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View Full Version : Has LW changed much since 7.5 (animation/rigging)?


threedeesketch
08-11-2005, 12:33 AM
Hi,
I'm gearing up to make a short film and would like to do as much research as possible before settling on a 3D package to purchase.

I've used Lightwave 3D since 7.5, almost exclusively for modeling. The animation/rigging aspect really didn't seem very good back then so I didn't explore animation all that much.

However these days I've been looking at programs such as Messiah that would allow me to keep using LW for modeling while using the plug-in for animation (I like what I've seen so far from Messiah).

Here's my big question: Has LW improved much since 7.5? Is v.8 "revolutionary" or at least a little better for character animation? I'm thinking about getting 8 with free upgrade to 9, mainly in hopes of having a better rigging/animation experience... or do you think these 3rd party apps such as Messiah are still the way to go for animation?

Thanks in advance for any input.

Dillon W
08-11-2005, 08:08 AM
Although lots of stuff was added to 8, most of it was stuff to make things quicker to set up rather than improve the toolset.
The main 'innovation' was 'IK boost' which, although, confusingly marketed as a whole new rigging option, is in fact, of limited use in reality and feels like a separate plug.. It uses different conventions to the rest of LW.
We have a studio using LW (and more recently XSI) as a character animation tool and we are using practically nothing that wasn't in 7.5

It is unfortunate, but Character animation is still LW's weakest point by far.

cresshead
08-11-2005, 06:11 PM
bone tools [a whole site of tools]
ik booster
mini trackbar with editable keys on timeline
.rig format
different layout for morph mixer
an offer to get MIMIC lipsync plugin on the lw8 disc and a demo of it too....
video tutorials on rigging a quadroped with larry shultz [splinegod]
video tutorials on creating a quadroped with larry shultz [splinegod]


that's off the top of me 'ed....and is on lightwave 8.0.........not lightwave 9.0

and nothing about maestro either which is a uber rigger...and cheap!

Julez4001
08-11-2005, 06:19 PM
bone tools [a whole site of tools]
ik booster
mini trackbar with editable keys on timeline
.rig format
different layout for morph mixer
an offer to get MIMIC lipsync plugin on the lw8 disc and a demo of it too....
video tutorials on rigging a quadroped with larry shultz [splinegod]
video tutorials on creating a quadroped with larry shultz [splinegod]

!

All that gets shut down by the same character animation caveats:
slow expressions, slow deformations, slow-er bones and displacement refresh rates, however (but not seen at siggraph) LW 9 is SUPPOSE to address all of this this. With relavity replacing the old expression, that might be a sure sign.

cresshead
08-11-2005, 06:28 PM
slowed down NOT shut down!

rough necks [starship troopers]
jimmy neutron
max steel
dan dare
captain scarlet

the freak
ghost warrior

all managed to produce top animated shows...granted mostly with mo cap...
some was keyframed..some animated with help of messiah as well......

a case of glass half empty or half full?

digital verve
08-11-2005, 06:37 PM
For myself, I have found animating in LW 8 a lot quicker workflow wise than 7.5. Using the dopesheet and dopetrack have speeded up things for my work. The bone tools are much better too and are worth checking out. For animation, I think version 8 is a decent enough upgrade, when comparing with 7.5. As for comparing with other apps in the char anim department, someone more qualifed can answer that. LW 9 looks like the proper upgrade we were all waiting for though.

Julez4001
08-11-2005, 06:37 PM
slowed down NOT shut down! -- huh!

In terms of Chaarcter Animation:

rough necks [starship troopers] MOCAP
jimmy neutron - all messiah
max steel - MOCAP
dan dare - MOCAP
captain scarlet - MOCAP

the freak - haven't seen it in its entirety
ghost warrior - LW but it was on the lite side of character animation.

a case of glass half empty or half full - try again


LW best character animated pieces weren't animated with it.

cresshead
08-11-2005, 07:36 PM
Julez4001, seems as though you have quite a low opinion of lightwave for chaacter animation, so what's your prefered animation tool that you are quite happy with?

i see in your by line you use both maya and messiah..how do these fit into your character animation pipeline?

I personally use lightwave 8.0, 3dsmax 7.5 and own but not use [yet] xsi foundation and silo3d.

would be interesting to hear how your setup compares to that of only using lightwave for character animation.

steve g

ericsmith
08-11-2005, 08:19 PM
The Maestro rig has 135 bones and over 100 expressions, some of them quite complex. Without a mesh, I can get realtime playback at around 30 fps on a 2.4 ghz pentium. With a 2000 poly unsubD'd mesh, I can get around 15 - 18 fps, depending upon what else is in the scene. Not fully real time, but useable. Note that this is all with just one character in the scene. LW has a pretty severe problem with multiple IK structures in a scene. But animating one character at a time is a pretty good way to go about production.

Here's something just for comparison:

I spent some time in the Disney booth at Siggraph this year, where they were showing off the rigs they used for Chicken Little. I asked one of the guys about realtime playback, and his response was, "Oh no, not with Maya". They animate with low poly unsubD'd meshes just like I do, and have to do preview renders to see their work in real time.

One more interesting thing. I just picked up a new athalon FX55 (2.65 ghz) to get maximum speed for my character animation. I can get 24fps realtime playback with my unsubD'd mesh, and I can get 12 fps with SubD level 2. It's pretty effective.

And from what one of the Newtek guys said to me at the party after Siggraph, there's a major inefficiency in the IK code that they've found and will eliminate by 9.0. I'm assuming things will get a lot better from where they are now.

Eric

T4D
08-12-2005, 01:39 AM
Here's my big question: Has LW improved much since 7.5? Is v.8 "revolutionary" or at least a little better for character animation? I'm thinking about getting 8 with free upgrade to 9, mainly in hopes of having a better rigging/animation experience... or do you think these 3rd party apps such as Messiah are still the way to go for animation?

Thanks in advance for any input.

check out Maestro
( I'm personally not a fan on character panels But the rig is pretty good )

But also check out XSI Or messiah as Julez4001 said there just isn't any high grade exsample of LW CA, Sure it's a great render and studio uses it for that with Mocap But CA just isn't done in it at the highest levels ( CA is just rigs, keys and curves and LW is no where near as nice to uses as XSI or Messiah ) it can be done, but it's alot more work !

IMO I would go for XSI
( I havn't uses messiah alot but have played with a demo and was very impressed )
CA wise XSi is like 5 or 6 versions ahead of Lightwave in the Character animation and rigging deptments

even with Maestro lw is missing so much

XSI Rigging, IK, deformaters, contrains, expressions All far above LW
XSI Keying, dopesheet, graph editor, motion mixer again all far above LW
and alots of other great features and work flow LW has even dreamed of yet.

point oven works super so you can animate in XSI and render in LW without a problem
XSI is used in the same way you uses messiah.

I still uses straight LW for some CA work ( i do make a good LW Rig :thumbsup: )
( simple work with tight bugets and I'm still learning XSI )
But if i want to go all out and have alittle more time I run for XSI.


You can wait for LW 9 but to get all XSi has, you better preorder LW 12 and start waiting..

telamon
08-12-2005, 02:33 AM
let us see how Maya will work with the full integration of motionbuilder. For me that is actually a killer combo.

T4D
08-12-2005, 02:38 AM
Maya yeah that is another option also works with pointoven :thumbsup:
Maya is a pretty good CA software I done some CA last year in it ,
with the update it looks very cool but I found the rigging pretty heavy,
But I'm sure you could work it out, plenty have :)

Cman
08-12-2005, 03:13 AM
IMHO, having gone to Siggraph, though they didn't show much as I recall of CA, it looked like LW9 will be a large change from 8.3, so obviously a huge change from lw 7.x.

Jarrede
08-13-2005, 01:23 PM
slowed down NOT shut down!

rough necks [starship troopers]
max steel
dan dare


all managed to produce top animated shows...granted mostly with mo cap...
some was keyframed..some animated with help of messiah as well......

a case of glass half empty or half full?

you should have seen some of those riggs....And Foundation did shut down.

and IMO Newtek hasn't made any significant changes in the rigging dept since 7.5, I would personlly recommend using point oven with Maya if you wish to use LW at the end of the pipeline but find it's character tools lacking. The animation is limited once you get it into LW, and the files can be quite big, but it's worth it for advantages that are obvious to me. :)

cresshead
08-13-2005, 01:56 PM
well plenty of opinions!


so..no budget...you CAN use lightwave as is [dave school does for example]
small budget..get one of the riggers for lightwave..my preference is maestro]
small/medium budget...get messiah animate
medium budget get messiah animat&point oven OR xsi foundation&point oven
large budget get maya&point oven or 3dsmax8.0&point oven...

as for 'seeing those rigs at foundation'...the point really is the resulting tv programs
which were ace and stand up well even after 6yrs...

did you see the rigs for final fantasy?....exactly!...nice renders! [mo cap]
did you see the rigs for kaena the prophecy...oh was character studio!...neato!
did you see the rigs for gollum?....get my drift?

Jarrede
08-13-2005, 02:10 PM
well plenty of opinions!


so..no budget...you CAN use lightwave as is [dave school does for example]
small budget..get one of the riggers for lightwave..my preference is maestro]
small/medium budget...get messiah animate
medium budget get messiah animat&point oven OR xsi foundation&point oven
large budget get maya&point oven or 3dsmax8.0&point oven...

as for 'seeing those rigs at foundation'...the point really is the resulting tv programs
which were ace and stand up well even after 6yrs...



I've seen them, and worked with them. Don't assume that just because the end result is "ace" that it's due to the software, dedicated and talented people can make up for a lot that's missing in the tools. It's a shame that the resulting TV programs weren't enough to keep Foundation in business, I loved that place...was sad to see it go.

cresshead
08-13-2005, 02:19 PM
i don't asume that just because the results were good that the software was 'good to use', as always you have to work with what you have at the time and as you have stated the dedication and skill MADE the shows what they were and not ness just the software choice.

back then with lw5.6 and lw 6.0 they pulled out some amazing animation, be it hand keyed or mo cap, the artists made the show and their ability to push the software beyond what it should be able to do...shows that lightwave can do good stuff in the right hands

also studio's come and go...happen's all the time and ususally is NOT dependant on what software they use either..
take square for example..they folded because of their huge budget and lack lustre commercial story of final fantasy for the mass market and not for using MAYA..
yet maya is still a good app...as demonstrated with the lord of the rings character animation
on gollum for example...

Jarrede
08-13-2005, 02:34 PM
back then with lw5.6 and lw 6.0 they pulled out some amazing animation, be it hand keyed or mo cap, the artists made the show and their ability to push the software beyond what it should be able to do...shows that lightwave can do good stuff in the right hands


most any software can do good things in the right hands. :)



also studio's come and go...happen's all the time and ususally is NOT dependant on what software they use either..


I wasn't trying to imply that LW contributed to the fall of Foundation. Studios come and go, but to me, Foundation wasn't just another studio. Out of the small six years I've worked doing 3d theres very few studios that made me as happy as Foundation did.


yet maya is still a good app...as demonstrated with the lord of the rings character animation
on gollum for example...

to my knowledge they had to make their own proprietary software to handle the facial animation with gollum because Maya couldn't handle the complexity. Got to sit in on a small conference given by one of the creators at GDC a few years back, Maya wasn't used for the modeling, or the facial animation. Still a great app.

I see your point though.

cresshead
08-13-2005, 03:37 PM
i surpose it's all a question of production scale and budget in the end.

lightwave on it's own or with a cheap rigging plugin/tutorial video can do character animation
okay if it's keyframe based.

if you need mo capture then i believe lightwave is not so simple..but that also goes for cinema4d plus messiah animate and xsi as well as all of these struggle to impose motion capture files onto your models/rigs and most have very limited editing options for the motion capture files..with little or no capability to data thin the files so you can edit the mo cap and add your own edit's ontop of the motion files.

those that have some capability in this area are:-
1.maya7.0 [with it's new additions from motion builder]
2.3dsmax 7+ and now 8.0 [with or without character studio/biped as of max8.0]
3.and motion builder of course!

one reason i keep 3dsmax around...mo cap is real simple task for 3dsmax

would like to see a tutorial for adding motion capture to a user made character model
in lightwave and not just loading up a mo cap bone system with mo cap [bvh]
this is one area i would like to see improvments on in lightwave 9.0

doc sampson
08-14-2005, 06:30 AM
slowed down NOT shut down! -- huh!

In terms of Chaarcter Animation:

rough necks [starship troopers] MOCAP
jimmy neutron - all messiah
max steel - MOCAP
dan dare - MOCAP
captain scarlet - MOCAP

the freak - haven't seen it in its entirety
ghost warrior - LW but it was on the lite side of character animation.

a case of glass half empty or half full - try again


LW best character animated pieces weren't animated with it.
While much of those shows used mocap it wasnt because LW wasnt capable of great character animation. It was due to time constraints. Dan Dare for example was about 9.5 hours of animation total in about 2 yrs. A significant amount of it was handkeyed as well. Max Steel too for that matter.
Mocap is used on just about every motion picture that has characters. Its no reflection on whether those apps are good or bad for character animation. It all boils down to cost and time. :)
LW has changed significantly since 7.5. People are still figuring out many of the new character tools. A well rigged character in any app is easy to animate by a good animator. :)

T4D
08-14-2005, 06:48 AM
LW has changed significantly since 7.5. People are still figuring out many of the new character tools. A well rigged character in any app is easy to animate by a good animator. :)

have you used Messiah, Maya or XSI for Character animation ?

tburbage3
08-14-2005, 06:47 PM
to my knowledge they (WETA) had to make their own proprietary software to handle the facial animation with gollum because Maya couldn't handle the complexity. Got to sit in on a small conference given by one of the creators at GDC a few years back, Maya wasn't used for the modeling, or the facial animation. Still a great app.


I didn't get the impression it was so much that "Maya couldn't handle the complexity" as that they (Bay Raitt) wanted to build a higher level system on top of Maya's built-in toolset which would make it easier for the animators to just animate. Pretty much the objective of any custom animation system. Maya provided them with a firm enough foundation to be able to achieve that.

T4D
08-15-2005, 01:04 AM
and another reason why they used Maya was the SDK was powerfull enough to build a custom system. most studio rebuild common commands ( joint morphs, face rigs, rigging and keying tools ) for they own wants and needs, this is one of Maya's & XSI's strengths AND the main reason they Don't uses LW for the big CA stuff.

Robots movie check the character rigs out WOW !!
how many here are willing to say that could be done in LW ? .

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