View Full Version : Doing Cutout Style Animation in LW- Why is it damn hard?.- Lessons from a shot.

06-09-2014, 10:40 AM
Oh and I forgot, WITH INSTANCING.

Hey guys,
I am going to share a shot for a project I am working on that involves 2D character animation.
At work we are in the process of transitioning to ToomBoom but our workhorses for this project are After Effects and Illustrator.

Anyway I wanted to try to do this shot in Lightwave to prove a point about the current workflow, or lack of it.
I know ToomBoom can run circles around LW on this sort of thing.
That is the key reason I am doing this.

Anyway this thread will describe how I ended doing the shot in Lightwave, so in future post
I will post a wish list of thing I wish LW could do.


Here is what the script call for:
“ANIMATION: A sea of identical attorneys appears, with attorneys disappearing until one remains….”
We timed the voice actor recording of this scene to 5 seconds.
Next how I did the shot

06-09-2014, 10:57 AM
Please feel free to comment as I post on this silly thread.. I would love to hear your opinion of these steps.

Here is how I did it: And yes I am aware that all these steps are nuts.

1. After client approval I drew the layers in Adobe Illustrator CS6
Also I drew the eye blink, the eyebrows and the smile face
2. I positioned each of the elements at their appropriate position in different layers in Illustrator
3. I made sure all the layers are visible and save the model as an Illustrator CS5 .AI file.
4. Saved each element as a separate PNG file. These files are going to be used as images for UV mapping.
(IMAGES:/…. LAWYER-Body.png, LAWYER-Head-NoSmile.png, LAWYER-Head-Smile.png, LAWYER-Head-Eyeblink.png, LAWYER-Head-EyeBrows.png)
5. Selected all the individual layers and using the pathfinder tool created SOLID outlines for each layer.
6. Saved the Outline version of the Layer illustration as an Illustrator VERSION 10 .EPS file.

1. Imported the vector file LAWYER-All-Elements.EPS
2. Cut each element and pasted in separate layers in Modeler. The elements are: Body-No Head, Face-No Smile, Head –Smile, Head-Eyes and Head-Eyebrows.
3. Assigned individual UVMAPS to each element. (UV-BODY, UV FACE-Closed, UV FACE-Eyes, UV FACE-Smile)
7. Loaded all the PNG files that I created in Illustrator. (IMAGES:/…. LAWYER-Body.png, LAWYER-Head-NoSmile.png, LAWYER-Head-Smile.png, LAWYER-Head-Eyeblink.png, LAWYER-Head-EyeBrows.png)
4. Assigned individual SURFACES to each element. (BODY, FACE-Closed, FACE-Eyebrows, FACE-Eyes, FACE-Smile) And placed the appropriate TEXTURE to the appropriate SURFACE with the appropriate UV MAP.
5. When done Save the model file as “OBJECTS/LAWYER-Full.LWO”
7. Created a NEW model for a simple plane.
8. When done Save the model file as “OBJECTS/Plane.LWO”

1. Set ups the scene to have 150 fames based on the fact that the sequence will only last 5 seconds. (5 X 30)
2. Loaded the models “OBJECTS/Plane.LWO” and “OBJECTS/LAWYER-Full.LWO”
3. Placed all the layers of the “LAWYER-Full.LWO” model on top of the plane, and parented all the elements of the model to the logical locations (Body-No Head, Face-No Smile, Head –Smile, Head-Eyes Blink and Head-Eyebrows.)
4. Added appropriate lights and mode the main camera position (Zoom-In /Crane-Shot).

The animation for all the layers requires the following steps.
Eyes close, Open Eyes while Zoom In, Smile at End.
To animated each element I had toggle the visibility of EACH element that formed the Lawyer.
(For example Face-No Smile from frame 0 -140, Face- Smile from 140 – 150).
Head-Eyes Blink (Frame 0- 10) Frame 140 – 150)

This means opening EACH element GRAPH editor and selecting to have it either ON (DISOLVE VALUE 0) or OFF (DISOLVE VALUE 100) and I had to make sure that conflicting elements would not be on at the same time (Face-No Smile can not be on at the same time as Face-Smile)

Next Post…


06-09-2014, 12:01 PM
To keep it simple
Why is it so hard to:
1. LOAD vector files in LW with ease?
2. Have animated items for ALL apsects in LW? Intancing for exmple does not have envelop controls for certain items.
3. Navigation is a mess. You have to navigate multiple menus to acces object attributes (like visibility)

06-11-2014, 01:38 PM
This sounds like a snap in After Effects.

Sorry, sounds like you're frustrated taking an army tank to the corner store to buy milk.

I don't think Lightwave is what you're supposed to use for this kind of animation.

06-11-2014, 04:00 PM
Yes, I agree. I had done something similar in LightWave many years ago (in this case, I was asked to improve a live action actor's performance) but there are much better tools available now. As rdolishny points out, AE has Puppet, which is pretty cool and very easy to use.

My favorite 'cut out' animation program right now is Anime Studio Pro. We made this short film earlier this year using version 9.5. (10 is the current release.):

Brudders in 'Scareplane' (https://vimeo.com/87465384)

Using ASP is really not that different from working in a 3D program like Lightwave, except the rigging tools are optimized for animating and deforming 2D images.


06-11-2014, 05:14 PM
If I'm Reading This Correctly (IIRT), some of that would have been eased by creating standard control panels, like nulls that control transparency. They would have alleviated the opening of GE just to animate transparency-- you'd just animate the null as usual.

IOW, this sounds like a rigging issue.