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Chad711
08-27-2011, 11:51 AM
Obviously, I'm new to LightWave.
I see people talking about how they use LW to render or model and use other software like Messiah to animate, and people never really talk about animating(characters) in LW. Is LightWave not a good program for animating? I've also not seen many tutorials or videos of people animating in LW, and the ones that do only have very basic movements.

Is it just their preference to animate in another software? If you use or do not use LW to animate, why? And what do you use?

I personally prefer Zbrush for modeling.

Shabazzy
08-27-2011, 12:29 PM
It's an interesting question you pose Chad.

In my opinion, Lightwave has some excellent animation tools. For 3D animations, I use LightWave exclusively, but there are many different types of animation.

There's character animation, and within that there's a number of different styles and techniques (i.e bi-pedal, quadraped, facial etc). There's motion graphics, there's animation with expressions (mathematics), texture animation, animating lights and cameras, particle animations, there's just a whole stack of them, the list seems endless.

Fortunately Lightwave seems to handle all (or at the very least most) of them, but it takes time and patience to understand how to do the type of animation you require in the LightWave way.

Many of the guys here work within a studio facility and have to adopt different tools to achieve their goals and after a while you get used to doing things with one particular tool. It's a pain to have to switch your methodology to accommodate another so you get a little frustrated and stick to what you know.

Unfortunately some then go on to say things like LightWave's animation tools suck because it doesn't have x, y or z feature. And although there may be some truth to it, most times it's because the user was too lazy to achieve their goal the LightWave way.

Personally, I'm blown away at the animation abilities of LightWave and would say it would stand up against the most expensive tools in the biz.

The reason, you may not have found many animation resources on Lightwave is probably because the field of animation is so vast. You really would need to narrow down what area of animation you what to know about, then find out and learn the principles and methodology behind that type of animation. Then apply those skills using Lightwave's toolsets.

Remember: It's not the tools, it's the artist that matters.

Shabazzy

jasonwestmas
08-27-2011, 12:53 PM
Lightwave works great for CA animation in a manner of speaking, but that depends on the style, how much detail you want for closeup shots and the level of complexity you are willing to go through to get there. The fact is that you're going to get a richer tool set for character deformations and smoother key framing workflow from other programs, that's all. It's just a matter of what you are willing to learn and pay.

And it's not true that tools don't matter as much, they matter just as much when trying to finish specific kind of effect on time. LW is not designed to do it all, sorry.

Shabazzy
08-27-2011, 01:18 PM
And it's not true that tools don't matter as much, they matter just as much when trying to finish specific kind of effect on time. LW is not designed to do it all, sorry.

Absolutely agree. Lightwave is not designed to do it all, and it's usefulness for a given project is directly related to your knowledge of LW, what you want to achieve and in what given time frame.

But no matter how great a set of tools are, if you're a crappy artist and/or a non-technical person, your work will suffer.

Some tools just take the technical requirements out of the equation and make it more intuitive and quicker to achieve the same goal. It doesn't mean the tool is better in all respects, it just means the tool makes it easier and quicker for the less skilled, but in doing so, risks taking away a certain amount of flexibility from the user.

jasonwestmas
08-27-2011, 01:23 PM
Absolutely agree. Lightwave is not designed to do it all, and it's usefulness for a given project is directly related to your knowledge of LW, what you want to achieve and in what given time frame.

But no matter how great a set of tools are, if you're a crappy artist and/or a non-technical person, your work will suffer.

Some tools just take the technical requirements out of the equation and make it more intuitive and quicker to achieve the same goal. It doesn't mean the tool is better in all respects, it just means the tool makes it easier and quicker for the less skilled, but in doing so, risks taking away a certain amount of flexibility from the user.

Right, in the context of some basic goals I'd say LW works just dandy. Auto-majik doesn't always do the job either. It takes both I'd say to get things done and to do it with Artistic finness. Using the software to automatize some operations while leaving room for manual intuitive work on top. The best applications do work that way imo.

pooby
08-27-2011, 01:25 PM
It's like music. You can create music with a guitar, some bongos, a bass drum
and a flute. And if you are happy with the range and scope that the combination of those instruments gives you then you will encounter no frustrations.
If you want o choose exactly what instruments you play, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Shabazzy
08-27-2011, 01:28 PM
Right, in the context of some basic goals I'd say LW works just dandy. Auto-majik doesn't always do the job either. It takes both I'd say to get things done and to do it with Artistic finness. Using the software to automatize some operations while leaving room for manual intuitive work on top. The best applications do work that way imo.


It's like music. You can create music with a guitar, some bongos, a bass drum
and a flute. And if you are happy with the range and scope that the combination of those instruments gives you then you will encounter no frustrations.
If you want o choose exactly what instruments you play, you'll need to look elsewhere.

True. True.

jasonwestmas
08-27-2011, 01:29 PM
It's like music. You can create music with a guitar, some bongos, a bass drum
and a flute. And if you are happy with the range and scope that the combination of those instruments gives you then you will encounter no frustrations.
If you want o choose exactly what instruments you play, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Then, there's the pooby metaphores which make a great deal of sense too.:hey:

littlewaves
08-28-2011, 02:19 AM
It's like music. You can create music with a guitar, some bongos, a bass drum
and a flute. And if you are happy with the range and scope that the combination of those instruments gives you then you will encounter no frustrations.
If you want o choose exactly what instruments you play, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Man I hate bongos. There's always some idiot at a music festival campsite playing his bloody bongos all through the night thinking he's being all "spiritual".

If lightwave had a bongos primitive I'd leave

RebelHill
08-28-2011, 04:51 AM
By far the vast majority of my work with LW is character animation related... and its fine really, for the most part.

Other softs, you will find, or at least some of them, have much more dedicated character animation toolsets... take for instance view layers in Maya, which give you a quick easy way to show/hide characters, or parts of characters... Is it a necessity for producing character animation... not in the slightest. Is it a really nice lil workflow tool that helps animators to reduce screen clutter, narrow their focus, and streamline their workflow... absolutely.

Then there's other things such as motor in softimage taht lets you transfer animation between different characters, even ones with different hierarchies... just about indispensable if you need that sort of function... but its something that's going to be far less commonly needed... and ofc, when it comes to jsut grabbing a single character and animating it by hand with keyframes... the tool has no use whatsoever.

Then there's LWs own limitations... these are mainly down to the deformation system. Can you do a wide range of characters and get them deforming nicely, sure thing, no problem. Can you get super nuanced deformation the like of which you see on feature film characters like gollum, etc... hell no. You could probably get a decent result in a mid shot where the character isnt filling that much of the screen, but a detailed closeup, no chance.

So is it usable, capable, and got all the mainline stuff you need for such things... sure thing. Does it measure up to the leaders of the pack, and have all the tools and tricks to create any kind of character animation under any circumstances, or production demands, no.

So there you have it.

jasonwestmas
08-28-2011, 08:02 AM
By far the vast majority of my work with LW is character animation related... and its fine really, for the most part.

Other softs, you will find, or at least some of them, have much more dedicated character animation toolsets... take for instance view layers in Maya, which give you a quick easy way to show/hide characters, or parts of characters... Is it a necessity for producing character animation... not in the slightest. Is it a really nice lil workflow tool that helps animators to reduce screen clutter, narrow their focus, and streamline their workflow... absolutely.

Then there's other things such as motor in softimage taht lets you transfer animation between different characters, even ones with different hierarchies... just about indispensable if you need that sort of function... but its something that's going to be far less commonly needed... and ofc, when it comes to jsut grabbing a single character and animating it by hand with keyframes... the tool has no use whatsoever.

Then there's LWs own limitations... these are mainly down to the deformation system. Can you do a wide range of characters and get them deforming nicely, sure thing, no problem. Can you get super nuanced deformation the like of which you see on feature film characters like gollum, etc... hell no. You could probably get a decent result in a mid shot where the character isnt filling that much of the screen, but a detailed closeup, no chance.

So is it usable, capable, and got all the mainline stuff you need for such things... sure thing. Does it measure up to the leaders of the pack, and have all the tools and tricks to create any kind of character animation under any circumstances, or production demands, no.

So there you have it.

Yeah, when I choose the CA tools I need for something specific, I think about four general things.

-What is the artistic style and references for the picture in question. (The budget and story board/script is what usually drives this).

-How many half-body shots/closeups verses far away shots am I going to need.

-Which effects and how many of them are happening in those shots.

-How many rigs and animations etc. can I share or not share between characters, tweak them and get away with it.

So, when I choose software I tend to think about what kind of work I'm probably going to be doing. Most lightwave users are going to be doing quick turn-around projects. Nothing wrong with that but that appears to be the crowds that NT is catering to.

So if your goal is to work in feature animation and long grueling video game development, LW may not be the application to be learning for CA. However, there are some basic workflow things that I just prefer when creating keyframe animation in general, that if existed in LW I would probably find myself using if more. Things that just make animation by hand a lot more enjoyable which says a lot when working on the longer projects.

Titus
08-28-2011, 10:17 AM
My paid work is mainly tv ads with very few caracter animation, so I have no problems using LW. I don't use LW for CA or mograph. My understandig is that many mographers prefer cinema 4D for this task, but one of my animators use Blender, since this program manage objects in a very particular way and you can move hundreds of instances easily.

bugzilla
08-29-2011, 10:43 AM
Anyone who's watched my Youtube tutorial series (http://www.youtube.com/user/bugzilla2001)
knows that I also went from doing character animation in LW to animating in other programs then sending the MDD files to LW for rendering. The biggest problems with character work in LW is the rigging tools are not user friendly and there is no way to interactively paint weights in Layout. Also, some of the tools like IK Booster don't really work as advertised. To be honest, I don't think Newtek cares about Character Animation tools. They know that most LW users work in architecture, logos,FX. The CA tools are just enough if you want to animate a shot or two. The tools in other programs allow you to get much better results much quicker. It's a question of workflow. LW has a great workflow for FX and architectural renderings, not so much for CA.

Chad711
08-29-2011, 07:40 PM
Hahah. Bugzilla, I was just at your YouTube channel a moment ago. What do you prefer for CA animation?

And thanks to everyone for the great answers. XD

Philbert
08-29-2011, 09:53 PM
Remember, Jimmy Neutron is all LW as is everything Nick Digital does last I heard. So obviously for that stuff it works pretty good. You can also look at Battlestar Galactica and Terminator TSCC where the robots were LW. It may not be perfect for every situation, but it's quite capable.

Philbert
08-30-2011, 12:14 AM
I just did a quick search and this interview was the first that came up saying they used messiah but it had just come out. He goes on to say LW didn't have the tools for feature films at the time but they were fine for TV and after the movie was finished (2002) the LW tools had been greatly improved.

http://www.animationartist.com/2002/01_jan/features/jimmyneutron_johndavis.htm

Sil3
08-30-2011, 06:06 AM
I just did a quick search and this interview was the first that came up saying they used messiah but it had just come out. He goes on to say LW didn't have the tools for feature films at the time but they were fine for TV and after the movie was finished (2002) the LW tools had been greatly improved.

http://www.animationartist.com/2002/01_jan/features/jimmyneutron_johndavis.htm


And then they changed from Messiah to Maya for all Jimmy Neutron CA work on the TV show.

JN the movie is 10 years old now by the way, a lot has evolved in Rigging and CA since then ;)

wrightyp100
08-30-2011, 06:52 AM
I have found that lightwave struggles with two characters in a scene. Maya didn't. Just saying.

RebelHill
08-30-2011, 06:53 AM
Well... most of my work is commercials and similar, and mostly character stuff, almost all of which i do in LW.

Again, to use as a central tool for a bigger studio to try and do EVERYTHING, then LW probably aint gonna cut it in a lot of situations, and certainly for detailed creature FX work for big movies, it lacks the versatility and scalability... but it must be remembered that these are very, VERY niche markets to a large extent.

The majority of CGers, character animation, et al, are NOT huge scale, big budget productions... so LW can happily have a place for an awful lot of work... Plus, tools aside, CA is CA irrelevant of the medium, so if your aim is to LEARN CA, then the package doesnt really matter all that much.

For instance, here's some recent commercials doing the rounds...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8TrpxD2sgg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iNri5504vk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWZoeFiNsy0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKe114FZyqU

I cant see anything in any of them that couldnt be done in LW. Could some packages perhaps allow for a slightly faster turn around time that LW in any of those situations... maybe, maybe not... depends on the artists and operators at the helm.

As for the rigging tools in LW... its true that they arent as expandable, or scalable as in some other softs... but they're certainly NOT unintuitive or clunky to grasp in any way. Infact an awful lot of certain rigging tricks and techniques is far easier to get your head around in LW than in other softwares.

bugzilla
08-30-2011, 11:14 AM
Hahah. Bugzilla, I was just at your YouTube channel a moment ago. What do you prefer for CA animation?

And thanks to everyone for the great answers. XD

I love using Blender for CA. The tools are so powerful and flexible. You can make changes to the weights, rigging, and keyframes at any time and the IK is easy to setup and rock solid. Their NLA is much more powerful than Motion Mixer. LW has the Blender renderer beat hands down so I still use both pieces of software together.

jasonwestmas
08-30-2011, 02:03 PM
Wasn't Jimmy Neutron animated with Messiah and rendered in LW?

yes

pooby
08-30-2011, 02:54 PM
As for the rigging tools in LW... its true that they arent as expandable, or scalable as in some other softs... but they're certainly NOT unintuitive or clunky to grasp in any way. Infact an awful lot of certain rigging tricks and techniques is far easier to get your head around in LW than in other softwares.


I'd be interested to know what these techniques are. I cant think of one thing in LW rigging that is easier or clearer than XSI's equivalent yet I can think of many many that are comparatively awkward, convoluted, broken or missing entirely.

TeZzy
08-30-2011, 03:03 PM
we do character animation with lightwave....doesn't mean it isn't painful though. if it's just one character it would be completely fine but that is rare

RebelHill
08-30-2011, 03:20 PM
I'd be interested to know what these techniques are. I cant think of one thing in LW rigging that is easier or clearer than XSI's equivalent yet I can think of many many that are comparatively awkward, convoluted, broken or missing entirely.

Maybe I should have said "than in SOME other softwares"... lol.

I cant speak for xsi (not yet anyway, soon though I hope)... but mainly with regard to maya... Take IKFK switching for example. You can setup IKFK switching in maya either via constraints, or rigging nodally, but its a fair bit of clicking about to do... The other way (and seemingly most common/most favoured, is to use MEL (great, scripting, thats nice and intuitive for someone starting out).

In LW this is really just a couple clicks... its a piece of cake and all done in the single motion options panel, very clear and easy to understand once youve seen the process once.

Then ofc there's doing IKFK switching with autosnap (going both ways)... now thats a definate job for MEL in maya and requires you know your stuff regarding accessing of local and global transforms, finding and calling those values... not to mention doing so without running face first into a dependency loop.

But again in LW... its so damn simple to do... infact once youve setup IKFK blending, its halfway done for you, making it autosnappable aint any kind of great stretch whatsoever... just a small handful more clicks.

Unless ofc you're using an autorigger... in which case they're all as easy as each other (;

Afalk
08-31-2011, 04:30 AM
Some great insights on animating within LW versus other packages there RebelHill - thanks for sharing them!

silviotoledo
09-01-2011, 08:31 PM
Blender have ANIMSCUPT and also Messiah have POINTCACHE ANIMATION wich is state of art technique to esculpt and key animating.

Lightwave needs to copy this!


And yes, Blender, Maya, Xsi, Max and maybe Cinema 4D are better for CA than lightwave.

Anyway lightwave also does it.