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I think he should leave it until the Skyrim CK comes out sometime this month. Sure there may not as much custom content yet but Oblivion is very ugly now, worse than HL2 in my opinion.

 

With Skyrim there's dynamic lighting, better character models, better textures and a thriving modding community. Along with a more in-depth CK if Todd Howard isn't lying.

 

-edit- Also, Skyrim has a lot of animal models. In Oblivion you won't find pigs, fish, dogs etc. And there are loads of animations for non combat stuff like mining, cooking, farming, smithing etc.

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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I don't know if it's worth trusting the Toddler on that kind of stuff.

R.I.P Stephen "Anti-Social Fatman" Bray

 

"In the meantime, the sun will be rising. You will know all, and I will not feel this dread any longer."

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I don't know if it's worth trusting the Toddler on that kind of stuff.

 

Well, we'll find out sometime this month won't we.

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Poser or its quasi-competitor Daz Studio, maybe? I'll admit I don't know how many of the bullet points they'd fulfill*, but I know that animation like this is pretty much exactly what they're built for, and they come with standard character models that can be tweaked and customized in a fashion similar to the Oblivion character creation menus (but with much more detailed options).

 

*Most of them I'm pretty sure they do. The only bits I'm not sure about are importing Steam content and physics. I know you can import foreign meshes and textures into them, but both programs use their own (shared) rigging system, and I don't know if there's a method or format that allows you to preserve/use the original rigging from another app. So importing static objects like maps, buildings, parked vehicles, etc would do just fine, but you might have to re-rig things like Civil Protection characters models and car wheels. On the plus side there's such a massive amount of content out there for them that the Source civilian characters, cars, etc. could be completely replicated with little or no effort, so if you did have to re-rig anything it would only be the really distinctive stuff like the creatures or the Combine vehicles/uniformed characters.

 

I've no clue what their physics capability status is for the most part though.

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So importing static objects like maps, buildings, parked vehicles, etc would do just fine, but you might have to re-rig things like Civil Protection characters models and car wheels.

 

I doubt importing maps would be that easy, if at all possible. As someone, who has been digging in HL files back in the day, I can say, that maps use a very specific format. Just to be sure, did a quick Google-check, and there seems to be no trivial conversion method/applications for this.

--♪♫

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Maybe we're thinking about different things when we say/read "maps". That word can mean multiple things in CG, and I'm not familiar enough with the Source engine to know if there's a particular terminology they use that make "maps" mean something specific or different.

 

I assumed maps meant terrain and buildings and their layout, which can be handled by doing an OBJ export from any 3D app that can read Source formatted files. For most programs, that would cover UV and texture maps too. I know that people make custom props for source games using external apps, so this should if anything be even simpler.

 

Looking through some of the tutorials Google turns up, importing Source formatted files of any kind into another app does look more complex than just clicking "import", but it also looks like you'd have to do this no matter what your destination app is, making this nit pick a caveat against the OP's requirement, not against any particular non-source app or engine.

 

...But if you can get a Source model into any foreign app, that throws the door wide open for easily porting into anything else via conversion, barring rigging or possibly weight mapping. And if you're inclined/skilled, anything that lets you write plugin scripts will enable you to automate the process. From what I'm reading (well, skimming, admittedly), it looks like getting stuff into Steam is the real challenge.

 

*edit* with some more refined searching, it appears there are now plugins for Blender at least which enable you to easily import Source files:

https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Blender_SMD_Tools

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9svVmjejeQ

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Hum, you pointed me to very interesting things to read. I come from original Half-Life, so the knowledge is a bit rusty, and outdated. I'm now trying to pick up mapping for Source.

 

I'm referring to maps as levels, i.e. buildings, ground, etc. And yes, people import models into maps, but the actual map is built as "brushes" and "entities" (entities can be point- and brush-based). Basically, you want to export all the brushwork, which is originally saved in map file *.vmf. vmfs are editable map "projects", that are being used in Hammer. If you want to use someone else's map (for example, original HL2 maps), you'll have problems, since finished maps, that are used in game are compiled as *.bsp files. Those aren't editable, sometimes can be decompiled, yet it produces errors, or doesn't work entirely, and generally is frowned upon.

 

The examples you show are talking about model export, which should be relatively easy. Upon some more refined searching (again, thanks for your links :)), there seems to be a tool, called Propper, that is written to convert small vmfs into models.

https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Propper

http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=970412

 

It looks incredibly useful for mappers, I wonder, if it could be used to convert whole maps into 3D meshes. Since I'm thinking about getting into Source mapping, I think I will give it a spin :]. I'm generally excited for this tool.

 

Yet, it still isn't ideal in Ross' case, since he still won't be able to use any map without author's help (unless I don't know something about Source, feel free to correct me). And it isn't clear, how accurate the model would be. I have a hunch, that it would still require additional work. The best scenario still might be to export all the textures, and remodel/build new map in a program of choice.

 

Hope Ross doesn't mind us being not to skilled and delving into this discussion. :) I just became personally very interested in possibilities. And, being a sort of a Half-Life fan, it would be a shame to see Civil Protection gone/moved to other setting. Still, it is a lot worse to see Ross buried under all Source bugs, or stuck trying to save all good assets from Source, just to save CP, when he possibly might be a lot more productive in other settings :).

--♪♫

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Hey Ross, I don't know if you'd scoff at this idea or not. But if you're making a fantasy movie, you could maybe try Oblivion
While my main focus will be a fantasy environment for this year, I'd prefer to not have to learn ANOTHER engine after I'm doing with that and go back to CP or something else. So if Oblivion / Skyrim is just as functional as something like UDK or Cryengine, then I can consider it. Otherwise, the setting along doesn't mean much since I'll probably be porting like crazy no matter what I use.

 

Poser or its quasi-competitor Daz Studio, maybe? I'll admit I don't know how many of the bullet points they'd fulfill*, but I know that animation like this is pretty much exactly what they're built for, and they come with standard character models that can be tweaked and customized in a fashion similar to the Oblivion character creation menus (but with much more detailed options).
This is maybe where I should start then. Again, I think I should focus on having character models with working face flexes FIRST, then see what software / engine supports those models.

 

I doubt importing maps would be that easy, if at all possible.
I know there's a utilitiy to convert VMFs into XSI Softimage scenes, but I have no idea if that's just the geometry or if it includes the textures too. Also I was talking to one person swearing by the Unreal engine who successfully managed to film a WoW video inside it (and not just green screening). So if he can bring that over from WoW, my guess is it's doable in Source. I'm not expecting the maps to have the same functionality, just geometry, static models, and textures.

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Hey Ross, I really like your films, they're inspiring and funny. Not like, inspiring in a "I want to go save the world," kind of way, but inspiring in a "people do some cool sh*t," kinda way.

Anyway I saw you're looking for new engines and wanted to offer some possibilities. A cool open source digital puppetry project called Movie Sand Box:

http://moviesandbox.net/

and some cool examples of the program's capabilities:

http://www.moviesandbox.net/?page_id=38

 

Similarly, open source digital puppetry, with really cool demos):

http://animata.kibu.hu/

 

and since a couple people above mentioned Blender, I also saw this, on facial expression capture using the latest Blender (with tutorial):

http://machin-x.blogspot.com/2011/12/facial-capture-using-blender-3d.html

 

I don't know that Animata and MovieSandBox meet your outlined needs, per se, but they might offer intriguing options you can use in combination with source engine, or Blender, compositing figures onto backgrounds, etc. Also worth noting, there's a lot of interesting (free!) tools for Blender, like this City Generator:

http://arnaud.ile.nc/sce/index.php

 

Also, while I'm posting, I've found another freeware tool called MikuMikuDance in the past, which can be used to create animation data. I believe the vpd or vmd files are exported, and essentially like .bvh files (and are also convertable to .bvh, though I'm not sure how other have done it, but I have seen videos indicating it's possible). Anyway, this post has a video that shows a cool implementation of compositing an animated figure on top of a handheld video, using motion tracking:

http://www.cgspeed.com/2010/01/dancing-3d-avatar-software.html

 

I can imagine members of the Civil Protection force kicking some sweet moves to J-pop.

 

Anyways, thanks for doing cool stuff!

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Hey Ross!

 

I'm new to the forums but I've been a big fan for your work since the first episodes of Freeman's mind and Civil Protection! I saw that you were interested in making a new movie set in the middle ages and I just wanted to drop by and let you know If you ever need some concept sketches of whatever you have in mind, I'll be glad to help! Just a heads up though, drawing is a side hobby of mine, so i'm not really that good. xD

 

Here's a couple pieces I've done in the past!

 

 

welcome_to_the_grisly_diner_by_open_circle-d4k5emy.png

 

 

 

wolver11.png

 

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Hi Ross,

As we exchanged some email about a year ago, I teach a Machinima class here at the University of Utah and have been doing so since 2007. We have struggled using Source as you have. BTW - one thing that I would add to your list of features is real time editing. We've tested with several game engines and the modern ones allow you to work on set/level design and then push a button and immediately drop into the level to look around. This reduces the save, build, fire up hl2 time significantly. Anyway, we have investigated a lot of different options, but have yet to find one that works. We have mostly experimented with game engines. We have tried:

* Gamebryo - with zero assets, we decided to try and import models from Source. We were able to get their models and animations in. This was great as it allowed you to scale the assets (including characters). But we never got facial and lip sync to work (the student that I had working on it ran out of time).

* Unreal UDK - again no assets. I had two student teams build games with UDK. The games were great, but using UDK was a royal PITB from the computer science side of things because the scripting language is not terribly well documented and neither are the library calls. We didn't really get into the whole machinima thing. I may keep investigating this some.

* Crysis - I had a team of five students attempt to build machinima with Crysis this past semester. They got a movie made, had lip syncing in the equivalent of face poser, but could never get that working in game. Also, we tried to use the Crysis 2 assets and had difficulty getting a wide range of characters. One thing it does have is the ability to create external scenes with mountains and vegetation that not only are beautiful, but fast to create. One encouraging piece of work was to use the Daz3D genesis characters (if you haven't seen this, search youtube for daz3d genesis and you will see the coolest tool which allows you to take a human character and morph it into pretty much anything you like). We have been able to get the daz characters into crysis and get their animations working. The lip sync and facial stuff is being experimented with. daz also has tools that allow you to use the kinect to do mocap. Again, I'm encouraged, but nothing yet is up to our standard of making machinima like we can do in Source. Note - I also have looked into unity 3D which has nice tools for doing Daz to Unity. However, I have yet to find a solution to the lip syncing. I believe I read that the methods that Daz and unity use are incompatible.

 

Bottom line - we have yet to find anything that gives the kind of control that you get from source and has the huge set of assets. We keep looking.

 

Bob Kessler

Entertainment Arts and Engineering

p.s. I forgot to mention that if you haven't looked into Cinematic Mod for HL2, you should. He has created some absolutely amazing looking characters.

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OpenCircle: I was considering getting someone as a concept artist, though it would be more for managing things spatially rather than things looking extra-detailed. So I'd be more interested in someone who could draw a village area from several different perspectives just using simple geometric shapes to represent the buildings, rather than something fantastic looking. Also for an action sequence, I would want someone who could draw the different stages of it with semi-accurate perspective just using something like stick figures. It's still a little far off from me needing someone in this area yet, first I want to establish what software I'll be working in first and where I'm getting all the assets from.

 

 

rrkessler Hey, your experience with the various engines is pretty helpful, it definitely sounds like focusing on character models and faces is the right step if there's a lot of trouble with lipsync.

 

As for Unreal, I'm not certain what your experience translates to. What sort of functions would I need custom scripts for from a machinima perspective?

 

With Cryengine, I have seen a crysis machinima before with lipsync, but they were using the default character models from the game. It sounds like lipsync would be the first thing to focus on right after character models.

 

And yes, I agree in-game editing would be a big help, not having that definitely slowed me down a bunch on the latest CP episode.

 

I have looked into the Cinematic mod before, but at the time (about 2009) they didn't increase the fidelity of the texture for the metrocops, only made their uniforms look grittier. Since my series revolves around them, I decided not to use it as the introduction of high res textures against standard ones would create more of a contrast effect than I wanted.

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Cinematic Mod's textures are nice but I simply can't stand the new models. But ultimately I uninstalled it because it took up to I believe 20 gigs on my disk space.

http://steamcommunity.com/id/Kaweebo/

 

"There are no good reasons. Only legal ones."

 

VALVE: "Sometimes bugs take more than eighteen years to fix."

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Cinematic Mod's textures are nice but I simply can't stand the new models. But ultimately I uninstalled it because it took up to I believe 20 gigs on my disk space.

 

That's half of my internet cap (I hate how New Zealand has internet caps), I can only download 40GB per month and have to pay extra when over that cap. I believe it's $30 per extra 10GB I use over that. :(

I just... I don't even...

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Cinematic Mod's textures are nice but I simply can't stand the new models. But ultimately I uninstalled it because it took up to I believe 20 gigs on my disk space.

 

That's half of my internet cap (I hate how New Zealand has internet caps), I can only download 40GB per month and have to pay extra when over that cap. I believe it's $30 per extra 10GB I use over that. :(

 

I know exactly how you feel, that's the same cap as I have at home. Fortunately I'm at University right now, but home internet...

 

Still, it's not so bad as it's only 1mb (ie around 125KB/s) so large downloads take longer and the cap gets used up at a slower rate.

 

If the cap gets breached though, we don't get charged extra. The download rate simply gets limited to something silly like 0.5KB/s. It's almost impossible to browse web pages, but Steam chat works. :P

Feel free to PM me about almost anything and I'll do my best to answer. :)

 

"Beware of what you ask for, for it may come to pass..."

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Daz 3D has a few of their pro version apps on a free promo special right now through February 29. Good opportunity to grab a copy of the full pro version for free, just in case.

 

http://www.daz3d.com/i/3d-models/all-products-promotions?cat=1068#1,cat_1068_382

 

Note that the motion capture add-on shows the TF2 Heavy being used in the example pics:

http://www.daz3d.com/i/shop/itemdetails/?item=13351

 

Not trying to be a shill/spammer, just seemed like lucky timing.

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That's really surprising, I've never heard of a company offering so many of their products for free like that without an insane catch. I guess I'll have to grab Daz Studio and look at it.

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They're one of those companies that uses their flagship product as a loss leader for buyable add-ons and content. They have "basic" versions of most of their main apps which are always free, and then a whole bunch of buyable plugins and tools and content* which are their real source of profit. These are the "pro" versions though, which have a chunk of the major plugins already built in. I think the reason they're doing this big free promo thing is because the new version of Poser is either coming out or just came out, and they're hoping that between this and their new Genesis figure (which isn't Poser compatible yet, unlike all their other content save the dynamic cloth items) they can steal some of Posers customers.

 

*If you check sites like ShareCG and Renderosity, there's a gigantic amount of community-authored Poser/Daz content available for free, though, so you can actually do quite a lot without ever spending a dime. This would allow you to cut down on the amount of content you have to convert from Source, as Combine and creatures aside, most of that is ordinary "real world" stuff that can easily be subbed or replicated with Poser/Daz content.

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