As I continue trying out iClone and Character Creator for my game development, this time I take a quick look at iClone. However, before getting into the application itself I decided to try out a feature that has gotten a lot of promotion: Unreal Live Link.
The idea of Unreal Live Link is to preview your iClone projects directly inside Unreal Engine, so you can see how your elements and characters look inside the engine. I wouldn't say this is strictly for game development or animated films, since Unreal Engine has also been used for live-action movie and TV production, and architectural visualization in the past. I see iClone or Character Creator characters as a good option for "digital people" in architectural visualizations or digital production.
Using Unreal Live Link is basically a two-step process. First, you need to transfer your project's content from iClone to Unreal Engine 4. This process can take some time depending on the size of your project, and what it does is export the selected elements from iClone to Unreal Engine, and then rebuilding the content in UE4 (importing meshes and textures, applying materials, cameras, etc.).
When the content is in UE4, you can activate the Live Link to playback the iClone animation into Unreal Engine. To activate the link, you simply go to UE4 and select a link source in the Live Link pane. After doing this, any change in iClone is shown in UE4.
If you are using iClone content in UE4, chances are your UE4 project already has content in it, including content created in third party applications. You are not limited to setting up everything (scenes, lights, cameras) in iClone and then transfer everything to UE4. You can very easily create a scene inside UE4 and just transfer your animated characters.
Unreal Live Link also lets you stream from iClone to UE4 over a network. This can be very useful if you are working on a collab environment where you have someone working on iClone and another one working on UE4, but it can also be useful if you are a single artist who has more than one computer. This can be a better option than using both applications on the same computer, as that can greatly impact your system's performance.
One thing I haven't tried yet is creating a full cinematic using animated iClone characters and UE4's cinematics tools. I haven't worked with cinematics in UE4 yet, so I don't know how the Sequencer and other cinematic-related tools work, but I would definitely like to test this out in the future, after learning how to use those tools.
Another thing I still need to try out is how different it is to use the Unreal Live Link compared to using iClone's export feature. I will do that as part of my testing, when I send a custom character from CC into iClone for animation, and then into a test game in Unreal Engine.
You can get the Unreal Live Link through different ways, depending on what Reallusion software you already own. If you already own iClone and 3DXchange, you can get Unreal Live Link for $1490. However, if you are an indie developer, you can get it for free (but you still need to get iClone and 3DXchange). On the other hand, if you don't own iClone (and are not an indie) you can get iClone and Unreal Live Link as part of different bundles. You can check the Reallusion store for more information.
Visit Reallusion's website: https://www.reallusion.com/