3D Newbie Tools

Here's a thread for those who'd like to play around with 3D characters, but don't want to invest the time in learning complex professional level 3D editors such as Blender. 

For easy 3D fun, try this...

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1)  Create:   Create a 3D character in either of these free apps, for Mac or Windows.

Adobe Fuse - http://www.adobe.com/products/fuse.html

MakeHuman - http://www.makehuman.org/

Both products are fairly similar.  Fuse offers more detailed controls, at the price of a longer install.

Download finished character to your desktop.

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2) Animate:  Upload your finished character to...

Mixamo - https://www.mixamo.com (free)

Select one of the pre-made animations and apply it to your character.  You'll see a collection of animations running on the left side of your screen. When you see one you like click on it and it will be used to animate your character.  Change your mind as many times as you want just by clicking on another animation.

Download the finished animation to your desktop.

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3) Display:  Upload your animation to....

Sketchfab - https://sketchfab.com (free)

Sketchfab provides an interactive interface you can use to control and display your character. 

You can manipulate your 3D character while the animation runs, zooming in and out, rotating, panning etc to make the Mixamo animation considerably more interesting.

I took the display panel full screen and then turned it in to video using a screen recorder. If you use the Sketchfab interface to put your character on a green background, you can then bring your video in to Hitfilm, and replace the green background with an image of your choice.

So if you've ever desperately wanted to see a 3D character of your own design salsa dance around your living room, here's your chance!

PS:  None of the newbie friendly tools above require real 3D skills.  It takes a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the interfaces of these services, but it's all pretty straightforward point and click.  

Have fun!

Comments

  • @PhilTanny ;  Useful info.  I'll give it a try.  Certainly easier than Blender as you say.  I've got 3 rigged minions I found I'd like to put in a video with my autistic grandson in his living room but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to manipulate the IK handles...  Maybe I can use this method to make them dance.  Thanks for tip.

  • @tddavis, well, just about anything is easier than Blender.   

    If you can get your minions in to Mixamo you'll be all set.  The characters I create in MakeHuman and Fuse are accepted, but many of the characters I download off the Net aren't accepted by Mixamo.  Reliable data transfer standards seems to be a big issue in the 3D realm, I run in to it everywhere I go.

    Mixamo accepts the FBX, OBJ and ZIP formats, but that's no guarantee of anything.   If you run in to trouble the best this nube can suggest is...

    1) Put your FBX or OBJ  file in a folder with the textures, zip them altogether, and upload the zip.   Sometimes this works for me, sometimes not.

    2) Or, if none of that works, maybe  you can create a character in MakeHuman or Fuse that will be suitable?  Fuse and Mixamo are both from Adobe and are meant to work together so that should remove any data transfer issues.  You just click a button in Fuse to send your finished character to Mixamo.

    There are a number of nice dance animations in Mixamo.  If you use the search box you can filter to see only the dance animations.

    Good luck and have fun.  

     

  • @PhilTanny ; I started learning Blender from some online classes and have made some pretty good progress, but Houdini threw me for a loop when I played with a trial of it.  I like Blender over it a bunch; in fact I am getting to where I like a lot of what can be done in Blender but it does take time to learn everything... a lot of it!  The IK stuff is all still new to me and I haven't found any good tutorials to help me along yet. I'm kind of wrapped up in the Physics engine stuff which is awesome.  I'm still weak in particles and texturing though.

  • @tddavis, personally I'm not yet interested enough in 3D to dive in to Blender.  At the moment I'm looking for simple nube  tools which match my level of interest, thus this thread.

    I have been eyeing iClone  because I own another product (CrazyTalk) from that company that I really like.  iClone comes with yet another character creator that looks better than those mentioned above.   Both iClone and CrazyTalk work with their 100 realistic human heads  which seems pretty nifty.   All these 3D products cost money of course, unlike Blender and the tools mentioned above.

    Mostly I'm waiting for the developers to make 3D easier, which I'm sure is increasingly coming because that's where the most people, and thus money, are. 

    The 3D space reminds me of web publishing in the 90's.  Back in the early days you had to know all kinds of technical nerd stuff to create a website which was a big barrier to entry for most people. Today your dog could create a site in 5 minutes.  The services listed at the  top interest me because I believe they provide a glimpse of where 3D is going, much  more point and click, drag and drop, and lots less power nerd stuff.

     

  • @PhilTanny ; I tried one of my Minions and I think they are too foreign to the biped model format they need.  It distorted the shoulders but it did dance around.  I'll have to play with the tips for model import a bit to see if I can get it looking good.  Could be very useful though if I ever make a little animated short with my grandkids I've tinkered around with for a decade.  It was to be live action back then but they've grown up since I scripted, so now it'll have to be all CG. 

  • Yea, moving 3D data from one app to another seems to be a major issue, at least in my nube experience.   Probably the single biggest reason  I don't spend more time in  3D.

    If  you can get your minion in to a T-pose that might help.   Facing forward, feet on floor, arms extended to horizontal.  

    The only other solution I know of is to create a new character in MakeHuman or Fuse, those have always worked for me.

    Good luck!

  • edited December 2017

    Hey Phil,

    thank you so much for your investigation and the workflow-description 
    A very useful summary also it is for those who want make static objects to fly.

    I'm in the same boat. Being also a noob for this kind of stuff I also tried (and try) to dive into the material - and had similar noob-"got stuck"-experience concerning the ways to get MakeHuman-Creatures out of the prog with the the aim to get them animated in Blender without having a grip of the painful ways how to get there

    End-target of course: Get static models/creatures animated and load them into Hitfilm.

    When I will have found a way the Pro-version will make sense to me.
    But it's a thorny way indeed...

    So thanks again for the hint considering mixamo and sketchfab!
    That's great - the still, the liveless body moves after that!! Coool!!

    Have the issue still, that the textures aren't imported and I don't have a grip.
    But anyways... they move : )

    Will watch more Blender-Tutorials, maybe it will work in some future...

    cheers,
    Thom

  • Thomekk,

    I'm glad you found some use for the links above.

    Making static objects fly is often my interest as well.  Here's another workflow that may be of of use to somebody.  This one is more 2D.

    1) Take a photograph or drawing of a face (could be a screenshot of a MakeHuman character face too) and put it in to CrazyTalk (https://crazytalk.reallusion.com).  CrazyTalk specializes in animating faces and making them, well, talk.

    2) Take your finished animated talking face video and bring it in to Hitfilm composite as a new layer.  Mask out the parts of the video which aren't needed.

    3) On another layer in Hitfilm composite have a regular video of someone doing something, with the actor mostly facing the camera.

    4) Use the tracking feature of Hitfilm composite to track the movement of the actor in the video.

    5) Put your CrazyTalk face layer on top of the actor in the video layer and set it to follow the motion track you created in #4 above.

    6) The tracking probably won't work perfectly, so you can tweak it by keyframing the position, scale and rotation in the Transform section of your CrazyTalk layer.

    Put more simply, use Hitfilm to do a face replacement in a video which already has the action you want.  So your MakeHuman character's face can now talk and move around on the screen, but it's done via a 2D method instead of a 3D method.

    This method can be somewhat tedious and it's not as powerful as real 3D, but your character gets to speak, and hey, it doesn't involve Blender so that makes it a winner in my book.  :-)

    The MakeHuman site and forum is useful for learning how to create the characters and add clothes etc.  It seems far less useful when it comes to animating the character you've created.  In my experience, pretty much any conversation that doesn't focus on and praise Blender will be auto-rejected by the group consensus of that community. 

    Adobe seems more on the ball, as they've closely tied Fuse to Mixamo, making it easy to animate the characters you create in Fuse. 

    The MakeHuman folks don't seem to quite get that, for most people at least, unless you can figure out what to do with the MakeHuman characters you've created, there's not much point in creating them.  Some people seem happy just rendering an image of their character, but for me at least, the image quality of 3D just isn't high enough to make that very appealing.

    The above may not be at all what you have in mind doing, but maybe it will be useful to somebody someday.

    Have fun!

     

  • @PhilTanny MakeHuman was originally a Blender add-on, that's partly why there is such a Blender-focus

  • Yes, agreed. 

    The other reason seems to be that the MH team doesn't get that the reach of MH will always be severely limited so long as the focus remains on Blender.  Blender is a power user tool, and most people aren't power users.  Simple.

    MH itself is easy to use.  Some aspects are a bit obscure, like installing user created assets for example, but these aspects are not required to use MH.  So MH itself is usable by a very broad audience, which is great.

    The problem is, once you've created your fantastic MH character, what do you do with it?   If Blender is the only offered solution, then there goes 90%+ of your potential user base out the window.

    Adobe has the right idea.  There needs to be intermediate steps such as is provided by Mixamo, a place to start, something to gradually build upon. 

    As example, consider a ladder.  We can climb to the top of a ten story building using the ladder if there are rungs which provide a series of small steps which can be conquered one by one.  But if the ladder is missing the first dozen rungs, then few will ever start up the ladder.

    What's missing from most of the technology realm are teachers.  By which I mean, real teachers, people with advanced degrees in education.  Professional educators study this step by step divide and conquer business with the same relentless focus that programmers study code. 

    What limits many technology companies is that they assume that because they know the technology they also know how to teach the technology.  This assumption might be compared to hiring an educator to code your complex advanced software, not the wisest of ideas. 

    Finally, I must say in closing, I'm really glad that Hitfilm is paying us by the word.  :-)

     

     

  • edited December 2017

    So my workflow for trying animated characters inside Hitfilm actually is similar:

    1. Take a foto or a painting with a face looking straight into the camera or a MakeHuman-Model.
    2. Import into CrazyTalk to do the facial animation (having a soundfile inside with speech only which CT learns for the work of lip-sync). Export the whole as transparent (png)image-sequence.
    3. Load into Hitfilm. And then experiment. Did not try it with tracking to something, but it is worth.

    Now just wanted to try out Fuse, but it gave me a hard time after install.
    Seems unfortunately so that Adobe is letting it and Mixamo die on the long hand
    (no updates for a while, some crazy problems to start the program after install)
    https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2131616
    https://forums.adobe.com/message/9751382#9751382

    The combination of Mixamo and Fuse seems to have "been" very good in the past. What a pity.

    So will stick to MakeHuman (which is really great for what it is) and eventually making stills to use in Hitfilm (until Blender gets easier )




  • Fuse and Mixamo are working here at the moment, but I must agree there is reason to be concerned about the quality of the Adobe experience.  As example, for reasons I am unable to comprehend, their forums are no where near as useful as this one. 

    I tend to doubt Blender will ever get easier.  But I'm confident that other tools more targeted at a broader audience will emerge over time.  I've been watching iClone videos recently in an attempt to see where it lies on the newbie/power user scale.  Sometimes it's not so much how much power a software has, but how that power is presented that matters.

  •  Is there any way to add textures onto mixamo models? Like obj's you upload yourself? 

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