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LightRock
08-29-2010, 10:32 AM
Hi all,

I am evaluating/learning LightWave and would like to get some advices.

Here are some background info: I am new to 3D in general. In my plan, the main use of LightWave is for animation. I am not particularly interested in modeling and will try to do as little as possible. With that, here are the questions.

1. Can I buy or get free characters (humen and creatures) and import into LightWave to use? In what formats? Where can I buy them? DAZ?

2. Is it easy to modify the pre-made characters inside LightWave? Or should I get ZBrush to customize the characters first and import them from ZBrush to LightWave?

3. It also seems easier to create a human character in Blender, according to some tutorials on the web. Is it a good idea to make characters in Blender and then import them into LightWave?

4. After getting the characters into LightWave, can I use Messiah or some other plugins to easily rig and animate them? I don't want to spend days rigging a character. I also want a plugin to help animating.

5. Is LightWave also good in creating natural environments? City scenes, forests, mountains, ocean, etc. Should I also get Vue?

I think these are enough questions for one post :). Any advices will be much appreciated.

LightRock

JeffrySG
08-29-2010, 11:00 AM
Looks like you are planning on doing a lot of 3d work. If you plan on creating your characters in Blender why not just use Blender for everything?

Also, what are you planning on creating? a movie? web animations? TV work? and how much is your budget for the 3d tools? Tell us what your main goal is and we might be able to give you accurate answers.

If you're really new to 3d you've got a long road to really create high quality work using any application especially if you need to learn, modeling, rigging, texturing, rendering, etc.

But,

1. Yes. LWO, OBJ. Many places sell 3d models and there are many places that offer free models.
2. Depends on the model and your skill level. ZB wouldn't necessarily be the best way to go to modify the models but it might be useful to add / adjust to the texturing and displacement type of adjustments.
3. It's best to create characters wherever you do it best. Not sure why you think that Blender is better but you can go from Blen to LW for the models.
4. There are some good rigging options for LW. I don't know much about Messiah though.
http://www.rebelhill.net/html/rhiggit.html
5. All depends on the specific scene and environment.

nickdigital
08-29-2010, 11:07 AM
1. Modeler can read various file formats (obj, dxf). Sites like that will definitely have the model you want in a format that Modeler can read. It might even have LW's .lwo file format. You could also look into collada and fbx. If the object has UVs and associated image maps you probably won't have to do to much re-texturing. If it doesn't you'll need to do some of that work in Modeler.

2. Depends on your definition of "modify". You could definitely do some additional modeling to the object you bought in Modeler. But you also state that you're not interested in modeling. If you're looking for more of a Zbrush type of experience then you'll have to invest in something like Zbrush or 3dCoat.

3. I think that's a tutorial bias. Modeler is an excellent sub'd modeler so you could definitely build your own characters. I'm sure if you wanted to use Blender you could export and import into LW. But as you stated earlier, you're not interested in modeling so I don't think Blender is necessarily an easier modeler than LW's Modeler. I don't have any experience with Blender but I could be wrong but I doubt there's a "Make character" button in Blender.

4. Messiah's rigging tools are really good and the program works well with LW. Messiah's focus is on character animation so if that's where you're leaning then Messiah might be for you. Setuptab.com is a good resource site for Messiah. You should also look at RebelHill's RHiggit plug-in. It creates a pretty impressive rig for Lightwave. There's also Maestro for LW.

5. You can make environments in LW. You would want to invest in the instancing plug-in HDInstance. Vue is definitely a more specialized program but I've seen mixed responses from people on the forum on how easy it is to work with Vue and LW. Keep in mind you're introducing a lot of tools into your pipeline which will drive up cost and the complexity of your workflow. One of LW's strength is that you can usually do everything in one app.

Hope these responses help.

LightRock
08-29-2010, 12:39 PM
Thanks JeffrySG and nickdigital.

I'm new (a year and half) and hooked. Main interest is making short movies. Budget for the remaining of this year is under $2000 - already spent a lot for a hobby:) It's for fun, but nonetheless would like to make professinal quality works. I am aware of the time and efforts that are needed to get to a decent level. But that's no problem - learning is always an enjoyable expereince for me. Money can be a problem though. For example, I would have liked to look at Maya/MotionBuilder but can't because of the expense.

Blender is another app that I will be evaluating. It may well be the case that I can do everything in Blender. But I have read online that LightWave, combined with Messiah, is better for animation. There is also the opinion that LightWave renders faster and in general is faster to learn and use due to better user interface and better documentations/tutorials.

Like you said, LightWave can do everything in one package. The upcoming version 10 also has realtime review functionality. It sounds like a good fit for my purpose. But I'm new to the 3D world, there could be better solutions.

The impression that it is easier to make human figures in Blender comes from the tutorials showing the use of MakeHuman, an open source tool, to make human avatars to use in Blender. Didn't see any tuts showing the use of MakeHuman with LightWave. [Edit: just saw a tutorial showing the use of MakeHuman with LW, which makes sense - a MakeHuman character is an obj file].

Sounds like I can skip Vue for now and use the pluging HDInstance.

Thanks for the info and insights which can not be obtained by a 30-day evaluation of any package. If anyone else has experiences or thoughts on this, please share.

Thanks,
LightRock

nickdigital
08-29-2010, 01:49 PM
I'm assuming your $2k budget is for software and you're a one man show. Because if not, $2 isn't gonna get you anything if you're planning on putting a team together.

For that amount of money LW is definitely in the price range. And like you said, you get everything you need in one box. There's a huge amount of plug-ins that are free too that will add to your toolset. The plug-ins that you do need to buy usually aren't super expensive. But since you're new to this you may not need them as you're still getting your feet wet.

With HDI it's not imperative that you get it. But if you plan to do a lot of foliage and mass replication of things then it'll speed things up both workflow and time wise.

You could still add Blender to your workflow since it's free and won't impact your wallet.

LightRock
08-29-2010, 02:19 PM
You're right, nickdigital. $2k is for software only for the rest of the year. I am trying to do it all by myself for now. As you can imagine, the pieces will have to be very short. Longer pieces will be for future when I can show what I can do and attract other talents to join me :). I may not be able to, but isn't it good to be new and fearless?

In addition, I just saw a tutorials showing the use of MakeHuman with LightWave. Somehow I didn't see it before when I searched for MakeHuman. It makes sense now since the MakeHuman character is an obj file which should be able to go into virtually any 3D apps.

Sarford
08-29-2010, 02:49 PM
You might also wanna invest in a good compositing package. Control-wise and rendertime-wise it most of the time is a good idea to put it together in 2D. Shake is realy good but isn't been sold anymore, but Combustion and After Effects are good alternatives. Nuke is even better ofcourse, but goes way over your (and mine) budget.

Vue is a very handy program to make landscapes, especialy the painting of ecosystems is priceless. And it renders fairly quicly too (concedering the amount of polygons).

Roadwarrior
08-30-2010, 01:29 AM
1. Yes. LWO, OBJ. Lots of places sell 3d models and there are many that offer free models
(Google em!)

2. Depends on the model and your skill level. ZB wouldn't necessarily be the best way to go to modify the models but it might be useful to add / adjust to the texturing and displacement type of adjustments.


3. create characters wherever you do it best

4. There are some other good rigging options for LW.
http://www.kurvstudios.com/lightwave/rigging.php
http://www.origamidigital.com/typolight/index.php/home.html
http://www.thomas4d.com/html/t4d_rigging_tools.html

5. All depends on the specific scene and environment.
Vue is good for this,especially terrain work

LightRock
08-30-2010, 06:15 PM
Thanks Sarford and Roadwarrior. -LightRock