PDA

View Full Version : Moitionbuilder 5 or will LW 8 be just as good?


nessjp
10-11-2003, 12:54 AM
Hi,

I keep getting these letters from Kaydara that I can upgrade to MotionBuilder 5 for $200 if I get it before Dec. 31 as part of the promotional 3D world offer a few months back.

I am still an amateur and am only just starting to dabble with the animation side of LW so this has really been of no concern yet.

As I venture into this part of the program, it sounds like Motionbuilder is the app to have to make up for LW shortcomings in animation. However, with LW 8 focusing on the animation side of the program, will it now be comparable to MotionBuilder?

Does MotionBuilder make rigging and animating an easier process?

Although I have not done any yet, it seems overwhelming and I would like simplicity.

I Was never able to get the demo/trial Motionbuilder installed due to some licensing errors or something so I cannot try it and see for myself. The $200 permanent version will ship me the box, cd, manual, tutorials, etc., so installing that version I would assume would not give me any issues.

I guess, I also should consider the fact that Motionbuilder would work for other apps as well and it would normally cost me $1000 so I should probably buy it anyway. Will it work with LW 8?

Thanks

Triple G
10-11-2003, 01:53 AM
Take a look here: http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=93809

takkun
10-11-2003, 02:43 AM
Lightwave 8 definitely won't have all the bells and whistles of Motionbuilder 5 (like the auto lip sync and the story timeline) but it looks like it will have a comparable IK system and the abilities of a mini-dopesheet like Keytrak. Both are looking to be good solutions, but I'm going to wait for LW8 before making a decision.

geoff3dnz
10-11-2003, 06:43 AM
This is bugging me ;) A single object key editor ain't a dopesheet, not even a mini-dopesheet. I've already bought LW8, so I'm still hoping there's time for me to be pleasantly surprised with a proper dopesheet :) I've already got KeyTrak, and while very cool, it is lacking the fundemental thing that a dopesheet has - the ability to view/edit multiple keys of multiple objects at once. And don't say use the graph editor ;) I have to admit though, when a significant amount of Lightwave users don't even know what a dopesheet is, it's not surprising that it's not there... (based on another thread at newtek's forums)

I'm not getting at you Takkun, I'm just bummed ;)

rock
10-11-2003, 07:19 AM
I could be wrong but I don't think MotionBuilder 5 has complete dynamics - soft, hard, cloth, fluid, fur. Therefore, you still need something like LW8 or Maya 5 for animation.

LFGabel
10-11-2003, 09:43 AM
No, I don't think MB has dynamics... and I hope it stays that way. It's strength is animation. I'd hate to see that watered down.

What do I love about MB? To name a few:
- realtime playback (no playblasts/previews)
- unbreakable rig that's setup in 2 seconds (provided you've named your bones correctly)
- animating in layers
- mocap if you want it
- using only part of a mocap, keyframing the rest

You still have to know a bit about rigging, because MB doesn't do absolutely everything for you, but it comes pretty darn close.

It's a great addition to the LW toolset. I've upgraded to both MB5 and LW8.

Miyazaki
10-11-2003, 10:40 AM
I agree with ifgabel. For 200$, MB`s a must-have. Realtime playback, pose editor, fast IK/FK, NLA animation system, node based expressions, motion capture support, helpful user support. I don`t wanna miss it. MB is a great addition to the LW toolset. And it`s very easy to learn (to tell the truth the most easy one I`ve ever used) cause it`s not glutted with unnecessary stuff.
It`s an addition to LW, not a competitor.

ngrava
10-12-2003, 06:45 AM
Originally posted by Miyazaki
I agree with ifgabel. For 200$, MB`s a must-have. Realtime playback, pose editor, fast IK/FK, NLA animation system, node based expressions, motion capture support, helpful user support. I don`t wanna miss it. MB is a great addition to the LW toolset. And it`s very easy to learn (to tell the truth the most easy one I`ve ever used) cause it`s not glutted with unnecessary stuff.
It`s an addition to LW, not a competitor.

Uhg! No, this is bugging me! First of all, I get like two emails from Kaydara a week bugging me about Motion builder 5. My biggest issue with it is that the hardest thing about the animation process is rigging. Adding bones, moving them around, testing them to make sure theyíre moving the right parts of the body. They do absolutely nothing to help you out there. You need to do all your rigging in your 3d animation package. You know, the one that sucks so bad at rigging that you bought Motion builder in the first place? If Kaydara wanted to make it easy they would have just included drop in skeletons! What's up with that? It also took a ton of users, all helping each other out, to figure out how to get it to work with LightWave in the first place. How is that great support? And it doesnít always work either. And another thing I donít like is that if Kaydara arenít going to add any extra things like rigging, dynamics or even custom deformers, then at least they could make it easer to add that stuff to your animation in your other animation program. Oh well.

So, since we're comparing MB5 with LW8 let's have a look at that list again:
Real-time playback - Well... it is fast. But I wouldn't call it real-time. LightWave has to handle a lot more though.
pose editor - Yep, this will be in 8
fast IK/FK - The new IK system in 8 works just like Kaydara's. It's not goal based and allows you to re-rig on the fly. Iíve seen it in action and itís really great.
NLA animation system - motion mixer has been around for a while. I never use that stuff anyway.
node based expressions - There are plugins for this too.
motion capture support - Yep. this too.

Add to that, soft and hard body dynamics, cloth, particles, ect., ect.

I'd wait and see if I where you. There will still be another month or so after 8 comes out for you to take advantage of the Kaydara promotion.

LFGabel
10-12-2003, 08:22 AM
Originally posted by ngrava
They do absolutely nothing to help you out there. You need to do all your rigging in your 3d animation package.

Bone placement and weighting is a very small part of the rigging process, and probably the easiest part....

It also took a ton of users, all helping each other out, to figure out how to get it to work with LightWave in the first place. How is that great support?

MB 4 was also a rewrite of FilmBox... kind of like LW6 was to LW 5.6. There's always going to be a few bugs in a first new release. Was LW6 bug free? As for support, the Kaydara forums are and continue to be great, with many employees, as well as the president, helping resolve bugs.

And it doesnít always work either.

True, I had a few little problems in the beginning, but that's ancient history.

And another thing I donít like is that if Kaydara arenít going to add any extra things like rigging, dynamics or even custom deformers, then at least they could make it easer to add that stuff to your animation in your other animation program. Oh well.

I think you're missing the point of MB, which is its animation capabilities; to do one thing and do it well. It doesn't do modeling. It doesn't do dynamics and deformers. That's what LW (or Maya or Max) is for.

So, since we're comparing MB5 with LW8 let's have a look at that list again:
<...snip...>

Yes LW8 is looking darn impressive, and I am glad I made the smart choice to upgrade to LW8. I'm also glad that I got in with MB when I did. I agree that LW can do all the same stuff MB can do, but for me, the workflow in MB just rocks. MB was designed for animation. Period. That is the reason it excels. LW excels for many other reasons.

I'd wait and see if I where you....

Yeah, waiting is one alternative. Taking a small risk is another. Sometimes risks pay off bigtime. All I can say is my pocketbook is darn glad I made the choice to include MB in my list of tools, not because of the money I saved, but the money I've earned as a freelancer with MB & LW. And that's not for lack of trying in LW either. It was the workflow in MB that was a huge selling point.

We all choose our tools for different reasons. MB & LW worked for me and I will continue to use both. There's no need to convince me to upgrade to LW8...

ngrava
10-12-2003, 09:36 PM
Originally posted by lfgabel
[B]Bone placement and weighting is a very small part of the rigging process, and probably the easiest part....

I think we must be thinking about two different things here. I donít know anything about your background so I donít mean to sound condescending but Iíve been doing computer animation for over 8 years. Mainly in commercials. Rigging has always been the worst and least intuitive part of the whole process. Thatís why we see all these auto rigging plugins now a days. There are people whoís job is just to rig characters. Sure, placing bones is not that hard. But putting them in exactly the right place so they deform the joints correctly is. when your building characters for commercials, they need to move right in the first place but they also need to fit each animators style. Weight mapping is by far the worst part of the rigging process. Some people can do it in a few hours but it still takes some tweaking afterwards when the animators get there hands on it. And, if your using MB, you have to have a weight map for each and every joint. I really donít like that process at all. I usually use weight maps to separate the main parts of the body where bones might be grabbing geometry I donít want them to grab. Like the fingers and the two separate legs. Anyway, to me, Modeling and animation is part of the art of CG so itís sort of allowed to take a little while (in an odd sort of way). Rigging, although an art into itís self, is mostly technical and has a tendency to hold up the whole process.

I think you're missing the point of MB, which is its animation capabilities; to do one thing and do it well. It doesn't do modeling. It doesn't do dynamics and deformers. That's what LW (or Maya or Max) is for.

Hm, I was obviously not being very clear here. My point is that when you export your animation back into LW, you canít add to it with cloth, dynamics or other thins because itís a pre deformed mesh whoís topology always changes. So, if you use Motion Builder, you have to animate everything in there.

We all choose our tools for different reasons. MB & LW worked for me and I will continue to use both. There's no need to convince me to upgrade to LW8...

Agreed.

I guess I should really just say that I donít like being constrained by the process. I need flexibility. I found MB to be very strict about itís process. Some people find that this process fits them just fine. I like to be able to rig a little, test it out, rig a little more, test, build some morphs (and not just the ones Kaydara ďletĒ you use) and test it out a little more just to make sure things are working as good as they can. I found it difficult to do this with Motion Builder.

-=GB=-

Mike RB
10-12-2003, 09:44 PM
I with LFGable here. I rigged 40 of so characters at work at the rate of about 2 a day. 20 days is nothing compared to how long it takes to produce animation. Quality character animation is by far the longer of the 2 tasks...

Mike

ngrava
10-12-2003, 10:01 PM
Longer, yes. But animation is supposed to take time. we spent over 2 weeks rigging the slim-a-bear for the Klondike commercials that I just got done with. Animation is also a progressive thing. a Producer can look at it and see that your making progress. With rigging, it's "Your not done yet?!". I should add that this is a rather unique case since we had someone outside of our studio doing the rigging so the process was hindered by that more then anything else.

I guess I really shouldn't have said it was the part that took the longest. I guess I really should have left it as being the least intuitive.

By the way, you rigged 20 characters, two days each?!! What's your number? Maybe you'd like to work for us sometime. ;) Seriously, that's pretty fast. Did all the characters have individual skeletons and setups?

Mike RB
10-12-2003, 10:05 PM
they had similar skeletons that just needed to be resized or small additions made, and I had to weight them by hand but seeing as they were game characters its a little easier than photoreal stuff.

Mike.

LFGabel
10-13-2003, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by ngrava
And, if your using MB, you have to have a weight map for each and every joint. I really donít like that process at all. I usually use weight maps to separate the main parts of the body where bones might be grabbing geometry I donít want them to grab. Like the fingers and the two separate legs.

NGrava, I just finished a commercial in MB/LW where I used weight maps on the legs, fingers (as a group) and head only. Whoever told you that MB needs weights on every bone is wrong. You can do it that way, but you don't have to... I don't do it that way for the say reasons you don't. It doesn't need to be that complicated.

Hm, I was obviously not being very clear here. My point is that when you export your animation back into LW, you canít add to it with cloth, dynamics or other thins because itís a pre deformed mesh whoís topology always changes. So, if you use Motion Builder, you have to animate everything in there.

Your source of information is wrong. MB just bakes the rotation/translation/scale of bones and any other object you want to animate in MB. It does *no* mesh deformation. So when back in LW, you can add dynamics, cloth, whatever. This is what i look forward to doing in LW8.

I guess I should really just say that I donít like being constrained by the process. I need flexibility. I found MB to be very strict about itís process. Some people find that this process fits them just fine. I like to be able to rig a little, test it out, rig a little more, test, build some morphs (and not just the ones Kaydara ďletĒ you use) and test it out a little more just to make sure things are working as good as they can. I found it difficult to do this with Motion Builder.

Again, let me clarify some of your misinformation. MB lets you use any morph you want to. In my most recent project I had morphs affecting truck tires and suspension, as well as altering clothing, in addition to my own facial morphs for lip synch (I think the ones MB suggests you use are overkill). And I only go to MB at the last step. I do all the same things you are describing in LW... bone placement/pose testing, make a few morphs, test some more... etc. Then when I'm happy, I export to MB for the final rigging phase.

My point was that if you have a general understanding of anatomy, placing bones is simple. Weighting 2 legs, perhaps 2 arms, fingers (as a group) and a head/eyes is simple. MB takes care of the rest of the complicated rigging process by creating a very robust rig to animate with. This saves time to focus more on animation.

It works for me.

LFGabel
10-13-2003, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by ngrava
By the way, you rigged 20 characters, two days each?!! What's your number? Maybe you'd like to work for us sometime. ;) Seriously, that's pretty fast. Did all the characters have individual skeletons and setups?

FYI, on another project, I was able to rig 21 characters in 5 days with MB (eye targeting, morphs, constrained props, etc.). But that was without using bone weighting. We were on a tight deadline and it worked pretty well for the most part, although I really prefer to use some simple weighting. That speaks a lot to the amount of time MB can save...

skritter
10-13-2003, 02:49 PM
Lee..... Workflow Question!

I have just bought MB5 and looking forward to getting LW8 to work together with it. I would classify myself as an experienced newby.

I have a major school project I am working on... the first I will be doing with any major type character anim. and lyp syncing.
I am not to sure about the work flow of doing the and body animation and lyp sinc . Of course I want to use MB as much as possible. ()guess who running behind on project time ).

You seem to have a bit of experience - could you share your workflow procedures.

LFGabel
10-13-2003, 10:41 PM
Originally posted by skritter
Lee..... Workflow Question!

... I am not to sure about the work flow of doing the and body animation and lyp sinc . Of course I want to use MB as much as possible. ()guess who running behind on project time ).

You seem to have a bit of experience - could you share your workflow procedures.

Well first, all I have seen of MB5 is from the 3dbuzz.com videos. I have ordered it, my creditcard has been charged, so all I can assume is it is in transit.

So this is how I would work in MB 4... It is easier in MB5 I would guess.

I did my modeling, bone placement (skelegons), weighting (L&R legs, head, fingers as a group, arms as a group)

In layout setup your skeletom hierarchy. If you have trouble with the skeleton, there is a skeleton file in the Motionbuilder forum on CGTalk. For eyes I add eye bones in the head and set up a mini ik chain for each eye. Then I weight each eye to the corresponding eye bone.

Note: If you are going to have multiple characters in a shot, name their bones with a prefix to keep each character unique. This is a little annoying, and cloes slow characterization in MB a little because you have to manually drag and drop bones, instead of automation... but really... how hard is drag and drop? :)

Do some deformation tests (make a pose using FK) and look for bad bending. Tweak your weighting and/or bone strength, falloff, joint compression, etc.

Apply morph mixer to your character's head or whatever else in your scene that needs morphs (it can be a separate object on a different layer if you want).

Export to FBX and do the rest of your setup in MB (characterize the skeleton, add 2 IK constraints for the eyes, add a position constraint to the eye goal to keep it with the character... let me elaborate).

For the eye goal, parent the goal to a null and position constraint that null to the character's body... hips, neck, head, whatever. Your choice.

Setup your morph targets, by using a character head and an actor head to drive it.

If you need props that the character interacts with, or proxy objects, prepare them in LW, and export them to FBX. Append them to your scene and parent them to the _FBX_Root node. Same goes for the Camera.

Animate! Use what

With morphs, make sure there is no overshoot on the fcurves, so either flatten your curves (ease in/out) or use linear interpolation. It's easier to adjust your fcurves in MB.

When your animation is done, you select the _FBX_Root node, right-click and choose "select all branches". Plot your animation, which essentially "bakes" the translation/rotation/scale on all the bones and objects you have animated.

With everything still selected, go to FIle>Save As and save a new file. Go back to your original LW scene and "Merge with FBX".

Light your scene, replace proxies, add whatever else, like dynamics, etc., and render.

It's actually pretty simple.

That's what I do in MB4/LW7.5. The process may be more streamlined in MB5/LW8.

I hope that helps.

skritter
10-14-2003, 03:34 AM
Thanks for the reply Lee - Much appreciated, I'll take my time and go through the steps.

If you have paid for MB5 they should have sent you an email with your mb5 Serial (its the serial, you apperently need, with the box version anyway). They do the new ones every Friday. Then you can download 5 (36mb) and start using it right away while you wait for the box.

I did make a querry about it though - so maybe you need to email them first before they send it to you.

PauHana
10-14-2003, 06:21 AM
Hey NGRAVA,
What studio are you at? I noticed your in Portland...you wouldn't happen to be a Vinton Studio.


Peace,
PauHana

LFGabel
10-14-2003, 07:15 AM
Originally posted by skritter
Thanks for the reply Lee - Much appreciated, I'll take my time and go through the steps.

If you have paid for MB5 they should have sent you an email with your mb5 Serial (its the serial, you apperently need, with the box version anyway). They do the new ones every Friday. Then you can download 5 (36mb) and start using it right away while you wait for the box.

I did make a querry about it though - so maybe you need to email them first before they send it to you.

Skritter,

Thanks! Never knew about that. I've been too busy over the last little while to actually check that out.

Thanks!

ngrava
10-18-2003, 03:35 AM
Originally posted by PauHana
Hey NGRAVA,
What studio are you at? I noticed your in Portland...you wouldn't happen to be a Vinton Studio.


Peace,
PauHana

No, not anymore. My Friends David Daniels, Michael O'Donnal and I started the LightWave Department at Vinton's back in 93. David's responsible for getting Chips Ahoy, Raid, the M&M's and a bunch of other commercials. these where all done in LightWave. The studio started using Maya and has pretty much dropped LightWave. Anyway, I was laid off in 2000 and am now at Bent Image Lab (http://www.bentimagelab.com) . David is now one of the directors at Bent.

-=GB=-

PauHana
10-18-2003, 04:11 AM
Thanks for the reply. You guys do sweet work over at Bent Images! Hope to one day move up to Portland and work at Bent Images or Vinton Studio. Great stuff!
Speaking of rigging. Does your studio have a designated person or do all the animators rig their own characters?

Peace,
PauHana

ngrava
10-18-2003, 04:47 AM
Thanks! We definitely don't have a dedicated rigging person. with Klondike we had someone outside the studio do it but I think I'll probably be doing most of rigging from now on just due to having to go back and forth every time you need some changes. The Klondike bear was difficult because you don't really know how the fur is going to react to th deformations until you render it and that can take up to four hours a frame. Sasquatch is a beast. I really hope we don't have to use it again. ;)

-=GB=-

CGTalk Moderation
01-16-2006, 07:00 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.