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In this tutorial you'll learn how to use ActorCore to find and download characters and animations you need, for free. From there you'll learn how to import them into a project using Blender to create a video. The topics we cover here are:
- How to download the 3D characters and animations from ActorCore
- How to import the characters into your scene in Blender
- How to apply your chosen animation to the 3D character in Blender
- How to add a background image into the scene
- How to create and render a video
What You'll Need
To follow along with this tutorial you will need your own version of Blender, which is a popular, full-featured 3D animation software that you can download for free at the link below.
You will also need to create an account for Reallusion to access ActorCore. And lastly, you'll need a background image. I've used one that you can download from Envato Elements, or you can use your own. Click on the links below to download:
1. How to Download Free 3D Characters
Once you have created an account with Reallusion, enter the ActorCore website, which can be found in the Products tab under Cloud Service or at https://actorcore.reallusion.com
Here on the front page of the website you can see some offers and videos explaining how to use ActorCore. In the top menu bar click on either the Actor or Motion buttons to browse through everything that ActorCore has to offer. Let's start with downloading the 3D character by clicking on the Actor Button.
By default you will see all the items available. To narrow this down you can select a particular category by using the menu on the left. To download the free characters, click on the Free button.
For this tutorial we will use the item Party_F_0001.
Selecting the character will open up a preview window, where you can use the navigation tools to see different views, or apply an animation to the model to test out what it looks like.
Once you're happy with your selection, click on the Download button.
Select Blender as your target application from the dropdown menu. You can also choose a texture size. A larger texture size will mean greater detail but it will have a greater file size as well. If you are unsure what size to use, choose Original and then click on the Download button.
2. Download Free Animations
Downloading the animations on ActorCore follows the same steps as downloading the 3D characters. First, select the Motion button from the top menu.
Here you will see a thumbnail preview of all the animations available to choose from. To select the free animations, click on the Free button on the left.
Now that only the free animations are displayed, it should be easier to choose which one you want to use for your character.
If you select a particular animation you can even preview what it would look like on your chosen character in the preview window.
For this tutorial we will be using Aerobic Dance.
Click on the Download (Motion) button
You can also preview how your character will look with the animation, using the actor button.
This will take you to the Download Settings window, where you can select the character to apply your animation. Choose your character from the selection and then click the Next button.
Make sure that the correct character is selected on the left and that the target application has been set to Blender. Then hit the Download button to download the animation.
3. How to Import 3D Characters and Animations Into Blender
Reallusion's Auto SetupTool for Blender (CC3 Blender Tool) provides a simple setup workflow for your downloaded file. Download from the link above. This tool makes changing details about your character, like fabrics, easier, which you will probably want to do.
To manually import your assets as-is, unzip your AppCore downloaded files and then open up Blender. Navigate to File > Import > FBX (.fbx) to begin importing your downloaded files.
This will take you to the Blender File View where you can search for your downloaded files. Select the .fbx file for both the 3D character and the animation (you may have to import both separately). Once they have been selected, click on the Import FBX button.
Your files should now appear in the Layers Panel located in the top right of the screen. Here you can hide unnecessary objects from the scene, such as the cube, by clicking on the eye icon next to it.
4. How to Apply Animations to Characters in Blender
To apply the animations, first you must go into the Animation Workspace by clicking on the Animation button found at the top.
Make sure your 3D character is selected from the Layer Panel by clicking on it. Then select Action Editor from the dropdown menu found near the bottom left of the screen above the timeline.
The Action Editor will allow you to apply the animation to your model. Simply click on the browse button and select the animation you wish to link (the default name for the animation is aerobic-dance_315220).
Once linked, you will see that the animation has been applied to your 3D character. You can also click on the play preview button to see what the animation looks like.
Also you will need to make sure that there are enough frames for your animation. To do this, select the End Frame button located near the bottom right of the timeline and select the correct number of frames for the animation. For this tutorial 900 frames is enough.
5. How to Set Up a Camera in Blender
Now we'll set a camera for the composition.
Go back to the Layout Workspace by clicking on the Layout Button. Then select the Camera from the Layers Panel.
In the Transform Window set the following values:
- X: 0m
- Y: -6m
- Z: 0.9m
- X: 90°
- Y: 0°
- Z: 0°
- X: 1
- Y: 1
- Z: 1
To preview the camera view select View > Camera > Active Camera or enter 0 on the numpad on your keyboard.
6. How to Create Lighting in Blender
First let's add some lighting to the scene by selecting the Light object in the Layers Panel.
If the Light object isn't there you can add one by pressing Shift + A on the keyboard and selecting Light > Area.
Make sure that the light object is selected in the Layers Panel and the click on the Object Data Properties button.
Here you can set the following values:
- Area Light
- Power: 2000 W
Also make sure to enable Shadow and Contact Shadows.
To get a preview of how the lighting looks, select the Render Preview Mode and make sure Scene Lights and Scene World are selected.
7. How to Add a Background to the Scene
To create a background first we need to enable Import Images as Planes. To do this go to Edit > Preferences.
Click the Add-ons button and then select Import-Export: Import Images as Planes.
Now go to File > Import > Images as Planes and then open the background image you want to use. For this tutorial we will use the image Empty Blue Living Room.
Once the background has been imported, simply select it from the Layers Panel and use the Move, Rotate and Scale buttons to make sure that it fits the scene within the view of your camera.
8. Render Your Video
Once you are happy with the way your scene looks, go to the Rendering Workspace by clicking on the Workspace button at the top.
Select Render Properties on the right side of the screen and make sure the render engine is set to Eevee. Then select any of the options below to enhance the look of your video. For this tutorial we have selected the following:
- Ambient Occlusion
- Motion Blur
Select Output Properties and here you can choose the resolution, selection of frames and the output of your video depending on your purposes.
For this tutorial we will choose a file format of AVI JPEG.
Once you are happy with your settings go to Render > Render Animation to create your video.
Awesome! You're Finished!
Congratulations! And that's how you can use 3D characters and animations from ActorCore to create your own dance videos using animated characters in Blender. Feel free to use other characters or motions available in ActorCore and also use your own background images to create your own videos.
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