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PhilWesson
02-09-2003, 05:13 AM
Hey everyone,

I posted this in the WIP forum, but didnt get any answers.
I was wondering if I should use motion designer for the wires on this. Its a giant walking tank, 4 legs. Let me know what you think.
Also, If i should use MD for this, how shall I do it?

PhilWesson
02-09-2003, 05:16 AM
heres a pic of the full tank

SplineGod
02-09-2003, 05:33 AM
Its looking pretty good. I wouldnt use MD to animate the cables. Just use bones.

PhilWesson
02-09-2003, 05:36 AM
how would you set up the bones?

paul k.
02-09-2003, 10:38 AM
no offense david but I personally think that with very few acceptions no one should ever have to use Motion Designer in it's current state unless they are doing table cloths, curtains, or wanted an early trip to the nut house. Go with the bones.

PhilWesson
02-09-2003, 02:14 PM
wow, well i'll agree that MD isnt the easiest thing to figure out, and difficult to use, but thats a pretty serious statement. Why do you feel that way?

paul k.
02-09-2003, 11:30 PM
Well dave, I know it's a criticism and I really try and hold back when it comes to the toolset in LW because I think most of the time it's up to the artist. However in the case of Motion Designer I think is as close of a substandard tool is there exists in LW. It has worked for some but not for me. I could go on talking about how it's not ever close to the softbodies in Messiah, or Maya, or it's not real time or whatever but I think it just boils down to the fact that for me I wouldn't use it for anything that wasn't draping because the controle over ropes or cords or a floppy nose, or belly just isn't intuitive enough for my personal taste. I just don't really have a lot of faith in motion designer at all. Or at least not in comparison to the quality of other tools in LW or cloth tools in other apps.

DaveW
02-09-2003, 11:41 PM
I know MD pretty well and can get good results with it, but I agree with Paul, it's a pretty bad softbody solution. It's too error-prone and takes ages to calculate.

Celshader
02-10-2003, 12:46 AM
Dave,

You could use MD to animate the wires...but it would add a layer of complexity to your scenes that you might not like.

I did a quick test with MD on a three-cable setup to see if it could be done. It works fine, but it took me an hour-and-a-half to tweak the settings and at least a minute to calculate 60 frames on a 1.3Ghz Duron:
http://www.celshader.com/gallery/md/3cabletest01a.mov

I can recycle the settings for most scenes, but I would still have to recalculate the MDD file for each scene.

Larry's suggestion makes more sense -- use bones for the wires. Maybe you could use MD for "hero" shots of the wires, but bones will work just as well for most shots.

SplineGod
02-10-2003, 01:13 AM
I look at tools like this as simply being another "paint" tool. If you look at it as an accurate simulation you will be disappointed. If you look at it as a quick way to get CLOSER to an effect then doing it by hand youll be rewarded. If you can get close to the end result but have a few frames where polys are seen thru the cloth is it easier to fix it in a paint program or spend a few more hours tweaking? No softbody software is perfect. If I have a character walking and say the knee is poking thru I can simply make that part of the knee transparent. I can also render a 2nd pass where the collision object is transparent. Then I can comp just the frames that need to be fixed. This is a much quicker solution then trying to beat the software into submission.

DaveW
02-10-2003, 01:53 AM
I agree Larry, there's lots of speedy ways to deal with some of MD's quirks but there are times when you can't just work around it; points go fly off into outer space, parts of the cloth dance around like they're on crack, cloth gets stuck inside of collision objects, ect. All that wouldn't be so bad if it were able to calculate in realtime like Messiah's cloth so you can quickly fix it. I've learned how to avoid most problems with MD but the fact remains that it is unreasonably slow to calculate. I'm sure NewTek is aware of this, I just hope they can address it in the next major upgrade.

SplineGod
02-10-2003, 02:05 AM
I agree too. I typically havnt had those issues come up (yet).
I try and keep whatever I do in MD simple only because I prefer to have direct control if possible. There are other ways to simulate cloth using bones, displacement maps, weight maps, normal displacment and endomorphs.
I havent seen Messiahs cloth stuff in awhile but last time I checked it didnt do some things that make it less interesting.
I was also watching the 2nd CD that comes with Attack of the Clones. It was interesting to see that they have a whole cloth team and still had the very same issues you describe.
The other options I mentioned allow me to pick and choose my battles to some degree. :)

Celshader
02-10-2003, 02:19 AM
One way to smooth out MD calculations is to increase the Calculate Resolution to 100 in the Options panel. For me that tweak stops most jitters and points flying off into space.

MD can also use multiple threads for calculations. If I ever traded in my cheap Duron for an industrial strength dual Athlon machine, that would definitely help speed up MD calculations.

---

Steve Worley once attended a Los Angeles LightWave User's Group meeting a few years ago. When asked to compare Messiah's soft-body dynamics with Motion Designer's, he conceded that Messiah was faster, but he thought that Motion Designer was more powerful and tweakable. He had the highest praise for the MD plug-in.

MD might not be as fast as Messiah, but that might be the price for more settings. Still, it is not a plug-in for the impatient.

DaveW
02-10-2003, 03:02 AM
Yeah MD is definately more tweakable, but I'd rather have Messiah's softbodies, I'm not that patient :) I just don't want to bother with the rest of Messiah.

Cranking up the resolution slows down calculations too so I try to avoid it if I can. I've noticed that if you crank up the resolution too much you end up with exploding objects again.

Has anyone gotten the step option to work? I've tried changing it but it always goes back to 1 when I open the options panel again.

SplineGod
02-10-2003, 04:34 AM
Originally posted by Celshader


Steve Worley once attended a Los Angeles LightWave User's Group meeting a few years ago. When asked to compare Messiah's soft-body dynamics with Motion Designer's, he conceded that Messiah was faster, but he thought that Motion Designer was more powerful and tweakable. He had the highest praise for the MD plug-in.

MD might not be as fast as Messiah, but that might be the price for more settings. Still, it is not a plug-in for the impatient.
What does Steve know? :love:

Julez4001
02-10-2003, 05:49 AM
While SF in Messiah is faster, you don't get all the xtras in MD like true self collision.
Messiah has collision but with other objects and the crudier the better. But they added a couple of new tools like bloat, metaeffecters (weightmaps) and spherize that gives you some various effects that you can blend with softbodies. To getteh tube like effects you got splinebone tools but for lw, I would look into the Polk collection as they have something that directly addresses this.

VirtualFM
02-11-2003, 06:12 AM
Hi!

Larry is right, this would be much less troublesome to setup in bones (animation wise), but you could go with MD as well.

I did a quick test. It's not as pretty and acurate as the movie posted by Celshader, but I only took about 20 minutes to make the object, assign bones and IK and tweak some settings. It calculates pretty fast with those settings, but I couldn't get a 'solid-always-the-same-thickness' tube (as Celshader did) in the time I experimented with it. (anyway, it's 6:53 in the morning and didn't go to sleep yet...)

You can look at the scene at
http://pwp.netcabo.pt/0246189401/TesteTubos.zip

And try to tweak it yourself.

PhilWesson
02-11-2003, 07:09 AM
wow, never thought I would get this much feedback, and from people like celshader and splinegod too! Thanks for the information everyone. I think I'll do what celshader said and use bones for the normal shots and then try my hand at MD for 'hero' shots, where it has to look more realistic. All the information's been a great help. If there's more where that came from, keep it coming!

SplineGod
02-11-2003, 07:21 AM
Pick and choose your battles. In the areas where clothing fits more snugly use other methods like morphs and displacement maps. Where cloth is hanging loose is where I would look at using MD. You can use expressions attached to various bones to drive different morphs based on how certain bones are moving or twisting.

PhilWesson
02-11-2003, 07:21 AM
wow, never thought I would get this much feedback, and from people like celshader and splinegod too! Thanks for the information everyone. I think I'll do what celshader said and use bones for the normal shots and then try my hand at MD for 'hero' shots, where it has to look more realistic. All the information's been a great help. If there's more where that came from, keep it coming!

SplineGod
02-11-2003, 07:22 AM
You can easily do other things like increase the skin thickness and adjust your camera angle so you dont see the defects. In the end its the shot that counts not whether or not you were able to create an "accurate" simulation.
Its all about cheating it to get the shot to look correct.
When I was watching the 2nd DVD that came with Attack of the Clones, Lucas was very critical of the shot with Yoda jumping and spinning around because the cloth was behaving "accurately".
He pointed out to the animator that Yodas robe was wrapping around him instead of billowing out. The animator said something about the simulation being accurate and Lucas made the comment that while, yes, the animation was probably correct from the standpoint of real but was not correct from the romantic standpoint. In other words he wanted the cloth to react in a cool fashion rather then "realistic simulation" fashion.
Use the features like a paint tool. Composite, cheat, hide, fake or do what needs to be done to make it look like what you want or your boss wants. As I said, its faster to paint out the places where a knee pokes thru rather then endlessly futz with settings.

PhilWesson
02-11-2003, 07:28 AM
do you know a good place that i can learn expressions? i've rarely used them except for DOF (math wasnt a strong point...)

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