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digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 08:20 AM
Can some one point me to the best documentation, tutorial, book, training course etc. to best understand the way to work efficiently with the node editor.

Also want to better understand the method for changing surfaces over time.

Another area that still confuses me is how texture maps are placed accurately on models. I seem to stumble my way through with trial and error but it's time to really "get" how you adjust textures to fit properly and scale proportionately.

Thanks
Digitalimagery

Sensei
08-22-2011, 09:16 AM
Also want to better understand the method for changing surfaces over time.

You need to use Envelope Editor. Usually E button on the right side of some option, such as color etc.



Another area that still confuses me is how texture maps are placed accurately on models.

It's done using UV mapping. It converts 3d space to 2d space in image.

digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 09:21 AM
Sensei,

I'm aware of where the buttons are located and I understand the concept of texture mapping. What I'm looking for is "detailed" tutorials walking you through the process.

This kind of response is as unhelpful as the manual. Pardon my being blunt but thank you for replying.

DI

BlueApple
08-22-2011, 10:52 AM
Can some one point me to the best documentation, tutorial, book, training course etc. to best understand the way to work efficiently with the node editor.
If you go here:

http://www.newtek.com/lightwave/24hours_training.php

and scroll down to NODE EDITOR you will find some videos that may be useful to you.


Also want to better understand the method for changing surfaces over time.
Sensei answered your question I thought. Do you have a specific place in the process you are stuck at?


Another area that still confuses me is how texture maps are placed accurately on models. I seem to stumble my way through with trial and error but it's time to really "get" how you adjust textures to fit properly and scale proportionately.
Are you having problems with UVs, or are you trying to use a different method? When you move an object in Layout are your textures staying in a fixed location?

nickdigital
08-22-2011, 11:02 AM
Try reaching out to Liberty3d. See if you can buy James Wilmott's Intro to Node Editing tutorial.

JeffrySG
08-22-2011, 11:36 AM
Liberty3d is having a sale now too. You might want to look at "Fanboy Series - Inspired by District 9 (Modelling and UV Bundle)" it covers UV unwrapping of a detailed 3d model - although not creating the textures.

http://www.liberty3d.com/store/training/lightwave/

djlithium
08-22-2011, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the suggestion of hitting L3D on this.

Nodal texturing on the surface (no pun intended) can seem daunting, but in many ways its the same methodology as to how LWs traditional surfacing technology works but helps to remove some limitations, primarily with having to deal with 'layers'.

Do you composite at all? If so which application? If you use Fusion or Nuke or Shake or something along those lines Nodal is very much familiar however I know from my own experience first starting out with the nodal system in LW that many of the tools and functions that I felt were the same idea from the traditional system can throw you for a loop.
From the nodal texturing part of "nodal" some of the stuff that mind boggled me was the math tools and how differently gradients seemed to work (at least until I had a "duhhh" moment).
Is it the math stuff you are getting stuck on? Or more blending modes and what to plug where?

These can be confusing even to pros at times, so don't be embarrassed about it.
If you need more help we will do what we can if you hit us up and ask questions on our formus but NickDigital is correct - James has a great video on setting a nodal flow for a few textures really quickly that might help but its actually free. It's in our freebies section available once you register on our forums.

Cheers! If you need anything let us know. that's what the LW community is here for :)

GregMalick
08-22-2011, 12:26 PM
Try reaching out to Liberty3d. See if you can buy James Wilmott's Intro to Node Editing tutorial.


If you understand LW texturing - then James' tutorial is fabulous.
As I recall, he shows how to set up a number of standard layer-type textures using nodes.

From there you can run with it.

digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 02:18 PM
Thanks for all the responses. I've ordered some videos from Liberty3D and although I have gone through the videos on the NewTek sight I was hoping for something more in depth. Hopefully the material I ordered will get me there.

DI

dwburman
08-22-2011, 02:28 PM
There's a good video that covers the basics of texturing/shading from when LW came out.

It doesn't show you the "how" that you're after, but it's good info to have as a base. It does get into the math of shaders.

Look for the "ShadingIntro" video in this folder: ftp://ftp.newtek.com/pub/LightWave/LW9/

There are other videos on nodes in there as well including an into to the node editor. Look for "Node_Edit.avi" or "Node_Edit.mov".

digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 02:45 PM
I just ordered about $80. worth of training material from your site. The surfaces videos and a few on modeling. My main problem is being New to LW in general. I LOVE the modeler compared to other programs I used to work with (Electric Image primarily - showing my age but still a nice app.). Most of my work is corporate logo stuff so what I'm really trying to do is determine how to get that landing reflection just the way I want it.

The surfaces so many animators get on the paint of a shiny car for instance is what looks good on corporate and sports logos. I've found rounding the faces of logos (which are generally flat) helps get more of the environment reflected. I've attached a sample of an image that has the kind of surface I'd like to get on much of my logo work. Notice the rounded edges giving more reflection, this works on the face too if I can get a subtle curve on it.

I'll go register and get that James video and hopefully it will get me ramped up. Lots of work coming down the pipe and I want to crank it out without all the confusion.

Additionally I'd like to do some glass logos. I can get a decent glass but haven't figured out how to output an RGB channel that makes the glass look like it does in the renderer when keyed with the alpha. EI does an amazing job by over saturating the RGB channel. Know one I've ever talked too has been able to convince me LW can even do that.

BTW to answer your question I'm compositing in AE (was one of the original beta testers - pre release). Can you say CoSA?

Thanks to everyone for helping with this.
DI

digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 03:29 PM
To answer your questions. I don't know enough about the way the node editor works to know there even is any math involved but that probably won't be an issue.

I'd like to know how to do surfaces that change over time - I understand the envelope tool is the method for this but don't understand the process.

I'd like to be able to reveal a surface within a surface which would require animating the alpha on the outer surface over time revealing an underlying surface which I suspect can be done by layering surfaces on one piece of geometry but don't really know how to go about it - envelope tool again I suspect.

I have a clear understanding of alphas and how they work in AE and PS but animating them in LW is what I'd like to learn (master).

Admittedly I haven't spent a whole lot of time experimenting or reading but time is limited and when I get a chance it's not enough to get a solid grasp of what I'm trying to teach myself so when I get back to it I've forgotten what little I've learned (there should be a technical term for that - we all do it).

So in short I'm guilty of not doing my homework hence the need for some video tutorials that can get me ramped up. With all the upcoming work I should be able to apply what I'll learn repeatedly and make it stick.

The "where to plug things in" in the node editor is such a new concept to me in how I've always applied surfaces that yes that is part of my confusion.

Hopefully once I go through these videos I'll be able to ask specific questions and thanks to the quick responses by the community get some work hammered out.

Thank you thank you for your help.
Randy Cates (a.k.a. DigitalImagery)

digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 05:05 PM
I'm watching what looks like an introduction to the cool features in the node editor ftp://ftp.newtek.com/pub/LightWave/LW9/Node_Edit.mov but what I'm finding frustrating is the narrator is showing how easy it is to link nodes (agreed) but he has these node windows just popping on the work area without mentioning where they're coming from.

Now I can find most of them in the menu but he doesn't mention anything (which would save a lot of time in the learning curve) but there's one he's using called the "Add Scaled" and I can not for the life of me find it. This is clearly an overview and I get that. It's just not doing anything to help those of us unfamiliar with this feature get up to speed to take advantage of it.

Just venting.
RC

UnCommonGrafx
08-22-2011, 05:15 PM
Math ->Vector -> Add Scaled.


Patience. Keep plugging at it. Practice is what it's going to take, even if they told you.

Edit: Check out the colors when you are having a problem: that will be the clue you need to assist in a quandry.

digitalimagery
08-22-2011, 05:18 PM
Didn't mention I did in fact find it it would just be faster for the customer and take all of two secs for the instructor to show where the node was located.

Thank you for the response - patience is a virtue (end of the day, getting frazzled looking at the work piling up). B R E A T H ........

:o)
DI

UnCommonGrafx
08-22-2011, 06:33 PM
While I agree with you, sometimes the student needs to learn some things on their own.

:)

As you did. This helps as regards ownership and all that other goobly gock.
Sounds like you bit off more than can be chewed at the moment, huh?

Edit: Eating a mouthful now.

hahahhahahahhahahahahhahahhahahahhaha

dwburman
08-22-2011, 08:11 PM
This might help :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlSne1nCCTA

wesleycorgi
08-22-2011, 09:08 PM
I find this video from Jarrod Davis quite helpful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yBJqENQunw (Material Mixer, Morphs & Joints)

toby
08-22-2011, 09:35 PM
Additionally I'd like to do some glass logos. I can get a decent glass but haven't figured out how to output an RGB channel that makes the glass look like it does in the renderer when keyed with the alpha. EI does an amazing job by over saturating the RGB channel. Know one I've ever talked too has been able to convince me LW can even do that.

Not sure I know what this means, but changing your saturation at render-time sounds like a hack. Look in the Advanced tab for the Color Filter feature, it's what you'd use for tinting the glass. If you want to output unpremultiplied images like EI, that's in the render options.


This might help :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlSne1nCCTA

There is an alternative way to animate transparency by surface, the Surface Mixer under Shader/Add Shader. You'll need to bring in a completely transparent surface, and assign it to the surface mixer installed on your original surface, and apply an envelope to the Blend Opacity. Takes care of all the channels at once.

And just in case it wasn't mentioned, you can do transparency (dissolve) per-object as well as per-surface.

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 08:21 AM
When you don't work for your self the company takes the bites for you - we're expected to do the chewing. Nothing that can't be dealt with when there is a forum of very kind and helpful people you can count on (like all of you)

Looking forward to getting this digested. Thanks again to everyone.

DI

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 08:46 AM
To clarify about glass and RGB channels (because I suspect this can be done).

If you create a lens flare in After Effects (see Exhibit A) and output it as an RGB+ Straight (see Exhibit B) you can clearly see the RGB channel over saturates (over "shoots" may be a better term) the Alpha channel (see Exhibit C) so when keyed you get exactly what the flare looked like in AE on whatever you key it over.

Electric Image does this with it's RGB channels (for instance you'll see aliased edges in the RGB channel of a logo (when output with and Alpha because EI knows it will be keyed). The alpha has the smooth anti aliased edges based on your settings. Since the RGB "overshoots" the alpha by several pixels what you get is a pristine edge with no danger of black around your logo. Basic Graphics 101 when building keyed elements in PhotoShop - make your RGB channel bigger than your alpha and you get cleaner edges.

The amazing thing about EI (and I hope LW can do this but know one has ever told me how - including LW staff) is that if you render glass over a black field (for comping in another program like AE) the RGB channel looks as weird as my attached Exhibit B but once keyed looks exactly like it did in the 3D app due to this over saturation (or overshooting ) of the RGB channel.

In LW, every time I've built something in glass the RGB looks beautiful but when keyed it would be like trying to key Exhibit A with the alpha Exhibit C. There are too many subtleties for the alpha to handle and you loose a bunch of the qualities that make the glass beautiful.

I'm almost positive LW can do this (it seems like a basic output function)but to date (3 years now) know one has been able to show me how (or understands what I'm trying to achieve).

Does this make sense? Thanks for reading my rant. I'd love to get to the bottom of this and if LW can't do it I think it would be worth implementing.

Lastly, I know I could output a wirframe animation, use that to comp in AE, determine timing and placement, output my AE composite and comp the 3D glass over the AE output and get the desired results but this isn't an efficient way to work when additional filtering (glow, starlight etc) are frequently used in AE when comping 3D animation with 2D animation beds. Add to this clients changing their minds, timing changes etc etc. and there is a whole bunch of creative flexibility lost when having to comp a final animation in LW just to get decent glass animation.

Phew. Thanks for any input on this. Would love to hear from someone at LW about this issue.

DigitalImagery

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 08:51 AM
Sorry didn't check the outputs before posting. Use these images for previous post.

DI

toby
08-23-2011, 01:45 PM
To clarify about glass and RGB channels (because I suspect this can be done).

If you create a lens flare in After Effects (see Exhibit A) and output it as an RGB+ Straight (see Exhibit B) you can clearly see the RGB channel over saturates (over "shoots" may be a better term) the Alpha channel (see Exhibit C) so when keyed you get exactly what the flare looked like in AE on whatever you key it over.

Electric Image does this with it's RGB channels (for instance you'll see aliased edges in the RGB channel of a logo (when output with and Alpha because EI knows it will be keyed). The alpha has the smooth anti aliased edges based on your settings. Since the RGB "overshoots" the alpha by several pixels what you get is a pristine edge with no danger of black around your logo. Basic Graphics 101 when building keyed elements in PhotoShop - make your RGB channel bigger than your alpha and you get cleaner edges.

The amazing thing about EI (and I hope LW can do this but know one has ever told me how - including LW staff) is that if you render glass over a black field (for comping in another program like AE) the RGB channel looks as weird as my attached Exhibit B but once keyed looks exactly like it did in the 3D app due to this over saturation (or overshooting ) of the RGB channel.

In LW, every time I've built something in glass the RGB looks beautiful but when keyed it would be like trying to key Exhibit A with the alpha Exhibit C. There are too many subtleties for the alpha to handle and you loose a bunch of the qualities that make the glass beautiful.

I'm almost positive LW can do this (it seems like a basic output function)but to date (3 years now) know one has been able to show me how (or understands what I'm trying to achieve).

Does this make sense? Thanks for reading my rant. I'd love to get to the bottom of this and if LW can't do it I think it would be worth implementing.

Lastly, I know I could output a wirframe animation, use that to comp in AE, determine timing and placement, output my AE composite and comp the 3D glass over the AE output and get the desired results but this isn't an efficient way to work when additional filtering (glow, starlight etc) are frequently used in AE when comping 3D animation with 2D animation beds. Add to this clients changing their minds, timing changes etc etc. and there is a whole bunch of creative flexibility lost when having to comp a final animation in LW just to get decent glass animation.

Phew. Thanks for any input on this. Would love to hear from someone at LW about this issue.

DigitalImagery
Yes that's the Unpremultiply option I mentioned. You'll find it in Render Globals in the Output tab. You won't see the results with F9, only F10.

But most people are able to comp glass with a premultiplied alpha, maybe it's the way you're interpretting in ae, or because AE doesn't have an unpremultiply function -

When you say "key with the alpha" you don't mean an actual keying procedure do you? You shouldn't get a black edge even with a premultiplied image.

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 01:59 PM
Toby,
Do you actually use AE? Yes it certainly has a premultiply option. You can output just RGB, RGB+ Alpha, RGB Premultiplied (as if already keyed).

I "think" you're "assuming" most people can key using a pre multiplied render but if you've actually built a really nice glass image and tried keying with the alpha generated when using Premultiplied (I know where it is and have tried it) I'd say 30% of what makes the glass look really nice is gone because it isn't giving you the proper RGB I described.

Render something in glass you feel is a really nice colored rendition of a letter or something. Out put it as you suggest and using the alpha that LW delivers key that (using the alpha) over a background and show me. If you get the exact same glass appearance you saw in side your render i'd like a copy of the file. It isn't doing it for me with any of the settings I can find in either the camera or global render dialogs. It isn't addressed in the manual and Know one has ever answered this question from any forum, tech support or people at the LW booth at the trade shows.

You don't want to output as pre multiplied anyway, that is saying you want the object to be keyed already keyed in the render, you want to output straight so the RGB is intended to be keyed using the alpha once composited after the rendering is complete.

Thanks for the feedback but this is not going to deliver what I'm suggesting.

DI

toby
08-23-2011, 04:13 PM
Toby,
Do you actually use AE? Yes it certainly has a premultiply option. You can output just RGB, RGB+ Alpha, RGB Premultiplied (as if already keyed).

I have used it for years, but not with EI. Yes AE has a Premultiply option, but not an UNpremultiply, afaik.


I "think" you're "assuming" most people can key using a pre multiplied render but if you've actually built a really nice glass image and tried keying with the alpha generated...
I don't understand this, keying is creating an alpha from a bluescreen and such. If you have an alpha, you don't need to pull a key. Can you tell me exactly what you're doing here? Are you interpretting footage with 'Ignore', then using 'set matte' to multiply the alpha?



when using Premultiplied (I know where it is and have tried it) I'd say 30% of what makes the glass look really nice is gone because it isn't giving you the proper RGB I described.

Render something in glass you feel is a really nice colored rendition of a letter or something. Out put it as you suggest and using the alpha that LW delivers key that (using the alpha) over a background and show me. If you get the exact same glass appearance you saw in side your render i'd like a copy of the file. It isn't doing it for me with any of the settings I can find in either the camera or global render dialogs. It isn't addressed in the manual and Know one has ever answered this question from any forum, tech support or people at the LW booth at the trade shows.
Ok I'm trying that now. Compositing glass always has issues though. Different methods are required for different renderers and compositing apps.


You don't want to output as pre multiplied anyway, that is saying you want the object to be keyed already keyed in the render, you want to output straight so the RGB is intended to be keyed using the alpha once composited after the rendering is complete.
I've actually never worked for or heard of a studio that outputs Unpremultiplied images the way EI does. I know that lw + ae is used successfully, I believe the Firefly tv show was done that way.

You tried the Unpremult option and F10? It should give you the same thing that EI does, but it can depend on what image format you're using.

Sensei
08-23-2011, 04:19 PM
I have used it for years, but not with EI. Yes AE has a Premultiply option, but not an UNpremultiply, afaik.

If pre multiplying is:
Rd = Rs * A
Gd = Gs * A
Bd = Bs * A

then, reversing this process is diving by A, or multiplying by 1/A

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 04:28 PM
I have to assume you are fairly young. Yes keying is used as a term in green screen compositing but is also the term used pre digital when a graphic was built and recorded to a beta deck (tape - analog) and a matching alpha was recorded to a second beta tape. This was called a roll (the colored image) and the b roll (the matte or alpha). The decks were rolled simultaneously controlled by an editor with a switcher and "keyed" on top of video (or used to create animations before this was doable digitally.

The alpha channels in the now digital age come from this analog technique. So keying is not just a green screen term it's been used since before either of us were in graphics for superimposing graphics over video.

Interested in what you get for results. BTW I was beta testing AE before it was ever released to the public and my work is on the back of After Effects 1.0 box. I may be new to LW but I'm pretty sure I know what i'm talking about when it comes to keying, alphas, premult and straight forms of output from the app.

I "am" really interested in what you come up with in your test. You mentioned "Ok I'm trying that now. Compositing glass always has issues though. Different methods are required for different renderers and compositing apps." That is my whole point. How does LW do it and can it?

Maybe I can find some old files rendered in EI so you can see what I'm talking about. You'd be impressed and once you see how pristine the key is (there's that term again) you'll want LW to be able to do it too.

At one point LW bought EI and the EI programmer and I worked together for a couple of days when NewTek was in CA. I wish I knew more about the program then, I would have asked him to implement this feature (or explain it to the programmers at LW).

Ceau
DI

toby
08-23-2011, 04:39 PM
If pre multiplying is:
Rd = Rs * A
Gd = Gs * A
Bd = Bs * A

then, reversing this process is diving by A, or multiplying by 1/A
Yea, but is there a way to 'divide' in AE?

toby
08-23-2011, 04:47 PM
I have to assume you are fairly young. Yes keying is used as a term in green screen compositing but is also the term used pre digital when a graphic was built and recorded to a beta deck (tape - analog) and a matching alpha was recorded to a second beta tape. This was called a roll (the colored image) and the b roll (the matte or alpha). The decks were rolled simultaneously controlled by an editor with a switcher and "keyed" on top of video (or used to create animations before this was doable digitally.

The alpha channels in the now digital age come from this analog technique. So keying is not just a green screen term it's been used since before either of us were in graphics for superimposing graphics over video.

Interested in what you get for results. BTW I was beta testing AE before it was ever released to the public and my work is on the back of After Effects 1.0 box. I may be new to LW but I'm pretty sure I know what i'm talking about when it comes to keying, alphas, premult and straight forms of output from the app.

I "am" really interested in what you come up with in your test. You mentioned "Ok I'm trying that now. Compositing glass always has issues though. Different methods are required for different renderers and compositing apps." That is my whole point. How does LW do it and can it?

Maybe I can find some old files rendered in EI so you can see what I'm talking about. You'd be impressed and once you see how pristine the key is (there's that term again) you'll want LW to be able to do it too.

At one point LW bought EI and the EI programmer and I worked together for a couple of days when NewTek was in CA. I wish I knew more about the program then, I would have asked him to implement this feature (or explain it to the programmers at LW).

Ceau
DI
Well, not young, just didn't learn compositing so long ago. It was clear that you know what you're doing/talking about, but I needed to understand what you're doing to give you any advice. I can also tell you that at places like digital domain and sony imageworks, nobody refers to using an alpha as 'keying', so I hope you can excuse me for not knowing/using that.

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 04:58 PM
No apology necessary. Just so I can stay current with the lingo, what term do they use when compositing with alpha channels? Maybe all this time know body understood what I was asking because I was using outdated terminology.

I'll bet if you ask one of the old boys (if there are any - most of us get out of those sweat shops when we get old) they'd at least remember that term being used.

DI

Lightwolf
08-23-2011, 05:25 PM
I suppose it depends on the industry. Key is more of a video term, Matte is the one coming from film.
However, in both cases the verb refers to creating a key/matte.
Alpha channels by themselves are a digital term though (late 70ies).

Unpremultiplied/straight compositing is also relatively rare in compositing applications, most tend to prefer pre-multiplied RGBs (I'd assume initially due to less computation being involved).
The exception being (obviously) applications with a video background.

However, effectively the math is precisely the same, the only difference is that one stage is either pre-computed or not.

All of which is completely beside the actual issue though - which I suppose is connected to how the renderer computes the actual alpha for transparent surfaces as opposed to how the imagery is stored.

Lens flares being a special case of course. At least in LW they never produce an alpha anyhow.

Cheers,
Mike

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 05:31 PM
Good to know and makes sense of the confusion. I started in video on a Quantel Paintbox laying graphics and mattes (alphas) to tape for editing. Since it was a digital system we adopted alpha to mean matte used for keying. And yes this was late 70's.

Good to know and yes my query is still getting good transparent RGB/Alphas for compositing. I used the lens flare image because I no longer have a copy of EI that will run on my current system (I don't think it would anyway). Otherwise I would have spit out exactly what I was referring to and all would be good with the world.

Thanks for clarifying.
DI

toby
08-23-2011, 05:35 PM
I don't think there's any term, it's just assumed that anything you're comping has an alpha.

The process in Nuke is to bring in Premultiplied elements, Unpremulting them before doing color corrections, then Premulting again before comping. (Since you can unpremult at any time, I guess it's just easier to output elements that look as expected.)

If you could do it in AE you'd probably have a stack of effects in effects controls; unpremult, adjust, premult, so those get done to the element before it goes over your background.

Looks like Lightwolf explained it better -

digitalimagery
08-23-2011, 05:49 PM
We frequently have many stacks of effects in AE. That's the beauty of the program. You can make creative decisions the entire time you're comping. If an effect changes the way something else in the scene has been affected (a different layer with it's own effects for instance) you can go back to that layer and make adjustments. I just need good rich 3D with a matte to comp with and there lies the origin of this string.

There's a reason it's (AE) one of the apps of choice. Certainly not the only one out there but I'm certain it was the first.

Happy Day.
DI

Lightwolf
08-23-2011, 06:23 PM
We frequently have many stacks of effects in AE. That's the beauty of the program. You can make creative decisions the entire time you're comping.
Now it's very obvious that you come from a Quantel background :D


There's a reason it's (AE) one of the apps of choice. Certainly not the only one out there but I'm certain it was the first.

I wouldn't be, it only appeared in 1993 and there were a bunch of compositing applications beyond that (I.e. Morph Plus by ASDG was on the market 1992 and also featured some limited compositing abilities. I'm not quite sure of the status of ADPro at that time anymore though).
Certainly not as comfortable with a proper timeline and everything, but even AE only got that a little later.
1996 sees the appearance of the first commercially available node based compositors.
And that's just the "desktop" applications.

We've certainly progressed since then... ;)

Cheers,
Mike

toby
08-23-2011, 07:58 PM
We frequently have many stacks of effects in AE.
Hope you don't think I was saying "it can't be done in AE", what I meant was, if you could do it the same way in AE.

But I am having trouble getting any correct glass in AE, using (nearly) the same method that works in Nuke. As close as I can get it involves increasing the gamma of the alpha to 2.2, and it's still too dark. Adobe is still using their own interpretation of alphas, I assume that's the problem. So I think you're right, EI did something to make glass work in AE.

But there HAS to be a method out there somewhere, Zoic studios used lw and AE together for years before switching to nuke.

digitalimagery
08-24-2011, 07:51 AM
Lightwolf:
When I mentioned AE being first I was referring to for a desktop platform. I haven't heard of a couple of those comp systems you were referring to. Were they desktop apps? Morph Plus sounds like it was strictly for morphing - the name alone could be why it didn't take off if it did more.

There were a couple of desktop systems (apps) that came out in the early days that I tested which I really liked and had potential but never got off the ground.

Then there was the introduction of the Abekas A60's and A62 which was kind of the in between analog and digital (multi layered compositing with no degradation. Charlex in NY was using them for those real deep Coke commercials that looked like NY with King Kong. We used them in Boston at Editel.

The Harry suites etcs were all digital compositing systems but I was getting at something that could be afforded by the masses.

Toby:
No I knew what you were referring to. This is opening my eyes to the fact that other compositing apps can actually handle alphas differently. I would suspect they all pretty much handle things the same way. On my bio page (bottom) I have a glass trophy that was used for an award banquet for ASU. Those images were comped inside of LW because I couldn't get decent matting? Keying? whatever we're calling it.

The few times I've been up against the wall I've doubled the 3D transparent layers and that got a better look but it was still far from what I was seeing in the renders over black in LW.

I don't suspect LW would ever analyze EI and see what they're doing and put that into their rendering options. It's pretty impressive. I wouldn't buy a new compositing software (and spend the time learning it) just to key glass. Be easier to just get EI and use that when needed.

Well enjoying the dialog. This is a great community of professionals.
Randy

Lightwolf
08-24-2011, 07:58 AM
Lightwolf:
When I mentioned AE being first I was referring to for a desktop platform. I haven't heard of a couple of those comp systems you were referring to. Were they desktop apps? Morph Plus sounds like it was strictly for morphing - the name alone could be why it didn't take off if it did more.
A bit of history: Morph Plus was a subset of ADPro (Art Department Professional if my memory serves me right) and later morphed (pun intended) into Elastic Reality (initially on SGI).
The company was eventually taken over by Avid and Elastic Reality appeared on Mac OS and Windows as well.
The HPII image plugins used by Avid are also a result of that aquisition.
A lot of people here (including me) come from the Amiga side of things. And as far as graphics and video are concerned it was ahead for quite a while (which also resulted in applications that catered for the market).


Well enjoying the dialog. This is a great community of professionals.

Nice to read. I suppose that's one reason to hang around in this place.

I wonder if you coud whip up a little test scene that showcases your issue. That would give us something more concrete to toy with (I'm afraid I'd comp it in Fusion though).

Cheers,
Mike

digitalimagery
08-24-2011, 08:52 AM
This case was something I dealt with in a past project (which I have buried someplace). It's that award image. I'm not dealing with anything present (although I want to do our company logo in glass). I'm hammered right (with work not liquor) so I'll have to dig it up over the weekend and then post it.

I think you'll get my meaning. I also "may" have the Movie World globe which Paul Sherbitoff (big time EI guy) helped me set up which if I have the files will show the way EI handles the RGB image.

Stay tuned. ANd thanks again.
Randy (DI)

dwburman
08-24-2011, 06:57 PM
Randy,

When you say "Over Saturating" the colors are you talking about increasing the chroma/color levels as if you were turning the color knob on a proc amp or CRT monitor or are you talking about not blending the colors into the (black) background color so the color expands past the alpha?

As Toby mentioned, if you set the Alpha Format to Unpremultiply background, LW doesn't blend the RGB into the background color and thus, it has jaggy edges and overshoots the alpha channel. You can either save the alpha as a separate image sequence (the travelling matte for the B deck) or keep it embedded in the file format. When you load it in AE, you'll tell AE to interpret the alpha as 'straight' instead of premultiplied.

Of course, I don't know if that'll make your glass look better in AE or not. :)

Since you're working with AE and LW together you should check out AE Link (http://www.vfxwizard.com/software/lightwave-to-after-effects-exporter.html). It's on sale right now (30% off) along with nearly everything else at Liberty3D.com (http://www.liberty3d.com/store/liberty3d-tools/ae-link/) - you have to use the coupon code ("school") to get the discount.

jeric_synergy
08-24-2011, 11:32 PM
digitalimagery, I suggest you post a simple glass test object here, like a cube or a 'plus sign', so we can all be sure we're talking about the same thing.

I seem to remember at some version of AE, the "luminescent premultiply" mode was added (??), which solved the problem of comping LW renders. I'm surprised to read here that that is the default mode for most compositing-- at the time, it took some special education to get that word out.

EDIT: I ul'd a test object (attached). However, I'm getting funky results in AE using 'luminescent premultiply'-- the alpha is letting thru speckled bands of the LW gradient which, of course, shouldn't appear at all {wrong, see below}. Attached the LW render too. 32bit PNG, plus a duplicate JPG for ease of viewing as rendered.

EDIT2: ahhhh, never mind: no gradient backdrops when creating global alphas. Got it.

toby
08-25-2011, 12:38 AM
couple things - I think part of the reason I can't get good glass is- the unpremultiplied glass is way above 1.0 luminance, and getting clipped because I don't have a new enough AE to handle float.

But that may not be the only problem; I have a friend who worked on Sky Captain for 2 years in AE, and (sorry) she can't remember what it was, but they did indeed have to apply some trick for glass.

I just saw someone suggested rendering glass with your background/environment visible to camera, then creating a completely solid alpha separately. Should work, and it even maintains your refracted colors.

dpont
08-25-2011, 02:35 AM
...I just saw someone suggested rendering glass with your background/environment visible to camera, then creating a completely solid alpha separately. Should work, and it even maintains your refracted colors.

This is a good tip,
like for mapping a leaf image with alpha transparency,
a green leaf image over a white background gives white leaks
on the leaf border,
I always add a background around the leaf with the same tone.

For a matte with glass over color, a black background is not good,
so approaching the final colored background could help a lot.

I remember a few tricks when I added glass matte for
logos in a rough compositing app (not AE),
one was adding the matte twice,
another was tweaking a bit the luminosity/contrast
of the alpha.

Denis.

digitalimagery
08-25-2011, 08:03 AM
When you say "Over Saturating" the colors are you talking about increasing the chroma/color levels as if you were turning the color knob on a proc amp or CRT monitor or are you talking about not blending the colors into the (black) background color so the color expands past the alpha?

I think this was brought up earlier and I saw the confusion. I meant "filling in" the RGB channel (your second thought) so as to completely flood the RGB with the appropriate image to get the exact same look you saw in your test renders inside of LW once the matte is used in compositing. Nothing to do with changing the color saturation. Should have chosen a different word.


As Toby mentioned, if you set the Alpha Format to Unpremultiply background, LW doesn't blend the RGB into the background color and thus, it has jaggy edges and overshoots the alpha channel. You can either save the alpha as a separate image sequence (the travelling matte for the B deck) or keep it embedded in the file format. When you load it in AE, you'll tell AE to interpret the alpha as 'straight' instead of premultiplied.

Yup I get all that. But never hurts to be sure. TY.



Since you're working with AE and LW together you should check out AE Link (http://www.vfxwizard.com/software/lightwave-to-after-effects-exporter.html). It's on sale right now (30% off) along with nearly everything else at Liberty3D.com (http://www.liberty3d.com/store/liberty3d-tools/ae-link/) - you have to use the coupon code ("school") to get the discount.

Definitely look into it.



...I just saw someone suggested rendering glass with your background/environment visible to camera, then creating a completely solid alpha separately. Should work, and it even maintains your refracted colors.

Another good suggestion.



I remember a few tricks when I added glass matte for
logos in a rough compositing app (not AE),
one was adding the matte twice,
another was tweaking a bit the luminosity/contrast
of the alpha.

I've had to do all that to get acceptable glass but it was never that great (at least compared to the render tests in LW) It just looses so much richness. I've also doubled up the layer of the glass it's self and that helps quite a bit.

As for putting graphics over the color of the edges being keyed (matted) this is old school (you must be talking to another paintbox guy). This was the rule of the day back when everything was comped in the analog world and it works like a charm for opaque graphics. The old Wheel of Fortune Open used to make me gag seeing all the black around the solid graphics when this simple trick would have solved that.

All these suggestions are great ideas and definitely techniques I'll try but in the end after having had a program output an RGB that comped (my new word for key) perfectly, they all appear as work arounds - and that's fine. God knows we live in a world of workarounds to achieve many of our final productions. None are ever really finished (in "our" opinions) but budgets, deadlines and production schedules dictate completion in many instances.

I'm so indebted to all of you for chiming in on this topic. I'll check out the attachment with the glass render someone posted and I suspect it's exactly what I'm referring to. The sample I put up of the lens flare is what a glass RGB channel looks like in Electric Image before it's keyed and unless I'm seeing that in the RGB output of LW rendered as unpremultiply (which is the same as Straight in AE - opposite of Premultiply) then I don't think it will be delivering what I miss so much about EI glass renders.

Thanks everyone. When I get onto the next glass project I'll post some samples of what I get. In the interim I'll see what I can post for a quick sample and see if I can find an old EI render (most are on DAT in boxes)
to show you exactly what I'm looking for. It really is a steller image for compositing and you'd all be envious if (when) you see it.

I can offer this. On the Animations link of my web site, the second row last animation is a short piece that was ray traced in EI (actually done while visiting LW when they were in CA and had temporarily owned EI). It was then comped in AE over that blue yellow background. I did nothing additional than key it with the attached alpha.

Granted today I would have used a bit of glo filter and maybe tweaked a few things but that is raw EI (rendered over black) keyed with the alpha in AE over that background. No work around required. If EI can do it I suspect LW can do it (if they implemented the same technique).

Much appreciated
Randy Cates (a.k.a.DigitalImagery)