Dr. Of Machinima

A blog By Dr. Nemesis following the progress of Binary Picture Show's work, as well as other Machinima.

Importing Sims 2 models into iClone Tutorial

December7

Ever since I moved away from game  based Machinima I always knew I’d have some serious issues. The biggest has always been content. Games provide more 3D models, textures, sounds, etc, than any one person can ever make (or even collect), and what’s more, they’re designed to work together, look like they are all part of the same universe.

Of all the gaming communities I’ve never envied any more than The Sims 2,  so this tutorial will show how to import Sims 2 models into Reallusion’s Iclone.

But first…
The people who make these models often put a lot of time and effort into them. Please respect their work and follow their rules. Most places ask that you not re-distribute the models/textures and that you give them credit. If in doubt it never hurts to send an email and ask (some sites even ask for a donation. I’ll leave that entirely up to you). On to business.

Tools

Iclone
3DXchange (the tutorial assumes you already have a basic working knowledge of this and Iclone )
SimPE (to export Sims content to something 3dexchange can read. Also, the program requires Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 and Dirext X9c to work. Links are on the Simpe download page).

Once you have All these installed you’ll ofcourse need a Sims 2 object to import.
The nice folks at Parsimonious kinldy gave  permission for us to use one of their models for this tutorial. They are a collection of many artists so there are quite a few objects we could use. For the tutorial we’ll go for something practical like the loveseat seen here.

k8-Surf_Point

Download the k8-Surf_Point-Loveseat.zip file and make a folder to unzip the contents to it.  In the zip there should be a package file, “k8-surfpointloveseat-071309.package”. This contains the 3D mesh and it’s texture. Right now the file is meant to be read by The Sims 2.

Open up SimPE and we’ll extract the mesh and texture.
Go to the File Menu and then Open. Navigate to the location of the “k8-surfpointloveseat-071309.package” and click open.

The top left box shows the Resource Tree and this should now be filled with lots of branches. Thankfully we will only need to concern ourselves with two of them for this tutorial.

screen1

Click on the Geometric Data Container. As you might have guessed this has the mesh. To the right of the Geometric Data Container is the Resource List window which will  show what is in the branch you select. In this case the package only has one model so only one entry.
Select “k8-surfpointloveseat-071309_gmdc” from the resource list..  Underneath the resource list should be the Plugin View. This is important because this is were you can preview the model and more importantly, where you will export it from.

In the plugin view, the Content -> cGeometryDataContainer tab should already be selected and it will contain a list of the meshes that make up the object.  In this case the model is only made of one piece and it’s box should already be ticked. Now hit the Preview button to see exactly what you will be exporting. If the texture is located in the same package (which it is) you will get a textured preview like this:

screen2

Click Export and the save it as an “obj” file. For simplicity it’s best to save it in the same folder you extracted the package to. Now we’ll export the texture.

In the Resource Tree select the Texture Image branch at the bottom. Again the resource list will only show one object (because this mesh only has one texture). Select that and the plugin view will show the TXTR Editor. Here you will see a list of textures. They are all the same, just different sizes. You will always want the biggest one so in this case select the 256×512 image. Right click on the texture preview, select export and save it.

screen3

It will save as a png by default, which is fine, iClone accepts that but if you do change the format to something like jpg you’ll need to change the extension in the file name yourself. Otherwise it will remain “png”. That’s the export process complete. It can be more complicated depending on the model but with a little practice it really takes no time at all. Now it’s time to move on to iClone 3D Exchange.

In 3D Exchange open the obj that we exported. The program will give you a warning that the model is too small and that it will be resized. Go ahead and click OK as this isn’t a problem. Click the Align to GND button to get the seat positioned nicely on the floor. The reference figure should be on and you will notice that the seat is way too small in comparison. In the scene transform section make sure the Lock XYZ box is checked and scale the seat up to 8500. This number works pretty well when importing any Sims 2 objects although you may often need to tweak the scale again once in Iclone, depending on the object.

screen5

In the Scene Tree select “Fabric” (make sure it’s box is ticked) and then in the Node Attribute section, set the autosmooth value to 45 (the value needed will vary from model to model. Feel free to try others). Hitting the Auto Smooth button will get the corners nice and smoothed out. Now export this as a prop and set the max texture size to 512×512.

Now it’s time to import to Iclone. Open Iclone and under Set -> Props either select the model from the Content Manager (if thats where you exported to), or use the Modify panel to import it from where you saved it to.
Again, under the Modify panel, scroll down to Material & Texture Settings. Double click on the Diffuse texture icon and select the texture you exported from SimPE.

screen4

There are a great many places online where Sims 2 custom content can be found. Enjoy and again, please do remember to behave.
Thanks once more to Parsimonious.org and to Reallusion for their help.

-Doc

posted under 3D, Machinima
10 Comments to

“Importing Sims 2 models into iClone Tutorial”

  1. On December 8th, 2009 at 6:25 am thebiz Says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. On December 8th, 2009 at 9:50 am WarLord Says:

    Excellent information! Thanks!

  3. On December 8th, 2009 at 10:01 am ricky grove Says:

    Brilliant. Great tutorial and I appreciate your reminder to be fair in using content from the Sims. Glad to see you posting again and really like the site design, coffee stains and all.

    -Ricky

  4. On December 8th, 2009 at 2:06 pm Dulci Says:

    Thank you very much for this information!

  5. On December 9th, 2009 at 7:58 am HatHead Says:

    Awesome work – thanks!

  6. On January 19th, 2010 at 3:24 pm Armanus Says:

    The beautiful thing about this is that the amount of end-user created content for Sims 2 is unbelievably vast. There aren’t many things that can’t be found for it, from almost any era. This is a great boon for iClone machinimators, and by following the same steps for extracting meshes and textures through SimPe, it isn’t too much work to import these into Moviestorm either, which is a tremendous boon for those machinimators as well. I’m going to post a link to this blog in the MS forums.

    Thanks for the great discovery!

  7. On January 19th, 2010 at 8:27 pm Dr. Nemesis Says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Armanus, yes this technique is really transferable to any tool with import abilities, I use it for my Motionbuilder scenes too. I just wish this was all possible whan I was still making Quake 2 films (Which really wasn’t that long ago :-( )

  8. On January 20th, 2010 at 6:23 pm Michela Says:

    Thanks a lot for the information! I don’t play Sims but I like it, and I’m glad to know that if I eventually started using it there’s a way to import something into iClone. :)

  9. On January 28th, 2010 at 11:22 pm Sims to iClone « MyClone : iClone & anymation Says:

    [...] to iClone 2010 January 29 by Borrowind The Binary Picture Show blog has a clear tutorial on how to import models and sets from The Sims games, into iClone. Nice, but you might want to stick to fan-made Sims content which [...]

  10. On January 29th, 2010 at 12:05 am MyClone Says:

    Useful tutorial. many thanks! I linked to it on new iClone blog:

    http://myclone.wordpress.com/