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Primus
02-24-2003, 09:19 AM
Basically I have three questions that needs answering from all you Animation Master experts, if not my startup will be using Messiah:Studio. But the cost will kill my budget. I've been working in CG for four years and I'm putting up a startup studio of five people. I've been working in Lightwave, Maya, Max. I've been a TD, but started out as an animator, then a modeller. Now I'm parting ways with my employer and will have to purchase software. Anyone up to answering 3 questions?

First question is: I need to turnaround 45 minutes of animation every two months, this is the max figure, but the norm will be 20. It will be toon shaded, characters will be cartoony with a lot of lip synch. Does Animation Master have what it takes? I'm thinking of purchasing in two weeks, and have started setting up hardware.

Next question would be, "What kind of hardware does it take?". With Lightwave even a machine with 256 MB RAM and a GeForce 2 MX can churn out good work, on Pentium III 850s!!!! In real life what would it take to run Animation Master with the kind of production level, 20 minutes every two months? I'm having 4 to 5 people BTW for that kind of work.

Last question is... a biggie in my book. Will the software cooperate with us? Having crashes every hour is really not appealing (It's giving me nightmares actually). After surviving Max 3, Lightwave was incredibly stable. I cringe when I read up on the forums at how unstable this program (A/M) is. I want to be pleasantly shocked, I have projects lined up and I have to deliver. Or bye bye projects. I'd like to not sell my car to buy three or five seats of Lightwave.

Learning curve is no problem, after a while, these programs tend to become similar to each other. If anyone can give authoritative answers, I am in your debt. Thank you!

hoochoochoochoo
02-24-2003, 12:35 PM
I'll reply to your last Qu. Honestly in my experience AM becomes more stable the more you use it. You get to know how to work with it best and what it likes.
New users have bad experiences and give up easy but often there are simple solutions to their crashes. My question back to you is - if you have the work ready now why are you setting out on a new software path?

You already know other software and -this forum aside- if you and your artists have product knowledge now, why ditch that?

As a short stab at Q2 - hardware does need to be well set up well. Any software will crash if the OS or any other software the Hardware depends upon isn't installed and set up right. If your experience with LW has taught you all you need to know why not stay on that path.

I guess my final answer would be if you have the time to spend getting to know AM, it can give you great results. It does have a great toon renderer - but watch out for the buying cycle! Hash works on a subscription basis and this year like the last three - all the users eyes are on the .5 version (8.5, 9.5 and now 10.5) The .5's come out roughly mid year.:wip:

Goon
02-24-2003, 02:23 PM
Is there anyway you could buy just one copy to try out? Or even call Hash and ask them for a special trial deal on one copy so that you could have a demo? God knows it wouldn't hurt them to have another studio on their list.

Nonproductive
02-24-2003, 03:11 PM
First - The postive points.

Hash's Rigging and Animation Workflow are very fast and very nice. It's toon renderer is pretty nice and offers enough options that you should be able to get pretty much any look you are going for with a little tweaking.

Because it requires much fewer point to define a given curve with splines - Hash can run smoothly on a pretty low end system. In fact, prior to the super fast processors and vid boards - itwas one of their greatest strengths. The exception to this would be shaded previews which still tend to need some muscle behind them if the character or scene is very complex. There is the option to have items displayed as wireframes only (even in shaded preivews) which helps alleviate that niggle some.

The Folks at Hash tend to be more "yoru buddy" than "your software vendor." Which means they are very open to solid ideas and constructive conversation and they are very accessible.

A:M is $300 a seat (no net render), Lightwave is $1000 a seat (with net render..sort of...)

The A:M code is *constantly* being developed - so most fixes come quickly.

The Bad Points.

Despite it's target market, A:M is *not* new user friendly. Very little real testing is done of the code to ensure it is bug free. The testing that is done - is done by people that are very familiar with the program or wrote the code and know what steps to take. For example, v10g - the most recent version - while generally stable, will still dump me to my desktop if I don't do things the way Hash intended them to be done. I'm talking simple things like "Right Click on a blank toolbar docking area." That's a crash to desktop bug.

Cost is deceptive: With A:M you will be in an endless subscription cycle. $300 a seat up front and $100 a seat every year - and that doesn't include network rendering which is extra up front and annually as well. Often serious bugs aren't fixed until "the next susbcription" - forcing you to upgrade to get stability.

The Folks at Hash tend to be more "yoru buddy" than "your software vendor." Which means if you criticize the program or pressure them for bug fixes - they will take their ball and go home - leaving you standing alone on the field.

The A:M code is *constantly* being developed - so new bugs are intruduced weekly.

--------

My suggestion, honestly, is in line with My Fault - stick with Lightwave. It's more up front, but you don't *have* to upgrade every year so in the end you will come out even or ahead. (In fairness, you don't have to with A:M either...but you will...always chasing that winning lottery ticket) You already know the tools and won't have to deal with learning new software, hitting deadlines and developing workarounds for A:M's bugs all at the same time. Deadlines are often enough. If the work is already lined up - then those Lightwave seats should be paid for quick enough.

Lightwave at $995 (Safe harbor price) + ACS4 ($90) + Keytrak ($99) = $1200 a seat for very capable, stable, productive environment from day one. Alternately, LW ($995) + Messiah:Animate ($595) = $1600 a seat and you have tools that rival all but XSI in their capabilities.

A:M is $300 a seat for the app, and then additional for Net Render which isn't even listed on their web page but I think it was an additional 3 machine license was $150 more up front and $50 more a year and $500 up front for unlimited (nto sure on annual for that). Net render gets you a few more features and dongles instead of having to start up with the CD in the drive.

If you are doing production work, you will want Netrender - so the price comparison's get less drastic...

In the end A:M can do what you want, but may not be the best route financially or time wise. Just remember to suggest A:M to your nephew no matter what you choose. :snicker:

Edit: Something I forgot to add - Remeber A:M is basically a closed system - import/export of models is limited and import/export of animation is almost non existant. That means pipeline optimizations and customizations are tough to pull off. Not impossible, but no where near as easy as Lightwave.

Wegg
02-24-2003, 03:41 PM
Lightwave / Messiah is a great combo. And the cool thing is. . . you only need one copy of Lightwave for your studio. Once you have your shot animated, its a simple matter of just one artist bringing those characters/camera motions/models into LW and rendering it. Its as simple as hitting F12.

I do wish we had AM's action libraries, ease of rigging and elegant workflow, but at the end of the day, the Lightwave renderer and overall stability more than makes up for what it lacks in ease of use.


---------------------------------------------
William Eggington -- http://www.eggington.net
---------------------------------------------

My Fault
02-24-2003, 03:56 PM
As much as I love Animation Master it doesn't sound like agreat idea in your situation. How quick do you have to ramp up to 45 minutes in the two month span (wow, that's a lot!)?

There are a lot of people selling their Messiah seats so you could proably score a seat fairly cheap. Try checking out their list at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pmGmessiah/
You can also download a demo and see if you like it at
http://www.projectmessiah.com/

If you already know Lightwave you might want to stick with that. With Keytrak and ACS4 it's actually pretty capable.

Good luck! :thumbsup:

gKay
02-24-2003, 04:06 PM
I've tried to startup with A:M years before, but it was a nightmare. Of course, the present software is more stable, but if you're asked to do quick and dirty prototyping which still has to look good, or if you're planning to do print illustration: A:M is no real option (imho), but LW is.

You're working several days on a scene and: *pop* you can't edit the file anymore.

The software you choose now, has to be the software for the next few years, than force an application-switch for more than 1 person is hell.

And there are really good and inexpensive alternatives to messiah, as written above.

There is no studio i know which is using A:M exclusively ...

Primus
02-25-2003, 02:09 AM
I've been working in Lightwave for a while now, and can pretty much do anything in it, I really don't need any external plugs, while keytrak sounds good it's no longer available commercially, last I heard, Mark Brown, its author was absorbed by Newtek. (Or abducted, heh heh.)

Lukasz's ACS4 is a great idea but I've already devloped my own scripts for quick rig creation. But not necessary, it's really not that difficult to rig in Lightwave... Poses can be had using a Motion Mixer work around. Deformation takes some work but I'm use to Lightwave's quirks.

Getting Animation Master was a pipe dream wasn't it? *sigh* My startup already has clients, I can't disclose the projects that are to be worked on. With such a volume of animation required, really price was my only consideration since it is well, a startup and funds are tight. The animation will be simplistic and require mainly a lot of voice synch. I guess I'll have to sell my car after all :thumbsdow I'm funding everything and paying people who're willing to jump in and take a risk. I've worked in traditional animation in Anime and US cartoons and the people I'm hiring have no software prefs, I'll be doing setup etc.

Lightwave's price has gone up to 1,500 US, at Safe Harbor it's at 1,295 US. Ordering overseas will jack up the price. Our goal was to have a couple of months to generate enough funds to get Lightwave and Aura. As it is we have to purchase Premier along with assorted hardware. God I'll miss my car :annoyed:

Ah well, thanks again!

Wegg
02-25-2003, 02:53 AM
Originally posted by Primus I've been working in
Lightwave for a while now, and can pretty much do anything in it, I
really don't need any external plugs, while keytrak sounds good it's
no longer available commercially, last I heard, Mark Brown, its author
was absorbed by Newtek. (Or abducted, heh heh.)

Coming from an Animation Master background. . . I can tell you flat
out that that is not true. Joe and I sat down with LW for about a
week. . . going through every tutorial we could find. Lightwave on its
own can't hold a candle to AM's ease of use and powerful
rigging/animation tools. Without Messiah bolted on to LW, I would have
given up on 3D all together.


Getting Animation Master was a pipe dream wasn't it? *sigh* My startup
already has clients, <blah blah blah>


Pipe DREAM!?! Gah. . . I successfully ran a production company for
YEARS where AM was our ONLY tool. I may not use it now, but that is
due to shortcomings most users aren't ever going to run up against. I
believe that once they get their renderer sorted out. . . there will
be a lot more little companies taking advantage of AM's power.

I'm starting to re-gain my faith. . .

---------------------------------------------
William Eggington -- http://www.eggington.net
---------------------------------------------

My Fault
02-25-2003, 03:14 AM
Originally posted by Wegg
I'm starting to re-gain my faith. . .

Isn't this one of the seven signs of the apocalypse?

Zealot #227


Seriously though, check out Eggingtons reel. They did some damn fine work with AM so it can definitely be done. The difference may be though that in Wegg's situation he was already very experienced and he picked some of the best AM people around at that time.

Maybe try to find an AM user near where you live to show it to you. At least that way you can try it out and see if you like it. Don't forget, Hash has a 30 day refund so if it doesn't work out for you, you can return it.

Kricket
02-25-2003, 03:43 AM
Originally posted by Primus
Learning curve is no problem, after a while, these programs tend to become similar to each other.
Actually, you may have to overcome a pretty big learning curve with Animation Masters modeling system. Its all spline-based, so if you're a poly person it'll take a while to get some decent results.

The toon shader is nice, but I think LW's is better. Here's a model I did rendered with both packages.

AM Toon Shader (http://demented3d.com/3d/katrina.jpg)
LW Toon Shader (http://demented3d.com/3d/katrinalw.jpg)

Rigging and facial animation in AM is a breeze. I've just started learning Messiah. I miss poses. I miss Smartskin! I damn near cried watching the CharacterFX training dvd on Messiah showing how to fix bad arm deformation/muscle bulge with the Morphblender. Incredibly complicated compared to AM.

I left AM because of last years instability problems, but even if AM fixes their crash problems I'm not sure if I'll go back. Modeling with polys/Sub-D is faster and gives me much more control than Hash Patches. And now people can actually hand me models to animate instead of having to say "Im sorry, the animation package I use doesnt import poly models very well, I'll have to rebuild the model from scratch."

Go with LW! The hair left in your head and the cash you save on Aspirin will be worth it.

PJC
02-25-2003, 05:00 AM
Kricket

personally I like the AM toon better, more crisp!

Primus,

If you've never used AM, then it's not just transferring knowledge from LW, MAX, or Maya to AM. In theory, maybe, but in practice it will take you time to learn how to model in AM.

I would have no problem recommending AM in a production environment, but you don't think you can use many outside sources for models etc...you have to usually build all the models yourself. At work we have 15 copies of AM, unlimited NetRendering, and when we do character work, I use AM exclusively. We have a VERY tight timeline on our projects and AM's tools are THE best I've ever used for character stuff.

We've done multiple projects from big to small in AM, and yes we've had issues, but I've never missed a deadline when using AM.

I've also used AM in print (comic work) and although it renders slower than, say Cinema 4D, it still gets done.

What it really comes down to is the skillset of the people you have working on the project. If you said you had Wegg, Balistic, JoeW, Cosman and a couple of others working with you on this project, I would say choose AM and drive those guys to a nice dinner.

If you are an excellent LW base, sell the car, make up the cost later on of all the seats you need.

I hope some of this helps. Definately check out AM tho, it's well worth the $300.

- pjc

Primus
02-25-2003, 06:04 AM
Ah counter arguments :) I really like my car and relearning an app isn't too difficult, people who stayed in our company often had to relearn apps in the middle of production just to keep jobs.

Right now cost is a MAJOR problem. Also I really like my car.

Coming from an Animation Master background. . . I can tell you flat out...

Hey Wegg, I come from a MAYA/MAX/LIGHTWAVE background. I've never used Animation Master, so I don't know what I may be missing :) I'd like to find out. But in defense of Lightwave, I've been using 7 for over a year and rigging takes less then half an hour for me, complete with the new constraints from LW 7.5. It may not be easy but it can certainly be done. Again, I'd love to find out and cost is a HUGE issue in the matter.

I come from a traditional 2D animation background, and working like a robot for 13 hour days is compulsary. I'd like to get great results for less work if it's possible. If animating in AM is easier than GREAT! I need all the pluses I can get, but I'm willing to invest time and effort as well to get past ANY humps or mountains along the way. In terms of work that is I'd like to not be bothered by a problem like: Open software, software crashes, hard work lost, file corrupted, open backup, software crashes...

PJC, Kricket thanks for the responses. I modelled this in Lightwave in about 8 hours Lightwave model (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=342898#post342898) . I don't need this type of complexity.

I've tried modelling in Hamapatch, some people suggested that it was very close to the Animation Master paradigm. It's somewhat similar to modelling in point by point in Lightwave mixed with splines in Maya. I've modelled extensively in splines in Maya. And I thnk I can live with AM's modelling paradigm (not the ideal at all but I live with compromise everyday.) The characters will be simple and will be NOWHERE near the complexity of the model I linked to.

So I'll ask the question again, I've seen what AM can do. Stuff like Navone's Alien Song is about as complex as I'll get. Advise me please, I'm sticking my neck out here, I've no wish to get deeper into financial troubles. (Plus I'm really attached to my other present physical possesions) Any further answers are much appreciated.

Can Animation Master cut the cake on a tight production schedule?!? What's the most stable version I can find out there to purchase? Really after my former studio was dealing with Maya's support subscriptions, Lightwave with a free unlimited network renderer and no upgrade hassle is beatiful. The thought of paying subscriptions is really not appealing. I'd like to stick it out with one version that can meet my needs. My next upgrade will be Lightwave, not AM 200x ver. x.

(Lightwave raised prices and I'd be stuck with a couple of seats and two animators. NOT ideal. Money back after 30 days is also not an ideal as the schedule is tight, if it takes that long to figure out it sucks, then I'm screwed on time.)

I'd ideally like to get my hands on the most stable AM version bearing in mind the simplistic nature of my needs. So the cost of AM is right for me at the moment. It'll really be a pipe dream if I meet my budget, got the software but only to have it render so slow and crash so much that it makes my work unbearable. IS it THAT bad? Hell I'd love to test drive a seat but...

It's all or nothing here, if I can pose a character with constraints, set a keyframe, adjust the curve for timing, then it works for me. That's all I really need. I'll be making talking heads :)

My Fault, I'm based in Asia right now, China is the land of Maya. Lightwave is just barely getting started here, SoftImage probably has a bigger user base, as with MAX. AM however is non-existent. So I realy have no one to ask... Thanks for the opins! My group is taking a gamble and will learn along the way. (Yeah the project is that good... we're taking a dive with our eyes open anyway...) Thanks for the replies!

Kricket
02-25-2003, 06:52 AM
Well, as long as you're going to be keeping it simple you ought to be good to go with Animation Master. It only really starts to get unstable when you try to get "clever" and try to push the software.

Get the newest version, AM 2003. Its pretty stable.

If you do get AM, make sure to buy David Rogers book
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1584502363/qid=1046157278/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/104-1692048-5837559?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 because the included manual is pretty pitiful.

Also (plug) I've got some toon shading tutorials at http://demented3d.com/tutorial you may find useful. They were written for 8.5 but the toon system hasnt changed too much.

ragtag
02-25-2003, 09:49 AM
If I remember correctly the full network license costs like $599 or $699 and then each extra seat is $50 or $99 (don't know if that included an unlimited number of render nodes). Call or mail Hash inc. for the exact numbers and details.

If you know Maya, LW and Max, I don't see a problem with learning AM...despite lack of manual, AM is easy to learn compared to something like Maya.

The production rate you talk about is quite high. It's 10min a month on 5 people, assuming 21 workdays a month...you're up to 5.7 sec of finished animation per person per day. That's a somewhat high number for animators on TV productions, if the only thing they're doing is animating. If you're going to add rigging, modeling, rendering, editing, compositing etc. I think you are going to have too little time. And going for 45min I think is unrealistic, even with cartoony 2d rendered characters (at least if you want to keep a reasonably high level of quality).

You should check out http://www.momentumanimations.com/ that's an Australian studio that uses AM and does a lot of cartoon rendered stuff. Maybe they'll be willing to give you some idea about how well AM works in a commercial production environment.

Good luck with the project,

Ragnar

Kevin Sanderson
02-25-2003, 01:57 PM
Originally posted by Primus


It's all or nothing here, if I can pose a character with constraints, set a keyframe, adjust the curve for timing, then it works for me. That's all I really need. I'll be making talking heads :)




If it's that simple, A:M can do it. It rarely crashes for many of us who don't do the taxing stuff.

I don't know what resolution your final output will be, but if you have just 3 machines for rendering, last I heard you could get NetRender from Hash for $150. An unlimited NetRender license was (4+ machines) $500. Contact Hash for the latest. NetRender has been an additional expense on top of the base software price for the past several years.

If you don't have enough machines to render in the time you need, you can always use Render Muscle, which is pretty affordable for a render farm. Here's the thread where I posted info...They have 25 machines running and since they recently started, they probably aren't that busy. They can accept and deliver projects over the Internet.

http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=44062&perpage=15&pagenumber=2

Contact Mike to knock around numbers. You might be able to get your projects rendered under budget if you don't have the machines to do it in a timely fashion yourself.

I can always understand the cost argument.

You can also check out my page of stability tips...some hints to help keep you productive that others have found to help immensely without increasing costs in most cases.

http://www.ksanderson.com/amtips.html

Primus
02-26-2003, 02:28 PM
Thanks for the helpful replies Kricket, Ragnar, and Kevin Anderson.

I do plan on taking the network render version. Ragnar, character rigging and morph targets should be done in about a week because of the simplistic animation. And production schedules in an animation sweatshop here is brutal :( We're underpaid and overworked (I've quit that thank goodness). A team of ten persons can turn around a SECOND of traditional animation in a day. That includes inbetweens, clean up, and colors. Keys are done by other people though, we get the stuff from lead animators in Japan. Based on tests we can do the animation part pretty fast. The characters will be more stylistic then realistic, but I do anticipate sweating blood using Animation Master's modelling paradigm. We don't have a choice though :) .

Animation will be done from from a close up. More talking heads but with a lot of emotion and hand gestures. It'll be for videos. Not for TV production. Resolution will be VCD resolution as the intended product will be in that format. About 320 by 240 thereabouts. With toon shading, antialiasing, toon lines, three lights, a faked 2D background, and maybe errr 1000 patches (Maybe less? More facial detail then anything else. A thousand subpatches in Lightwave? Really won't know till I try it.)

Kevin, very helpful info and I've bookmarked the site, we may end up needing those services with this tight deadline. Kricket and Kevin thanks for the links, I plan on checking them out! We're also getting a couple of educational DVDs just to get up to speed quicker. This is really down and dirty, while quality is always an ideal, this is a wham bam thank you ma'am affair, maybe not portfolio material.

Again thanks for the replies everybody, my sombrero's off for you guys, we plan on getting the software delivered by the 10th of March at the latest. ;)

Eman597
03-04-2003, 05:26 AM
Hello, I dont like long threads that look like novels, so ill keep this short and to the point.

I use both A:M and Lightwave, so I think I can give you a pretty good, unbiased opinion on this matter.

I say that you should undoubtedly go with lightwave. Why? It is simply the best piece of software out there. Ive used max, and I still prefer Lightwave, not only that, but with each update it keeps getting better and better. A:M is certainly NOT ready for a production environment of that scale, do not take the risk of losing your business because you saved a few bucks and bought an uncompetent software You will make back the money you spendon lightwave and then some, its worth it!!!!! :thumbsup:

Kevin Sanderson
03-04-2003, 11:48 PM
With what he wants to do, Lightwave is overkill. He already stated he really can't afford to go that route right now. He can always buy Lightwave when he has some money in the bank. I'm afraid selling one's car is not a good idea to start a business unless you live in a city with great public transportation.

Besides, A:M can work in a production environment. It's been done with very impressive results, as has already been mentioned in this thread. And with increased stability as has been reported, it should be even easier than it was when it was used in a production environment.

Wegg
03-05-2003, 12:02 AM
If you really USE its features that are unique to AM. . . I'll bet you could base a SMALL studio around it. True re-usable actions, integrated modeling/animation/rendering etc. All things that save a LOT of time and allow you to get more real work done. AM is a very powerful prgram. Just know, that if you ever get "big" and are at a point where you depend on AM for creating mass quantaties of amazing cutting edge breathtaking visual quality. Your gunna hit a wall.

koon69
03-05-2003, 03:13 AM
Wegg - are u saying that for a small studio about 4 people doing smal scale work AM is good enough. But if you need to turn it up a bit AM falls short. What can u say that makes AM fall short for this type of work? They are working on the renderer-arent they? Is AM still that far away? I guess if you want to be able to get good freelance work best bet is LW - Max and C4d?

Wegg
03-05-2003, 03:34 PM
If you want good freelance work, then you need to have some great stuff in your demo reel and be able to re-produce that stuff at a low cost. Most clients don't care what program you use. The walls you will run into are when clients want things that AM just can't do. Amazing explosions, hair, beutiful shimmer free film res animation etc.

dinocarl
03-05-2003, 08:17 PM
Primus,

I work for a small company and our primary tool is AM. Almost everything I do is an AM render. More to the point, it's an AM toon render. I wrote up a little essay about my experiences using AM on my website on a specific project, an AM toon rednered game.

Just so you know, though, when I say that 'our primary tool is AM', what I really mean is 'my primary tool is AM'. I'm the only 3D guy in the office and I created all the graphics for the game in question, so I would not suggest that because it worked for me that it is right for you or anyone else. AM is the tool of choice around here, because I get to make that decision. That said, the 2 primary reasons for me to get AM in the first place are precisely the reasons that you stated in your first post 1) a good (included) toon renderer and 2) low cost.

I alos feel that I should mention that the work is far smaller in scope than anything you will find in, say, the Eggington portfolio. It would not have been possible for me to push the software in the same way that they did and continue to do. My goals were more modest, and my capabilites smaller. My experiences with the software and company, then, is very different that theirs.

Finally, i should also mention that all the work for it was done in 8.5.

http://www.dinocarl.com/epistemology/apte/

For the record, William, Brian, Joe, and Glen, if you're reading this, I seriously could not have done it without you. I use the Egg rig for almost every character and have adapted it in a variety of ways for many other purposes. The amazing work you guys would crank out was at once inspirational and daunting. Thanks for everything!

In any case, I have had very positive experiences and results working with AM in a professional environment, and I hope that you do, as well.

Carl

Kevin Sanderson
03-05-2003, 08:21 PM
I agree with Wegg. And many of the things I've seen small shops around here in the Detroit area do can be done in A:M and a few outside programs like After Effects. I've seen some really basic animation done for pretty high prices. How many things can you do with nuts and bolts and car panels? Most starting off work you'll get will be instructional videos or corporate presentations and maybe a cable TV spot here and there...seems that's the routine for most of the people I know here. And I would guess it's like that many places just from talking to the guys I do voice over work for around the country.

I have a friend who whipped up a great presentation with Lightwave & AE, but in the end the auto company had him trim it down to a basic thing he could've probably done in A:M for less work and expense. He says Lightwave mostly sits there as he deals with video and motion graphics most of the time.

If your company is small and just starting out, you probably aren't going to get any really involved production to work on anyway. You'll have to build a great demo reel, usually with actual work. And that takes time...probably as much time as building your client list. So you could start with A:M and then as you get more work, build your business and buy the programs that you'll need as you expand. Unless you have a great source of cash or credit at the beginning, you'll have to start with low expenses, otherwise it'll be the same as if you were working for minimum wage.

Primus
03-08-2003, 06:00 AM
Hey guys,

Eman597, I was a hardcore professional Lightwave user for over a year, I agree. I've used Max, and Maya (older versions though), but I favor Lightwave. I'm really software agnostic so I use what gets the job done but I have a really soft spot for Lightwave. My duties were all around, mostly I design, model, and rig characters. I was originally an animator though. But for this project, price was a primary consideration, time is second, and sweating blood a third :) .

Kevin Sanderson, thankfully no problems with doing a demo reel to snag a customer. I already have a contracted client. (Which prompted me to hand in my resignation to my day job and leap into business. Leaving a comfortable salaried life with perks...) Which might not be wise, the client was sold on a Lightwave demo. But something that can be recreated in Animation:Master (I fervently hope). The demo had a toon rendered character, the character was simply designed, the backgrounds were prerendered. We already have a working storyboard and we start production the second we open our A:M box, which should be arriving on the tenth, Monday evening (Or should I say the weeks later when we get the hang of the software). We also ordered a bunch of training DVDs, among them Siggraph 2002, Raf Anzovin's secrets of A:M as well (I think). So I get to keep the car, but no travel time, the studio I've rented is actually next door to my house! And the rent is cheap (good neighborhood, residential area), 150 US a month for 27 square meters!!!!! Just enough for four people and a bunch of computers.

I'm crossing my fingers dinocarl, thanks for the comments!

Wegg, I know what Lightwave is capable of :) I am definitely going for a purchase! As soon as we finish with this down and dirty project. Lightwave is a steal even at 1,300 US. When we rebalance our budget (read: project over and paid for in three months.), Lightwave seats are in the works.

Also, Kevin S. and Wegg, I've worked for over eight years as an artist in nearly all mediums, and I agree completely, the client will not care how you arrived at the finished work, just that it is finished on time within the agreed specs.

Ordinarily I hate to gamble, but the project offer was so good, coupled with the chance to control my own hours (and be head honcho), I had to jump in. Carpe Diem. Ahh yes, starting production using a tool we haven't used, bankrolling the project, and coupled with a tight deadline. Heh heh, I'm off to guzzle down a bottle of Vodka (Stolichnaya) to calm my nerves. (I don't have balls of steel, maybe balls of alluminium... or maybe really soft lead.)

Thanks for the replies I'll post my transition from Lightwave to A:M in a couple of days along with very long and detailed questions!

Goon
03-09-2003, 02:57 PM
Big risk.
Good Luck:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

jashiin
03-12-2003, 10:57 AM
Iīm finishing up a project in a:m '99 at the moment... my client hasnīt even noticed i am not using softimage|xsi anymore... iīm working on a freelance basis so, animation:master pretty much does the deal.

i know the renderer pretty well, so by rendering in double-res and a lot of post, i get something that blends in nicely with live-action.

the few oddities iīve come across as of now, ( i havenīt used a:m for 2 years ) is timing stuff, i only get audio playback in action views, not choreography view. quicktime movies donīt playback as rotoscopes, i canīt even seem to set the frame. this is a biiiig problem for me. most of my work has to be timed, and itīs one of the reasons i didnīt buy realsoft 3D ( no audio whatsoever)
softimage audio scrubbing and qt playback is sweeeet.

when tweaking a:m renders, i often fall short when trying to enter a value that a:m doesnīt like... itīs a regular deal that it does not allow values for color and such outside, say, 0 - 100. *annoying*

btw, iīd get a:m 99 if i were you, the newer versions are suspicious ;)
i hear you canīt make negative lights anymore.... that was my fav thing in a:m ;)

btw, on my to-buy-list
1. new workstation (after this project :) )
2. lightwave

j. olsson
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http://www.pidelipom.com/jolsson/

Wegg
03-12-2003, 05:01 PM
I think AM would be more trouble than it is worth in its current state. I'm not saying that you couldn't make it work. . . especially if you are going to be using the excellent Toon render features. There is a network render that is second to none in terms of ease of use etc. No frustrating content directories or command line driven configuration etc.

Hmmm. . . Hard call. It is much much easier to rig in AM over LW and I'd say the feedback on the characters as you animate would be as fast as LW. . . None of them hold a candle to Messiah though. Messiah is really the fastest for grabbing a character, moving it around to where you need it and pressing "play" to see how the animation looks.

I dunno. . . They are both good at what they do. With AM you sacrifice render speed/quality for ease of use and a beautiful workflow.

I'll shut up now. . . I can never make up my mind. . .

Kevin Sanderson
03-12-2003, 05:41 PM
Originally posted by Wegg


I'll shut up now. . . I can never make up my mind. . .

That's alright :)

It's tough making these decisions...so much to balance. If my livelihood depended on it, it would make matters much worse for me. You folks who do it for a living and do alright have had my respect for a very long time.

Kevin

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