I'm Alex Kong, a 3D Artist with 16 years of experience in the animation industry. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of working with various companies and contributing to exciting projects. Some of the notable companies I've worked for include Sony Imageworks, Animal Logic, BRON Animation, Rodeo FX, Squeeze Animation, and more. My work has ranged from cinematic design to facial and body mocap performance, animation, layout, and PreVis.
The Metaverse Project
I embarked on the metaverse project when ACHE Agency presented an opportunity to create a promotional animation for the experience that they did for Tequila Cuervo in the Metaverse of Decentraland. The goal was not only to take on this ambitious challenge but also to leverage the combined power of Reallusion tools and Unreal Engine.
The project had a tight one-month deadline, which initially seemed daunting. The challenges included creating multiple characters and intricate animations on uneven terrain, requiring extensive lighting and rendering work to bring the vision to life in a very short time.
Getting Started With Reallusion Tools
I discovered Reallusion's tools three years ago, and I was immediately excited about their versatility. Character Creator and iClone 8, with all their incredible features, really stood out to me. For this project, they allowed me to create over 25 characters in just one week, which would have been nearly impossible with traditional workflows. The incredible power, along with their ease of use and the quality of their marketplace assets, were the key reasons for choosing Reallusion tools.
Setting Up Over 25 Characters in a Week
Using Character Creator and assets from the Reallusion marketplace was a game-changer. The process involved selecting and customizing characters from a vast library of assets. With the intuitive interface, I could rapidly create and modify characters to suit the project's needs. This efficiency enabled me to set up over 25 characters within a week, ready to receive mocap from multiple sources without any complex retargeting needed, plus handkey animation, puppeteering, and auto lip-sync a set of tasks that would have taken months using traditional methods.
Animating the Characters
Animating the characters was a multi-faceted process. The ActorCore and Mixamo libraries provided a rich collection of motion capture animations, which I used for body animations. For facial animations, I employed the Digital Soul pack to bring the characters' faces to life. To achieve specific actions, I utilized the Xsens suit for motion capture, ensuring realistic movements for the main characters. This combination of tools allowed me to create lifelike character animations seamlessly.
The Motion Director tool in iClone is a remarkable feature! It enables creators to connect a gamepad and control characters and even entire crowds, like playing a video game. You can record motion and apply it easily, including detecting uneven terrain. This tool simplifies mocap editing and animation, providing a user-friendly interface for precise control over character movements.
Importing the Results
Importing results from Reallusion tools into Unreal Engine was relatively straightforward. The tools offered compatibility and ease of transfer. After finalizing the animations and characters in Reallusion, I exported both the characters and their animations with a couple of clicks via the Live Link feature. Reallusion's seamless integration with Unreal allowed for smooth importation, saving precious time and enhancing efficiency.
In summary, Reallusion tools played a pivotal role in streamlining the creation of characters and animations for this large-scale project. My tips for those tackling similar endeavors would be to leverage the versatility of Character Creator and the rich assets available in the Reallusion marketplace. These tools significantly expedited the character creation process and allowed for faster iterations.
Additionally, explore iClone's incredible animation features including the Motion Director tool, Puppeteering, hand puppet, premade hand gesture, their digital soul pack, their automatic lipsync tool, and their Live Link face app for facial mocap and the Live Link to to export everything easily into Unreal.
Reallusion's tools not only met but exceeded expectations, making the seemingly impossible both possible and practical, even within tight deadlines. Their intuitive, easy, and user-friendly interface empowers artists to bring their creative visions to life more efficiently so that we can focus on the art!