With more iClone users getting access to RTX video cards there are more questions about how to get a quick start in the Omniverse/iClone pipeline. As I stated in previous articles, Omniverse has a short learning curve to start getting better, more cinematic renders out of your iClone work. While iClone can produce good renders in the hands of an experienced user not all users have the time or the inclination to get that technical.
This is where Omniverse comes into the picture to deliver a more realistic or more cinematic render via the USD export features in iClone. Reallusion’s founding partner, Charles Chen, explained to me how being as seamless as possible with Omniverse will be a way to achieve a more in-depth render as we see with Unreal Engine or Unity. As I’ve stated in earlier articles you get the advanced, game engine style render without needing to take a deep dive into the game engine itself.
There are presently three types of renders available in Omniverse. Real-Time to make it easier and faster to work with an instant preview. Path Traced is a superior render to real-time but takes more resources (depending on render setting) and is great for the final render. Iray Photoreal is also an option but its speed can drag when working with complex scenes and textures. All are valid render modes that produce good results, but the real-time render has a different lighting default that is much brighter and harsher than the Path Traced which I favor.
If you’ve managed to get your hands on an RTX video card (required) you can get started very quickly by using some of the default projects that come with iClone 7. These projects are not only a quick start in learning the process but also demonstrate the difference in iClone versus Omniverse renders.
For this article, we are going to be using the Loft Scene, GI Light Room, and the Raptoid projects. One thing to keep in mind is that you can export everything at once including lights and IBL or you can export them in singles or groups. The great thing about exporting all at once is the fact the items are still individual and can be manipulated as such. They are not merged or grouped. It shows up in the scene as one item that can be expanded to drill down to the other objects. You can also export them via USD in any group or individual items if so desired.
The process is simple:
- Select the objects or object you wish to export via USD.
- Select All or Selected to suit your needs
- Select Current Frame, All, or Range (latter two for animation)
- Select Post Effects if any
- Check the appropriate boxes at the end of the popup
- Press Send to Server (already set up as your localhost)
- Select or type in the location path
- Select or type in an export name
- Press OK
Example of saving all scene assets as one USD file for use in Omniverse. This includes lights and any animation in the original iClone project
The exported USD file will show up in your Omniverse local host according to the information you put into the popup dialog. This localhost is an intranet of sorts, and the items are stored locally. This type of interaction requires the Reallusion Connectors available for download in the Omniverse Launcher.
Go to the exported location within the Omniverse Create or Machinima app Content Browser then drag and drop the file onto the stage. If cameras are involved, you’ll need to set your viewing camera to the appropriate imported camera under the Cameras drop down in the upper left corner of the workspace.
Dragging and dropping the USD file from iClone into Omniverse and selecting iClone camera
The project is now loaded and ready in Omniverse and in most cases will already have a different look than it did in the iClone workspace. Keep in mind that both apps rely on proper lighting to achieve great renders so you will have to spend a bit of time learning about lighting if you are new to all this.
Like iClone, Omniverse can be as simple or as complicated as you need it to be depending on the needs of the scene being rendered. A lot of scenes can be exported as one USD file with lighting and animation which makes it simple to get the assets into Omniverse for game engine quality render. These examples were done with a low-end RTX 3060 on an XPS i9 desktop.
PATH TRACING RENDER TIP: Under the Render tab and Path Tracing you need to increase the Total Samples Per Pixel to help smooth out the render. I use anywhere from 256 to 512 for most scenes instead of the default 64.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.