Originally posted on 4 November 2021. Scroll down for updates.
Reallusion has unveiled iClone 8, the next major version of its real-time character animation software.
New features in the update, which is due to ship next spring, include Motion Director, a new system for animating characters semi-automatically using game-style controls.
The release also adds a new HumanIK-based control rig, a Pose Mixer, an Animation Layer Editor, an integrated Curve Editor, and new options for blending and looping motion clips.
Rendering changes include support for volumetric lighting, motion blur, lens flares and a mirror shader.
In addition, Reallusion is scrapping 3DXChange, the paid add-on used to export data to other DCC software, incorporating its functionality into iClone, and raising the price of iClone to $599.
New Motion Director system lets you animate characters with game-like controls
Major new features iClone 8 include Motion Director, a new system for animating characters semi-automatically, using a similar control system to those within videogames.
Users will be able to move characters directly using a gamepad or WASD controls to make them walk or run around, or by clicking in the viewport to set waypoints.
Background characters can be set to follow the lead character at a user-adjustable distance, move along paths, or perform contextual idle animations, like NPCs in a game.
It will also be possible to switch between camera positions at runtime, to ‘direct’ a scene in real time.
New HumanIK-based control rig and Pose Mixer
Changes to character posing include a new on-screen control rig based on HumanIK, Autodesk’s full-body IK solver and retargeter, also used in Maya and MotionBuilder.
Users will be able to pin a character’s hands or feet in place a new End Effector system.
The update will also add a new Pose Mixer, described as a “powerful mashup system for still frames”.
As well as creating new poses by blending existing ones, the system will let users mirror poses.
New ways to set up interactions with props and to animate foot and hand placements
The existing Reach Target system gets a new Offset function, making it easier to set up interactions between characters and props, or between two characters.
Reach Target also powers an intuitive-looking new system for animating a character’s feet and hands by positioning a series of footprint and handprint icons in the scene, as shown in the video above.
New Curve Editor, Animation Layer Editor and controls for looping and blending motion clips
For editing animation, the functionality of the Curve Editor plugin, currently a separate $149 add-on, will be integrated into iClone itself.
You can see it in use in the video above, and find more details in the online documenentation.
The release will also introduce a new Animation Layer Editor, making it possible to animate and edit the motion of different parts of a character’s body independently.
Users will also get a choice of six runtime playback speeds when playinb back animations.
Updates to the built-in renderer, and a new integration plugin for Omniverse
iClone’s built-in real-time renderer will also get an update, adding support for volumetric lighting, motion blur and lens flares, and new light and shadow strength multipliers.
The update will also add a much-requested mirror plane shader, making it possible to render reflective surfaces in a scene, as shown in the video above.
For final-quality rendering, iClone will also get an integration plugin to Omniverse, Nvidia’s real-time collaboration platform, which features a photorealistic built-in GPU-based renderer.
The plugin will be released before iClone 8 itself, so it will also be available to iClone 7 users.
Other workflow improvements
The upate will also address what Reallusion describes as “some basic functional requirements” for a professional animation tool that were missing in previous versions of iClone.
Changes include the option to isolate scene objects for editing, to organise scene objects into custom Collections, and to merge objects between projects.
Other workflow improvements include a new Hotkey Manager, and the option to export animations at custom frame rates.
3DXChange discontinued and its import/export functionality added to iClone
In addition, Reallusion is scrapping 3DXChange, the paid add-on required to import FBX files, or to export OBJ, FBX, Alembic or USD files.
The functionality will be integrated into iClone itself, with the price rising correspondingly, from $199 to $599, according to this thread on the Reallusion forum.
Updated 27 January 2022: Reallusion just posted a second preview of iClone 8.
The blog post focuses on the new Pose Mixer, integrated curve editor and updates to the animation timeline.
The video above shows the new tools, including a demo of a rotoscoping workflow using pose-to-pose animation to recreate the motion of an actor from a reference video displayed inside iClone on a 3D plane.
Updated 7 March 2022: Reallusion has posted another preview video of iClone 8, showing the iClone Scene Manager’s new Collection system.
The feature, which lets users organise assets into groups whose visibility can be toggled on or off, is intended to improve interactive performance when working with large 3D scenes.
Reallusion has also introduced a new static data type that “double[s] the rendering speed for static objects”.
Pricing and system requirements
iClone 8.0 is due for release in ‘spring 2022’. New licences will cost $599 and upgrades from previous versions will cost $499. The software is currently available to pre-order.
The current release, iClone 7.9, is available for 64-bit Windows 7+. New perpetual licences cost $199.
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