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iClone EX

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder iClone EX

iClone isn't the only real-time animation program out there, but it's certainly one of the most affordable and easiest to use. Note that I said easiest, not easy. Animation is a painstaking process, even with predefined characters and templates--so if you're not willing to spend some time with the program, don't bother.

iClone EX's interface is effective, considering all the facets of a movie production that have to be controlled. Personally, I'd like to see a lot more text and fewer icons, or perhaps more colorful icons. The entire interface is done in shades of gray, which I assume is to avoid distracting from the color animation. But there are rollover tool tips to help you get up to speed. Basically you select a set, add props, add and tweak some actors, then define their movements. Nearly complete control over the appearance of the faces and bodies is possible. You can also improve control over the characters' faces by using the company's CrazyTalk facial animation program in conjunction with iClone.

If you're not satisfied with the provided content, you can download a couple more stock characters or buy more at the online store. The EX version of iClone is a limited demo. After 30 days you can't save your watermarked video in anything greater than 320 by 240 resolution. If you're interested in animation, what do you have to lose?

Note: The free demo is a teaser for the $80 Personal version, which has more content, a full screen mode, and higher resolution output; and the $200 Pro version, which has the personal version's features plus BVH import (a common motion storage format), and a full timeline editor.

--Jon L. Jacobi

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder iClone EX

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