By Michael Burns | on October 07, 2004
Price When Reviewed: 7995 . 1995
Pros: Customizable AI behaviours, dynamic retargeting and active posing, ability to add multiple characters and props, motion data import and wide range of export formats.
Cons: Expensive, slightly buggy release, props and environment fairly limited. Price and sole focus on dynamic motion restricts application to studio workflow.
Active Character Technology (ACT), the concept behind Endorphin, uses intelligent behaviours to apply physical simulations of human movement, and allows for real-time interactive control using constraints and forces.
Building animation with Endorphin is simple, using one of the most straightforward user interfaces in 3D software. You can quickly apply behaviours to a model by selecting from a drop-down list. Reactive behaviours require a force to be applied, while proactive behaviours begin to act on the character immediately.
For reactive animations, a force arrow is introduced into the scene. Then it’s just a case of positioning the marker to select the area of the body affected. You set a duration, and the amount of force required, before playing the simulation. The resulting animation can be exported in various file formats, including AVI – you can export both props and animation in Kaydara .FBX format as well. This is comparable with the animated poses applied using applications such as MotionBuilder or CAT, but the onus here is on the simulation of dynamic physics.
Multiple behaviours can be applied in succession, and the character can be posed before forces are applied. It’s tricky to manually position the force events correctly because they keep changing position, so it’s best to select the body part first.
Bit of a character
A Strobe view can be set to allow you to follow the motion as your character tumbles down stairs, or to enable you to position props and ground planes near the model at the time of an action. The Writher behaviour allows you to adjust parameters such as strength and urgency to further characterize a figures movements.
You can import animation such as .BVH motion capture files, and apply them to a figure easily, with dynamic retargeting one of the new features of 1.5. The standard Endorphin character comes ready-rigged and can have motion from another character applied to it by mapping corresponding nodes. Custom characters can be used too, with Endorphin adding its own markers to read information about dimensions.
An incarnation marker can be positioned to specify where the Endorphin behaviour kicks in and the motion capture data ends. You can blend animation into an Endorphin behaviour within the application. Multiple characters can now be used, each coming complete with its own track – you can make them run into each other and collide, or set target poses using Active Posing (another new feature) to make them grapple with each other as they fall.
During testing the application froze a couple of times, prompting a restart, but this pricey yet very professional application will certainly speed up your workflow and is very easy to use.