Friday January 19 , 2018

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iClone 6 Showcase & Demoreel using old and new projects to test the new engine.


Creating your Own Dogfight

Article Index
Creating your Own Dogfight
Setting Up the Shader
Path Setup
Setting up Debris
Using MoCap
All Pages

I am extremely happy to see the reaction to Air Duel, my iClone5 demo, which has been met with positive comments and some questions. Do to time constraints I cannot give a full tutorial but I can tell you:

  • How it was made in general.
  • Scene Setup
  • Toon Render and Post Effect Settings
  • Animating with paths.
  • Using the stock destructible prop for debris.
  • Summary of the MoCap and clean up.

So let's start with the some general information about the production which you will discover contains only one slightly complex timing scene and the rest is up to iClone or the fantastic props of the World War II Packs. Those props are of course a vital part to this production but any airplanes that can be converted to iClone via 3DXchange or other methods will work. If you want to take the quick and easy route you can make a propeller out of a thin cylinder with the right opacity then animate with the Prop Puppet feature, even a clear flat static cylinder is better than a frozen prop.

In actuality we have the Private character from the 101st Airborne wearing a Tank Commander helmet flying the P51. The opposing force in the ME-109 is the Wehrmacht Sergeant wearing Super Hero gloves and a gawd awful leather helmet that I made in Studio Max. The scene consists of a cylindric floor with a Photoshop'd Google map applied as a texture. The sky is the stock sky Clear Day 01.

 Basic Scene

The image above shows the basic scene with the floor and sky props loaded followed by the same scene with the Toon Render and Post Effects applied.

Even though the terrain was altered to remove the labels it is still the original color. We don't have to desaturate or gray scale it in our image editor as iClone Post Effects will take care of that for us.

The final render "look" is achieved by turning on the Toon render in the Atmosphere section of the right menu and the proper Post Effects in the right order.


The Toon render settings are shown above:

The Normal Threshold is raised to 80.

Note the settings of the middle sliders in the Toon Level section. Experimentation with these is highly recommended.!

The next step in the process involves the setting up the Post Effects. With a realtime engine like iClone we can view our "Post Effects" before video is rendered making it "Pre-Effects" for all practical purposes.

The Post Effects stack allows us to stack up to five different Post Effects in any order we choose by moving the effects up and down the stack and yes... we can use the same effect multiple times depending on what you are looking for.


As you can see by the screenshot it only took three Post Effects to get the look of this render.

These Post Effects are:

  • NPR - Non Photo Realistic includes the Paint Weight and Colorfull Sliders
  • Color Adjust - Brighness, Contrast and Gray Style which is where we remove our color.
  • Color Filter - Red, Green and Blue Sliders

These simple effects go a long way towards making an impact on the final render when combined with the Toon Shader.

NPR: Color Adjust Color Filter
Paint Weight: 79 
Colorfull: 20
Brightness: 20,
Contrast: 9
Gray Style: 20 (maximum)
Red: 11
Green:  7
Blue:  3





The remainder of the lighting and atmosphere are default settings.

 Next we will move on the path  setup. 



The bulk of the air combat is made up of one scene using a stock path - Orbit02. This path is a great choice for Dogfights and only needs to have the waypoint markers turned in the proper direction to bank or roll the planes to match the turn.

In this instance the Mustang was placed at the beginning of the path and the ME-109 was placed half way between the first and second markers by editing the path and inserting a control point at the distance you wish the front fighter to be from the trailing fighter. The time slider was moved down to the last frame of that dogfight section and the fighters were placed on the last two control points respectively. We could also create another new control point to put the trailing mustang on so it wont occupy the same space as the first fighter when the animation ends.

When placing objects on paths make sure you pick the right marker and the right orientation. Be sure to select FOLLOW PATH and this example uses the -Y axis to propely align the planes to the path. In this case the scene was 1800 frames long so that was the interval between the first and last path control points.

I also created a custom s-path for one scene where the planes were turning.


Debris Shot

This debris shot was so easy to setup most of you may not believe it till you read this.

I used the FREE Floor_02 destructible prop that comes with iClone 5 and simply placed it in space in front of the tail of the ME-109 which had a physics enabled dummy attached to the tail with its opacity set to zero.

With the physics enabled the ME-109 flies through the destructible floor prop but the debris fell to the bottom too fast with the physics default setting so I set the gravity to zero and the debris is sent back to collide with the P-51 Mustang.

The trailing P51 also has invisible dummies attached to the cockpit and fusilage in order to deflect any debris that might hit them hoping to add to the realism of the shot.

The most difficult part of this scene is timing the debris for impact which is not that difficult as it can happen anywhere on the path or timeline that you choose.

 Collision Dummies


Even though this demo was fun to make creating the motion capture was a lot of fun! It's been a long time since I've got to sit in a chair and play airplane pilot without feeling silly... then again not sure what other people in the building thought if they heard any airplane noises coming from my low cost mocap studio... a Kinect on a rack system using remote desktop to work iClone from that location. I used a chair setup directly in front of the Kinect.

After initial calibration I sat down and had fun.

I discovered the following:

  • least just a bit if not a lot depending on what you are doing. Exaggerated movement does seem to help with some captures.
  • Have the room well lit. I found good lighting to be essential.
  • Mask out the legs from the motion capture so we wont have to deal with them except to position them once. 
  • Sit in the chair and have fun! Its over before you know it and you have to act like an adult again... bummer.

Clean up wasn't bad and I've found that some users misunderstand the MoCap pipeline. You don't have to keep the bad motion! Just use the BREAK feature to break the motion and then delete the part you don't want. To cut out the initial awkward and downright weird poses you can just break at the start of the good animation and delete the first part. In other areas you can cutout sections you want or don't want by making multiple breaks and selecting the proper parts to delete and string the left overs back together.

Clean up also involves using the REMOVE ANIMATION feature. Right click on the motion and remove the animation from the legs then pose the legs accordingly and forget them since we do not see them... at least not in this example.



That's it in a nutshell. Even though the scene seemed to be complicated you can see here that it was anything but. Even though its less than two minutes of animation it proved to me that iClone is getting to where it does what we want instead of working around what it can't do.

I also confess to having other motives to doing this particular demo... I wanted to know if the World War II packs worked because they are high quality and very useful. Haven't had a problem yet with them. I did a dogfight when iClone 4 came out but it looks so much better with this Toon render and the MoCap that I think iClone has certainly reached not just a new level but jumped several levels in usability.

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