How changeable is the Lightwave UI?


Your signature says you have Silo. So why not just use that? Silo is sweet. I have Lightwave and Silo. I model in Silo, animate in Lightwave.


I couldn’t agree with you more… Silo is sweet. That’s why I wish I could make LW’s UI more like Silo. My concern is twofold:

One) I have read a lot of things about LW’s animation tools that aren’t very complimentary, and it concerns me about how well it will suit me for animation… I know that LW will do everything that I need for right now, since I am a rank amateur… but as I progress, I would like to be using a tool that I don’t hit the wall in. That worries me.

Two) The only way I have achieved the results I want is to use corrective shapekeys to fix bad deformations. I guess there is a way of building a mega “Rube Goldberg” rig that handles everything all of the time – but I haven’t found that secret yet. So, I get as far as I can, and then correct the rest with shapekeys. Exporting a mesh to Silo, fixing deformations there, and then sending them back to LW to implement seems like a really bad workflow to me. So, at some point, I need to be able to model effectively in the same tool I am doing the animation in… or so it seems to me, anyway.

But I’m still learning and evaluating… 27 more days to go!


Personally I wish the other apps worked more like LightWave so they would be easier to learn.

Phil, I won’t lie to you that even after almost two decades using the Lightwave Alt+shift for pan, Alt+Ctrl for zoom, I almost instantly fell in love with the “Maya way” of Alt+MMB for pan, ALT+RMB for zoom. It’s really intuitive and the more you use it, the faster you get, something that never really happened with some Lightwave default shortcuts. Some of them do make “literal sense”, like shift+O to select objects, but they’re way to the right side of the keyboard and subtly disrupt your workflow and take you out of “the zone”. If you consider the number of times you’ve had to move your left hand to the right to hit “P” (properties) in Lightwave along the years, you’ll realize you’ve actually spent tons of calories doing it. Which might even be good depending on your fitness level :slight_smile:

In the other hand, the concept of having X(Heading)/Z(Pitch)-only movementwith the left mouse button and locking Y(Bank) axis to the right mouse button is ingenious, and something I’ve sorely missed in Maya where you always need to use the precise-yet-boring gizmos.

That’s why I’ve developed a 10x more effective way to use shortcuts and navigate in Lightwave, mixing the best of the Maya and LW interfaces. Soon it’ll be public and you’ll get the chance to give it a try, even if it doesn’t convince you to change the ways you’ve been used to for years, it might help with converting a few new artists to Lightwave, at least as a complimentary or rapid-prototyping tool.

I’ve heard that many times, but seriously, would you rather hit a wall right from the start? The so called “wall” in Lightwave is made of rubber, it sure gets hard if you want to go really strong against it, but you’ll rarely find that you absolutely can not pull off some look or effect. As usual, most of it depends on talent and dedication, and I just have to ask you how much you think you can push yourself to learn and do something hard (and high-end fx are always hard, no matter where) when you’re not feeling comfortable with the software. Just something to keep in mind, I haven’t thought about that in the past, just looking for the size of the features list and although there was lots to learn which enhanced me as a professional, was a silly move to replace parts instead of stacking them up.

I guess there is a way of building a mega “Rube Goldberg” rig that handles everything all of the time – but I haven’t found that secret yet.

There’s no such secret. In the end it’s all about not wasting time rigging and jumping ASAP to animation, that’s where the fun lies. Riggers just hate me for saying that (and you can imagine the amount of flames I get for my strong opinions against the “mega-rig” mentality), but that’s where the art is. And for super-fast and dynamic rigging there’s nothing out there except for Messiah that can really compare.

But I’m still learning and evaluating… 27 more days to go!

You’ll be glad to know that, contrary to my expectations, you’ll have your maya-based navigation system in Lightwave before your trial period expires :slight_smile: I’ve got it to work yesterday (went to bet 3 AM yikes), and it makes a frickin world of difference! I’m really excited about releasing “LightKeys” ASAP, just a minor glitch to fix and small cleanups to perform, hopefully the first beta will be ready for public consumption this weekend still :slight_smile:


I don’t use the key+mouse navigtion in LightWave, I’m usually just happy with the controlls in the corner of the viewport. If I had to choose a different method it would be the 3D-Coat default way-- LMB rotates, RMB zooms, and MMB or LMB+RMB pans. This works in empty speace with just the mouse or with Alt if you’re over the model. I find it really fast and easy to use. 3DC also has the maya or zbrush options as presets and I’ve tried them both but they just can’t beat the default way. Of course you can also just set everything to whatever buttons you want.

I’m sure CORE will have options to change all of this however you like as well.


Well, what can I say… I’m a dreamer :-). What I always hope to find is the “Silo” of animation tools. No luck with that. And I have tried them all – just trials of course, but I have spent so much on DVDs during my trials, that I could have almost paid for any application.

Ha! And then, after all of that experimentation, I went and bought the one application that had hardly any training available for it at all: Messiah. (What was I thinking?) After years of frustrating attempts, I have all but given up on Messiah. It seems very esoteric to me. I know it is capable of a lot of things… but its secrets seem locked to me. I guess it is to me what IK-Boost was the the LW community before someone cracked it and released info on it… Except the info about Messiah seems closely guarded…

I saw on Newtek Pooby getting all misty-eyed about XSI, and I just don’t get it. Thomas talked me into trying XSI a few years back (this was pre-Autodesk days) and I was able to get a very long trial on it due to some mix-up on their end and a very helpful marketing person there… But after months of trial… man I hated XSI! It felt like trying to build models with an Excel spreadsheet. And, last I checked, you couldn’t even model with symmetry on – so I just don’t get how it is some great modeler… Although, it can handle a boatload of polys – no doubt. And, I can’t comment on ICE, since I have never used it… but it was about the most obtuse UI I encountered. Yet I read all of the time how so many guys just think it is the greatest thing ever… so I guess it depends some on taste, and some on what you are trying to accomplish.

Which, of course, is part of my problem. I have a lot of lofty long-term goals and very few short term ones… it does make evaluating software harder…

Well, yes and no. If the rig doesn’t do its job, the animation is going to suck. I know what you are saying in general. (For example, if you are never going to use IK for hands and arms, why waste time getting the IK drivers working on a rig’s arms…) but there does have to be a baseline.

Although I haven’t had a chance to through Rhiggit on my mesh yet, so I probably need to withhold some judgement on the task in LW. I am concerned though about the idea that multiple rigs slow things down in LW. I’m hoping that any slowdown can be beat by system upgrades – memory is pretty cheap, and with 64BIT available now, you can cover a lot of ills by getting more memory – If the program is well written…

Well that is truly good news… are you releasing it as a community addon? Or will you be selling it?


Well perhaps I can lay your worries to rest here and now. You will hit the wall in some aspects of Lightwave. Lightwave’s architecture is quite old. They have added some impressive new features in recent years. But because of the underlying structure is the way it is, they can only take it so far. This is why they are doing a reboot with Lightwave CORE.

The most limiting areas in the current Lightwave, off the top of my head are;

  1. Non-linear animation. Motion Mixer is a relic from a bygone era. Probably the most embarrassing feature in LW.

  2. The inability to edit points in Layout (ideal for making corrective joint morphs).

  3. Cloth simulation. It has some nifty features, such as sewing. But holy cat farts is it slow! And unstable during self-colisions.

  4. Fragmented expression systems. You’ve got expressions in the graph editor… Motion Modifier Expressions, Relativity… Did I forget any? Expressions are here and there in order to be work-arounds for limitations in the rigging system… Some of which have since been ironed out.

  5. You cannot mix and match deformation systems. You can’t have bones doing something here… A cage deformer doing something else over here… It’s pretty much all or nothing.

On the other hand Lightwave does have some nice traits with it that makes it appealing compared to more modern programs. You don’t have to paint a weightmaps for EACH AND EVERY bone in your rig. You can swap one model for another and preserve your rig rather painlessly. And over all the feel of the program seems more artist-friendly than some others out there. So it really all boils down to your personal tastes in how you like to do things.

You might enjoy looking through some of the tutorials in my YouTube channel.

Good luck.


If you’re only posing a character for, say, an illustration, IKBooster will get you there faster and with infinite flexibility as to what affects your posing IK, etc, without you ever having to commit to anything. For animations you’re right, and that baseline - at least for me - is the “humanIK” rig, which absolutely shines in motionbuilder. The thing is, are all your characters bipeds and quadrupeds? Making a physics-based appendage (or any kind of custom rig), for instance, in MotionBuilder does take longer and is less flexible and more cumbersome to tune up its setup than the same process it in Lightwave, although the performance its absolutely real-time while in Lightwave it’s a post-process thing like in Maya. Mobu also has a graphical expressions system which’s really cool, while you always have to write expressions in Lightwave, yet many times Lightwave has nice one-click options like “same as item” which really dismisses simpler expressions. So it really does depend.

I am concerned though about the idea that multiple rigs slow things down in LW.

You can always apply MDDs on a character by character basis, although it’s obvious that for interaction of multiple characters that process sucks. You can also use a system similar to limb slices as a proxy, I used a great system in Lightwave - back when IK wasn’t even an option - called SockMonkey. I could animate multiple different characters with that technique. Unfortunately it ended up being considered dated due to the ubiquity of weight-based bone deformations, but it’s a fact that Lightwave never exactly shun in this specific area.

  1. The inability to edit points in Layout (ideal for making corrective joint morphs).

You can do it with softfx, although it’s certainly not the best interactivity in the world. Works good enough for me, your mileage may vary of course.

  1. Cloth simulation. It has some nifty features, such as sewing. But holy cat farts is it slow! And unstable during self-colisions.

Try Syflex, much better, although that’s a quite expensive plugin.

Well that is truly good news… are you releasing it as a community addon? Or will you be selling it?

It’ll be free! :slight_smile: This community has offered me so much for free that I feel bad just for considering the option of charging for such a simple tool, as helpful as it might be.


Hehehe… well, thanks! I feel much better now!

I’ll give them a look. Thanks!


OK… so you are talking about working in MotionBuilder and then porting the result over as an MDD file, right? If I undertand this correctly, that means that when your animation gets into LW, it is baked and finished, and you can’t make any change to it… the rig doesn’t come over… is that right? (Although I thought I read somewhere that if you export something through MDD into Modo that it comes over bones and all…) Seems to me if that is your workflow, that Jimmy|RIG is cleaner, isn’t it? At least as it applies to using MoCap… then it comes over bones and all (I think). When I saw that a year ago, I thought it looked great… but development seems to have stalled somewhat… Anyway…

Well, as I said, I am looking forward to seeing it. What is it written in, if you don’t mind my asking? (I’m assuming C or C++… right? The way I thought of going it was with a global system hook…)


For me it’s not so much how the UI works like other apps, but more like how navigating the 3D viewports work like I’m accustomed to. I can always find tools etc., but if navigating the viewports is clumsy then forget it. Current LW has no options for changing navigation, Core on the other hand looks like it will have plenty - more like 3D Coat - tons of different ways to set things up.



I agree with that. It is the navigation more than anything else that impacts how useful an app is… of course SOME tools are used frequently. But main thing is Select, De-Select, Rotate, Pan, and Zoom. These things I do without thinking. If I have to stop and think about it… it becomes miserable in a hurry.

I think it’s like playing a guitar. My left hand knows their chord position and just go there. If I had to stop and re-finger every chord because the frets were laid out differently… it would be really hard to play.


So what do you do when you need to learn a new guitar chord? Do you have to learn a new fingering?


First off, it is an imperfect analogy I admit…

But it isn’t that I mind “learning new chords” – as long as my instrument functions the same, learning new chords isn’t the problem. The problem is if one guitar was built radically different than all the others.

Because my left fingers know what they need to do… and because the fret is always in the same place, and the strings are always in the same order and the same location… learning new chords is easy. However, if I take the same learned behavior to – for example – the banjo, I have to relearn basic finger positioning because the frets and strings are different than they are on a guitar. And, believe me, no one would appreciate it if they picked up the guitar and found the strings were ordered like on a banjo: D,B,G,D,G – they would throw the thing down and walk away from it wondering why anyone would make a guitar so radically different.

So… for me it is the same for a 3D program. My right hand works the mouse and my left hand works the keyboard. I hold ALT and scroll my mouse wheel… and I expect the view to zoom. ALT-Left Click, and I can rotate… etc… If it doesn’t, it interrupts my flow.

Does this mean that Lightwave has to reorder things so I like them? Why would they? My preferences have been influenced from the hours I spent using Silo. Someone coming to LW from Maya would have a different prejudice… but that is my point. Why not allow the user to make the interface operate the way they want it to? That just makes sense to me. In this day and age, I am surprised when I find a program that doesn’t permit this.

Especially if you are in second place and trying hard to get people to switch – the first thing you should do is lower the barrier to learning.

I am not the product manager for LW – but if I were, creating a customizable UI would be the very first feature I put on my list. When I was a product manager, we were taught that the single biggest thing we had to worry about was the “Out of the box” experience.

If someone is doing a 30 day trial, and they spend the first two weeks struggling to figure out how to do the most basic things, the chances of the final decision going your way is VERY bad.

(The second feature I would worry about was interoperability with other programs…)

But, that’s just me…


Yes, a very strained analogy yet you continue to go on with it regardless.
You play guitar at a level that never utilizes alternate tunings?:rolleyes:


Well … you asked…

But, honestly, if you don’t understand what I mean… then I don’t think any analogy is going to help.

I am of the firm belief that a User Interface should never be a barrier to using a program. Apparently, you think that learning a new interface – and switching between them – is no big deal.

We’re probably not going to agree here no matter what we say…


Erm… are you guys sure it’s not easier to simply use my just-released LightKeys app and use the Maya Standard Navigation inside Lightwave? :slight_smile: Or just bug me to add another navigation preset in the next version, if you’re used to XSI or something else.



It may be easier… I really haven’t had a moment to try it yet… but I will!


Sorry, but did I miss the link to this LightKeys app for Lightwave? Could you (re)post if possible?


He put it in its own thread:



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