War history YouTube channel Yarnhub has half-a-million subscribers who tune in weekly to watch heroic and captivating stories from famous wars retold as dramatic animated movies. Creating high-quality animated stories weekly isn't easy. Not only do Yarnhub's cinematics need to be engaging and high-quality, they must be historically accurate, which is why Yarnhub turned to Reallusion's best tools - Character Creator (opens in new tab) for character design and generation, iClone (opens in new tab) for animation.
Yarnhub Animation Studios Inc (opens in new tab) is a unique entertainment company that has grown from a small team creating 2D cartoons into a studio that employs over 30 talented animators to create weekly 3D cinematics.
Producer David Webb says, "We try to release at least one movie a week and that puts huge pressure on our team to meet the deadlines. In order to succeed we have to use the latest technology and tools, to produce the best quality we can in the time we have available."
Webb says the team at Yarnhub develop around 30 characters a week, and using Character Creator 4 they can "create a huge number of characters in a short space of time".
Accuracy with Character Creator 4
The flexibility of Character Creator 4 ensures the team's historian can create historically accurate costumes and characters in quick time and with accuracy. The artists are able to use other apps, including Substance Painter, to create accurate and lifelike textures. The team take their time to research an historical period and make use of photos of historical figures to create their meticulous characters.
Those 30 characters we mentioned earlier can also be easily adjusted and edited to create further variations. Character Creator 4 has a material creation workflow that fits seamlessly with Substance Painter to ensure Yarnhub's artists can iterate versions of the same character with pre- and post-battle looks, as well as civilian/military clothes and varying ages.
Character Creator 4 has new features that enable the animators to check lip synching, body rig and facial animation, says Webb, revealing this means the animators can "help us spot and fix any issues early on".
iClone 8 makes cinematics easy
When the team needs to create more complex animations they take their characters into iClone 8, Reallusion's real-time 3D animation software that delivers excellent animation for films, pre-vis and video games. For the Yarnhub animators it means they can make use of Reallusion's ActorCore mocap libraries - a set of readily-rigged characters, including mocap motions and animated 3D humans - to build large-scale battle scenes with variety.
The studio found iClone 8 has a number of new features that perfectly suited a professional studio looking to make animations under tight deadlines. These include the new Control Rig, Advanced Hand/Foot Controller, Pin Controls that have become go-to tools to provide the flexibility Yarnhub needs when creating and editing its animations. Particularly, the animators are able to save time and speed up their pipeline. Pin Control, for example, prevents joints from breaking.
A key new feature, the improved Reach Target and new Offset function, is one Yarnhub has found incredibly useful. This tool means animators can attach the hands, including both hands together, to an object with ease. This means a character can be set up to interact with other characters, the scenery and objects in a natural way and avoids characters’ hands going through other models or their own bodies. For Yarnhub, which focuses on military animations, where its digital actors need to hold swords and guns it solves many attachment problems.
Crucial new features in iClone 8
Ease and speed of workflow (opens in new tab) are fundamentals to iClone 8 and Character Creator 4, and it's been a major reason why Yarnhub has adopted Reallusion's pipeline. For the team making its weekly content the Animation Layer Editing feature in iClone 8 has been a mainstay.
"Animation Layer Editing can help adjust the animation without needing to alter every key, or having to flatten the keys," says Webb, adding: "It's a useful tool that can save time when animation requires any adjustment."
Likewise, Motion Direction Control makes it much easier to combine animations to create more natural movement and transitions between movements with a couple of clicks – iClone 8's UI is simple and natural, with clear icons dictating animation. "It makes a turn an organic part of a movement," explains Webb.
Making the most of mocap and Unreal Engine
iClone 8 is compatible with Rokoko Smartsuit Pro, too. This mocap setup has bee designed for small teams and indies, and is ideal for capturing specific, natural movements that can then be corrected and refined in iClone 8.
Finally all of Yarnhub's work in Character Creator 4 and iClone 8 is taken into Unreal Engine (opens in new tab) where the cinematic comes together. Reallusion's 3D animation pipeline works smoothly with Unreal Engine, ensuring professional results – 600k Yarnhub subscribers can't be wrong.
Reallusion Pitch & Produce program
If you like what you've read about iClone 8 and Character Creator 4 but need a little more help to get your project up and running then consider Reallusion's Pitch & Produce program, which offers support for projects and pipelines.
A project can be a game, film, animation, simulation, TV show, student film or even a live event. Winners will get software, technical, financial and marketing support for either 2D or 3D pipelines.
Simply visit the Reallusion Pitch & Product website (opens in new tab), read up on the program, checkout past projects and fill out the form.