Depth of field in Antics3D

October 16, 2008

Depth of field is a great effect to place emphasis on a particular character or object in your scenes. It’s a simple technique, but one that can really drive forward the narrative of your shots.

There are a couple of ways you can achieve a depth of field effect in Antics3D, as demonstrated by this short clip from YouTube user manecolooper:

Manecolooper posted this up as an entry to our student competition – create a short clip demonstrating a filmmaking technique. Every student that enters will receive a free V4 Professional license. The top 3 clips will win their creator a cash prize of up to $1000. The deadline is the end of October, but it won’t take you long to create such a short clip in Antics3D.

Back to depth of field. One way to achieve this would be to place a billboard behind the character or object you want to focus on. Apply the frosted glass texture (or similar) to this and everything behind the billboard will be nicely obscured, bringing your character or object into sharp relief.

That’s a fairly quick workaround. Another solution would be to use a blue or greenbillboard behind your focus object then take the scene into a post-processing package.

It’s also possible to use lighting to focus on the desired elements in your scene. Antics3D regular Tony Bannan posted some shots on his blog to demonstrate this a little while ago. Realtime shadows have been added to Antics3D since then.

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More free content libraries

September 4, 2008

Last week I posted up a list of online libraries where you can grab free content for use in your Antics3D movies.

This inspired many of you to send in your own recommendations of sites that you use regularly, so here’s an updated list. You can never have enough mocap, audio and textures when creating a scene so keep the suggestions coming.

Free BVH Motion Capture

Carnegie Mellon University

Mocap Extras


Free BVH Editors

QAvimator

BVHacker


Free 3DS models

3delicious

Archive3D

Artist-3D

Free audio

Soundsnap

Freesound


Free textures

Textures Forrest

And finally a library of stock effects such as gun shots, blood and explosions that I found on Overman’s blog

Updated 08/09/08 – Thanks Darryl


Making the fairy fly – SketchUp advanced class

August 28, 2008

An angel, a demon, a wizard and a fairy share the folder in the newest character pack released from Antics. There are some screenshots further down this blog for you to check them out. I love getting hold of these new assets, they start me thinking about new little stories that I can tell with Antics. I thought it might be fun to go through the steps needed to make the wings of the fairy move. It’s possible to use the tab key to allow selection each wing, set a pose or two and then get the fairy to blend from one pose to another, but, I thought you might want to have a little more control, plus this way you can have your fairy free to do other stuff. (Like walking.)

For this you’ll need some eggs, a little flour and an inclinometer. (just kidding you won’t need the eggs!) Actually this process works best with photoshop and sketchup and of course Antics. We’ll be plucking the wings off our fairy and then sticking a couple of new ones on. So place the fairy on a new room. To remove the original wings, right click the fairy, choose textures then right click on the wings.ksh texture in the list, to select edit. Under the colour tab you can set the transparency to 100%. So now you have a wingless fairy. Not bad looking as a female character, bar the ears and the ridges in her back!.

The next step is to set up for creating or own wings. We do this by importing a new fairy and positioning her so that all we see is the wing sticking up through the floor like a wing shaped floor mat. (Turn off the snap to position,rotation option.) Line your camera up to this wing and when it’s large in frame save out a single frame. This’ll be what we use the create and texture our new wing. Your wing should look like this…….

Using sketchup, import the wing still frame (as an image) so that we can trace the shape. I found a Bezier Curves plugin for Sketchup which made the job much easier. Once you have a completed the outline of your wing, you can import the stillframe again (as a texture) and apply it to the surface. A little scale/rotate/position fiddle and we are all set. Remember to do the other side as well. Ok now save the .skp file as wing.skp then back into Antics and jump into the file/import and select your wing.skp

All good. So now you should have a wing and a wingless fairy. At this point I saved the Antics project. When you do this you can access the texture map being applied to the new wing so that you can set the look of it to match the original wing texture map. These maps are found in a “maps” folder within the saved project. The original wing was mapped with a fairy_hair_wings.tga file. If you want the new wing to be identical to the original you’ll need to use photoshop to match the RGBA channels. Otherwise you could set the transparency value so the new wing has the look you want.

The next part of the process is to get the new wings flapping. As usual, I’ve gone for the old, “use a camera to create a motion curve” trick. If you haven’t heard of it before, it goes something like this. Put a freecam in the spot where you want an animatable axis of some sort. Link the asset/prop to this freecam. Now use the pan, tilt and dolly values to drive your prop. In this way the values are recorded via the camera’s motion curve, and therefore editable. For the wings, make sure the pivot point is in the right spot, then link each wing to it’s own freecam, which you put, right on the ridge on the back of our wingless fairy. It’s useful to have two viewports open. One is the Mastercam, framed so you can see the whole wing, (say from the top). The other viewport (which you make active) is to see what the freecam is looking at. When you pan left, the asset will swivel to the left. Make sure the freecamera animation is recorded in the timeline.

Once you’ve got your cameras doing their thing, link them to your fairy. Now she is free to be directed, and the wings will perform on cue.

Have fun.

T.

This article was posted by Antics user Tony Bannan of Ammo Previz


Free content libraries

August 20, 2008

You can never have enough content at your fingertips. More resources mean you can be more creative with your animations.

Here are some great free libraries suggested by Antics users:

Free motion capture

http://www.mocapxtras.com/

This is a massive library and I’ve imported a few of their animations with no trouble at all. If you find an animation that needs editing, why not use another suggestion – BVH Hacker

Free audio

http://www.soundsnap.com

Another large library, I’ve found many useful .wav files here, and most seem to be in the correct format to drop straight into Antics

Free textures

http://textures.forrest.cz/

The same for textures to help customise your props

Gary


Antics V4 – How do you use yours?

August 12, 2008

Antics users are already getting creative with the new shadows and lighting features. Even though V4 has only been available for a week or so, we have seen some interesting techniques which really bring a scene to life.

How about this police car?

To find our how that effect was achieved, there’s a step-by-step guide you can follow over in the Tips & Tricks section of our forum.

We would love to see how you’re using the new V4 features in your movies. Post a link to them in the Showcase section of our forum.

Don’t forget that the new shadows and lighting tools are backwards compatible – that is you can drop a new light into any scene you have created in previous versions of Antics and easily add V4 levels of depth and realism. So why not dust off that old favorite project, you’ll be amazed at the difference a couple of V4 lights will make!

Gary


Make ’em jump!

July 28, 2008

The library of character animations available within Antics is very large no doubt. But there are times when you need to have your character do things which are a little more custom built. Creating poses and blending to them will work quite nicely, as will importing .bvh animations (if you can find what you’re after).

But there are ways to set up your scene to get Antics to solve these custom moves for you. If you can get Antics do to do it realtime, then the process can be much faster.

For example, say I wanted my guy to run, then jump over something. Firstly, I set the walk (in properties:general:walks) to a run animation namely male_run.k3d so now wherever I direct him to go, he’ll get there real fast. Then I get him to perform the jump animation Jump_1.k3d

Ok so far so good. He runs, he jumps. Brilliant. But of course it’s very very unlikely the jump will take him the exact distance you have in mind, I mean, we could just let him drop into that lava pit, or croc pit or whatever he’s meant to be jumping over. So. Rather than go off in search of longer jumps, what if we move the room to make up the distance? If you setup a move on the room with him just standing there, you’ll see him move with the floor. So we simply setup the floor to move at the precise moment he leaves the ground, and have it stop moving just as he is to land.

Try it, it’s fun. In my example clip I moved the floor vertically as well, to get the guy to jump down to a lower level. Oh and then I added a little bounce off move using another jump and floor/combo.

As you can see I also changed the guy into a girl, it’s like a kill bill, bourne identity, bond thing now!

Moving the room also solved another problem I encountered a little while back. The idea was to have a whole bunch of shooters aim for the one target which was moving. The shooting animations in Antics are cool so I wanted to use those. Plus they work with the props! The solution was to put each shooter on a little room about the size of a floor mat. Then have these rooms hooked up to a cam. The room is linked to the cam.

The cameras (one for each room) are then told to target the target, (if you get what I mean). This way the target can move and the shooters won’t miss! You can get the cameras to look where ever you want, just make the target at ground plane level.

T.

This post was written by Antics user Ammo Previz. Check out his web site here


PC Plus readers – Welcome to Antics!

July 10, 2008

PC Plus magazine have just published the second part of their Antics tutorial in their August edition. If you have read the article and are using Antics for the first time then welcome!

Be sure to make use of the many video tutorials and FAQs that are available to make sure you get up to speed with Antics as quickly as possible.

You will no doubt find our community forum of great use. If you have any questions or if you would like some feedback on a work in progress then you can be sure of a warm welcome on the forum. In fact, we would love to see any videos you create in Antics. So if you post one up to our Showcase, it doesn’t matter how short or simple it is, then we will upgrade your forum status to Budding Director!

Don’t worry if you’re not yet ready to create a video, the forum will still be a great help to you. The PC Plus tutorial goes into great detail on the subject of importing content from Google SketchUp and the Google 3D Warehouse. Well, there’s an entire room on the forum dedicated to tips and tricks for importing SketchUp content, including a great tutorial which explains how to animate a custom character.

As I mentioned when the first tutorial was published last month, there is a copy of Antics V3.1 BasePack free on the PC Plus cover disk. All BasePack users are entitled to download our free Starter Content Pack. This contains hundreds of models including characters and a variety of props to get you started.

You can download the pack from our store here. All you need to do to get the pack is register on our community forum, then post in this thread to let us know you want the pack so we can enable the free download for you.

If you have any questions specifically about the PC Plus tutorial, then please post in the dedicated thread here.