Having been on this iClone journey since the early 2000s there was a time when I knew every nuance of the application. Most early users up to a few years ago could claim the same. iClone wasn’t exactly loaded with tools at first but nothing else was either back then was unless you paid thousands of dollars for 3DS Max or Maya.
Over time the focus of the app changed along with new user interfaces that were necessary due to new features being added. It seemed Reallusion was trying hard to put most tools in front of you with the early UI’s. This avoided the dreaded “out of sight, out of mind” glitch that can make users completely forget or become unaware of new tools.
A few very simple demo characters from CC3 to iClone 7 with speech generated by Replica.
That is certainly not the case anymore. In the past few years, the updates have been so enormous in scope combined with the additions of new tools and plug-ins that it’s virtually impossible to put all of them in front of you at one time.
For me the current UI serves its purpose in the arrangement and presentation of features, buttons, and sliders. But now… you look over to someplace that rote muscle memory kept you from going to over the years only to find a new button! Which usually opens up a sub-menu of more new choices.
Live Link, Acculips, and the Hair/Beard system are just a few of the new features along with Omniverse integration which we’ll get into in another article. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the Replica Studios plug-in was released as it just further adds to a toolbox that is getting bigger as time goes on.
I wasn’t sure that in my present situation I needed that plugin, but it was free to download from the Marketplace and I already had a Replica account. Then came the cherry on top… Reallusion was offering a code to get 4 hours of free speech generation! I jumped on the opportunity.
Let’s talk about the important thing, another one of those “elephant in the room” issues, that a lot of people have questions about. How does the time credit purchase work? How are they used, when are they billed?
With some services, you can play around and tweak the results with no cost as you are only charged when ready to download the final product, but Replica is different. I was surprised to find that every time I pressed the Play/Generate button, I was charged the time used, I’m guessing here, to generate the speech file. At this point, you do not have anything to download until you press Save Take which then makes a download available.
The Simple and Easy to Use Replica Studio Desktop Application
Pressing Save Take also clears the sandbox of your input and any tweaks you made. To test this, I tweaked the audio several times resulting in time deducted for every single time I made a change and pressed the Play/Generate button. My initial testing was as though this was not the case and I tweaked and generated the text several times resulting in over 4 minutes of deducted time for less than 30 seconds of audio. In fairness, I was also learning the application and its interface even though the editable choices were few.
Basically, you need to do your homework and be prepared before pressing that Play/Generate button in Replica Studio to conserve minutes. Once you get a grasp of what can be tweaked and you already have your text written, you will be ready to jump into Replica Studio and get to work. After generating a few voices, you will know what to do and how to do it and should be able to generate the voices in the most efficient way possible.
The process itself is so simple you might start taking it for granted.
The plug-in is free for iClone 7 users, and you install it by copying the folder into the OpenPlugins folder, Bin64 of your local iClone 7 installation. Start or restart iClone and the plug-in will be listed in the plug-in drop-down menu on the top menu bar if you copied to the right location.
After downloading, installing, and opening Replica Studio I previewed the voices available then selected the voice I would be working with. You input the text and tweak it while keeping an eye on the available time you are eating up each time you make a change and have to generate again.
Once you are satisfied with the voice you go to iClone and open the Replica Plug-in then select the avatar in the scene that you want the voice to go to. Press the Select Avatar button and you should be linked up. If the link fails the first time, a computer reboot should solve the problem as it has for me and others.
With iClone ready you go back to Replica Studio and press the download button which will give you a choice of wav, mp3, Ogg, or direct transfer to iClone. I choose the transfer and it went off flawlessly even though it took a bit to get started. Once started it downloaded into the selected iClone character and that was that.
iClone 7 with a CC3 Plus (required) Character Ready to Receive Voice from Replica Studio
Very simple process with no real learning curve. Replica Studios is easy enough to use as I never had to dive into documentation to get things done. If you’ve read enough of my articles you will know I love ease of use. It’s a top priority. Too many apps to learn and stay current on in today’s world so any time complexity is cut to the bone I’m a happy camper.
With transfer being flawless between applications I have nothing to complain about and while I’m not one hundred percent sold on the Replica Studio pricing structure it does seem more reasonable now that I have used it for a bit. Everyone has to make a profit as that is name of the game it just seemed strange that the charge came on the Generate button instead of the Save Take option. Certainly worth a look at least.
iClone 7 Replica Studio Plug-in
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.