Character Creator

S4 E137 Machinima News Omnibus (July 2024)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes July 10, 2024 Leave a reply

This month’s news omnibus covers our usual breadth of topics – from Reallusion’s Character Creator contest; to a ‘how to create in SL’, available only in SL; to Project Odyssey’s contest for genAIers; to the winners of the second AIFF; to some fabulous projects such as  @EpicSpaceman  latest film, an Elden Ring band, Jennifer McKnew’s Sydney and Socket project, and one dedicated to sharing with us the ‘speed of animals’; to the fallout from the Prince Charles Cinema debate about showcasing an genAI film; launch of the Starfield Creation Kit; Homefield 3; and a must have tool for creating great quality 3D backbounds called Distopica. Its a must watch for anyone working in #machinima!



YouTube Version of This Episode

Show Notes & Links

Reallusion’s Character Creator contest, link here

SL marketplace, Stem Van Helsinki’s virtual book on ‘how to be a video artist in Second Life’, link here

Skibidi toilet meme and Roblox game link here

Project Odyssey contest for genAI films, link here

Stable Diffusion’s Stable Audio Open, link here

OpenAI’s Sora and screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, links here and here

Epic Spaceman’s latest science jaunt – this time to the nano scale –

An Elden Ring band, not the usual kind of thing you will run into inside the game for sure –

A curious short about a swan and a robot, made in Unreal, entitled Sydney and Socket directed by Jennifer McKnew –

and Jennifer’s reflections on the creative process here

Red Side’s speed comparison of 3D animals –

Prince Charles Cinema debate, link here

Starfield Creation Kit, available here

Homeworld 3 mod tools and editor, available here

Dystopika, sandbox for futuristic cities, available on Steam here

Tech Update (July 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog July 17, 2023 Leave a reply

This week, we’ve got a few things for you to add to your tools list and some info about things you’ll be keen to watch out for… but before you check those out, we share with you a showcase of Unreal’s MetaHuman and a rather creepy demo of tendons in Blender!

Showcase

This is a creative piece, made using Unreal’s MetaHuman, that will give you goosebumps – note the very detail of the facial animation and especially the whistfulness captured in eyes of the character. You could almost see this guy opening a bank account using facial recognition tech! The short, based on a poem by Mike Antic, is called Blue Dot and has been created by Epic’s 3Lateral team in collaboration with Serbian artist Radivoje Bukvic (released 15 June) –

In this uncanny valley special demo created in Blender, Chris Jones‘ shows a ‘throwaway WIP’ – its great but if this is modelled on someone’s actual hand, well, I don’t really want to know more…

Out Now

Reallusion has released free ZBrush and Character Creator plugins. Both are excellent tools for refining your animations, and the ability to link these together makes for exciting new possibilities for improving your workflow. Here’s the link to the downloads and here’s a video explainer –

The popular open world game, No Man’s Sky is now also available for Mac. This may or not make it more accessible to creators because, of course, most of the tools folks have are still only PC but nonetheless its a start!

Onwards and Upwards

Unity, in collaboration with Apple, has devised a Beta programe for creating ‘spatial experiences’, intended to support development of content for the Apple Vision Pro. You can sign up to participate here.

Unreal features a neat demo of its massively scalable procedural generation framework (PGC), which ships with version release 5.2. This looks great – the demo is called Electric Dreams, and also illustrates its amazing Substate system. Video link here –

Worth Waiting For

Blockbuster Inc., seemingly made in the mold of that well-known machinima creator studio released way back in 2005 called The Movies, has released a demo which is now on Steam (it is being developed by indie studio, Super Sly Fox). Here’s the link – the full release date is reported as being later this year.

We’re all eagerly awaiting Blender 4.0, right (due November 2023)? As part of the release, Grease Pencil 3.0 will be included in its 2D animation toolset, originally an annotation tool that has evolved to do quite a bit more. You can read the update on Blender’s develop blog here.

Tech Update 1: AI Generators (Apr 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog April 3, 2023 Leave a reply

March was another astonishing month in the world of AI genies with the release of exponentially powerful updates (GPT4 released 14 March; Baidu released Ernie Bot on 16 March), new services and APIs. It is not surprising that by the end of the month, Musk-oil is being poured over the ‘troubling waters’ – will it work now the genie is out of the bottle? Its anyone’s guess and certainly it seems a bit of trickery is the only way to get it back into the bottle at this stage.

Rights

More importantly, and with immediate effect, the US Copyright Office issued a statement on 16 March in relation to the IP issues that have been hot on many lips for several months now: registrations pertaining to copyright are about the processes of human creativity, where the role of generative AI is simply seen as a toolset under current legal copyright registration guidance. Thus, for example, in the case of Zarya of the Dawn (refer our comments in the Feb 2023 Tech Update), whilst the graphic novel contains original concepts that are attributable to the author, the use of images generated by AI (in the case of Zarya, MidJourney) are not copyrightable. The statement also makes it clear that each copyright registration case will be viewed on its own merit which is surely going to make for a growing backlog of cases in the coming months. It requires detailed clarification of how generative AI is used by human creators in each copyright case to help with the evaluation processes.

The statement also highlights that an inquiry into copyright and generative AIs will be undertaken across agencies later in 2023, where it will seek general public and legal input to evaluate how the law should apply to the use of copyrighted works in “AI training and the resulting treatment of outputs”. Read the full statement here. So, for now at least, the main legal framework in the US remains one of human copyright, where it will be important to keep detailed notes about how creators generated (engineered) content from AIs, as well as adapted and used the outputs, irrespective of the tools used. This will no doubt be a very interesting debate to follow, quite possibly leading to new ways of classifying content generated by AIs… and through which some suggest AIs as autonomous entities with rights could become recognized. It is clear in the statement, for example, that the US Copyright Office recognizes that machines can create (and hallucinate).

The complex issues of the dataset creation and AI training processes will underpin much of the legal stances taken and a paper released at the beginning of Feb 2023 could become one of the defining pieces of research that undermines it all. The research extracted near exact copyrighted images of identified people from a diffusion model, suggesting that it can lead to privacy violations. See a review here and for the full paper go here.

In the meantime, more creative platforms used to showcase creative work are introducing tagging systems to help identify AI generated content – #NoAI, #CreatedWithAI. Sketchfab joined the list at the end of Feb with its update here, with updates relating to its own re-use of such content through its licensing system coming into effect on 23 March.

NVisionary

Nvidia’s progressive march with AI genies needs an AI to keep up with it! Here’s my attempt to review the last month of releases relevant to the world of machinima and virtual production.

In February, we highlighted ControlNet as a means to focus on specific aspects of image generation and this month, on 8 March, Nvidia released the opposite which takes the outline of an image and infills it, called Prismer. You can find the description and code on its NVlabs GitHub page here.

Alongside the portfolio of generative AI tools Nvidia has launched in recent months, with the advent of OpenAI’s GPT4 in March, Nvidia is expanding its tools for creating 3D content –

It is also providing an advanced means to search its already massive database of unclassified 3D objects, integrating with its previously launched Omniverse DeepSearch AI librarian –

It released its cloud-based Picasso generative AI service at GTC23 on 23 March, which is a means to create copyright cleared images, videos and 3D applications. A cloud service is of course a really great idea because who can afford to keep up with the graphics cards prices? The focus for this is enterprise level, however, which no doubt means its not targeting indies at this stage but then again, does it need to when indies are already using DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, MidJourney, etc. Here’s a link to the launch video and here is a link to the wait list –

Pro-seed-ural

A procedural content generator for creating alleyways has been released by Difffuse Studios in the Blender Marketplace, link here and see the video demo here –

We spotted a useful social thread that highlights how to create consistent characters in Midjourney, by Nick St Pierre, using seeds –

and you can see the result of the approach in his example of an aging girl here –

Animation

JSFilmz created an interesting character animation using MidJourney5 (which released on 17 March) with advanced character detail features. This really shows its potential alongside animation toolsets such as Character Creator and Metahumans –

Runway’s Gen-2 text-to-video platform launched on 20 March, with higher fidelity and consistency in the outputs than its previous version (which was actually video-to-video output). Here’s a link to the sign-up and website, which includes an outline of the workflow. Here’s the demo –

Gen-2 is also our feature image for this blog post, illustrating the stylization process stage which looks great.

Wonder Dynamics launched on 9 March as a new tool for automating CG animations from characters that you can upload to its cloud service, giving creators the ability to tell stories without all the technical paraphenalia (mmm?). The toolset is being heralded as a means to democratize VFX and it is impressive to see that Aaron Sims Creative are providing some free assets to use with this and even more so to see none other than Steven Spielberg on the Advisory Board. Here’s the demo reel, although so far we’ve not found anyone that’s given it a full trial (its in closed beta at the moment) and shared their overview –

Finally for this month, we close this post with Disney’s Aaron Blaise and his video response to Corridor Crew’s use of generative AI to create a ‘new’ anime workflow, which we commented on last month here. We love his open-minded response to their approach. Check out the video here –

S3 E57 The Talky Orcs by AFK (Dec 2022)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes December 22, 2022 Leave a reply

For our Christmas 2022 episode, we review The Talky Orcs attempting to learn a new language courtesy of AFK, using Unreal Engine 5 and Reallusion’s Character Creator. The film is one of the best examples we’ve seen so far of lip sync and, as we’ve come to expect from these guys, also a good laugh. Enjoy and Happy Christmas!



YouTube Version of this Episode

Links

Film –

AFK channel on YouTube

Reallusion’s Character Creator Starter Pack

S3 E53 Film Reviews: The Remnants & So Palpatine Needs Padme Dead… (Nov 2022)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes November 17, 2022 Leave a reply

This week we have two great films to share with you courtesy of Damien. Our main film is The Remnants by Stan Petruk, a disturbing tale of the aftermath of some global disaster created as part of Reallusion’s Pitch and Produce programme. Our bonus film is a Mobile Short treat, So Palpatine Needs Padme Dead…[LEGO Edition] by Cinematic Series Gaming. Its astonishing what can be packed into 60 seconds!



YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes & Links

The Remnants by Stan Petruk (released 7 June 2022)

This film has all the hallmarks of an Eastern European style that we’ve talked about before – remember Irradiation by Sava Zivkovic (S1 E22, October 2021) and The Ship by Mednios (S1 E2, March 2021)?

There’s a nice description of Stan’s pipeline to create the film and the tools he’s used on 80.lv here and his comments about using Character Creator are on Reallusion’s website here. Below is also a nice video explainer by Stan.

So Palpatine Needs Padme Dead…[LEGO Edition] by Cinematic Gaming Series (released 29 Sept 2022)

Enjoy, and as ever, feedback and suggestions welcome!

Credits –
Speakers: Ricky Grove, Damien Valentine,Tracy Harwood, Phil Rice
Editor/Producer: Damien Valentine
Music: Scott Buckley – www.scottbuckley.com.au CC 00