ACT- Absolute Character Tools
ACT is a complete suite of plugins and technology to extend 3ds Max with advanced muscle and skin deformation tools for creating the most realistic character animations possible. It is also a complete, extensible, foundation technology designed to support a vast range of advanced character animation features in the future.
ACT is very exciting!... as well as developers we are also professional animators - in fact we were animators first and developed ACT because we wanted to create much more realistic characters animation than was possible with any currently available tools!
With ACT you can breath life into a character. People always have the same reaction the first time they see muscles and bones sliding under the skin - they gasp, their heart jumps and they proclaim "it's real... this is what's been missing from character animation".
Absolute Character Tools is a plugin for the animation software. ACT is the world's first muscle and skin system. It is currently available for 3ds max from Autodesk.Distribution for the plugin is made through CGProshop. Please find the storeform on CGProshops website at www.cgproshop.com
cgTubes are a class of objects that, like cgMuscles, can be attached at either end to follow a skeleton. cgTubes are typically used to enclose the bone to which they are attached. In this way you can make a proxy skin for your character. cgTubes use specialised defomation engines Skin Limb Engine and Skin Joint engine. The cgTubes will update quickly in the viewport for rapid workflow and outstanding skinned characters with little setup time.
New Deformation engines:
Skin Joint Engine:
The Skin Joint Engine is a powerful new feature for making skin using cgTubes. The Skin Joint Engine allows you to sculpt the joint as it opens and closes. The engine makes use of the bulge parameters: inside, outside and the sides of the joint. These parameters will react to the joint angle giving you perfect joints in minutes.
Skin Limb Engine:
The Skin Limb Engine allows the limb between joints to remain attached to the joints above and below, giving a skin without gaps.
Improved performance and reliability
The other muscle deformation engines, Initial, Blend and Rubber Hose, have been improved to cope with extreme changes in the angle between the attachment point. These engines have been tested for both speed and reliability and have been improved significantly. The new outside radius parameter allows you to control the way muscles bend as their attachment points rotate.
This is a useful tool for determing how your muscles relate to the each other and the mesh they are deforming. Using the cgXSectionEditor you can travel along the length of a muscle and edit its shape along with any other cgObject in view. Other geometry is displayed for reference. This is very useful to ensure your cgMuscles and tubes are inside or outside the skin that you are wanting to deform.
UV Relax The UV relax feature has been vastly improved in speed. Allowing you to pull the vertices back to their original position in UV space, this can overcome the bubbling effect that an extreme muscle deformation can create.
UV Channel 2 Along with the default mapping in UV channel 1 there is a set of mapping coordinates more similar to what you would expect out of a NURBs mapping, unaffected by the tendon length.
The evaluation version of ACT-Pro 1.6 is a fully functional version of the commercial release with only two differences: it will stop functioning after 15 days from first install, and the cgHuman model set is not included. ACT-Pro 1.6 Evaluation is now available for download from Turbosquid
ACT - Pro now includes cgAdam and cgEve - two complete human skeletal, muscle and skin character set, ready to animate. For ACT users cgHuman is the most advanced musco - skeletal system designed to easily animate and behave well for character animation and sub- skin deformation.
Virtual Muscles and plugin dynamics engines.
One of the fundamental components of ACT is the new class of muscle objects - cgMuscles. This is a fundamental extension to the 3D architecture adding a new primitive class with equal integration and privileges as Mesh, Poly, Patch and NURBS classes of objects. CgMuscles encapsulate everything about a muscle - its attachments (proximal and distal), its shape, its fibre structure, its transition to tendon at the ends, its tension, etc. The new cgMuscles even have their own deformation engine architecture with three plugin dynamics engines that ship with ACT 1.6. The muscle dynamics engines automatically deform a cgMuscle as the objects it is attached to are animated. Just by tweaking the comprehensive array of dynamics parameters, cgMuscles will automatically deform correctly in almost all animations.
Gravity, bone muscle-collision and true dynamics.
Two of the dynamics engines that ship with ACT 1.6 also implement static forces (like gravity), collision with bones and dynamics (muscle jiggle and movement). These features all run in real time with no noticeable impact on the base performance of the cgMuscle deformation. It is truly phenomenal to see soft object dynamics working in real time!
Integration and special tools.
ACT is designed by animators to work the way animators work. It is very easy to create cgMuscles and to hook them up to other objects and then tweak how they automatically deform - twist, bulge, sag, bump into bones and jiggle about. cgMuscles also work with all the standard Max modifiers - so you can apply FFD's to a whole muscled character (or limb by limb), modify the overall shape and collapse the cgMuscles back to native cgMuscles - even if the cgMuscles were already attached and animated!. However there are some unique modifiers provided that make hand tweaking of vMuscle animations extremely easy and fast - these work like Max LinkXform modifiers but automatically do the right thing with deforming muscles.
Muscles are true, resolution independent, parametric objects.
ACT's cgMuscles are true parametric objects. They have a base parameter space and also a parametric texture space that embeds information about the tendon-muscle-tendon structure of a muscle. These parameter spaces can both be used for muscle deformation and for ultra realistic texturing of muscles.
Realistic Skin Deformation.
Another core part of act is the CGMeshDeformation system. This is a complete skin deformation technology that implements a pipeline of skin deformations. The skin deformations are all new to animators - doing sliding type deformations rather than traditional bone deformations. This is what gives characters animated with ACT their unique and high degree of realism - you can see the skin realistically sliding over "stuff" underneath! The CGMeshDeformer supports both 3D and 2D skin deformations and has an extendable plugin architecture to support these types of deformations. ACT 1.6 ships with 6 skin deformation engines - 4 for 3D objects and 2 UV engines. It is typical to use cgMuscles to create deformable muscles and bones. The CGMeshDeformer lets you individually, or as a group, set up and control exactly how objects deform the skin.
Unique user interfaces and features.
ACT delivers a host of exciting new interface and editing features. The vSkinDeformer is designed to allow easy management of ten or even hundreds of skin deformer objects. It incorporates three integrated views in the one interface - a tree view, a spreadsheet view and a parameter view. "It's not just enough to provide tons of new features and great new capabilities - they have to be accessible, intuitive and manageable," said Snoswell, who has also taught interface and graphics design at a tertiary level. "And everything has to fit in with current work flows and practices - ACT does all of this and more." Even the vMuscle Sub Object editing features are comprehensive and new - with features like being able to soft select and edit not just the current vMuscle but all the surrounding ones as well!
Media Type: Plug-ins
Category: Character Tool
Version: 1.6 Pro
Host Application: 3ds max
Host Version: 4.x -> 2008
Operating System: Windows