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Ethangar
07-05-2007, 12:58 AM
Hello everyone. This is nothing technical just more a curiosity than anything else. I'm a long time LW user who is spreading his mouse to other apps. I've got a few tutorials from digital tutors and they are a huge help. I've read all the online tuts I can find and there is one thing that has jumped out at me. Layers. I simply could not model in Lightwave without them. My last aircraft model was in over 50 layers. I started using xsi at v5 and now have 6. Layers are in XSI and yet they don't seem to be used at all. At least not mentioned in anything that I've read or watched. I primarily model and texture and haven't really ever gotten into animating. Is this where they are used more? Are they similar in use to lightwaves for animating hard surfaces?

Just more curious about them is all since they seem to be totally missing from all that I've seen so far.


Thanks in advance.

T4D
07-05-2007, 02:14 AM
OK XSI workflow is the same but presented differently

I don't uses the Main layer panel for modeling work I mainly use that for scene setup
( background, foreground, Character, props etc )

what you do is have the scene explorer open,
the scene explorer shows your layers so to speak
You can have ALOT more in XSI in front of you AND you can setup a hierarchies ;)

and just use the polygon merge and extract commands to break things up and pull things into and out of different objects groups ( Let's say Objects can be used just like you used LW layers ) :thumbsup:

Sbowling
07-05-2007, 03:49 AM
Layers in XSI are completely different than layers in LW, and infinitely more useful for scene management, but not really used for modeling. In XSI you have objects, which are similar to what you do with layers in LW, but again, much more useful.

In XSI layers are used to manage showing and hiding of objects (meshes, lights, bones, etc.) and can be used to quickly show or hide the object. I use this all the time to tun off my character mesh while roughing out my animation. Since the mesh is hidden everything moves much quicker. They can also be used to control the view of objects, so some may be shaded, some may be wire, some may be bounding boxes and some may be hidden.

You can also control which object are selectable. I found this to be a huge help in doing CA, so I could make parts of the rig unselectable, so I don't accidentally move them while animating. It also makes it very easy to select my control objects when I don't have to worry about grabbing a bone or other object be accident.

You can also use the layers to adjust what is rendered, so you can hide unneeded objects from rendering in a very busy scene, when you are working on one object.

By using layers, you can have objects invisible in the view that will still show up in a render, you can control the shading and wire color of each layer, to make it easier to differentiate between the objects in other layers. One of the best parts about this is it's extremely easy to tun the properties on or off for multiple layers. Just click and drag.

I personally prefer the object method of dealing with meshes over the layers method. It was odd, when i started using it, but I feel it's so much more powerful than the layer method that LightWave uses.

Basically each object is like a layer in LW, but it's completely self contained. If I move things in a layer in LW it completely screws up the pivot position of everything I moved. If I move objects in XSI the pivot positions all stay local with the objects.

Now, every time you create a new primitive in XSI it is created as it's own object with it's own pivot at it's center, where as in LW when you create a new object, it's pivot is tied to the center of the current layer.

If you want all you objects to act like they are in a single layer, you can merge them. If you want to edit multiple objects at the same time, but don't want to merge them into a single object you can just select multiple objects before editing.


A couple side notes:

XSI has a lot of really cool features that allow you to easily move or realign the pivot of an object to other objects either permanently, of temporarily. This is great for both modeling and animating. For example, you can temporarily move the pivot to the edge of a polygon to rotate the polygon along the edge. For animation, you can actually keyframe the position of the pivot. One of the best examples of this I've seen was rolling a cube by moving and keyframing the center to the edge you want to rotate around. You should definitely look up in pivots and centers in the online help.

Also, there are several things in XSI that can be simplified though basic scripting. In LW Scripting it very convoluted and requires you to learn a whole new (poorly documented) programming language. XSI uses multiple standard scripting languages like VSscript and Jscript for scripting, and you can do many basic things with little or no knowledge of these language, just be copying things from the log and modifying them slightly.

For example, you merging objects requires you to select objects, apply the merge operation, then select the various options you want. So merging a polygon cube and cone, chosing to delete the imput objects and merge the materials and UVs will look something like this in the script log:

ApplyGenOp "MeshMerge", , "cube,cone", 3, siPersistentOperation,
siKeepGenOpInputsSetValue "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh.tolerance", 0
TransferAllPropertiesAcrossGenOp "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh", "polymsh", , True
CopyAnimationAcrossGenerator "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh", 0, 2
SetValue "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh.inputreadregion", 0
DeleteGeneratorInputs "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh"
DeselectAll

Now I can copy this and create a button for it, so every time I select an object named cube and cone I can merge them with a sinlge click. Ok, that's not really that usefull, but if I modify it slightly I can use it to merge any polygon object I select in one click. See below:

Set oSel = Application.Selection

ApplyGenOp "MeshMerge", , oSel, 3, siPersistentOperation, siKeepGenOpInputs
SetValue "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh.tolerance", 0
TransferAllPropertiesAcrossGenOp "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh", "polymsh", , True
CopyAnimationAcrossGenerator "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh", 0, 2
SetValue "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh.inputreadregion", 0
DeleteGeneratorInputs "polymsh.polymsh.mergemesh"


Notice that I added the line Set oSel = Application.Selection
This simply sets the variable oSel to whatever I have selected in my scene.
In the ApplyGenOp line I have replaced "cube,cone" with oSel so that it now applies the merge operator to the selected objects (it can be more than 2).

This is a very hackish code, and there are going to be problems with it if you have objects that are not polygon meshes selected, or if you already have an object named polymsh in the scene. So while this isn't a greax example of code, it was very easy to create and can still be very useful if you are careful with it's use.

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit.

softdistortion
07-05-2007, 04:08 AM
Ethangar.... Hiya, good to see you drop in here. :)

mocaw
07-05-2007, 07:12 AM
Scene explorer (number "8" hot key) will get you most of what you need fairly quickly, but like most things in XSI there are a number of ways to get what you need.

Just don't try and treat XSI like lightwave for modeling and you'll be OK. It's powerful, but you need to use it on "its" terms.

Another fellow LW user who now mainly uses XSI BTW.

Noratio
07-05-2007, 11:22 AM
Layers are not that usefull and not referenced model friendly, so abandoned them. For objects I use groups and for points and polys clusters. For character last time I set visibility for separate parts and functions straight from characters controls ppg with expression. Layers I don't even think anymore.

Strang
07-05-2007, 05:55 PM
...Layers I don't even think anymore...

thats a bummer for you. they work just fine here. 5.x and 6.x with referenced models too :)

Noratio
07-05-2007, 06:31 PM
Glad to hear they are ok.

Ethangar
07-05-2007, 10:21 PM
Thanks for the input everyone. Its pretty much what I thought it would be then. I figured that if there was some grand use for them that they would have been mentioned or shown somewhere in my wanderings.

SBowling (Sam isn't it? ) Wow.. going above and beyond aren't you. Thanks for the in depth write up. I appreciate it a lot.

@mocaw: Yeah I figured that part out already. The way I put it was that in LW there is a hundred ways to do anything where in XSI there is only one... there is just a hundred ways to get AT it. :)

So far I've been really impressed with the capabilities of XSI and its by far the easiest to move to from LW. Buttons with text are my friend.. I'm icon-a-phobic. Where I fought for years against integrating LW into one app... I've gotta say that xsi is changing my mind. And now that rotoscoping works in v6. I'm happy. :)

SD!! Hows it going bud! Long time no read!

Sbowling
07-06-2007, 09:39 AM
SBowling (Sam isn't it? ) Wow.. going above and beyond aren't you. Thanks for the in depth write up. I appreciate it a lot.


I'm very... enthusiastic about XSI. I also come from a LW background and I've been amazed by what I was missing out on.


So far I've been really impressed with the capabilities of XSI and its by far the easiest to move to from LW. Buttons with text are my friend.. I'm icon-a-phobic. Where I fought for years against integrating LW into one app... I've gotta say that xsi is changing my mind. And now that rotoscoping works in v6. I'm happy. :)


I feel the same way, but I'm not as Icon-a-phobic as I used to be, and there are some places where they are much more useful than text.

withanar
07-07-2007, 01:19 AM
Since layers are a subclass of groups in XSI, they can do all the same things that groups and partitionas can with regards to overriding properties. This means, you can use layers to control far more than visibility or selectivity of their members. For example:

1- Create a new layer in your scene and call it "red"
2- In an explorer view, switch to the layer scope by pressing the L key
3- Select the red layer node
4- Get>Property>Display
5- Set the wireframe color of your display to red

Anything you add to the "red" layer will inherit the red wireframe display property.

This is just one example, but ultimately, you can override any animateable parameter at the layer level. I would suggest you use this power with some caution, since you don't want conflicts between groups, layers, and partitions. I typically don't override anything with layers that might impact my render.

Werner
07-07-2007, 04:56 PM
I was curious about XSI just like you. After two months, I have forgotten most of my LW methods (and shortcut keys), and I am a very, happy man.
I miss certain things about LW, but every time a have a question about XSI, I get 10 ways to solve the problem.

Ethangar
07-07-2007, 09:24 PM
With the things that I've been doing in LW for the last little while. LWCAD would be the biggest thing that I'd miss.

Its amazing how many XSI users that I've talked to lately have got a background in LW.

mocaw
07-07-2007, 10:15 PM
I think LW users want something that just "works" most of the time and are even willing to sacrafice some "bling" features for it. Add to it the interface that is LW user friendly, and excellent animation features along side instance etc. and you've got a program that replaces LW in many instances or augments it well (esp. if you add point oven). Scene management is so much better in XSI IMHO.

LW still has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to FX that XSI doesn't have quite working for it yet (at least as easily) but it seems those are being worked on (moon dust?). No reason to ditch LWCAD either- luckily importing LW models is fairly painless most of the time.

Werner- I thought you were just evaluating XSI- so you've jumped on board too eh? Well the more the merrier!

T4D
07-08-2007, 01:16 AM
I was curious about XSI just like you. After two months, I have forgotten most of my LW methods (and shortcut keys), and I am a very, happy man.
I miss certain things about LW, but every time a have a question about XSI, I get 10 ways to solve the problem.

WOW Werner Nice to see you here =)
I think your the last one to leave the LW building !! LOL :D ... :sad:

And your right but with the 10 ways to do everything the only problem is Working out which way to go LOL :D
tho a much more enjoyiable problem then before ;)

and we always miss the "little" things in workflow when we switch ,.. but it's funny as you work in XSI you find new ways of doing it and those "little" thing don't mean much any more because you gain more of everything else :bounce:

Ho Wacom current particle are extremely good compaire to the old tool,.
I'm doing a pretty heavy project now in them as the focus
YES learning curve it Steep ( like some parts of XSI )
MAN there's alot in there that is useful and stable ,. :thumbsup:
But I do look forward to the update to make it all easier to manager and not need to code so much.. :hmm:

Ethangar
07-08-2007, 02:30 AM
I was curious about XSI just like you. After two months, I have forgotten most of my LW methods (and shortcut keys), and I am a very, happy man.
I miss certain things about LW, but every time a have a question about XSI, I get 10 ways to solve the problem.

Nice to hear of your experiences in the change over Werner. I still have some of your work in LW on my hard drive as inspiration. It hasn't worked yet on getting me to try character work.. but ZB 3 might start me down the path. :)

So far the only real thing that continues to trip me up is a and Shift+a not being the same as LW. There is a lot of years of habit there to now change to f :)

Werner
07-08-2007, 09:32 AM
The idea was to add XSI to my toolset, but found that it opened so many doors. Don't get me wrong. I still love LW and will not take it off my pc soon, but XSI is giving me much more and it was real easy to jump ship. The modeling tools are great, and I love how easy it is to render seperate passes. Nodes in LW helped me to understand the Render Tree, and animation is fun again. I am a very happy man.

There is so much more that I have to learn and the people at Luma Studios (http://www.lumastudios.co.za) I work with makes it very enjoyable and easy.

Nice to see lots of LW people here.

fozz
07-08-2007, 02:44 PM
Ethangar, it might help to adjust some of the default hotkeys into a more "LW'ish" manner. When I started learning XSI I tried to keep the original layout so it would be easier to follow tutorials and the like, but... as soon as I got into the XSI way of doing things, I started adjusting the hotkeys as I saw fit. And it helped me alot to iron out a few hard edges I had with XSI workflow. Still think XSI's default hotkeys are a bit weird.

Ethangar
07-08-2007, 03:13 PM
I've thought about doing that. I'm still a little to new at it right now. And having LW still on my PC likely isn't helping me at all. When I start to get frustrated with not knowing how to do something or it just doesn't make sense to the LW side of my brain, I just scoot back to LW and do it. There is no pressure to learn. One of the advantages of being a hobbiest :)

mocaw
07-08-2007, 08:14 PM
I'm a HUGE proponent of NOT changing keys esp. early on in learning an application. Quite a few of the keys in XSI have multiple functions when combined with the mouse and ctl keys...I guess after you know it well enough you can translate it in your head when following a tutorial...but for me it's easier just to take apps as they come and learn their set.

I'm sure a huge portion of my mind has devoured by memorizing key sets much like a London cab driver's internal map of London streets has.

Just my 2 pennies of joy on the subject...

On a side note: I was recently helping a friend over the phone with something in XSI AND LW and I couldn't remeber which key did what. I had to go sit at the computer and go through the motions- the ctrl keys I know are such second nature that many of them I have no idea what they really are- only my "hands" know! I bet this isn't that uncommon amongst most comptuer users from those doing 3D down to someone typing in an office!

Ethangar
07-08-2007, 10:30 PM
I'm a HUGE proponent of NOT changing keys esp. early on in learning an application.
On a side note: I was recently helping a friend over the phone with something in XSI AND LW and I couldn't remeber which key did what. I had to go sit at the computer and go through the motions- the ctrl keys I know are such second nature that many of them I have no idea what they really are- only my "hands" know! I bet this isn't that uncommon amongst most comptuer users from those doing 3D down to someone typing in an office!

Here here. Thats the main reason that I'm leaving things alone for right now. Once I figure out how all this fits together then maybe I'll play with them. By then though I'll likely be comfortable with them :)

Been there on the Hands Know. I don't know how many times I've had to sit in front of the K/B to "see" what they are doing. Mind you that doesn't help that I've screwed around with the LW keymaps and my layout looks nothing like the default one. That and I actually use the mouse menu's where most seem not to.

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