View Full Version : Gollum "combination-sculpt" in LW?

02-22-2004, 10:45 AM
I have been trying to piece together the actual process that was used to animate Gollum's face in LOTR, and was wondering how that technique would translate to LightWave. I found out it was labeled "combination-sculpting" by the animator, and I'm guessing (since I don't know what all the Maya animation terms meant) that they used a series of that we would call Endomorphs to produce the motion. Since Endomorphs only move in a straight line, an in-between morph would be used to produce the appearance of moving on a curved path, and Expressions would be used to tie them all together. Would that be a fair guess how "combination-sculpting" would work in LW, or am I completely clueless here? (It wouldn't be the first time. :) ) Thanks for any help or insight you can give.


02-22-2004, 10:57 AM
From what I've seen, a LOT of sliders were used in his facial animation, as well as some hand tweaking.

02-22-2004, 11:41 AM
Heyas Michael,

Combination-sculpting is more than just makin a morph non-linear.

Fisrt, Bay Raitt used Paul Eckman's action units to create the morphs. that means that he didnt model completed expressions (sad, happy, anger, etc) instead he modeled in a per muscle basis,, makin each muscle of the face being activated separatelly.

After that, he found out that when combining the different muscle activations he didnt have the results he wanted so at every combination of different muscle he modeled a third morph to balance the other 2.

Based on this he ended up with more than 800 morphs combined in sucha rich way that .. well u can see the final result.

It is doable in Lightwave using expressions... Im looking for a programmer to help me build a variation of the interface that Bay had in WETA, Daniel PK did one for maya a while ago and i want to port it to LW.. so far u can do it but its a bit laborous.. the results pay off thou...

cheers mate


PS. go to http://cube.phlatt.net/forums/spiraloid for more of combination sculpting

02-22-2004, 12:47 PM
..."over 800." Ouch.
I saw that thread over at the Spiraloid forum, but couldn't make much of the Maya part of the discussion. I am also wondering if it might not be a bit TOO complicated. I know you get a lot of nuance using that system, but I was thinking it might be possible with less fuss. Perhaps by setting up an underlying muscle system based on separate muscle objects being deformed by a plugin that uses splines (ex. Shift SplineTransform), you could have the non-linear motion, and if you used those muscle objects to drive a skin layer by using KO_Polyfit (thanks Larry) you might end up with a result close to what you see on Gollum. It might work. Maybe. :rolleyes:


02-22-2004, 02:07 PM
I talked with Daniel PK some months ago about what he did for MAYA, he was kind enough to give me a very detailed explanation on how he achieved it.

Basically we model all muscles movements (independantly) then we use a Combination tool to build Morph Targets.

A "smile" for example would be the combination of 5-6 Morphs, what Daniel PK tool does is gather all those 4-5 morphs into a Slider, when u move that Slider it will be picking up the 4-5 Morphs. This Sliders can be saved as "poses" and u can even make more Slider based on those "poses" adding more or deleting.

In theory it sounds simple, but itīs not that simple, without programming itīs almost impossible to achieve it.

WETA animators didnīt animated 800 morphs, they animated Sliders that would be a combination of all those 800 Morphs, and they probably would have something like 200 Sliders to deal with anyway, so even with this tool itīs not a piece of cake, but those results are the most believing facial aimation ever seen :buttrock:

02-23-2004, 01:49 AM
Checking my Lightwave 7 (7.5) manual, there is no listing for "sliders" in the index. :bounce:

I am familiar with what they are, but what are they listed under?

noobie here,


02-23-2004, 07:21 AM
It just goes to prove that if you have lots of time and 800 morph targets you can do anything :)

02-23-2004, 09:17 AM
Heyas Larry,

No doubt man...

If the company gives ya 2-3 years to work on a char and develop a system you can do pretty much anything. Especially if the person in charge of gollums face is Bay Raitt, one of the most dedicated and creative CG artists ive heard of... It was a perfect combination of money, time and talent over there..


They didnt animated the 800 morphs in the shots but Bays team did for sure to test the combinations and create the sliders....
I tried to keep organised with 20 morphs and its combinations here and sometimes i couldnt find my keyboard anymore lol..

cheers mates


02-23-2004, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by SplineGod
It just goes to prove that if you have lots of time and 800 morph targets you can do anything :)

Like that line in Toy Story 2: U cant rush ART :bounce:

02-24-2004, 10:32 PM
Does anyone know if there are any movies on the Web of the system in action? It would probably help me understand better. And yes, I saw the final result in the movie. That doesn't count. ;)


02-25-2004, 04:42 AM
This is a concept that has been around for a while, just not a lot of people know about it, or had a project where they could spend the time to set it all up. In LW, the route I have always taken for this is pretty simple (since I havent used LW in a while, forgive me if I misname a plugin)

1: You create your final facial pose, if its a smile, make sure it looks exactly like you want. Name it something like SOURCE.Lcheek_Smile_FINAL

2: make a copy of this endomorph, name it something like Emot.Lcheek_Smile_B

3: start a new endomorph, there is aplugin to add an endomorph to the current one. Use this on the new endo that you just started, and morph it to Emot.Lcheek_Smile_B at about 50%.

4: start tweaking this morph to represent the midway point of the smile morph. key things here are to make sure the points are sliding in a curve around the teeth and skull and muscles.

5: once you have this as final, save the endomorph as Emot.Lcheek_Smile_A

6: select Emot.Lcheek_Smile_B endomorph. Using the plugin above, doa negative morph, ie, that is when you tell the plugin teh value, set it to -100%. That will subrtact out the changes you did in the prevous morph.

7: create a single point in the object, Use this to make morphs off of that will not actually effect the charact, but simply be used to drive expressions that control others. Name the smile morph something like

8: In Layout, you have to create a couple maprange expressions and some clamp expressions to drive the morphing and link its value to the above fake slider. The reason for the clamp expressions is that maprange doesnt stop once it hits the end of the range: is the drive is 0 and 10, the out put on those values is set to 0 and 15, then if you set teh value on the drive to -10, it will output -15. if you go to 50, the output is 75,and so on. The clamp expression allows yout o lock the value from whatever to whatever.

Hopefully I will have time soon to actually write this whole tutorial up and post it on the web with some images.


02-25-2004, 10:12 AM
That would be great, Todd. I think I understand what you're saying, but pictures always help too. :) Thanks.


02-25-2004, 05:39 PM
In theory it sounds simple, but itīs not that simple, without programming itīs almost impossible to achieve it.

Delightfully these are easily achievable in Hash Animation Master without too much effort and without programming.

If there was only a way to integrate Hash's Animation Master character rigging and relationship tools into Lightwave then we'll have something better than... well most anything out there :) .

02-26-2004, 10:58 AM
I have to agree with that. I have an old copy of A:M, and I was always impressed by it's animation power. I had to give up on it, though. I had lots of crashing (even after I tweaked my system), and I had a very hard time modeling anything without visible seams and creases. Too bad we can't take ALL the good portions out of ALL the 3d apps available and make one super-gigantic, end-of-story ultimate 3d program. Now I'd pay $$$$ for THAT! :)


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