Who said 3D animation had to be difficult? Reallusion’s iClone is a low-cost animation tool that lets animators on a budget easily produce realistic 3D movies. iClone comes in Standard and Studio versions – the latter offering extra features including timeline animation. It’s also remarkably simple to use.

A navigation pane at the top of the window divides the program into eight interface modes, such as head, background scene and export options. The Preview window shows the current camera view, which can be quickly adjusted using the Camera Control bar above it. On the right, a Manager provides quick access to models, animation, and other associated content.

iClone lets you create single or multiple character environments, or build backgrounds without characters. This version adds two, far more convincing, detailed ‘G2’ character actors, based on nine new body types.

While there’s little direct control over facial animation, you can use CrazyTalk and apply its effects at the touch of a button.

It’s worth thinking about buying both programs as a bundle.

iClone now offers special effects. These are particle based (fire and smoke) and fog effects. The fog effects add realism to outside scenes, but you’ll need a decent graphics card (get the latest graphics card reviews here).

Studio boasts a timeline, so you can independently animate cameras. The Motion Editor synchronises a model’s motion to music.

The quality of rendered iClone projects depends on your video card, but these can then be exported in a wide variety of file formats.

iClone Studio 2.0: Specs

  • 600MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 1GB disk space
  • ATI Radeon 8500 or nVidia GeForce 5200FX or better
  • 600MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 1GB disk space
  • ATI Radeon 8500 or nVidia GeForce 5200FX or better

OUR VERDICT

Unlike alternatives such as Poser, iClone lacks a multiple undo feature, and you don’t get the same control over elements. But iClone packs remarkable power and usability for its price.

Find the best price