Saturday, October 11, 2008

V5 first look

First impressions,

The first thing that struck me with V5 is the new design for the gui. There's a
fresh coat of paint over the whole work area and the icons have all been updated with new coloured icons. The tooolbar sets have been designed to remove clutter, and are set to autodock. Shift click rotates the toolbar 90 degrees, and Ctrl click lets you float it. By default the Project and construct windows, come up without the transform, display or cameras toolbars, with the Direct windows giving you all toolbars. You can alter these layouts simply by selecting View/Toolbars/ and choosing which toolbar you require to be on or off.Many of the icons have a new design and holding your mouse over the icon will reveal the name. Some the operations have been consolidated in the one button. Some have been removed, (like snapshot).A new tool is the edit object tool, (it's a hammer/wrench icon), this allows you to adjust the height/width of primitive at any time using a gestural action, very handy.The Camera controls are the same but also with a new set of icons, The selection of skeleton joints has been carried over from the prior version also. As before you select the character then click on the TAB key on your keyboard to enter the pose mode. You'll find the PIN operation is now invoked as an option once you have selected an appropriate joint. Right click on any object in the scene and you'll find some new options in the list. "Direct commands" lets you choose an operation. For a character, it's here where you get one way to direct a lookat or eyeball command. (you can choose from a list of items currently in the set) Another way to direct your character is with a new Context- Sensitive feature. And it relly works well, selecting the direct icon and choosing your character puts you in a direct mode, now when you hover over things in your set, the icon changes depending upon what is available to you, these can be lookat, goto, pick up, put down, that sort of thing. Antics V5 comes with a quick start project which is a fast way of trying out the latest features. Perhaps the most exciting new feature is the implementation of Emotions to Antics V5. They have achieved this throught the use of two new "smart" characters which are in the Characters/Emotional folder. There is a male and female model and they look good. The have a certain "sims"-ness to them, they appear to have a higher poly count, (especially around the face). Strangely, they are about 80% of the scale of all your current characters which may be a issue! (try placing them closer to cam to offset this). Also the lookat commands are set to the forehead rather than the eyes. (may be related issue). There are a number of ways to use the emotion modes. I suspect the faces contain blend shapes which warp and distort the mesh to give the appearance of expressions. The emotion can be set as a personality of the character, this'll means the character will retain the mood. You can choose from Aggresive, Average, Cheerful, Confident, Implusive, Shy, Sorrowful, Submissive andUptight.

These are all very cool. All the while the character will blink randomly, which adds so much life. But this is just one part of the new feature.The other important aspect is best used in the direct
mode. Selecting the character and then choosing the set emotion mode (by clicking the emotion icon, or by right clicking and choosing "change emotion") will bring up a new set emotion window. In this window you'll see a your characters face and you can load in a preset emotion from a drop down menu. These are different again to the personality choices. When you Apply the emotion it'll run for a set time and that'll give you an element in the timeline which you can adjust. Opening up the advance features tab gives you the option to really tweak the expression. Saving the emotion adds it to the drop down list.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

V5 - Dial in that smile!

As you've probably heard Antics' latest version, V5, has just been released and it looks like the team have hit a home run!
There's some info  on the website, which among other features describes how  
you can add expressions!
They say you use the emotion tool and then click on one of our predefined expressions to instantly add emotion and then you can use fine-grained controls to edit facial expressions intuitively, adding or taking away degrees of happiness, sadness, anger, and so on. To really hone in on the exact expression you need, and convey a truly subtle emotion.

I totally agree. The smile on my face gets bigger every time I think about those sliders!
Full review coming soon.