InstaLOD… I’m in love. Where have you been all my 3D life???
I am smitten with this new feature Reallusion has added to its new, standalone, third version of Character Creator Pipeline. This is about mesh optimization, reduction, LOD’s and all those things that make a character maker swoon when it comes to the least sexy part of the job… polycount.
As an avid ZBrusher I work in a world of millions of polys during development. Nothing new here for most of us. And most of us are quite familiar with all the hoops we must jump through to get those models optimized for real-time use.
If there is an optimization reduction tool on the open market, then I or one of my colleagues has probably tried it at least once. For me, this is THE HOLY GRAIL. I don’t care about bells and whistles as I’ve been at this game almost since the time of DOS, but I do care about how much my model's weight and I have always had unreal expectations in this area.
The integration of InstaLOD into CC3 allows for direct poly reduction of objects and elements as well as re-meshing with different Levels of Detail (LOD). This article will deal with poly reduction which is always important in real-time engines. We will look at its LOD generation feature in a future article.
With CC3 Pipeline I can do all my clothing and accessory sculpting in ZBrush without all the re-meshing, dynameshing and other meshing we ZBrushers tend to do.
The best part… I don’t have to think as far ahead as I used to when creating character items. InstaLOD will take care of optimization when the mesh gets into CC3 Pipeline.
Now I’m not claiming this will eliminate all those hoops as time will likely prove InstaLOD can’t handle everything thrown its way. But if we are being honest… no software that I’ve used handles everything we shove down its throat anyway. Character artists tend to be a demanding group that will take every poly you give them and then some.
Import a mesh that can almost bring CC3 to its knees and within a few button clicks and time you have a usable poly reduced character.
InstaLOD gives us two options for optimization based on the entire Object or Elements of that Object. While I have worked extensively with the Object reduction, I haven’t spent enough time with the Element option yet to say how well it works but it does work. The Object method is all I have needed so far.
Using the Element feature you break the mesh down into Selected and Unselected elements defining how each is to be handed. This allows the model to be optimized to two different polycounts keeping some lean items from losing appearance traits to disappearing altogether. There is a tick box next to Unselected allowing you to leave them out of the reduction process.
Polygon Reduction – Wearables is a quick catchall that reduces all wearables to the desired amount. This can be good or bad depending on how far the reduction will go as it includes things like the hair too. This shotgun approach to a fully loaded model can turn out some undesirable results but this can be controlled by the wearables you have in the scene when this option is used.
When properly implemented this is a big time saver as it eliminates selecting and reducing items individually.
No longer will we have to toil away wondering what our work will look like once it’s in CC3 or iClone as we can now control all the reduction in CC3. This leaves us to just sculpt and model like we all want to do in our favorite 3D app without fear of how the apps decimation or re-meshing will affect the final look in the iClone ecosphere.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.