.)

Another point of comparison between Carrara and Iclone is the difference in vegetation used.  Iclone vegetation has been updated, improved and expanded with Speedtree.  It may or may not be everything yet that you would wish for if you are thinking of VUE-type results.  Carrara falls short of VUE also.

When it comes to animating, unless I'm wrong, many actions would take just as long in iclone to animate as in Carrara.  (eg if I wanted a close-up of a violinist's fingers while he/she was playing, I think the effort would be the same.  In Carrara, actually, selecting the fingers in the scene-tree might be a lot harder or tedious).

I don't have Pipeline.  But I don't believe that it exports whole scenes.  I saw a Reallusion tutorial on exporting to Maya where the animated characters and their motion paths were carried across but the rest of the scenery had been built as a Maya scene.  (If you brought all the scene elements in from Carrara in the first place, then that would be no problem).

My own position is that I enjoy using both iclone and Carrara.  I bring things in from DAZ/Hexagon/Carrara to iclone but not the other way round.
jrm21
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[b]Grimhilda (6/24/2015)
My own position is that I enjoy using both iclone and Carrara.  I bring things in from DAZ/Hexagon/Carrara to iclone but not the other way round.



Thanks for the info. The above... bringing items in from DAZ products to animate and render in iClone is exactly the workflow I have in mind.

My big roadblock seems to be hardware. My Mac (booting to Windows) video card doesn't seem to cut it. I am talking to a friend about _maybe_ building an inexpensive PC. Even inexpensive is an investment - then there is the price of software - so I am trying to figure out if this path is viable. My situation does not allow me to use a trial version, making the decision that much more difficult.

I do enjoy using Carrara. It simply has always had tremendous stability and speed issues for me. It can be very frustrating to work with. I have been using it for a while (going back to the Ray Dream Designer days).

What generally happens is that I start some projects and get familiar with the tools. Then I hit a wall of bugs, crashes, slowdowns or just plain limitations in posing/animating figures/props. After wasting hours doing something that should take minutes, or losing work to crash, I get frustrated. I give up for some months and start over again. Little actually gets finished.

iClone looks like a capable animation tool using pre-made content. For the projects I have in mind, I am happy being the "director/cameraman/screenwriter" - I don't want to be the actor (content creator). My hope is that iClone, on  a capable system, can provide a stable platform with tools to help me achieve this goal. I'm not looking for a "press a button" magic movie maker. Just something where I don't have to fight against the software to produce output.

I see the iClone help videos and it looks like the ticket. After some work, it seems I can import my current content and have some stable tools designed to animate this content. The "live" preview appears serviceable to get a very good idea of what the final render will look like (in terms of character/item motion).

I guess my main concerns at this point are...

Does iClone make sense for me given the above?
What is a realistic system I need to build to get decent performance from iClone?







Lord Ashes
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jrm21 (6/20/2015)
3DXchange looks like it has everything needed to bring my DAZ library over to iClone. I have seen tutorials for figures such as "Genesis" people. What about other props - clothing, building, vehicles, scenery elements? What about animals - horse, dog, etc? Can these all be transferred to iClone and then animated? Do the textures translate as well?


Figures and props come over fairly well. However clothing does not! Although you can make come clothing work (see my RealWear line) most of it will not work because iClone does not have functionality for clothing to automatically bend and move with the character if it is not implemented as part of the character mesh. This means that if you create a dress or pair of pants as a replacement to the existing iClone character mesh then the clothing will automatically bend with the character but if you implement real clothing (like DAZ) which are not part of the character mesh then such clothing will be static. This is why clothing such as corsets and panties are easy to make (or import from DAZ) because they only pin to a single body part. You can see, in my RealWear line, I also have a prototype trench coat which is much more complex to create (can not just be exported from DAZ) because it needs to be made from multiple parts each pinned to the appropriate body part. In such a case you need to design the clothing parts so that when they move and/or rotate they will not expose holes.

iClone does provide a function in 3DXchange to replace parts of the iClone character meshes but this is a very limited function because the replacement mesh needs to have the same amount of verticies to work. Thus you'd basically need to take the exported mesh and convert that to your clothing without deleting or adding vertecies. If you just grabbed any old exported clothing then the vertecies would not match and 3DXchange would not allow you to import it as a replacement.


"We often compare ourselves to the U.S. and often they come out the best, but they only have the right to walk on the grass while we have the right to smoke it"
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One more thing to note:

The DAZ EULA prohibits the re-sale of any content (outside of the DAZ Store) which includes any DAZ Studio (provided) meshes. This means you can export Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 figures to iClone for personal use only but you can not use them for Reallusion Marketplace content.
If you are interested in getting some of the DAZ body morph benefits using iClone characters (to avoid the DAZ EULA), I developed a "shrink wrap" process which basically takes an RL (iClone) character, exports it using 3DXChange, imports it into DAZ Studio, transfers it to a DAZ figure as if it was clothing, applies morphs to the DAZ figure which causes the RL figure (since DAZ thinks it is clothing) to also change, then exports the morphed RL figure, and lastly imports the morphed RL character back into iClone. You can see an example of this in the RL Marketpalce if you do a search for "Chuck Buff".


"We often compare ourselves to the U.S. and often they come out the best, but they only have the right to walk on the grass while we have the right to smoke it"
Lord Ashes' Original
jrm21
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@Lord Ashes - thanks for the info. Bear with me, as I think you lost me on a few points.

I watched some iClone videos. One reviewed the process of brining DAZ characters into iClone through 3DXchange. I noted that the character needed to be fully "dressed" at the start of the process. I am guessing doing so will avoid the issue you mention. I can see the limitations in this process, however, am I correct in thinking that if you "dress" the character prior to import, everything will work as expected in iClone (movements/morphs/etc.)?

On the EULA limitations. Anything I do is for "personal" use. I have no plans to re-sell content I create. Or am I misunderstanding you? Is this something that limits the ability to use RL marketplace items on/with imported DAZ characters?

If I already have DAZ characters, is there a significant advantage to using iClone characters instead? Is the upcoming "character creation tool" something that would effectively replace the need to use DAZ morphs on iClone characters?

Still a little confused on how this all fits together. Smile
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I'm a Mac User and a recent convert to the IC6 family. Consider the following options:

1. Adopt a PC workflow and spend time looking at what IC6 can offer regarding their new character creator plug-in coming soon for their 3dX Program.
2. Consider the low-poly textures necessary for real-time animation and the benefits/issues of hi-poly models and textures when bringing across.
3. Dedicate at lest 90 days working exclusively with IC6 content and software to understand the workflow, animation protocols and rendering options within the program before importing.
4. Dedicate 90 days in preselecting, building and compiling assets for your animated projects in IC6. Coming to terms with the options available in 3dX will be (at least it is for me) a time-consuming and trial and error process as your understand the needs of IC6 and the value of staying within their architecture.

For me, I am working on coming to terms with the game-specific visual requirements for IC6 - and trying to use a Mac for a system that is decidedly PC focused will end up frustrating you more. I bought a new PC, purchased Reallusion elements I needed and am systematically working my way through exercises and render samples ad tests. This will help you make the call on if this platform is right for you.

There is a LOT I like about IC6 and I am adapting my Daz/Poser libraries to feed this new eco-system for my own animation work.  I wish you much luck in your journey Smile

Grimhilda
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I don't know if I'm helping but I'll try and add a few more considerations.
Whenever I see short animations of up to ten minutes which I consider amazing or superb or absolutely fantastic and first class, I see from the credits that high-end software has been used (I include Blender) and that it is almost invariably a team effort.

When I've read the background to some of these works, it can turn out that quite a fair-sized budget has been spent.  Or else sometimes the creators are students who have teamed up in their final year and have had at their disposal all the software and rendering facilities of their place of study and their existence is devoted full-time to complete the work.

Compare that to the lone, would-be animator with the best PC he/she can afford and who has to choose software that will give him/her a fighting chance of getting a film made.

I think, in practice, something's got to give:  if we want lots of footage we may need to compromise on visual beauty.  It is, in my view, a mistake anyway to treat animations to the same extreme attention to detail that a still render might enjoy because the eye can only take in so much of a motion-filled scene at a time.

In your case, where you are investing a lot of money in Iclone and 3dXchange on top of the cost of a new PC, I think you need to be clear of what you will be happy to achieve.  Is telling your story of paramount importance?  Then you could do that with clothes-pegs, modelling clay and a stop-motion camera. 

But an infinitely better solution would be to use iclone.  Great stories were told with great visual beauty by others here on this forum using early versions of iclone.  The figures weren't DAZ quality but Clone-cloth ensured that there was no lack of individuality and almost no limit to what kind of characters could be represented.

With iclone6,  much higher quality is possible.  The final pieces of iclone's new-character jigsaw are coming together in a way that might make you prefer to keep everything Reallusion rather than DAZ.

Another thought is that, if you eventually bought pipeline, you could export your characters' animations as BVH.  Assuming that your iclone films would have been made using some (or many) of your DAZ items then, who knows, you might be able to rebuild the scenes back in Carrara and use the iclone-generated motions.  (I really don't know if the motions would transfer from Reallusion characters to DAZ since I don't have Pipeline).

My last piece of advice would be to look at as many iclone films as you can.  Go over, in your mind, the ideas you have and consider them being done to the standards you see in those films.  Quality will vary - some are superb and all have merit.

 I've never made a film in any software but here is some of my nonsense:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPtVqcziRRI 

This next one shows an attempt to animate a dragon in Carrara.  I then put in a Carrara-rendered background.  Lastly I brought in a Genesis character and a DAZ building to render them all in iclone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBndJEuaW9U
Both of these use iclone 5





 

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4 Years Ago by Grimhilda



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