These days games like Second-Life are the craze, everyone’s locked up with their computer living in a Virtual World. This escapeism to a virtual life of freedom may be just an extension of our usual daydreaming and a way of relaxation and stress relief from this suffocating modern world, and stress relief is always a good thing. In reality what we probably need is more real sleep not hours and hours of computer radiation, but that’s another article. (EDIT: Thanks to Kip’s comment below I should clarify, since I’ve been educated that there are very many people using SecondLife as an extension of their everyday real life and even as a helper for their real life businesses, so those using it just for escapeism are likely in the minority. Thanks again to Kip for sharing with us his use of SecondLife as a tool in teaching foreign languages.)
So what if you don’t like Second-Life or other similar virtual life games, how can you create your own virtual world? It’s not as complicated as you may have thought.
(Image below was rendered from 3D scene inside Carrara)
Luckily, many people have already been at this for quite some time so you don’t have to create your own 3D objects from scratch to build your own virtual world. You can just download 3D objects and terrains and arrange them and animate everything the way you see fit. To see if this is something you really would enjoy delving deeper into, I recommend starting out playing around with a piece of software called iClone made by Reallusion. It is pretty easy to learn and allows you to create animations of your 3D virtual world. You can pretend you’re Steven Spielberg and direct your own little virtual movie. Here are two examples of such clips made with iClone:
Legend of Dragon
Granted, you can make much more ‘realistic’ 3D scenery using more sophisticated software used in the movie industry for feature Films, but using a program such as iClone as a beginner will give you the satisfaction of being able to see a creation of yours in action much much sooner than you could ever make everything from scratch with a professional program such as Autodesk 3DS MAX or Maya. Also, I should mention that in the latest version, iClone 4, the ’spring effect’ has been added so that not only does it offer cloth simulation for realistic dress deformations while dancing, but the ever important jiggling breasts effect is now possible so that your dancing women do not look so lifeless anymore. The degree of bouncing can be customized based on mass, strength of the spring effect, and overall bounciness, ie you can make it bounce a long time and have a Dead or Alive playstation bouncing jiggle effect.
In fact, once you have conquered iClone, my next recommendation for you to expand your Virtual 3D World creating genius, and especially if you are interested in humans in your creations and not just buildings or scenery, is a program called Poser. The Poser software has a colorful history going back to a very creative company called Metacreations (also creators of InfiniD, RayDream Studio, Canoma, Metastream, and Carrara which was their integration of InfiniD and RayDream Studio and is my next recommendation on your 3D path.) Poser is a great program for quickly creating 3D human animations. It is also a great program for creating customized 3D human characters, in fact literally thousands of poser characters are freely available on the web from such websites as Renderosity and many others (more details available in the Poser specific article.)
So far, the path I’ve outlined for your initiation into Virtual 3D world creation, goes from iClone to Poser and DAZ Studio and then to Carrara. Now Daz3D developed their Daz Studio to work closely together with Poser and at some point replace and supersede Poser’s capabilities. Please keep in mind that this is not a one way path, you may very well use Poser and Daz to create characters and scenes and then export everything to later import and animate in iClone, or you might render parts of your virtual movie inside iclone and other parts of your movie you might render in Carrara or with Poser’s firefly renderer and then video edit all the parts together with Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere.