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Giacomo_M
02-11-2006, 04:28 PM
Hello-

I'm thinking of purchasing "Encage" from Konkeptione. The specific issue I want to address is with character animation: my tesselated meshes in EIAS tend to "break" when a joint bends (especially on the fingers: I get all sorts of weird breaks and artifacts.) The problem seems to be that the model requires more mesh to bend smoothly than the computer can easily handle, especially if there's more than one character in a scene. By way of comparison, this issue is easily dealt with in Lightwave Layout (which has render-time subdivs),

So then: is Encage a practical solution here? Can I use it to easily go back and forth between a low-mesh cage and a high-mesh model (eventually rendering at whatever mesh level is necessary for a clean render), or does it merely obviate the need for tesselating in the modeler? I've read Konkeptione's provided documentation, but it's not much help in regard to usability.

Please advise.

GM

manuel
02-11-2006, 06:06 PM
Encage will allow you to set two tessellation-levels. One for while you're editing in Animator and one for render-time. Very handy. All you need is your model at tessellation-level 0. You don't get any breaks anymore when doing even the most gruelling deformations.A few things to keep in in though:
- As I said, you have separate tessellation-settings for editing and rendering. When doing CA, always leave the editing tessellation at 0, because the subdivided skin that Encage produces won't update with the bone-deformations.
- Encage will only do Catmull-Clark subdivision with quads. A lot of other programs (like Silo) are quite forgiving if you sneak a little triangle in here and there. Not so with Encage. It also uses another sub-d scheme called "Loop" that only works with triangles, if there is any quads in your cage, "Loop" will first triangulate your model. As a result, Loop always seems to work. But Loop gives very different results visually from Catmull-Clark, so if you modelled your character using Catmull-Clark (pretty much every sub-d modeller uses it) switching it to Loop in Animator is not a good idea.
- When skins are moved with bones, they wont motion-blur.

Giacomo_M
02-11-2006, 07:19 PM
>As I said, you have separate tessellation-settings for editing and rendering. When doing CA, always leave the editing tessellation at 0, because the subdivided skin that Encage produces won't update with the bone-deformations.

Nuts. So with Encage, I have to do a test render whenever I want to see what my deformation looks like? I mean, "set the tesselation at 0" seems pretty much the same as "work with a lo-res proxy and hope for the best." My goal here is to be as interactive as possible, so that's actually a step backward. I think I'd rather work with a poly-heavy model than have to constantly be doing test renders.

>Encage will only do Catmull-Clark subdivision with quads. It also uses another sub-d scheme called "Loop" that only works with triangles....

(Side note: this is pretty standard, as far as I can tell, among SDS modelers, although Lightwave uses "Loop" or something like it on any surface that's all quads and tris. (Catmull-Clark on n-sided polys is slated for the next release of Lightwave.))

With "Loop," does Encage automatically triangulate the *entire surface* of any mesh that's not already all-triangles? I can definitely see that giving, well, "very different results."

Thanks for the advice. I'd definitely be willing to pay some decent money ($US300-ish) for solid implementation of subdivisions within Animator. But from what you've just described, it sounds like Encage is not really all the way there yet.

GM

Vizfizz
02-11-2006, 07:26 PM
In the meanwhile, you could always use NL's Swapper. Animate with a proxy and swap to highrez mesh at render time. I know you want interactivity, but muscle through the high rez mesh phase... get it working properly with deformations, then switch to the proxy model, animate, then render at high rez.

Not the best solution, but an idea.

Igors
02-11-2006, 10:55 PM
Hello, gentlemen

>>..because the subdivided skin that Encage produces won't update with the bone-deformations.<<

Any model plug-in receives "not bone-deformed yet" input (geometry of its child groups). Thus simply apply skinning to plug-in (Encage) group, not to children.

>> When skins are moved with bones, they wont motion-blur.<<

Fixed in June 2005 (as we remember, Manu asked about it)

About Catmull-Clark and Loop.

Yes, Loop sds scheme works with triangles only. Catmull-Clark can be applied to anything but works much better for quads and n-sided polys. Both schemes are standard, but each program implements them in different ways, for example, a simple plane is sds-ed differently in Maya and 3dsmax. But absolute all implementations are very sensitive to source cage quality. "SDS is not a tool to correct bad meshes" as the old wisdom modeler said.

>> I'd definitely be willing to pay some decent money ($US300-ish) for solid implementation of subdivisions within Animator <<

Encage's implementation is absolute not solid :)

manuel
02-11-2006, 11:41 PM
Any model plug-in receives "not bone-deformed yet" input (geometry of its child groups). Thus simply apply skinning to plug-in (Encage) group, not to children.
Oooh, I didn't realise that. Thanks for the tip.

>> When skins are moved with bones, they wont motion-blur.<<

Fixed in June 2005 (as we remember, Manu asked about it)
You're right, I just didn't realise that that version was the one on general release. So again, my apologies for the misinformation.

Anyway, sorry to put you off Giacomo. Encage is definitely a good thing. You'll get very clean meshes when doing serious deformations that a standard mesh wouldn't stand up to.

manuel
02-11-2006, 11:45 PM
In fact, dear Igors, now that I have your attention. I tried a little XP script to switch the Encage Animator (editing) resolution from 0 to 1 interactively. It works fine when I switch from 0 to 1, but when I switch from 1 to 0, the model disappears. I have to switch Encage off and on again to make the model reappear.

Igors
02-12-2006, 12:33 AM
.
Anyway, sorry to put you off Giacomo.

No sorry please :)


.
Encage is definitely a good thing. You'll get very clean meshes when doing serious deformations that a standard mesh wouldn't stand up to.

Encage is not "good" or "bad" - it's just one of SDS implementations. For some cages it works better than others SDS, sometimes results are same, sometimes, yes, worse. It's normal, "ideal SDS" is not discovered yet.

.
In fact, dear Igors, now that I have your attention. I tried a little XP script to switch the Encage Animator (editing) resolution from 0 to 1 interactively. It works fine when I switch from 0 to 1, but when I switch from 1 to 0, the model disappears. I have to switch Encage off and on again to make the model reappear.

Looks like you don't know what to do :) The standard way is: simplify your prj up to minimum and send it to us

manuel
02-12-2006, 08:48 AM
Any model plug-in receives "not bone-deformed yet" input (geometry of its child groups). Thus simply apply skinning to plug-in (Encage) group, not to children.
Hang on. I suddenly remembered why I always attach the actual geometry to the bones rather then the Encage plug-in. If you attach the Encage group, you'll end up deforming the high-res skin. Deforming the low-res model results in a really smooth mesh once Encage does its thing. And that's what I mean when I say that Encage is good thing, after all, that was the point of Giacomo's original posting.
So yes, Encage will help you get rid of those joints breaking, but only if you attach the low-res cage to the bones. And that will only work if you keep the model at level 0.
Looks like you don't know what to do The standard way is: simplify your prj up to minimum and send it to us
Actually, all you have to do is take any project that has Encage in it. Switch "Subdivision Steps Animator" to level 1 or higher. Go into Encage again and set it to 0, click ok and see what happens. Every time I do this, the model disappears.
None of the other settings in Encage make a difference.
If you can't reproduce it from my instructions, let me know.

halfworld
02-12-2006, 09:32 AM
Actually, all you have to do is take any project that has Encage in it. Switch "Subdivision Steps Animator" to level 1 or higher. Go into Encage again and set it to 0, click ok and see what happens. Every time I do this, the model disappears.


This has happened to me several times. So I can verify that.
I'll add (while im here) that Encage is fantastic and has been worth every penny!
Ian

Igors
02-12-2006, 10:22 AM
Hang on. I suddenly remembered why I always attach the actual geometry to the bones rather then the Encage plug-in. If you attach the Encage group, you'll end up deforming the high-res skin. Deforming the low-res model results in a really smooth mesh once Encage does its thing. And that's what I mean when I say that Encage is good thing, after all, that was the point of Giacomo's original posting.
So yes, Encage will help you get rid of those joints breaking, but only if you attach the low-res cage to the bones. And that will only work if you keep the model at level 0..

Steps:

1. Create a simple cylinder and skin it with 3 bones
2. Add MrBlobby and set "Facet blobs" in his interface
3. Link skinned cylinder to MrBlobby. Blobs are ready
4. Change the bone chain. Blobs are not updated
5. Switch MrBlobby group visibility OFF/ON, it forces the update

Same for Encage, same for any model plug.
So, summary: we are sorry for host doesn't do what you need :)

Actually, all you have to do is take any project that has Encage in it. Switch "Subdivision Steps Animator" to level 1 or higher. Go into Encage again and set it to 0, click ok and see what happens. Every time I do this, the model disappears.
None of the other settings in Encage make a difference.
If you can't reproduce it from my instructions, let me know.

Aha, usual story (instructions instead of prj)

Steps:

1. Create a new project with Ubershape cube
2. Add Encage and link the cube to it. We see SDS "spheroid"
3. Open Encage and set "Subdivision Steps Animator" to zero. Click Ok, we see original cube

Hmm.. where is a prob? Don't spend your time for instructions, a test prj is the shortest way, sure

manuel
02-12-2006, 11:56 AM
Same for Encage, same for any model plug.
So, summary: we are sorry for host doesn't do what you need :)

I understand, all technology has its limits. I was only pointing out what the workaround is. Animating at level 0 is not bad, it makes for a very responsive interface.
Hmm.. where is a prob? Don't spend your time for instructions, a test prj is the shortest way, sure
Done

manuel
02-12-2006, 03:29 PM
This has happened to me several times. So I can verify that.
What machine have you got Ian?

halfworld
02-12-2006, 03:55 PM
It's happened on my work machine, a dual 2ghz G5 with 10.4.4

Next time it happens i'll strip out a project and send it in.
Ian

manuel
02-12-2006, 06:45 PM
I already did that and the Igors couldn't reproduce it on their G4. What graphics card have you got?

halfworld
02-12-2006, 07:11 PM
I have two (dual monitors), i'll have to have a look tomorrow because it's my work computer, ill edit this post to let you know.

Edit: They're both Radeon cards, a 9200 and a 9600 (both 128meg).

I duplicated this bug in a project today, but when i tried to delete all the other objects EI crashed (huge scene). I'll try again when i have more time.
Ian

AVTPro
02-16-2006, 10:11 PM
I have to be short right now because I am beta testing somethings but this is a really important topic that I would like to interject a point or two. So pretend I'm talking really loud because I want to get my point across.

First, you should not have so many breaks with a character deform. I have heard rumors that there is a problem with weight map skinning and this sounds like one, though I haven't experienced it first hand. You shouldn't have ripping in your deformation on simple geometry. That' s not how EI is suppose to work. It's a character tool by itself. You should not have to buy a plug to fix it. It should just work. Yes, buy Encage, but not by force as a bug fix.
I have low poly character meshes that work BEAUTIFULLY NOW. I rigged them almost two years ago. I haven't created a new skin object. I hope and PRAY this is not a problem, already I heard that people are leaving EI because it's not working properly. We must fix the root problem and not throw patches and plugs to fix it. Encage stands alone as a beautiful tool but is a extra step to if someone wants a fast and simple workflow.


Second, I have had the same problem with Encage model jumping when I switch back to a low resolution proxy. I love Encage for ZB work. Encage has the potential to be a necessary tool to proxy models for high end film work and high resolution texture. Zbrush must use Encage because even simple color maps must be rendered at the same resolution it was painted at in Zbrush or the UVs with look wobbly. This is a resolution problem not UV, Zb, EI,or Encage problem.


I have a full test character that I skinned which works with Encage if I skin the plug, but the skin jumps off the rig if I switch back to Zero. It's still there but is in a new position.

Vizfizz
02-16-2006, 10:21 PM
If there are true problems, I'm sure they will be fixed. Its too important to the new FBX pipeline for weight maps not to work. Anyone leaving EI may be leaving a bit prematurely on this one.

AVTPro
02-16-2006, 11:26 PM
Sorry, I know this could be really bad PR. It's all very premature, and I haven't test the problem for myself. I don't know for sure if there's a true weight map problem from my first hand exprience. As stated, it's just too important to overlook. I guess I'm being slightly paranoid because I don't want to have such a problem when I start rigging agian. It is simply not possible to rig any character without good wmps and softening fall Off. I have never had a problem with wmps in EIAS before. Maybe the people complaining are at fault. I don't know for sure.

I also apologize to Igors, they do excellent work. And Yes, EI programming team has been excellent at resolving any reports ASAP.

I see no reason to abandon EI, it's too USEFUL and powerful and fast.

AVTPro
02-16-2006, 11:47 PM
BTW, I have had no problem with FBX weight maps or skins that were generated in Maya and imported to EIAS. I believe the complaint was with wmps directly generated in EIAS. It wasn't wide spread just one or two sources that were constant. I know they enjoy being annoying.

manuel
02-17-2006, 08:36 AM
I have two (dual monitors), i'll have to have a look tomorrow because it's my work computer, ill edit this post to let you know.

Edit: They're both Radeon cards, a 9200 and a 9600 (both 128meg).

I duplicated this bug in a project today, but when i tried to delete all the other objects EI crashed (huge scene). I'll try again when i have more time.
Ian
Radeon eh? Exactly the same type of card that I have. I wonder what the Igors are running on their machine

DickM
03-02-2006, 02:11 PM
I would suggest getting encage. I love the fact that I can work with low poly characters in realtime and render out hires ones without swapping at render time. You do not have to do sample renders, just turn up the tess in animator to see what you will get.

Here is the first test I did with encage. The base polymesh was a little messy and has since been fixed, but this test still shows what great results one can acheive using this plug.

Before Encage:
http://www.morleyarts.com/testinglab/beforeencage.html

After Encage:
http://www.morleyarts.com/testinglab/afterencage.html

Richard

Giacomo_M
03-02-2006, 07:55 PM
Richard-

Looks great.

About the "Encage bug you ran into with the doubling of model size," though...is this a frequently occurring bug with Encage? I'm not sure I want to be dealing with something like that on a regular basis.

GM

DickM
03-02-2006, 08:03 PM
Thanks
Well, it was partially user error. I did not realize that when using encage you can't scale an object within animator before linking it to the plug. When you turn the plug on, suddenly the object jumps to that scale. For instance, I think this character was 1.0 in scale, so I increased it to 2.0, then linked it to encage. Once encage was enabled, it jumped 2x in scale in animator. When it rendered out though, it was the correct scale. Easy fix, make sure your model is the correct size, export as parked fact, reimport and link to encage, end of issue. It's a pain in the butt but easy enough to work around. I wish they'd update it so this wasn't the case.

Hope this helps.

AVTPro
03-02-2006, 11:21 PM
Thanks
Well, it was partially user error. I did not realize that when using encage you can't scale an object within animator before linking it to the plug. When you turn the plug on, suddenly the object jumps to that scale. For instance, I think this character was 1.0 in scale, so I increased it to 2.0, then linked it to encage. Once encage was enabled, it jumped 2x in scale in animator. When it rendered out though, it was the correct scale. Easy fix, make sure your model is the correct size, export as parked fact, reimport and link to encage, end of issue. It's a pain in the butt but easy enough to work around. I wish they'd update it so this wasn't the case.

Hope this helps.


Excellent prognosis of the figgamajigorator Richard.

I didn't get that. In my case, it was a small jump. I was only scaled a little.

You probably don't even have to render this stuff to view your animation.

Awesome. My hope for new character is to use Encage as a proxy tool..

I like the model as well, the flesh line for cheek coming from the nose is just little to straight. Also, I see you have no problem with weight maps?

DickM
03-02-2006, 11:57 PM
Thanks Alonzo
Well the model has been tweaked since this first test. His cheeks are much softer now. And no, there are no wmps on this character. I stay away from them as much as possible when dealing with characters. I just use extra bones. Wmps are great on ubers.

halfworld
10-25-2006, 02:49 PM
In fact, dear Igors, now that I have your attention. I tried a little XP script to switch the Encage Animator (editing) resolution from 0 to 1 interactively. It works fine when I switch from 0 to 1, but when I switch from 1 to 0, the model disappears. I have to switch Encage off and on again to make the model reappear.

Just to point out that the cause of this issue has been discovered, it's an API bug in EI and it can happen with several plug-ins. As Manuel spotted, toggling group visibility fixes it.

Ian

DickM
10-25-2006, 05:24 PM
So what's the newest version of encage anyway? I still get no motion blur with deformed skins using encage which really sucks. Am I missing something?

iKKe
10-25-2006, 09:56 PM
So what's the newest version of encage anyway? I still get no motion blur with deformed skins using encage which really sucks. Am I missing something?

There was a motion blur bug in the first release, the problem was solved in a few days after the initial release.

Maybe you should apply skinning to Encage, not to the actual geometry ;-)

Cheers

Hans

manuel
10-25-2006, 10:17 PM
Maybe you should apply skinning to Encage, not to the actual geometry ;-)

Wrong. You should definitely rig the geometry, not Encage. If he result can't be motion-blurred, make sure that you've got the latest version, check with Konkeptoine. Unfortunately, plug-ins don't have version-numbers, so you'll just have to ask them.

AVTPro
10-28-2006, 12:28 PM
"SDS is not a tool to correct bad meshes" as the old wisdom modeler said.

_Nor should SDS be a fix for bone weight mapping.


Don't get me wrong please, I have recently promoted and sold a copy of Encage to a colleague. I would sell ten more. He loves it and says can't live without it. We had a huge scene and Encage was used for rendertime SDS...our project was a success. True, Encage has a number of specific purposes but wmps should not be one. Without, Encage Zbrush work in EIAS isn't possible but concerning wmps, it only helps but not a solution.

The solution is for EIAS to release a patch...a bug fix and not just a new version for UB users. I love the EI Team, and it pains me to say this. However, I worked very hard to learn CA, and Rigging in EIAS now I can't use it as effectively as I use to. I have done tests and have had problems with wmps.

Yes, I still do very successful project in EIAS, but tearing geometry because of wmps is difficult to use. It breaks my heart to see EIAS take a step back in this area and still no fix yet.

Anyway, wmps seem much more predictable with FBX. So far, I have had great success with it. Actually it was pretty flawless. It's just the bones directly in EIAS seems to be the problem.

I'm not pointing the figure at anyone, it's just that this effects independent animators with midrange budgets broadcast commercial character animations.

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