Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk Labs unveils Project Pinocchio

Exporting a character from Project Pinocchio to Maya. Autodesk’s work-in-progress technology enables users to create fully rigged 3D characters in a web browser, then export them in FBX format for use in 3D software.

Autodesk Labs has released Project Pinocchio, a new work-in-progress technology that enables users to create fully rigged 3D characters in their web browser for export to applications like 3ds Max or Maya.

The system enables users to design characters or modify existing stock figures, picking from “a catalog of over 100 body types, outfits, hairstyles, and physical attributes”.

How Project Pinocchio works
When you launch Project Pinocchio, the system provides you with a range of pre-built characters that you can use as sources for your own, covering a range of builds and bodily proportions.

Pick two, and you can drag sliders to morph your own character’s facial or bodily proportions between the sources, and then apply presets for hairstyle, skin and eye colour and clothing.

Saved characters can be exported in MB or FBX formats at a range of preset resolutions and a user-definable scale. You can choose quads or triangles, which texture maps to export, and whether to include clothing.

The character is automatically assigned one of three preset rigs (High, Medium and Biped), with the option of either a bone-based or blendshape-based facial rig.

A bit slow, but fun to play with
In our initial tests, we experienced a bit of lag when using the system, but nothing unmanageable – although actually exporting a character was another matter.

The characters don’t look too dissimilar to those created by a tool like DAZ Studio (DAZ has trialled its own online character-creation system), but would be suitable for background use, or as a base to work up by hand.

Plus, the option to export in FBX format makes the output usable with pretty much any modern 3D software – and professional uses aside, it’s a lot of fun to play around with.

The Project Pinocchio technology preview is available on Autodesk Labs until 30 September 2013. As with all Labs projects, there’s no word on, if any, of Autodesk’s commercial products it will eventually become part of.

Read Scott Sheppard’s blog post about Project Pinocchio

Visit the Project Pinocchio homepage on Autodesk Labs