View Full Version : LW Interface : Un-burying Surface Editor's interfaces...

10-28-2003, 02:47 PM
Adding just a couple of branches to the hierarchy in Surface Editor's left-hand bin could make navigation a whole lot easier and more efficient... ;) There is far too much time spent opening and closing panels when trying to reach all the surface parameters and controls. More of this data should be "out in the open" on a single panel, so...

Have the left-hand bin in Surface editor display a hierarchy like so : Object Name -> Surface Name -> Channel Name -> Layer

Now :

1.) If you click on the Surface Name, the right-hand portion of the Surface Editor panel changes to the "classic" tabbed display with basic/advanced/environment/shaders.

Surface Name items in the left-hand bin retain their right-click options to copy/paste entire surfaces.

2.) If you click on the newly added Channel Name, the right-hand portion of surface editor changes to the following : a.) Basic channel parameters b.) A mini graph-editor showing the channel's envelope and spline controls

Also, since all channels are now visible simultaneously in the left-hand bin, individual channel items in this list should have copy/paste right-click options (for example, you could copy and paste an entire bump channel between two different sufaces.) Additional items appearing as item channels would include shaders, etc. so that they could also be copied and pasted between surfaces.

3.) Clicking on a Layer Item in the hierarchy would cause the Texture Layer Bin and Layer Editor to appear in the right-hand portion of the surface editor. Copy/Paste options for layers would be as they are now within Layer Editor.

This arrangement would eliminate a lot of time that's currently spent fighting with panels you would have the ability to move between any object/surface/channel/texture with a single click! ;)

10-28-2003, 06:24 PM
Newtek needs to scrap the Surface Editor, since it's so poor and limited anyway, and implement a powerful node-base shader system like the ones in Maya or XSI.

There's a plugin called Sabre, which is a node-based shader system for LightWave. It's nice, but far from the power of other systems.

The least Newtek could do is work with the creator of Sabre and bring this sort of thing directly to LightWave.

Elmar Moelzer
10-28-2003, 06:48 PM
You know, I really like LWs Surface Editor for most projets as it is pretty sufficient for most stuff and pretty fast to navigate.
With real complex surfaces things can look a bit different though.
Last time I felt the need to have two procedural Alphas for one texture I had to stop and rethink everything.
These are the situations where a more comlex or node- based Surface- Editor might help.
In all other situations LWs Surface- Editor does a well enough job, IMHO.

There is still a lot of room for improvements in the current SurfEd as well, though:
I.e. Colorfilter could use a texture - slot as well. Same with all the other channels in the advanced tab.
There should be more options for reflectionmaps (cubemaps or planar reflections, gamedevelopers need them).
Vertex(color)maps should be a texture- type like imagemaps, procedurals and gradients.
Displacement and Clipmaps should be surface- options and saved with the object not the scene.
It would also be cool if one could generate UV- maps (only standard projections) directly from within SurfEd.
These are only small things that could make a lot of a difference.
A node- based system should be optional.
For quick stuff it is far to complex and to slow to use.
For complex things it can become pretty important though.

10-28-2003, 06:57 PM
Also, adding a percentage for RayTraced Reflections VS Backdrop VS Spherical mapping.

Having 4 presets of some fixed 50% average is too poor.

Similarly, the same applies for Refracting options.

10-29-2003, 03:17 AM
It doesn't work like that Panikos.

Raytracing= all the reflection is raytraced, and where a scene is empty in the reflection, you get black.
Raytracing+backdrop= as above, but where a scene is empty, the backdrop/image environment is reflected.
Spherical map= just reflects a map.
Raytracing+spherical map= as above, but where a scene is empty, the spherical map is reflected.

This allows you to build a scene with some bits in it, but use a picture of the rest of the scene to make the reflection.

10-29-2003, 07:29 AM
You want to bet on this ?

Everything you said is accumulated, i.e A+B
The amount of reflectiong depends on your Reflection value + Textures on reflections channel. You cant adjust Raytraced Reflections contribution, Backdrop Contribution, Spherical Contribution unless you globally adjust the colours.

10-29-2003, 07:35 AM
I agree with Elmar, at the moment the surface editor is quick and easy to knock something up, but when you have multiple layers in each surface attribute it starts to become unwieldy.

If a node based system was what everyone wanted I'd go with that, you'd become used to it after a while, otherwise a hybrid system that allowed referencing of layers in other surface attributes would be a good start.

10-29-2003, 08:29 AM
Agree with everything here! ;)

Originally posted by Panikos
You cant adjust Raytraced Reflections contribution, Backdrop Contribution, Spherical Contribution unless you globally adjust the colours. I personally use a lot "Ray Tracing + Spherical Map" and it's verry annoying not having a "Spherical Map %" in which you can set the percentage amount of the Map (the same for Backdrop)!

I had the need, many many times, to blend only a bit the Spherical Map with the Raytraced Reflection and this is not directly possible, though very simple to implement... the same for Backdrop.


10-29-2003, 08:50 AM
I apologise, the raytracing one should of course be Backdrop, which draws just the backdrop into the reflection.

It certainly doesn't work as an average of the two as you said. It draws the scene ON TOP of the backdrop/spherical map in the reflection. Okay, so you can't turn down the different contributions, but you can lower the brightness of your reflection image (in the image panel, or even use the texture filter to add other colours/images to it), which hardly seems poor to me.

Backdrop is global so it would affect all items reflecting the backdrop, which is how it should be? (otherwise you could use a spherical map) You could then fade them out using the dissolve setting in the texture world panel.

Both these allow you to alter the intensity of the non raytraced parts of the reflection as described.

The only thing you can't control in the reflection is the objects reflected in the scene, unless you do them globally, using dissolves/clipmaps/transparency.

10-29-2003, 08:53 AM
And the faded spherical map and backdrop.

10-29-2003, 11:15 AM
The word average was wrong, sorry.

Instead of processing the images I would prefer a processor on the reflections options.

Both methods work, but I prefer the second instead of adding clones of images and process them.

As I wrote before, the same applies for refractions.
Tweaking values is mainly a surface issue, than a global adjust.

10-30-2003, 07:26 AM
Agree with Panikos!

A "Backdrop/Spherical %" value under Environment tab (both for Reflection and Refrection) should be better usable, configurable and surface (not global) dipendent!

Major benefit: you can mix as you better like RayTracing with SphericalMap using a single image for many surfaces (or even using the Backdrop)!


10-30-2003, 07:40 AM
I really don't understand why you'd want to mix reflections? It'd look really umm .. disturbing I think would be the word.

10-30-2003, 07:59 AM
Originally posted by Karmacop
I really don't understand why you'd want to mix reflections? It'd look really umm .. disturbing I think would be the word. We don't want poperly mix the reflection/refraction... probably a great misunderstanding! ;)

I often use a SphericalMap to make Reflections/Refractions simply a little bit deeper including values not properly available in the Scene and avoiding high recursion values (the same for Backdrop)!
Try to think about it and you'll find it's really useful!

An example:
if you set Reflection/Transparency to 70% then SphericalMap (or Backdrop) use the same amount;
it should be better if you can set the amount of SphericalMap/Backrop influence so you can have Reflection/Transparency to X% and SphericalMap (or Backdrop) to Y%!


10-30-2003, 09:23 AM
But what would the base colour be? If you only have spherical map on, and that only set to 50%, should it be 50% over black? Or would you have to set the base colour too? Perhaps change spherical map to a texture button, and set it up that way?

10-30-2003, 10:18 AM
The base color is always determined by SurfaceColor plus the % amount of Reflection/Refraction plus the % amount of SphericalMap/Backdrop... with the advantage that SphericalMap/Backdrop can be mixed using different % amount!

This kind of beahviour should also quite trivial to implement and fast in computing cos SphericalMap/Backdrop are the last evaluated ones (as far as I know... may be wrong)! ;)

Textured ShpericalMap/Backdrop (I think your own idea of this texture should be something similar to an AlphaChannel... am I right?) should be a good improvement too.


10-30-2003, 04:38 PM
Could you post some examples of what you'd like? .. ie how it looks in lightwave now and how you'd like it to look being able to change the % ?

10-30-2003, 08:29 PM
Exper, we agree too much lately :)

10-31-2003, 04:11 AM
Panikos... yep! ;)

Karmacop... this is a very simple example about mixing Spherical Map!

10-31-2003, 07:57 AM
Hmm .. I'm still not sure where this would be useful .... why not just make your reflection map darker? I know someone has already said that's alot of trouble but by no one else asking for this feature I don't think it'd be used much :confused:

10-31-2003, 08:48 AM
Originally posted by Karmacop
useful .... why not just make your reflection map darker? I know someone has already said that's alot of trouble but by no one else asking for this feature I don't think it'd be used much :confused: Sorry... we're not speaking about a bright/dark behaviour but we're speaking about a mixing behaviour.

This feature is really trivial to implement, IMHO.
I think it'd require not more than a copule of minutes to the new developement team! ;)

Maybe I can't correctly explain this feature... so... I give up!

I'll continue with composing also for this simple behaviour...
but I feel a little sad...
seems to me that 90% of LW's render power is "buy a good COMPOSITING app"! :( (it's not a flame... only sadness)


10-31-2003, 07:55 PM
Well here's what I mean ... the spherical map is used everywhere the raytraced reflections aren't. So if it's only reflecting 25% then what is the other 75% being reflected? The backdrop. Your backdrop it black, thus darken your reflection map and it'll look the same.

I'm still not sure of a real application for something like this though, it's very unrealistic ... but I do understnd you :)

10-31-2003, 11:49 PM
Karmacop, you take by default that the sum of reflection is 100%.
This is the problem.
Well, thats wrong, because

if you have a bright backdrop or a bright spherical reflection map, and raytraced reflections, you will have a twice bright reflection cause LW adds this colour plus this colour.

Darkening the spherical reflection is not the suitable idea cause you simply darken the colours. And ... what about the global backdrop that cannot be adjusted this way per surface.

Having percentages (additionally envelopes) for these influence of backdrop/spherical reflection is the right solution.

If you ever rendered radiosity scenes with spherical reflections, even in total darkness, they are far too bright and they emmit irradiance for the above reason.
I have encounted this problem so many times.

I also withdraw from this topic. You dont want to understand.

11-01-2003, 02:27 AM
Maybe I don't understand then ... but if you want it to reflect less then change the reflection percent in the basic surface tab. If you want your raytraced reflections to be 100% and your spherical map to be 20% then make it darker, as you said it adds the colour so darkening it would do exactly what a percentage for each reflection would do.

11-01-2003, 02:29 AM
I assume you are familiar with maths/addition.

100+20 = 120 > 100

See this :

I did the image with the fruits, I explained the problem to Evalsion, they did HyperSmooth.

If you still dont understand, God bless you

11-01-2003, 06:40 AM
What you're asking for wont fix that.

Elmar Moelzer
11-01-2003, 09:57 AM
Hmm, I have always been wondering why the reflections are so bright in the original LW- rendering.
Panikos, you know that you have to lower the diffuse- level the same amount you raise the reflection- level, do you?

11-01-2003, 10:53 AM
Elmar, come on ! Of course I know that, since my first day on LW.

Karmacop, I dont care what you think :cool:

11-01-2003, 01:02 PM