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View Full Version : Introducing Maestro 2 - The complete animation system


ericsmith
08-17-2005, 05:38 AM
When Maestro was originally released, it was viewed by much of the Lightwave community as just another autorigger, with a nice picker included.

Our goal with the release of Maestro 2 is to completely redefine what Maestro is all about. Yes, it can rig a character with a couple of mouseclicks. But That's only a small part of what Maestro can do for your animation workflow. It is a complete animation control system, with an advanced toolset specifically designed to eliminate many of the tedious, redundant tasks that are so prevelant in the process of animation. Animating with the Maestro controller is easier, more enjoyable, and most importantly, much faster.

The following is a list of the new features found in Maestro 2...
______________________________

Hotspot Modifications

The original hotspots were built so that the left mouse button and right mouse button could each have their own setup, effectively giving each hotspot two sets of controls. In Maestro 2, we've redesigned this concept to use the Alt, Ctrl and Shift keys to switch between these "layers". This gives each hotspot up to four complete setups. The real benefit of this new concept is that you can change layers "on the fly" as you drag the mouse. This means that with one hotspot, you can move and rotate an object in all 3 dimention with one mouse drag. Alternatively, you could setup a series of controls in one hotspot and easily pose a several elements at once. This is incredibly effective for things like complex tails, or being able to position an arm in 3d space, point the elbow, and point the hand, all in one mouse drag. The bottom line is that it makes posing much faster and easier by eliminating the back and forth process you usually have to go through to set an element's position and rotation in 3d space

You can now select multiple hotspots. If multiple hotspots are selected, dragging on any one of them activates all of them based on their own individual settings.

Rig Modifications

The hip centering and hand pinning setups have been redesigned to make it easier to switch between on and off on the fly. The hipcentering is no longer expression based, but instead incorporates a special follower plugin that keyframes the position of the hips when centering is on instead of overriding the keyframed channel. This means turning it on and off at any point in the timeline does not affect any previous animation on the hips. Hand pinning now incorporates two controls for the hips, spine and shoulder, giving a layered approach to animating the torso. You never have to turn hand pinning on or off, you simply move the torso with the appropriate control depending on whether you want the hands to follow, or stay pinned.

Saving and Loading Poses and Motion

You can now save and load Poses based on selections from hotspots or Layout. these poses can also be tied to new Pose Hotspots that allow you to animate from the character's current position to the pose tied to the hotspot. Imagine MorphMixer, but with objects instead of endomorphs. In addition to saving and loading Poses, you can also save and load motions, based on selection of keyframes. Motions can be loaded at their absolute time, or can be imported relative to the current time, making it easy to build complex animations from a library of motions. Pose hotspots are a useful tool for just about anything, but one area that they are especially effective in is lipsync. Because you can create keys for all facial controls at once with one hotspot, it's really easy to jump from one phoneme to the next without having to manually key the in and out keys of all the other phonemes at every key pose point. Also, the ability to export entire motions means you can create your facial and lipsync animation on an unrigged head-only model, and then export the animation to the fully rigged character. This makes it possible animate lipsync and facial animation on your character's fully detailed, subdivided head in real time.

Selection Hotspots

Selection hotspots allow you to group Items, hotspots and/or channels into one hotspot to make selection sets within the Maestro interface. Since Selection hotspots can be used to store a variety of different items in one place, they are great simplifiying the task of saving Motions, Poses, or even resetting a group of hotspots.

The Keyframe Editor

One of the major new components of Maestro 2 is the keyframe editor. This new tool brings the ultimate in flexiblity and speed in editing keyframes. To begin with, it works like a dope track, automatically displaying the keys for whatever items are selected. Then you can add additional tracks that display the keys for specific user defined items. Multiple items can be assigned to these tracks, and these items are not limited to just objects. You can access the keys for any channel in the scene, including light intensity, camera zoom, endomorphs, etc. The tracks can be custom color coded and labeled to make it easier to see what's going on when working with multiple tracks, and complex setups can be saved as presets. Keys can be moved, scaled, and dragged with a magnet like falloff. You can also dupe selected keys, and create hold keys by simply clicking right on the timeline. There are also tools to edit TCB values, as well as translating (move, rotate or scale) selected keys. The keyframe editor has been designed from the ground up to put all the controls you need to edit keyframes in one convenient workspace, and to eliminate wasted time spent sorting through all the channels in a complex scene to get at the keyframes you want to edit.

______________________________

We plan to release version 2 by mid-September. In the next week or so, we will post videos that demonstrate some of these cool new features.

Pricing information:

Maestro 2 will be available through Kurv Studios for $149.95.

Upgrades from Maestro version 1 will cost $39.95.

Anyone who purchased Maestro 1 after July 1st will receive version 2 free.

Eric Smith
Stillwater Pictures

note: The attached image shows the complete biped controller with facial controls. There are smaller interfaces available for those with more limited screen real estate.

Jarrede
08-17-2005, 06:30 AM
I'm digging that interface, you've got me interested.

will it adapt itself for non-biped characters?

KOryH
08-17-2005, 08:13 AM
sounds good.
I can't wait to check it out.

colkai
08-17-2005, 09:20 AM
$39.95 upgrade Hmm... Think I can swing that. ;) :D
Now all I have to do is find a reason to use it. :p

uncommongrafx
08-17-2005, 01:16 PM
Well, that's cool. Looking forward to more views of it in action.

tufif
08-17-2005, 02:48 PM
I started animating in poser a couple years ago and recently I've been trying to learn lightwave. I miss a lot of the features from poser that made animating so easy. This looks like it'll give me back those features. Am I reading this right? I hope so :)

ericsmith
08-17-2005, 03:25 PM
It's hard for me to compare with poser, as I haven't used that program since version 4, and I really don't know what it can do today. What I can say is that the fundimental idea behind Maestro is to allow the animator to cut to the chase and control the character, both in posing and in timing, without anything getting in the way. I think Poser works in a similar way.

Eric

tufif
08-17-2005, 04:03 PM
Actually, version 4 is the one I had. I got lightwave instead of upgrading. It looks like maestro does what I've been looking for. Now to save up the pennies...

RobPowers
08-17-2005, 07:27 PM
Maestro 2 Rocks! It's an amazing tool for character animation but also can be used for so much more. With the new ability to create grouping hotspots it has made my workflow so much easier! Not to mention the integrated pose loading and saving. Thanks for these amazing tools!

tufif
08-17-2005, 07:49 PM
I looked up a few reviews of the 1st version that went a bit deeper than the description on the website. Wow! This looks great! I've got to get this soon :)

webhead
08-17-2005, 11:40 PM
Sounds/looks very promising! Any idea how Maestro will fit in in with LW9's updated workflow when it's released? Have you been able to do any testing for compatability yet?
I hope I'm not jumping the gun, but I just want to know Maestro will be able to play nice with 9 when I upgrade in the next few months or so. :drool:

Sequent
08-18-2005, 12:17 AM
Looks pretty cool. This is coming from a relative LW beginner, so please don't be offended by my asking... how does this compare to something like Messiah:animate? Besides only costing half as much!

:)

richcz3
08-18-2005, 02:01 AM
I'm there. Count me in Eric for the upgrade. September....Ok where do I pay. :D

ericsmith
08-18-2005, 02:13 AM
Sounds/looks very promising! Any idea how Maestro will fit in in with LW9's updated workflow when it's released? Have you been able to do any testing for compatability yet? I hope I'm not jumping the gun, but I just want to know Maestro will be able to play nice with 9 when I upgrade in the next few months or so.

We'll definitely keep Maestro up to date with LIghtwave 9. Version 1.1b should give you a good idea of how committed we are to keeping Maestro current with the latest version of Lightwave.

Eric

webhead
08-18-2005, 03:40 AM
We'll definitely keep Maestro up to date with LIghtwave 9. Version 1.1b should give you a good idea of how committed we are to keeping Maestro current with the latest version of Lightwave.

Eric

If your updates/support are half as fast as your replies to inquiries, then I have nothing to worry about. Thanks for the quick response. :buttrock:

ericsmith
08-18-2005, 04:49 AM
Looks pretty cool. This is coming from a relative LW beginner, so please don't be offended by my asking... how does this compare to something like Messiah:animate? Besides only costing half as much!

It's kind of hard to compare a dedicated plugin to a complete stand alone app, but here's my take on it:

Messiah has some cool and advanced animation features, but a lot of what you're getting is overlapped by what's already in Lightwave. So you're buying a completely new system. If you already like Lightwave, this may not give you what you want. It's true that you can access Messiah from within Lightwave as a displacement plugin, but I really don't think that's the direction they are pushing in. Just look at their full toolset in Studio. They are trying to be a standalone app.

Maestro contains tools that add to what Lightwave already offers. Some of these tools are unique enough that no other software package offers them (to my knowlege).

So to sum up... Messiah replaces Lightwave, Maestro adds to Lightwave.

I won't say that Maestro is better than Messiah. That would be pretty arrogant. But Maestro is definitely unique, and if you want to work in Lightwave, It's a better choice in my opinion.

Eric

Sequent
08-18-2005, 05:51 AM
That was a great reply, Eric. It actually answered my question very well. Thanks!

I understand what you're saying... apples and oranges. The part about adding to vs. replacing makes a lot of sense. I don't mind having separate tools if that is what's needed; on the other hand, I don't like unnecessary overlap - or purchasing systems that I won't necessarily use fully.

...and yes, I do prefer to stay within Lightwave if possible.

Sounds like Maestro might be just the ticket.

THANKS!

tufif
08-18-2005, 03:48 PM
If we purchase the current version now, will we have to pay for the update next month?

ericsmith
08-18-2005, 04:19 PM
No. As I said in the announcement, anyone who purchases after July 1st will get the version 2 upgrade free.

Eric

tufif
08-18-2005, 04:30 PM
Oops, I missed that part. And payday is right around the corner! :)

earnestcgtalk
08-18-2005, 04:52 PM
There ya go.

We nag ya for saving/loading poses
and ya just go and do it.

Cant recommend this plug-in enough.

Couldnt rig a potato in LW til I got hold of this.

Very quick, Mac friendly.
Autorigger rigs characters from scratch just as easy
as redirecting a CR2 file in Poser, just need to adjust the
bones to fit your new character (move couple of points here and there)
then click a button.

Best way to bring in Poser characters IMHO.

tufif
08-18-2005, 04:59 PM
I've been modeling in lw for a while and wanted to use my own characters for my next project. After trying to bring them into poser and rig them for a while I finaly just gave up and decided to animate in lw instead since I could get a better cartoony look anyway. I still haven't been able to get my rig to work the way I want. Now I think I'll just pick this up next payday and spend the time I save modeling and animating instead.

pooby
08-18-2005, 05:02 PM
Just to add to the Messiah/Maestro thing. (and this goes for animating in XSI or Maya and bringing it back to lightwave via a displacement)

You lose the ability to have textures or other elements that automatically react to the rig, such as wrinkles on a forehead that appear when a morph is applied.
It's not used that much.. but it's a pain when you DO want to do it.

With Maestro that wouldn't be an issue

assistant pimp
08-18-2005, 05:43 PM
Hi Eric

I was seriously considering messiah animate as my next purchase, until I read this thread and another in the PMG section complaining about messiah..lol. My path is taking my into industrial design and project demonstrations. So I dont see myself animating traditional characters. Currently, I am having real troubles getting my head around animating mechanical stuff just using just LW tools. My question is can your product help get along with animating like doors (complex), flaps, pistons and robotics arms and such? Or is it primarily for jjust characters? And do you provide a good kick start manual and tuts with the purchase?

ericsmith
08-18-2005, 06:13 PM
Maestro is great for animating mechanical objects. This is something we've been trying to get across for a while now, but a lot of people don't seem to see it.

You can attach ANY object in Layout to a hotspot. The key thing here is that you can customize any hotspot to control exactly what translation you want to do, and it does just that. So you could set up an object to move on it's X and Y axis, instead of the default X and Z. You can even access individual channels, so you could rotate an object on it's bank when dragging the mouse left right, and move up and down when dragging the mouse up and down. Then you can control both actions with one mouse drag. You can even affect one object with left right, and another with up down. Any configuration is possible. Another important point is that the hotspot reacts immediately when you hit it. You don't have to select, then pick the appropriate translation tool, then drag. It's a huge time saver, and for me personally, a huge frustration eliminator as well.

Maestro 2 will offer much more power with the "multi-layered" approach to hotspots.

And with the new pose hotspots, you can select any number of objects, put them in the position/rotation you want, and then save that as a pose. Save several poses for the different states of your mechanical object. Then, the pose hotspots will animate those objects from one pose to the next.

Eric

assistant pimp
08-18-2005, 08:01 PM
Sounds good, maybe if you are trying to get people to see it can do it, place a tutorial somewhere that demonstrates that what you explained. Also is the manual pretty thorough and good for a beginner? My main thing is I dont want to get a product and be stuck in sink or swim mode. As a college student I have to be certain on my purchases. Messiah seems to have the worse manual ever as said by the masses.

Thanks

ericsmith
08-18-2005, 09:12 PM
We've got a user guide thats around 45 pages for version 1. Version 2 will most likely be even longer. Also, if you've got problems that you can't figure out, you can always email us. There's also a support forum at Kurv where we answer questions regularly.

Eric

Memodin
08-19-2005, 08:49 AM
i tried maestro, thats really a cool plugin. I wonder, will there be an xsi version soon? :)

doo
08-19-2005, 11:40 AM
Is Maestro available for Mac?

mav3rick
08-19-2005, 01:14 PM
fok isx .

NanoGator
08-22-2005, 04:35 PM
Is Maestro available for Mac?

Yep. :) One of the reasons we went with LScript is that it instantly works with the Mac, too.

NanoGator
08-22-2005, 04:41 PM
i tried maestro, thats really a cool plugin. I wonder, will there be an xsi version soon? :)

Not planned at the moment, but you've got me curious. Does XSI's scripting allow for the graphic stuff like we're doing?

Memodin
08-23-2005, 12:02 PM
It must allow... (I was also reading a doc now ( http://www.bernardlebel.com/tutorials/learnscriptingxsi.htm )). Xsi supports vbscript, jscript, python, perl languages. I think one of them can be useful for you. True?

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