Monthly Archives: April 2012

“S” is for “Service”

The “A to Z Blogging Challenge” is a train that left the station without me this year. But since I follow several bloggers who participated, I know that today is “S” day. And guess what? I have an “S” topic to share, even if I’m not officially part of the challenge. Granted, it’s a topic that will be of little interest to some of you, but for the machinimators who stumble across my blog on their search for nuggets of truth about Reallusion and iClone. . .keep reading. I have a goldmine of personal experience to share.

A few nights ago, while flipping through the TV channels, my husband Scott and I caught the Blue Collar comedians in reprise with the “Them Idiots Whirled Tour.” Say what you will about our tastes in entertainment, but yes. It was good for a few laughs.

I particularly enjoyed Bill Engvall’s recount of an experience he had with a satellite TV provider’s customer service department. Or rather, with the disembodied, computerized voice that has replaced it. Yeah, you and I both know the voice he meant. You state, “I have a billing question.” And the polite-sounding robot voice replies, “I heard you say, ‘I have a heel impression.’ Is that right?”

Bill Engvall declined to identify the satellite TV provider whose robot he cussed, but he did assure us that it “wasn’t indirect.” We hear you, Bill. I’ve had the same problem with Time Warner Cable. And Verizon. And several other behemoth service providers who forgot that they were supposed to actually be providing a service.

But Thursday night I had a different kind of experience. By now, all of my regular followers know I’m up to my eyeballs in an iClone project that will (hopefully) result in a book trailer for Amanda Borenstadt’s novel Syzygy. Every now and then I realize I haven’t purchased all the software or accessory devices I need to actually make this happen, and sometimes those items must come from Reallusion Marketplace, the third party vending site of company that develops and sells iClone products.

I won’t bore you with the details of the mess I made of an order Thursday night, but it involved money and stupidity—namely my own. I made a big mistake during the order process that resulted in my being unable to download the product. Not sure if I should puke or panic, I dashed off an email to Reallusion customer support and resigned myself to waiting days (weeks?) for a response that might not even be helpful.

Surprise! Within a couple hours, I received a message from “Jollen” at Reallusion Inc. Technical Support. Not only was Jollen polite and personable, but very effective at resolving my problem. I have not experienced customer service like this from any company or any provider for so long that I’d forgotten how it feels to be satisfied with an outcome.

If you are on the fence about investing in iClone or any other Reallusion product, I don’t mind giving you a little push in their direction. I have not only been pleased with the products themselves, I have been blown away by the powerhouse that is iClone5. Even more, there is an arsenal of free tutorials offered on the Reallusion home site that are straightforward enough for even a legendary technophobe like me to follow. And then there’s the customer service. . .real humans using real brains to provide real support for outstanding products. You just can’t get any better than that.

Amanda’s Book Trailer–Progress At Last

Wow. It’s been so long since I updated this blog that I’ve all but forgotten how to do it. Let’s see. . .open that menu, click that tab. . . now, how the heck do I. . . .

Okay. I have excuses. One of them is an injured left wrist that has hindered my typing for weeks. I never thought fingers could be too weak to press laptop keys, short of a complete fracture. But guess what? A Grade II sprain can do the same thing. And maybe it’s just me, but seems like it’s taking much longer to heal than a bone break. I’ve had a few of those.

So how did it happen? I was walking in the yard. No, seriously. Just walking, across the driveway. And suddenly my brain lost its connection with my feet and down I went–a random neurological hiccup. Welcome to life with lupus and all the body systems it can wreck.

My other excuse is of the much happier sort. Amanda’s book trailer! Boy oh boy, am I ever making progress on that one. She has been able to view some initial footage now, and it’s going so well both of us can barely stand it. Luckily, most of the work involved with production is done by clicking the mouse, not pecking the keyboard. So I’ve spent less time with the social networks lately and more time with my nose to the 3D grind. And I am definitely starting to see this project take shape.

Amanda gave me permission to share some still images from the set, so rather than continue pecking, I think I’ll make a few mouse clicks and upload them for you to see. Stay tuned for the official release!

(Remember, Amanda, that you share rights to these images and can use them in any way you see fit. No need to clear it with me. I will send you the larger resolution files if you need them.)

This is not the complete cast, but it’s most of them. Those of you who’ve read Syzygy–see if you know who’s who!

This next pic will show you just how much detail is possible with use of a high resolution texture map. Right down to the pores in her skin, “Lizzy” comes to life. (From this blog, double clicking on the photos allows you to maximize them for a better look. They showed up full size in notifier that landed in my email inbox.)
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So here's Bea in her kitchen, surfing around on her pink laptop. In the video, Sam sits at the bar beside her, eating ice cream and reading the owner's manual for a 66 Mustang. I had to remove him to take this picture because he was blocking the shot. We'll pretend he got up to use the little boy's room or something.

The view from Bea’s kitchen window.

More of the kitchen. I included this shot because it shows how I can work with different types of surfaces, like the glass of the spice jars and coffee carafe as opposed to the matte surface of the fruit. 3DS Max rocks. So does iClone for recognizing the difference.

Finn’s cluttery desk. Again, the details! Right down to all the tiny circuitry on the scrap motherboard.

A wider view of Finn’s room. The left half of the picture is virtually empty because it doesn’t get framed by the camera in the video. No sense gumming up the scene with extra face count, which slows the processor down considerably.

Thanks for reading!