Sunday, May 31, 2009

Animeeple: Free Animation Software

If you are looking for an easy and free tool to create animations.
Animeeple is an easy to use character animation tool.
You can easily import and animate characters, layer and sequence them , edit and modify animations (with booth FK, IK handles ).
It even allows placing a camera and render out your scenes as video. But for most purposes you'll export characters and/or animations using FBX, Collada, BVH and XML.
I sucessfully managed to get my animated character imported into XSI Mod Tool (using FBX) and Blender (using Collada).
And you don't have to start from scratch. Animeeple offers a marketplace where you can download for free or buy additional content (animations and characters). Right now they offer several characters you can animate and over 100 free animations to start with. On their marketplace you can upload your own characters and animations and sell them (they take a 25% comission).
One more highlight is Animeeple's feature to animate your Second Life avatar. You can download your SL avatar into Animeeple and then create your animations with it. Then upload it inside this tool or export as BVH and upload via you SL client. Their site offers a some video tutorials as well.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Future of Spore Machinima

One of the first talks I attended at fmx/09 was called "Tools as Toys - Promoting Creativity with Spore" presented by Dan Moskowitz from Maxis. Dan was the lead engineer on the in-game content creation and browsing tools for SPORE - the Creators and the Sporepedia.
I've never played Spore so far, just downloaded their free Creature Editor and played around a bit to evaluate it's use for Machinima but never got something showable finished. Looking around at YouTube there indeed seem not that many Machinima published with Spore yet, even I remember they once did run a Machinima contest (make a dance video). But Spore never took off as a Machinima platform like the SIMS2 did.
Asking Dan about Machinima his answer might give an insight into why Machinima is still not fully recognized by them in it's current evolution. He stated that Spore supports Machinima providing a way to record the gameplay and then upload it to Youtube.
With just that Spore would not have been made it into this blog. But what he presented in his talk could indeed change the future of Spore Machinima or even just help really starting it.
His talk was mainly about the upcoming Spore Add-on Spore-Galactic Adventures.
It's about playing. and much better, creating you own Adventure type games with Spore. You can terraform a planet then for the first time place buildings, creatures, vehicles exactly as you choose, then add goals, structure, or story to your adventures then play and even share this adventure with others. Amazing part is that you can use every asset on Sporepedia (right now around 100.000!!) to build your game. What does that mean for making Machinima. Now for the first time with Spore, you can build you own sets, place characters and props. There is still now way to create an add your own animations, but I'm sure the existing ones are good enough to create some great Machinima movies. I guess we will be surprised soon. For sure I'll have a look at that Add-on when it is released June 23rd.

Do you have a webcam? Then you have to look at the winner application of the Spore API contest:
Spore Skeletons- an amazing augmented reality Flash application by Aaron Meyers

Monday, May 11, 2009

Machinima Studios@fmx/09

Just returned from this years fmx/09 the 14th International Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Digital Media which took place in Stuttgart, Germany.
On Wednesday
Friedrich Kirschner ( AMAS ) and I did talk about Machinima, presenting a mix of current research, performance and movies. Friedrich showed some of his current research projects including his famous Ink Scanner , his current version of MovieSandbox2 and did some life performance puppeteering with GameTrak controllers. MovieSandbox2 is Friedrichs new Machinima tool. Different from his original version which was based on the UT2004 this new version is build from scratch (C++ and OpenGL) and will be released as Open-Source hopefully by the end of summer. Can't wait to have a look at it and play around. My part was to show some of the most remarkable Machinima Movies from 2008. Audience response was great. We had much more people attending than last year and more already know about Machinima.
fmx/09 was very inspiring again. I managed to attend some great talks and got new insights and inspiration for further projects. Enough to start this blog to share what I found most interesting. Stay tuned for more.