Animation: Reallusion iClone 5 Pro review

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ic5 home boxIntroduction:

If you've ever fancied trying your hand at game design or CGI, you'll probably have had a look around the internet and run into all sorts of artciles on software, tutorials and books on how to design, animate etc using a range of sophisticated software.  However, for beginners, getting into CGI animation and learning the basics through to a more advanced level doesn't necessarily require a knowledge of programming or hands on experience with Photoshop: Reallusion iClone provides a intuitive interface (with gaming like controls) for real-time 3D animation and our latest review is on iClone 5 Pro.  We previously reviewed iClone 3 (sorry we missed iClone 4!) which was an excellent piece of software and we were very keen to see how things have changed.

Specifications:

Real-time Production

  • Intuitive user interface and in-screen editing.
  • Just-in-time animations for studios and live TV productions.
  • Real-time creativity for live-action previzualizations.

Digital Actors

  • Replicate real-life actors with photo-to-3D actor creation.
  • Design & direct 3D characters ready-rigged for body & facial animation.
  • Multiple character styles for human and non-human types.

Motion Puppet

  • Audition and record body motions with innovative actor puppeteering.
  • Blend MixMoves mocap library motions to create
    seamless transitions between motions.
  • Animate on-the-fly with real-time Microsoft Kinect motion capture.

Reallusion iClone5 Pro kinect

Smart Props

  • Natural prop physics animation with fall, collide and bounce effects.
  • Interactive object controls with iScripts.
  • Tons of prop templates for custom textures and dynamic designs.

Stage Settings

  • Modular elements and components for scene setups
  • Create beautiful scenery with natural world systems: terrain, sky, water, grass and tree.
  • Make sophisticated art directions with HDR, IBL, AO and other atmospheric styles.

Camera & Lighting

  • Multiple camera view settings and live switch
  • Smart filmming techniques with look-at, link-to and smooth path controls.
  • A variety of lighting effects using ambient light, directional light, spot light & point light.

Open Pipeline

  • Free 3D modeling tool and assets from Google's SketchUp and 3D Warehouse.
  • Bring other 3D content into iClone in 3DS, OBJ, and FBX formats via 3DXchange.
  • Essential character and content development through 3DS Max plug-ins.

Visual FX

  • Template particle effects and custom parameters with attributes.
  • Material effects with 7 texture channels.
  • Key-able post effects such as color filters, lens blur and NPR. 

Reallusion iClone5 Pro anim

Render & Output

  • Real-time preview renders in wireframe, smooth shader and pixel shader modes.
  • Popular images and video format export.
  • Create eye-popping, 3D stereoscopic videos with customizable convergence distances.

Content Platform

  • Template-based content for quick character and stage setup.
  • Expandable content library with Reallusion's Content Store and Marketplace.
  • Live content access and enjoyable try-before-buy system.

Review:

As is obvious from the specifications listed above (and our previous review) the software has a massive amount to offer whether you're starting out or have some experience in real-time animation. The software allows users to fully design and customise their characters and environment whether human, animal, alien....etc. from a range of templates or inputs and control them within their environment.  The environment itself can be modified to change any number of factors from lighting through to physics.  The true gem with the new version is the addition of the iClone Mocap device plug-in which allows any user with a Kinect (PRO version only I'm afraid) to track full body motion for inclusion in their animation. It is this tool that really opens up animation to both beginners and younger users (most likely with adult help) and give a studio-like capability, allowing the production of more professional looking animation (not that the standard animation is bad!).

reallusion-iclone-pro-04-700x378

In comparison to iClone 3, the interface is similar, but improvements over the implementation of the animation allows for better automated transitions between set animations, and more control over scenery, props and cameras angles.  Additionally the Kinect interface plugin allows for a fantastic way of speeding up the animation process.

Price:

~£90 (Amazon )

Verdict:

4.5/5 - All in all, another great release from Reallusion with enough improvements for intermediate to advanced users to potentially warrant an upgrade (especially if you want to use the Kinect interface).