IClone 8 has so many improvements and additions that it is hard to find a place to start. As a longtime user (since version 1) I am accustomed to and somewhat spoiled by the updates that Reallusion has provided over the years, but this newest version is, once again, in a league by itself in terms of new and refined animation tools.
I was lucky enough to get an early look during the alpha version which continued through beta and onto the release versions. There were so many new features it was hard not to get lost in them at first.
There is Direction Control, a larger view gate with controls and opacity, a new motion system within the existing timeline, animation layers, and these are just a few of the new features! Add in Volumetric lights, and a new Motion Layer popup with Pose Mixer, and things start to get interesting and there is still more.
The New Motion Director tabs that control triggers, camera and Motions
Motion Director is more than just its namesake. It can be used to create crowds contained by an object like a floor prop. Actors can follow a designated object, or you can control their movement with a keyboard or game controller.
Motion Director - Player Control
Player Control is a much-improved reincarnation of the original Screen Director in older versions. You can use a game controller to control movement around the screen or you can use your keyboard if you don't have a controller handy. Speaking for myself I never really used the Screen Director but this version is much more refined.
Motion Director - Point and Click Waypoint Character Movement
Finally, something a lot of users have wanted for many years is a simple point and click system for character movement. It’s not perfect but it’s not bad either. In fact, it is fairly robust in terms of stability and usage. Some of the turns can be a bit wonky but it works and most likely will get better as time rolls on.
Yes indeed… we have a point click waypoint system within the new Motion Director!!!
Motion Director - Auto in Zone
This one excited me just as much as the Point and Click movement. Being a zone the first thing I thought of was small crowds. Since we had little to no documentation during testing, I placed a floor prop with some random characters at random places but all facing one direction on it. I used the Auto in Zone button to link the characters to the floor prop with automatic animation to wander around inside that prop as the containment area. There is slider control between idle and move along with other sliders to tweak and randomize the crowd movement.
A small crowd created in minutes with Motion Director Auto in Zone feature.
This one was a no-brainer to use, and you can quickly set up a small crowd to wander aimlessly or idle around as scene filler.
Motion Director - Follow Object
Just like Auto in Zone, Follow Object is another no-brainer that requires determining which object to follow. You can also use dummies instead of a scene asset.
Motion Director - Follow Path & Control on Path
Haven’t used these much as there are so many ways now to direct motion with this release. Both work as advertised in it’s simplest form without a lot of explanation needed. Some experimentation will generally get you going without a lot of technical reading.
Motion Direction Control
Another easy to use, direction control that allows you to reorient the direction of travel within a series of motions while aligning those motions for a smooth transition. This eliminates jumping from different root locations as well as altering the direction of travel.
The New Motion Direction Control
Probably one of the biggest features to improve the render of iClone 8 is the new volumetric lights. While they are not perfect they are much better than not having them at all, but you do have to be careful setting them up as you don’t want to overpower the scene.
Originally called view gate in the early beta this one is a feature that I never knew I needed. Instead of dead space around the 3D workspace, you can turn on the Safe Frame in Preferences and use as much or all the available free space to enlarge the workspace. Just keep in mind that the enlarged area is not all in the camera view… it’s only more working room and you can turn off safe frame if you don’t like it. Having an ultra-wide monitor at 5120 X 1440 I really appreciate all the extra dead space that is now 3D workspace in version 8.
Safe Frame with Upper Left being turned on, the lower-left turned on with opacity and overscan, Right turned off.
Something else I didn’t know I needed. I have to admit to not quite having the fascination with lens flares as some of my fellow artists have, but these are on a different level. The interaction with the camera and lighting at the right angle can produce fantastic results. This is eye candy that can make a pan or a still image pop with more vibrance.
Reallusion has gotten SERIOUS about Lens Flares.
One of the coolest features for new animators. It copies and pastes different poses and sets keys to make motions with a pose-to-pose methodology. I have to admit I just briefly tested this part and don’t have a lot of experience with Pose Mixer, but it looks to be a handy tool and that is just one of the tabs with the other two being IK Mode and FK Mode.
The New Pose Mixer in the Edit Motion Layer dialog and IK Mode.
New Content Manager
There is a new hybrid Content Manager that is based on the features of the original Content Manager and Smart Gallery with the Smart Gallery look and feel. This change was not exactly met with open arms as I posted one of the more negative comments about it but later grew to like its functionality. If the release version maintains the best qualities of being able to make automatic changes based on changes made in Windows Explorer and recognize custom content in multiple locations, then it will be a handy new addition. Otherwise… get the villagers and get out the torches.
The New Hybrid Content Manager with Item and Pack Views
As this article is getting rather long, I’m going to stop here and continue on in the next installment. According to the Reallusion forum, some users already have their preorders in the Reallusion Hub ready to install. Others are still waiting while nothing is posted as of this writing in the storefront.
So far, I have been very pleased with this feature-packed upgrade that simplifies some of the most important features for new and experienced animators. The GUI is still the one we are familiar with… it is just packed with more animation stuff and like most animators… I can never have enough stuff.
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.