View Full Version : Tips and Tricks

07 July 2003, 04:48 AM
Well, since I didn't see a thread like this in here, I figured I'd start it up.

So here's my tip: SPHERIZE

I know a few of you probably already know this but if you're having trouble with bone deformations in jointed areas..just slap a spherize effect on your mesh and parent it to the bone your having troubles with and play with the settings. You'll be pleasantly suprised. For the longest time I could get a shoulder to look right when I bent the bicep bone. So I parented a spherize effect to the shoudler and vvvvrrrrroooooommmmm!

please feel free to add to this tips and tricks thread no matter how small of a tip it might be.


07 July 2003, 05:37 AM
Ooo. Ooo. while we're talking about spherize, here's another one.

if you need a visual reference for a spherize effect, create a procedural sphere (setup->tools subtab ->procedural)
and set it's scale to 2.0

parent it to the spherize null, and you have a visual representation of the actual radius.

08 August 2003, 04:17 PM
If you can, try and keep your models facing the + Z axis. Some of your expressions won't calculate correctly if something is facing towards the - Z. (at least some of MY expressions didn't calc right)

Don't know if it's really a tip or just a personal preference but there it is nonetheless.


08 August 2003, 10:47 PM
If you need to edit a lot of redundant expressions, do so in a text editor. After you have the expressions worked out, create a coresponding number of blank expressions in messiah. From there copy the worked out expressions (from the text editor) one by one back into the new blank expressions.

08 August 2003, 05:11 PM
To export a Depth Channel from messiah, apply the FogBasic Shader to the Cameras Atmosphere material. Connect the "Depth" output of the fog shader to the "color" input of the Atmosphere.
Render ;-)
To easier control the fog, make two Null objects "Fog_Near" and "Fog_Far" and add the following expressions:

Dist(Fog_Near, Camera, NOW, NOW)

Connect this expression to the "FogBasic"::min_depth Channel.

Dist(Fog_Far, Camera, NOW, NOW)

Connect this expression to the FogBasic::max_depth Channel.

Now you can easily adjust the start and endpoint of your Fog/Depth with those two Nulls.

09 September 2003, 02:58 PM
The FogBasics depth-channel output can be used for other things too: Feed the depth output to the "u" input of a gradient to control the gradient with depth.

Or fade objects with distance with the depth channel connected to transparency.

Or use it to fade the camera material "ground" into the background material so you get a soft transition from the ground into the sky. Very useful ;-)

09 September 2003, 12:12 AM
If you're using Direct & Sky lighting, and your scene appears too bright, you can use the Render->Output->Tone Mapping options to correct this (note that Gamma does not affect final output).

However, if you feel that only the lights need to have less intensity, you don't have to modify the intensity on each individual light. Just go to the LightMaster for those lights and modify the Global Intensity Factor. This will affect the intensity of all lights contained in that LightMaster.

Also, you can use the Global Colorize channel to change the hue of all lights contained in that LightMaster. The closer you get to 1.0, the more the contained lights will take on the color of the LightMaster.


09 September 2003, 02:07 PM
One thing I use like crazy when animating are the master-dope-dots above the graph editor - if you haven't used them yet, be sure to give them a try - it may completely change the way you animate.
With them, you can easily move your keys, duplicate them (with Alt-Key down after start dragging) etc. Since they respect your channel settings (individual, group, all...) you can very efficiently work on the timing of your scene. If you move such a dot over an existing one, it will be overwritten (handy for copying a default pose over something "twisted" ;-)
You can also multiselect those dots (Shift/Strg an/or rectangle selection) to move/copy entire ranges and if multiple objects are selected, you can even move their keys all together.

Have fun :)

10 October 2003, 10:09 AM
While I was in the midst of performing some necessary render tests, I made use of the carpaint material that Kelly Vernon posted. Very nice:})

The basic premise of creating convincing carpaint materials is in thinking in paint layers. Basically, you want a base coat & a gloss coat and you'd simulate this by creating layered specular "reflections" (that's a simplification, but you get the point).

Just as Kelly did in the original carpaint material, many users have taken to using the Matte shader to create the layered speculars. This will work, but it can yeild much slower renders. This is because the Matte shader does much of the work of rendering; it will perform many rendering operations, when all you really need is to layer specularity.

The best way to combat this problem is to use the Gradient shader instead. On the Input Parameters tab, just activate Light, Camera, and Compute Light & Camera as Specular. Then just modify the Specularity and Glossiness on that same gradient. (be sure to connect the color or value output of the gradient to the specularity input on the material.)

Not only will this compute faster, you'll have a great deal more control. In addition to the Specular and Glossiness parameters, you can modify the Light & Camera channels. Not to mention the fact that you can actually "design" your gradient;})

Here's a modified carpaint, based on Kelly's original, that uses Gradient instead of Matte.

Red Carpaint Material (

Feel free to modify it further. I was careful to mimic Kelly's material design, but you could probably simplify it by removing the first gradient and ramping the base material's specularity (depends on your needs). You may also want to try layering the specular_color input using color gradients for different effects. Throw in a little noise offset on those gradients and things will start to get even more interesting:)

Here's a simple test render using the modified carpaint. It's nothing too special, and the model isn't very high quality (downloaded it of the Net), but it gives a good representation of the material.

Well... hmmm... come to think of it, that image isn't really demonstrating any of the specular layering. There are no lights (you need standard light sources for specular to have any affect), it's all standard reflection/cards & Monte Carlo, which provides for more convincing lighting. But the same principle applies: you can layer the reflection input instead of specularity. It all depends on your render methods and the needs of the scene. Whatever it is, the shaderflow is quite flexible and should be up to the task.

I hope you find this tip useful:})


10 October 2003, 06:51 PM
This isn't a tip that I have found out about myself, it is brought up by Marek and Wes on the mailinglist and since it is esential to successfully using the MotionDynamics, I thought I put it on this list - thanks guys for that one! :bowdown:

Here you go:
If you make springs with the MotionDynamics, be it normal Springs or Hold Springs, be sure to make them affect only rotation, not translation.
To do that, you have to expand the spring with the little plus sign, expand further the affected objects and remove the little checkmarks from xpos, ypos and zpos. After that, your springs should behave much more "as expected".

I'm a happy camper now - although I have no idea why this works the way it does... :)

10 October 2003, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by Thomas_Helzle
I'm a happy camper now - although I have no idea why this works the way it does... :)

Your spring nodes need not be a hierarchy, so you may not need rotation. However, rotation may be relevant if your objects are in a hierarchy. However, you'll have to decide how you want that hierarchy to behave. This is why the added options exist. Rather than locking you into one specific way, we decided to let you choose.


10 October 2003, 06:33 PM
Originally posted by Thomas_Helzle
But why is there no rotation when position is active? I like to have options, but the rabbit-ear problem is only solvable if I deactivate translations for the holdsprings - position seems to totally overwrite any rotation. That is what I don't understand and what has taken users months to figure out...

I don't find it logical.

You didn't find it logical in this particular case, but you will when you start to use motiondynamics for other projects. In any case, one *has* to override the other. But it's a simple matter to change this behavior. Just select all the springs you want to modify in the list (not need to expand them all), and enable/disable the channels on one; all selected will be updated.

In later updates, we'll of course explore ways to make this all much easier.

As always, thanx for the feedback:thumbsup:


10 October 2003, 08:42 AM
For those who use Messiah in combination with LW there a a is a nice LW_Plugin written by an ex college of mine the allmighty Richard Derancourt called DisplacementBaker.[/URL]

Its very useful for rendering softbodies (and other softbodylike effects that are timedriven) over the network. Everyone who uses messiah/LW and needs networkrendering should get a copy.

The man also wrote a nice and robust networkrenderingapplication for LW called NightOwl. (sorry no site. If interested, you should contact him via the link I mentioned earlier)

Big it up!

11 November 2003, 06:45 PM
if you need different rotation ratios for bones, you can
Eliminate using multiple expressions by using more than one copy of a channel in a single expression


(finger1 pitch)

+ Fingerfan pitch
+ Finger2 pitch
+ Finger2 pitch
+ Finger3 pitch
+ Finger3 pitch
+ Finger3 pitch

So finger2 rotates twice as much as fingerfan, and finger 3 rotates 3 times as much as Fingerfan.

just highlight the channel and click the copy button to duplicate it.


11 November 2003, 04:24 AM
tip by jipe:

When we need to parent a Flex Effect to a Bone (like for a Bicep Bulge for example, we would parent the Flex Effect to the Upper Arm Bone so that when the Bone Rotates the Flex Points go along with it instead of being floating in space), we need to parent it with Parent in Place, doing so, it will allow us to then click and add the points were we click on the screen, if Parent in Place isn´t used to parent the Flex Effect to the Bone when we click to add the poinst those will will appear where we dont want them. So be sure to always use Parent in Place :D

My Fault
11 November 2003, 04:33 AM
Could someone explain Parent in Place to me? I'm not exactly sure of it's use and how it works.


11 November 2003, 04:48 AM
Parent in Place is a feature to parent one item to another but retaining the parented item on the same location, for example:

item A is on 10 Y Axis and item B is on 0 Y Axis

If u parent item A to item B with normal parenting, item A will move into item B pivot point, meaning that item A will be on the exact same spot as item B.

Using Parent in Place, item A will retain the 10 on Y axis but it´s now a child of item B, if u move item B, item A will move along.

In Messiah to use Parent in Place go to:

Setup Tab---Items---Parent in Place

Then u FIRST choose the item that is going to be the Parent, in this case the item B, then Ctrl select the item to be parented wich is item A, check the Keep Position and press Parent :wip:

Hope i was clear

My Fault
11 November 2003, 04:57 AM
Aaaah, so basically exactly what it says :p

I can't believe I missed that. Sometimes my brain is s..l..o..w..

Thanks for the info Sil3!!

One more quick question. Where is there more info on armatures? Does the complete package come with more thorough docs?

11 November 2003, 05:05 AM
I believe that the docs u get with the demo are the same that are included on the complete package, be sure to visit pMG webpage in the download area and see the 2 Armature videos that Fred made.

U can also join Messiah mailing list on yahoogroups and frequent the #messiah3d channel on IRC at freenode to clear out doubts and get tips etc etc

Messiah user base are very helpfull , we all learn lot´s of stuff from each other :applause:

11 November 2003, 01:10 PM
My fault, when u get ur messiah.
assigh parent in place & unparent in place as hotkeys and it will do the same thing as going to the item tab in setup and clicking on parent in place and additional selection of position and rotation. now if you want 1 or the other, then u got to go there but if u always want both, then the hotkeys are for u.

Go to customize and set your Undo levels.

My Fault
11 November 2003, 05:41 PM
Very cool.

Now I count the days until Joe's cd's show up!

11 November 2003, 03:38 AM
OK here's a tip for setting Armature Controller Drag handles.
After you set the handle up add another handle, but make it a Click(type) and Controller Select(action).
this way when you're animating with the armature handle, it's corresponding bone will show up in the graph editor so you can tweak the spline as needed. Just make sure you turn off any handles you're not going to be using.

Thanks Fred, you saved me a big headache.


11 November 2003, 01:38 AM
To use Messiah’s depth buffer output, you need to enable the “Modify Output Buffer” option. This is located under the “Buffers” list in the extended interface area, i.e. press F3. The “Minimum Value” is best left at 0. This instructs messiah to start calculating the depth from the camera’s position. The “Maximum Value” should be set to the maximum distance from the camera you want to calculate depth for.

11 November 2003, 04:48 PM
If you ever load an older scene into messiah and your viewsettings dont work as expected, your Preview doesnt record as expected, and your reticle-mask doesnt draw ...

Create a Blank scene in messiah with Camera and a Null only.
Save it.
Load your old-scene.
Append the BlankScene and then erase the new camera and Null.
Voila !

Your viewsettings will work, you can record your previews, and your Camera Reticle works.


Most of the times this trick works.
I encountered crashes in a complex scene where Camera is part of a hierarchy and its position/rotation is manipulated via expressions. :rolleyes:

11 November 2003, 09:09 PM

Ok ... I thought this was pretty cool. As Joe and Lyle suggested, you can add a procedural sphere to the spherize effect to get some real-time visual feedback on just what area it's affecting. The procedural sphere is a child of the Null in this case.

To do this with the Bloat effect ... it's a tad different. The Bloat effect just kinda sits in the background while it's effect is being carried over to the Metaeffector it's been assigned to ... so to have a visual reference of the Bloat effect ... add a procedural sphere as a child to the MetaEffector_Effector. That's right - not the MetaEffector group, but rather the Effector. You can scale the Effector and the procedural sphere will scale down with it.

11 November 2003, 03:29 PM
Let say that u made a very cool animation in LW or Maya using their own tools and you want to Load it into messiah either for rendering or as part of a new animation.
U bake the displacement using MD_Scan, save the mdd file.
Run messiah, Load the geometry and apply PointOven Player.

Or ...
You have a cool procedural animation done with LW procedural texture displacement, or a cool procedural landscape. You can now pass it to messiah in a similar way

Or ... You have animation in messiah that you have to animate 45 characters on the deck of Titanic. Having 45 setups, expressions, muscles, controls, will slow down even the most powerful OpenGL card and CPU.
You bake all these characters in MDD files and you load and play them using PointOven Player, so now you can focus on the animation of the protagonists, or on that Camera perfect shot.

Or ... use PointOven as a simple mediator to send displacements for one package to the other.

I can write so many potential uses of PointOven ...

MARK WILSON is the man, @ Passion Pictures ...
and this is only the LiteVersion :bounce:

11 November 2003, 11:36 PM
A link to Pointoven?

11 November 2003, 11:45 PM

or get info from

for all messiah plugins

11 November 2003, 05:16 PM
Hey Joe (Cosman) ..I am using your setup with this rig where the
hands are part of the IK controller, this creates a new problem when
switching to FK because the hand still follows because its part of
that hierarchy and not the arm. Any suggestions?

What I did!:
I've made a extra null. Parented to the IK_Control then "UnParent-in-
place" to copy the position/rotation then I drag the hand bones to
the "extra null. I created a DynamicParenting expression that uses
the same slider as the IK_FK expression does and it worked but its
not the prettiest thing in the world and it took some trial and

Did you ever plan for your upperarm Ik to be FK/IK compatiable?

12 December 2003, 04:08 PM
the answer is quite simple...



Orient/Moveto the OrientWrist to Wrist, and apply keyfader() to it.

This setup is in the Animation Cd, which I'm working on right now.

12 December 2003, 12:44 AM
Originally posted by JoeCosman
This setup is in the Animation Cd, which I'm working on right now.

My wallet's always open for you, Joe ;)

12 December 2003, 11:13 AM

Not necessary a tutorial (but I will do one if its still vague).

This is for everyone who wants to do a character with the skirt


** There are two collision proxie spheres:
1 parented to the Thigh and other to the shin.
So you wil have to add more objects for parts you want to collide.

There are some collision rules to SBD clothes in messiah

1. You must add some thickness to your CLOTH model for pressure. Not necessary for SBD effects but for collision - yes!
2 Its better to use collision objects (preferablly spheres but u can make crude replicas of the objects (collision proxies) that will the colliding objects)
a. use radius for edge adjust
b. set your collision radius

3 For lightwavers, Do not use layered objects..create separate objects for body, the cloth and the collision proxy objects
4. Keep replacing objects to a minimal, SBD sometimes use the same deformation information from previous object on ur new object when you replace.
5. Write your sbd settings down
6. sbd is realtime, so it can change from playback to playback
check setting to make sure you get the same repeated performance..sometimes it could be the metanurbs slowing down playback or such.
7. Good starting point for softbody settings SLIDER BAR

Set everything to 0 except for Global weight and Gravity Scale..set them to 1.


Triple objects or proxies to see what changes in dynamics, you may get better results.

Add more polys especially in the bending areas of the cloth.
Higher the poly count, the better deformation but also the slower but there always MetaNurbs :)

Unnecessary uses cloth dynamics:
- Jackets and shirts unless the sleeves or flaps hang
- Capes and hanging cloth shouldn't solely use SBD - use bones as well and you have more control. Add SBD after bone animation, think about using PointOven. By this I mean ..
do you animation with just bones and then save teh deformation and apply sbd via messiah or third party (maya syflex or lw MD)..whatever you do apply sbd after main deformations.



Key: Moves through the existing keyframe numbers. Enter a number in the entry field to go to a specific key or use the arrows to scroll through. Note: This is not referring to the frame number, but rather whether it's the first keyframe, second keyframe, etc. For example, the first keyframe might be on frame 0, and the second keyframe might be on frame 65.

Frame: Displays the frame number that a keyframe is on. Also, you can type a number in here to change the actual frame that a keyframe is on. For example, lets say you have keyframe #2 and it's on frame 33. Just type in 52 and now keyframe #2 will be on frame 52. It's a really fast way to accurately move a keyframe.

Fluid Density: Sets the density of the atmosphere that the object is moving through. For example, you can set this to be thick, like water, or thin like air. The higher the number, the "thicker" the atmosphere.

Damping: Sets the damping of the movement-- how quickly it stops jiggling or waving, or whatever.

Global Weight: The weight of the points in the object. A positive number will make it weigh more, a negative weights will make it float.

Internal Pressure: An imaginary force that comes from within the object that pushes out toward the surface normals of the points. Picture a hot air balloon: a gust of wind will push in and deform it, but the pressure of the hot air inside the balloon pushes it back out into its original shape.

Gravity Scale: A multiplier for gravity. The default gravity in messiah is set for real gravity. If you need it more intense or less intense, use this setting.

Spring Damping: This dampens the reaction to compression and stretch.

12 December 2003, 02:16 PM
Julez: as always we thank you for your input.


12 December 2003, 03:24 AM
Originally posted by Panikos
MARK WILSON is the man, @ Passion Pictures ...
and this is only the LiteVersion :bounce:

Emmm...... but the lite is only messiah Only right.
How would you use in LW (besides via Messiah linked) or Maya?
Thats suppose to be the final version right?

12 December 2003, 01:27 AM
Hey Julez,

Thanks for all the information. I am curious why you say no layered LW objects.


12 December 2003, 10:54 AM
Dunno. Just on eof those things I guess. Fred said to not use them so I don't use them I think because Messiah may not read the layer another object and the self-collision gets wacky reading and not work.

01 January 2004, 06:05 PM
messiah:studio has a default light setup when there are no lights created in the scene by the user. But, for people, like myself, that have already created a light setup and jump from test renders and setup this is a workable solution that may be obvious to some - but, I thought this may help some of the newbies.

Have you ever gone to Setup and your character is almost black b/c all your lights have returned to 0,0,0 position? This mainly happens if you use Spot and point lights like I do. To get around this add two directional lights one pointing down and the other pointing up. These lights are not affected by position so you get a more evenly lit surface on your object while placing bones, etc... You can even place two more directional lights aiming from the left and right. You could use Ambient light but this tends to wash out the form of the object.

And, of course, you can parent these to a Master Light switch so you can turn these directional lights off when you're ready to do a final render.

02 February 2004, 12:30 AM
I posted this tip earlier in one of my replies, but I guess it will get buried. I think it's useful enough to post here:

Clip Instances can be controlled via expressions. This means that you not only have control over the mix via expressions, you also have control over the time shift.

So, if I were planning on creating a "library" of motions to blend in at any time, I'd create a clip per-track, and repeat the clip instance for the entirety of the animation (this is necessary so I can blend/shift the instance at any time during the animation).

Then I'd set up "mix & time offset" Slider channel expressions for each of those clips:

|__MixClipInst("LPunchInst", [Slider:xpos])
|__ClipInstTime("LPunchInst", [Slider:ypos])

Of course there are other ways of working with Compose, but if you're planning on animating in this way, you'll rarely have to touch Compose after this initial setup.


02 February 2004, 07:34 AM
Hey Guys .....try moving your mesages to Wegg's new categories.

02 February 2004, 03:42 PM
Originally posted by Julez4001
Hey Guys .....try moving your mesages to Wegg's new categories.

Hey Julian,
Is there a way of actually moving them over to the new categories or are we just copying/pasting and reposting? :)

02 February 2004, 04:18 PM
I don't think there is any way of selecting specific posts and moving them. Sorry. You will have to do it by hand.

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