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Dexter2999
06-25-2011, 08:52 PM
Anyone else notice the drop in screaming for "better CA" since Messiah had it's sale? Hardly see it mentioned anymore it seems.

Netvudu
06-25-2011, 09:20 PM
better CA :D

jasonwestmas
06-25-2011, 09:21 PM
Anyone else notice the drop in screaming for "better CA" since Messiah had it's sale? Hardly see it mentioned anymore it seems.

hmm, well it was practically free CA, tho things seem pretty quiet over at setup tab.

Hominid 3D
06-25-2011, 10:53 PM
Doesn't surprise me at all. Requests for better CA in LW always (always) come in waves. There are lots of requests.... then nothing.... then someone posts something that shows great CA in another package.... and then the requests go up. Although CORE users knew that CA wasn't going to be in the first release, main forum users were probably waiting till the next release of LW before starting the call for better CA again. Heck, I haven't even had the chance to play with RHiggit Pro - or Messiah. ;)

The only CA problem in LW is bone deformation speed. If I could add hundreds of expression- or cycler-driven bones without significant slowdown LW would be one of the best and easiest CA systems out there.

dballesg
06-26-2011, 12:52 AM
The only CA problem in LW is bone deformation speed.

That is over simplify what character animation means.

There are other problems to LightWave CA:


Total lack of Lattice deformers.
You can't re-arrange the order of evaluation of deformers and motion controlers.
Three different expressions systems (with it's pros and cons), instead of a full working one.
Lack of Weight Painting on Layout so you can adjust or fix the deformation on real time.
Lack of a proper Spline IK


And the list goes on and on. I thinks would be easier if I looked for any of my other posts where I've said basically the same things over and over again.

mav3rick
06-26-2011, 02:47 AM
The only CA problem in LW is bone deformation speed. If I could add hundreds of expression- or cycler-driven bones without significant slowdown LW would be one of the best and easiest CA systems out there.

exactly... just recently i have did CA setup with 5 different CA on stage running IK system... working on setup itself and setting up expressions , goals etc is really well working in lw... deforming and handling that much ik systems at same time is something opposite.. i hope newtek will adress that in next point update or lw 11.... Rebel Hill recently had some great constructive talk with Lino.. and i am glad those 2 boys really know how to deal with CA and that makes me confident newtek will be doing some great stuff regardign CA , IK , bones deforming in future.. i hope soon released newtek CA DVD + Rebell Hill efforts with awsome RHIGIT lite/pro and rigging DVD will put some spotlight on CA animation in LW. It;'s a shame more people dont try and do CA animation in lw. My reel for example is lw exclusive and have never need anythinng outside lw...

SBowie
06-26-2011, 06:03 AM
That is over simplify what character animation means.

There are other problems to LightWave CA:
There are plenty of other CA threads, let's not highjack this one please.

RebelHill
06-26-2011, 06:46 AM
Now try loading two or three or more characters at one time. And then watch the immense SLOW DOWN in performance. CA in LW is a FAR cry from CA is SI or Maya or Max. CA needs LOTS of TLC to be very usable in LW. Ask RebelHill in this forum - he is the defacto CA expert in LW here.

Well... with respect to Steve, I don't wanna threadjack, but I do think this discussion is furthered by making a few points on this topic.

First off, with regard to other packages... Getting superfast, multiple advanced character rigs in max and maya aint really a dream either. From what Ive heard from other users, Max's skin modifier isn't as optimised as some would like... stick a lot o bones in there and it can get slow on you. Maya similarly... go building very complex rigs in maya using lots of mel parts and constraints that have to be evaluated, and it still takes a fair bit of thought and discipline on the TDs part to keep the rig running realtime... again, go adding multiple characters to a single scene and you're in even more hot water.

So even in those apckages, folks have to be careful, and plan out their use of bones, deformers, constraints, etc... plus turn to setting up proxy stuff to get the maximum framerates when working... its not just some magic that LWs lacking.

Ok, so SI is a slightly different story, from what Ive seen, it can handle some very complex stuff possibly better than anything else... it is near some kinda witchcraft... but you only have to look at Pooby's ICE built muscle system tests which run at 1-2fps to realise that even SI isn't as omnipotent in this area as some seem to think.

Now with regard to LW... the more recent versions have been improving speed allround for this sort of stuff... it IS moving forward.... unarguably. And Im sure that this is likely to continue.

Now ofc, comparing performance to the other softs mentioned... LW comes bottom of the league, no denying... but it isn't ALL that far behind, its not like after the top 3 there's some huge drop-off... not at all.

With a bit of careful planning of rig design you can get TOTALLY acceptable preformance outta LW... and with some scripting know how to turn things on and off (without having to click one by one through lists of hundreds of items) you can get much better than the standard performance with more than one character in a scene (which ofc u don't need to know how to do if ur using RHiggit - shameless plug - cos Ive done it for you... even in the free edition).

When folks have pointed out framerates that I get on my rigs where Ive posted things up... its often missed that I do a lot of my public demo's (and benchmarking) on my laptop (dual core 2.4 M) which is pretty modest system... and I do this cos I know not everyone has some superfly hardware.

However... Loading my stuff on my desktop... 6core 3.3... and my standard biped rig easily runs at realtime (24fps)... and my basic biped can run at over 30.

Point is... if you're not needing super, uber complex rigs (which you don't most of the time... Ive VERY rarely needed them), and u spend the couple hours to setup proxy stuff and scripts to switch between characters, you can also work with 2-3 chars (on a faster comp) without being impeded by too much slowdown.

So ofc Im not suggesting that LW is king of the hill for CA, or its offshoots... and there's NO shortage of stuff that could be added to make it better...

But even as it stands is certainly more than capable for these tasks, and Im sure will only become moreso as it moves into the future.

Cageman
06-26-2011, 07:14 AM
Well... with respect to Steve, I don't wanna threadjack, but I do think this discussion is furthered by making a few points on this topic.

Thanks RH, I was about to write something similar. However, there is ONE application that is unbeatable regarding deformation speed, and that is MotionBuilder. Granted, we aren't talking about complex deformers or things like that, but a similar mocap rig in Maya with a character with about 200.000 polygons makes Maya crawl in comparsion to Motionbuilder. I've had up to 8 characters simultaneously in MBuilder and it was almost not noticable slowdown, where exactly the same characters in Maya made it a slideshow.

And to clarify, this is the raw mocap data transfered from MBuilder to these characters in Maya, so Maya did not evaluate any type of expressions, IK or deformers, while in MBuilder, these characters were using full body FK/IK rigs.

:)

Netvudu
06-26-2011, 07:19 AM
Craig, you make valid points, but from my conversations with animators, the problem with LW isnīt just rigging ,but also the animation interface. Yes, we have a graph editor and a dopesheet. Selection sets are pretty uncomfortable to use, and there are some other little things that make animation itself more cumbersome than it should. But donīt take my word for it (as Iīm not an character animator). I asked animators at work to give me a list of things they donīt like about character animation in LW, and then I will have a clearer picture of what weīre missing...

RebelHill
06-26-2011, 07:42 AM
You're well right, Cageman... MB really IS some kinda evil voodoo when it comes to that stuff, well mentioned. Ofc, I think with regard to MB its only really worth talking about the deform speed rather than the evaluation of the rig (since characters in MB don't run much faster with motions baked to bones than they do with control rig input... I guess cos the rig isn't "built" in the MB package, more like under it... its like the rig is a "plugin" that has been compiled so exectues much faster... but that's an aside).

And Netvudu...... Yep, i agree here too... the anmation system in LW is pretty basic. We could talk about LOADS of things, like different key handling tools (non linear)... "view layers" where u can add multiple items/bones and toggle vis on/off... or, ofc... animation layers... all very important, and their addition WOULD improve workflow, and workflow options a LOT... but that said their absence nowhere near cripples LW as far as CA goes... and it is still very usable and capable, even though it could clearly be better.

However, with regard to the selection sets thing... I'll agree that LWs a lil bit sucky in this regard (ofc u can set them up, but they go bye bye if u use load from scene at all)... but that said, there's other options in LW that do make up for it in a way.

Being able to middle click drag out a selection in any viewport (so a whole arm, half arm, whole hand, single finger) is very easy and quick and negates the need for setting up selection sets for all those possible "chains"... right clikc to select an item and all its children is cool too (though it'd be nice if it respected locked items and DIDNT select them too)... and easily being able to switch keying from single to children to all (and which channels) in the create key dialog is pretty sweet also.

And so even though its lacking in a number of ways... its still quite capable, and this despite the oft maligned "ignorance" that LWs CA tools have received over the years.

I get a reasonable feeling that NT are interested in moving LW forward in this area, and addressing many of the shortcomings... so if we've got what we've got with years of neglect, then Im sure that a good few months of attention can move things forward quite a bit, and hopefully take LW from being a "capable enough" tool for CA to being one that fits users needs and workflows much more profoundly.

RebelHill
06-26-2011, 07:43 AM
I'm tied up for the moment, but when I get a minute I'm going to move all this CA stuff into a separate thread ... just a heads-up.

By your leave, good sir.

May I suggest "LWs present and new direction, CA specifics" as a thread title.

SBowie
06-26-2011, 12:09 PM
By your leave, good sir.

May I suggest "LWs present and new direction, CA specifics" as a thread title.With such artful syntax, how could I fail to honour the request?

pooby
06-26-2011, 12:47 PM
Ok, so SI is a slightly different story, from what Ive seen, it can handle some very complex stuff possibly better than anything else... it is near some kinda witchcraft... but you only have to look at Pooby's ICE built muscle system tests which run at 1-2fps to realise that even SI isn't as omnipotent in this area as some seem to think.

You do realise that no complex muscle systems run anywhere near real time? Mine would run much slower than your estimate on a whole body.
I believe avatars took a few minutes per frame.
You certainly don't use the final muscle sim rig to animate with. There is more calculations going on in one shoulderblade than in a whole bones-only rig.
You apply it as a pass, before cloth and hair simulations.

Edit.. Another thing to note is that muscle sims like mine are topology independent. In other words, all the shapes of the body come from layers below the skin mesh and there are complex interactions going on. You might see one final body, but there will be a whole host of objects feeding data into the final, like a delta. And the skin has to be a ridiculously heavy mesh in order to describe any shape as it slides over it.

RebelHill
06-26-2011, 01:00 PM
Oh yes.... absolutely... Ofc, the only one Ive got any direct user experience of is the one in maya... which is great n all, but try to use it "live" on a character and... well its useless clearly.

My point of such points was simply to make clear note to others who may not have taken note of such things that no app just "does it all" in super mega realtime, to address the idea that LWs handling of rigs, deformers etc is sub par, too slow, etc to be usable.

It is unarguably slower than the other 3 noted, but not so slow as to be a failure... and ofc to get good performance in those 3 with complex setups, or multiple characters still requires a user to know how to optimise the hell out of things in a variety of ways... including things like muscle driven characters where the final animation done on proxies gets dumped over to the full "master" rigs as a post process.

pooby
06-26-2011, 01:31 PM
I never found Lightwaves interaction speed to be an issue. There are numerous ways of delivering a fast proxy performance on what might be a slow final rig. Plus, Most good animators could animate just as well without having I play back at full speed. You can do previews for that. It's the amateur enthusiasts that tend to 'need' it as they dont plan their timings out and just launch into a shot and see how it goes.

Lightwaves bone-only based animation is ok. It doesnt provide you wih luxury tools for keying retiming and organisation, so it would be better for someone who is comes into it having preplannedand timed the shot thoroughly, but it's basic and works. Put it this way its a Lot easier than the stop motion animation that i did for 10 years.
It's the deformations between the skeletal animation and the beauty render that lw can't do very well as it's just bones and morphs. And morphs can't be modelled in context. Plus weak clothing and hair animation options.
LW characters tend to look stiff. Not in the skeletal movement. Mocap proves it's nothing to do with skeletal movement as it's a leveller. It's just that it tend to look like a stiff plastic doll that can bend a bit if you dont have the ability to make a beauty rig that deals with the deformations that bones are not great at handling alone.

jasonwestmas
06-26-2011, 01:55 PM
I know what you're saying Pooby but when the animator is trying to work in subtlety, it's nice not to have to make a dozen preview animations. Just as it's nice not to work with stop motion photography for everything. Or rolling 8 frames with your hand when doing pencil animation instead of just 4.

mav3rick
06-26-2011, 02:15 PM
Thank you Rebell for chiming on forums.. your knowledge and experience are amazing and will help lot newcomers that want to hear expert view on LW CA and maybe tackle them to try it

pooby
06-26-2011, 02:32 PM
I know what you're saying Pooby but when the animator is trying to work in subtlety, it's nice not to have to make a dozen preview animations. Just as it's nice not to work with stop motion photography for everything. Or rolling 8 frames with your hand when doing pencil animation instead of just 4.

Of course. Nobody wants it to be slow, but LWs deficiencies in this area can be overcome by the use of proxies etc.
I guess what I mean is that it's something that can be circumnavigated. But the deformation issue is a problem culdesac.
personally, if I am going to spend ages animating something then I want it to also look exactly how I want it at the end and I am very specific about that. I am not going to be dictated to by the fact my software only provides pretty much the same 2 tools it had in 1998.
My character/creature work has improved enormously in the last 4-5 years, and most of this can be directly attributed to a much wider richer pallette of deformation abilities.

hydroclops
06-26-2011, 02:46 PM
I don't understand something mentioned by Pooby and Rebelhill.

Are muscle systems a type of simulation that you apply after animation? And the deformations lacking in LW are a part of the rig that you can see as you animate? Or....?

jasonwestmas
06-26-2011, 02:47 PM
Of course. Nobody wants it to be slow, but LWs deficiencies in this area can be overcome by the use of proxies etc.
I guess what I mean is that it's something that can be circumnavigated. But the deformation issue is a problem culdesac.
personally, if I am going to spend ages animating something then I want it to also look exactly how I want it at the end and I am very specific about that. I am not going to be dictated to by the fact my software only provides pretty much the same 2 tools it had in 1998.
My character/creature work has improved enormously in the last 4 years, and most of this can be directly attributed to vastly improved deformation abilities.

Righton. . .and I suppose there are people out there that won't even give a piece of software a try just because it is a little slow or a little annoying in some areas. But if there is a faster more interactive way, why not make use of it, especially in a context of find detail and exactness to one's own imagination.

pooby
06-26-2011, 03:26 PM
I don't understand something mentioned by Pooby and Rebelhill.

Are muscle systems a type of simulation that you apply after animation? And the deformations lacking in LW are a part of the rig that you can see as you animate? Or....?

Muscle systems can vary enormously, but ones with understructures, skin sliding and skin elasticity etc will be slow. No way around that. Its nothing like a bone rig. The final mesh you see won't have any bones. Mine involves a combination of 'shrink-wrapping' , relax deformers, texture projection, dynamic weightmapping, shape tranferral , custom ICE point dynamics and various other things that have no equivalent in lw.
It's like the difference between a rubber toy with wire in to bend it, and an animatronic dinosaur from Jurassic park. There's just more going on inside.

Btw. Body Muscle sims are not usually of primary importance in many wider shots. Many of these techniques are more practically useful in facial animation.
The more generally important thing is having stack of deformers to design the overall shape of the character as it moves from pose to pose, rather that letting rotating bones alone, dictate this.

The Dommo
06-26-2011, 04:22 PM
Interesting thread.

jasonwestmas
06-27-2011, 12:50 PM
One feature in messiah that is really helpful to indentify subtle movements and or deformations is the Play Frames button. What it does is play every frame in ogl and doesn't skip anything. Granted the animation goes slower to compensate for performance but with a little imagination it's a great deal of help when working out specifics. Play frames works a lot better than scrubbing of course because no frames get missed and the timing ratios are still there.

pooby
06-27-2011, 01:24 PM
Xsi has a neat playback feature too whereby it caches the 3d geometry every frame, allowing you to playback complex animation at full speed and navigate around it whilst doing so. So no playblasts necessary.

jasonwestmas
06-27-2011, 01:37 PM
Xsi has a neat playback feature too whereby it caches the 3d geometry every frame, allowing you to playback complex animation at full speed and navigate around it whilst doing so. So no playblasts necessary.

That is neat, definitely the animation preview of the future. Err present.

cresshead
06-27-2011, 02:15 PM
Xsi has a neat playback feature too whereby it caches the 3d geometry every frame, allowing you to playback complex animation at full speed and navigate around it whilst doing so. So no playblasts necessary.

i'd guess this is like animated point cache in 3dsmax, where once cached you can turn off the skin deformer and it just reads thru the point cache files form disc.

pooby
06-27-2011, 02:32 PM
i'd guess this is like animated point cache in 3dsmax, where once cached you can turn off the skin deformer and it just reads thru the point cache files form disc.
No, it's not a point cache, it's a viewport playback feature. Point caching on disc will still slow down if the geometry is high poly. This is more like a kind of game engine effect storing everything in ram temporarily so it won't slow down under any circumstance. It will run out of ram though if you have a really heavy scene and not enough ram.

Cageman
06-27-2011, 02:35 PM
One feature in messiah that is really helpful to indentify subtle movements and or deformations is the Play Frames button. What it does is play every frame in ogl and doesn't skip anything. Granted the animation goes slower to compensate for performance but with a little imagination it's a great deal of help when working out specifics. Play frames works a lot better than scrubbing of course because no frames get missed and the timing ratios are still there.

Uncheck Play Exact Rate in LW, and you get the same; i.e every frame is forced to play. This, however, can become funny with extremely light scenes, getting several hundered FPS. :D

EDIT: If you have Play at Exact Rate checked, you can change the rate in % (right bottom corner), helping in showing more frames without having to turn off Play at Exact Rate. This feature was implemented in LW10.x btw...

Castius
06-27-2011, 02:52 PM
I'd say that if Node editing in LW was improved and the improved skin deformation was moved over to node based. You would see a pretty large increase in power and flexibly.

Poody if you have not played around with the bone displacement. You will be pleasantly surprised at what it is capable of. The problem is your stuck in texture layering hell.

jasonwestmas
06-27-2011, 03:15 PM
% (right bottom corner), helping in showing more frames without having to turn off Play at Exact Rate. This feature was implemented in LW10.x btw...

Nice addition. Haven't animated in LW for a while.

jburford
06-27-2011, 03:22 PM
A Great Thread, with a good overview (Blick) into some of the aspects of CA in the various packages as well as workflow. I must say that over the years I really avoided CA, and Rigging and the such, primarily it appeared to me as intimidating and complex.

However, it was always in the back of my mind to somehow, get a grasp of it at any level and expand. (one can dream I thought)

And then this year, I jumped on the boat with MessiahStudio's offer, was happy to receive and license it and then sort of started it up and "toyed" around, but did not really spend any time getting into it.

After some weeks, I thought, buckle down. . . . spend the time and try to understand and use it. (ok, my GF also had a part, jabbing at me one day, why do you always need more and more hardware or software if you never do anything with it.)

And, it was great.... worked through the first couple of excercises from Messiah, and it worked! Really felt like a kid again.... It worked! Digging a bit deeper every chance I could I decided to step back and thought. well, if I could grasp it in Messiah, then I could grasp it in LW.

Buckled down again, and voila, it worked. Made me wonder why I had avoided it all the years.

Somehow I think that a lot of "users", would rather complain about LW's CA shortcomings rather than buckling down and going the route like RH and others.

Sure, as many have stated, there are shortcomings, but nothing beats sweat and tears.....

Cageman
06-27-2011, 03:28 PM
A huge thing for us in our current pipeline is Messiahs PointAnimation feature... Through PointOven, we hook an MDD exported from Maya, fix deformation problems, export a new MDD that goes straight into LW for final rendering.

I hope LW will get some solid Point Animation tools in the future. It allready has by adding an MDD in either Cloth/SoftFX, but since it doesn't have keys on a timeline, it only works if you really don't need to go back a week later to fix things, change timing etc. This sort of feature also needs to work when you have displacementmaps applied, but still only affecting the actual cage (which is driven by the MDD).