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Developer Spotlight - Althea Dubowec

Who is Althea?

Althea Dubowec is from Oakville, Ontario, Canada. She has been interested in video editing for several years and became interested in animation approximately 3 years ago. She has spent over 25 years in the print production, marketing and graphic arts industries and have recently expanded her business to include video production.


Easy Start - iClone

Starting with CrazyTalk, I have probably been using the software for 2 years. I moved up to CrazyTalk 4.5 and began sending out voice messages from Pinhead to our group and on our website. Shortly after that, I discovered Iclone. The discovery that I could create a family member (or Pinhead) inside this software from a photo and animate them or make them dance - was absolutely thrilling to me. Now of course, I've taken it further and realized that iClone is a great way to tell a story. With the Cool Clones featuring a Halloween Contest last year, it inspired me to create my first real story with iClone. While far from perfect, it has not ceased to amaze my friends and family who think I am quite talented. (hehe). I have several more stories in my head now which I hope to create in the next year or so.

After becoming one of the organizers of a video editing competition involving a character named Pinhead, I became interested in ways of animating the character. At first this was done my simply moving him across the screen, then I advanced to alternating two positions over and over on an overlay track. Then one day, a friend gave me a copy of CrazyTalk2, as he was not interested in using it. This allowed me to make Pinhead talk which was extremely fascinating to me. I was hooked after that. I tried other animation software such as Animestudio, but it was extremely time consuming and difficult. Picture of latest iClone version of Pinhead is attached and the credit for designing him to look as much like our 2D character goes to Gerry (wires) Wilson. I have also attached a picture of the original Pinhead who was created and drawn by my husband Walter.

Q: What do you mainly use iClone/CrazyTalk for?

I use it for many things. For two years now I have used iClone to animate the Annual Pinhead Awards. And this year, our project involved a 30 minute opening story completely done in iClone for which our 2D animation fans were challenged to finish the story. I had plenty of help of course from an entire committee of 5. We provided all the materials for participants to create their animations and Reallusion generously provided 5 copies of iClone Studio as incentive for the winners. The ceremony can be viewed now at www.pinheadhq.com.

I use iClone for business as well. I have animated myself to send messages to clients. The feedback I get from this is unbelievable. I had one situation where I needed to thank a client for facilitating payment for something, so when I received the cheque in the mail, I sent a thankyou of me holding the cheque, and this had quite an impact on my client. Things like that make you stand out.

I have a client named D3 Security Systems that provides sophisticated security management systems for corporations, colleges/universities and shopping malls. Their clients requested training demos for their individual security businesses. D3 decided that a virtual character could deliver a better online training than would a live trainer. For this project, I created a security guard avatar in a training demo format that speaks to the trainee, while they watch the demo on how to use the software. The client provides the narrative voice and I provide them with the flash animation of the talking avatar to add to their demos. This has received extremely positive feedback, and should provide me with increasing business opportunities. I hope to expand this part of my promotional marketing business. I believe there is great potential in this area. With the high cost of creating a traditional set, and proper lighting, camera work - this is a great alternative.

I've also produced a training/promotional video for a Cincinnati-based sales and marketing company named Entrust America. A nationally known talk radio show host provided the voice talent. By using a photograph of him, I created a virtual likeness and then produced a full animated character who speaks to a group of people in a virtual lecture theater. I added rotating graphics on to a white board next to the animated character which reinforced key points in his speech. The response to the video from the company's independent sales force was very positive. The lecture theatre, picture attached, was used by permission from Popeye - it wasn't shown to the general public.

The business application potential of iClone is what prompted me to create "Career Girls", "Office Flair" and "Gentlemen's Club". I wanted to have business avatars for use by myself in my business. When I worked in an office full time 10 years ago, before my children, I was known for my stylish suits. I always like something with a bit of flair and now that I have worked from home for several years, I suppose it's a way for me to express that creativity.

Q: How long does it normally take to create one your fantastic creations?

Creating a single outfit for me takes hours. Six months ago I knew little about photoshop. A year ago, I recall watching a tutorial on clone cloth and thinking that I would never be able to master it. But over time, and with perseverance, I have managed to create some outfits that I was brave enough to submit to Reallusion through the developer program. The whole thing has been a tremendous learning experience, and the folks in the development centre provide constructive criticism and advice, which is much appreciated. I have to thank a friend named "Joe", who has the patience of Job, for helping me to understand layers and all the tools available inside the program.

I tend to create just everyday stuff that regular people would wear. I am working on a line now which I am very proud of and have uploaded today. It's called "The Girl Next Door" My problem is I have created 12 or 13 items, so I may have to divide it into two separate groups. I also enjoy creating the videos that support the packs, as this allows me to use my video editing skills as well.

Q: What other software do you use apart from iClone and/or CrazyTalk??

I use a lot of different software. For video editing, I primarily use Pinnacle Studio. For flash creation, I use "Flair", Pro Show Producer for slide shows, Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro, Serif WebPlus 2 for Website creation Poser for some animation and face creation and too many others to mention.

Q: What are you looking for in iClone 3.0?

Well, I am not as advanced as some users, so that's hard to say. I would love some additional clone cloth templates. There are some limitations to what is available now. I like the idea of adding video inside of Iclone. The motion editor is somewhat tricky now - what you think you are getting doesn't always pan out to the character. And switching characters is somewhat cumbersome. Also, I would like the idea of being able to copy and paste attributes to another character or prop/accessory.

Q: Please tell us anything else you would to add?

I don't think there is another software out there that has hooked me like iClone. It allows you to be so creative and you don't have to be extremely artistic or technical to use it. It is so thrilling to see the creations that I can create and to watch what many other users are producing. The story telling capability is what thrills me the most. I hope to have more time in the next year to follow through on some of my own ideas.

Alley's content packs

Country Proposal
The Girl Next Door
Date Night


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