By Michael Burns | on January 26, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 133 . 146
Pros: Relatively inexpensive; real-time interactive engine; enhanced actors; tree, plants and grass system; particles; independent, transferrable animation on characters, MPEG4 and Flash Video export.
Cons: Requires iClone 3DXchange2 to import 3D objects not from Reallusion’s content store; manual could be improved.
In its two previous iterations, iClone was a low-end 3D animation suite, pitching itself at enthusiasts who were happy to work primarily with pre-built components. With the release of version 3, Reallusion has added a Pro version for quickly putting together 3D scenes for pre-visualization.
Reallusion offers content to create your iClone movies, including characters, props, vehicles, trees and plants and terrain. As with Smith Micro’s Poser and DAZ Studio, you can quickly link to new content available to buy online, while a new ‘live access’ feature lets you try before you buy. However, you can only import external 3D models using the 3DXchange2 application that ships with the boxed Pro version.
Two authoring modes are available. In Editor mode, you place actors in a 3D scene, using the scene manager tabs to add props, terrain, water and multiple cameras, as well as a high-quality dynamic lighting system. iClone’s actors have become more sophisticated with the new version, offering a smoother body shape and normal maps for greater skin detail and finer texture, without increasing the polygon face count. Bump maps can also add wrinkles to heads created with the facial lab feature.
There are new Dynamic Spring Objects, such as tails, antennae, blobs and eyes, which can bounce with the actor’s motion. Poses and actions can be dropped directly onto actors to add motion to the scene, and several actions can be performed in a linear fashion. Props, too, can have animation embedded, so actors can interact automatically with compatible vehicles, for example.