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Gabe
12-03-2003, 06:55 PM
This is a little off topic but I've been seeing the term 'node based' come up a lot lately in the forums: ie "Lightwave's surface editor should be node based" and other such statements.

Could someone please clue me in as to what the heck that means? What is 'node based' software and how does it differ from the non node based software?

Thanks.

hrgiger
12-03-2003, 10:22 PM
Look at the screenshot of the expressions interface and you'll see what they mean by node based. Look in the new Lightwave 8 screenshots thread.

garg
12-03-2003, 11:02 PM
If you go there:

http://www.rayserver.com/amelie/

and click on the manual (left side) you will get a manual explaining you what is node based language or you may as well go here and download the PDF Turorial (last link on the page):

http://www.rayserver.com/amelie/examples/

Basicaly node based system, replace "actions" by some visual blocks that you may interconnect in order to do the need thing.

Alain

takkun
12-04-2003, 12:55 AM
node based systems are great! I'm glad to see that there will be a node based expression editor in 8 (hope it's at least half as good as Amelie), I wonder if that means a node-based surface editor isn't too far off (also there's a 3rd-party node based surface editor in the works, I think it's called sabre)

Gabe, you should download the digital fusion demo ( eyeonline.com ) and watch Lee's DF/DFX+ tutorials, http://www.newtek.com/eyeon/dfx-fusion.html it's a very intuitive/visual way of working.

skarab
12-04-2003, 02:11 AM
you should check out the houdini apprentice edition to see how powerful a node based 3d program can be, and if you have a spare $17,000.00 lying around you could buy it, or a new car.


http://www.sidefx.com/products/apprentice/index.html

kamil_w
12-04-2003, 03:12 AM
Maya is also node based.

Go below interface and see that you can connect every node to any other to create things not possible from the interface and without even single line of code.

Titus
12-04-2003, 10:34 AM
In layout you also have the window option schematic, you see the scene not as points and polygons, instead is boxes and lines marking relationships:

WizCraker
12-04-2003, 12:26 PM
Originally posted by Titus
In layout you also have the window option schematic, you see the scene not as points and polygons, instead is boxes and lines marking relationships:

That is not a true Node based system, that is just a tree schematic view for bones, objects, lights, etc... Kind of like a flow chart.

Nodes allow complete control over each element.

WizCraker
12-04-2003, 12:28 PM
Oh and Houdini starts at $1299 if you need the full blown version it will cost you the $17k. Houdini Pricing (http://www.sidefx.com/sales/pricing/index.html)

Titus
12-04-2003, 04:20 PM
Originally posted by WizCraker
That is not a true Node based system, that is just a tree schematic view for bones, objects, lights, etc... Kind of like a flow chart.

Nodes allow complete control over each element.

Nobody said this is a "true Node based system" however this is an example (inside Lightwave) that demonstrates a node system.

WizCraker
12-04-2003, 09:41 PM
Originally posted by Titus
Nobody said this is a "true Node based system" however this is an example (inside Lightwave) that demonstrates a node system.

Well by that I guess a Flow Chart could be considered Node Based.

Gabe
12-04-2003, 10:05 PM
Well, hey, I guess that clears things up. Thanks for all the responces guys. Nodes turned out simpler than I expected. Interesting... very interesting... Perhaps nodes are the next evolution in Graphic UI design...

Titus
12-04-2003, 11:22 PM
Gabe: Actually many compositing programs now work with nodes and others are in the process. It's more intuitive and you can work faster.

Hey Whiz, maybe you woke up today a little bit cranky. Good night.

Librarian
12-05-2003, 12:46 AM
In real node based software nodes are not just a graphical gimmick. It`s also a mechanism to represent and arrange the structure and data of objects/nodes and their relationships to each other. Similar, but not excactly the same, to class concept of object oriented systems.

Karmacop
12-05-2003, 01:37 AM
A node system is basically a step more complicated that a hierarchical system.

So in a hierarchical system you could have z under A. But to have z under B as well you'd need to make a copy of z, lets call it y. In a node system z could be under both A and B.

An example with a surface editor that did this could be that you have one fractal noise pattern with the dimensions 1m, 1m, 1m. No instead of copying to bump, specular, diffuse etc, you can just link them all to this fractal noise node. And everytime you update the fractal noise node (say make it 2m, 2m, 2m) the fractal noise in all of your specular, bump, gloss etc channels changes. You could even set your dimensions as nodes that could be connected to the scale of an object for example.

Of course I don't know if lw8 will have anything like this, and some of this (linking dimensions) is already possible, it's just a bit messy.

Lightwolf
12-05-2003, 02:30 AM
Originally posted by Karmacop
A node system is basically a step more complicated that a hierarchical system.
Well, not neccessarily.
The more complex your scene/layout/comp whatever, the more of an overview you have with a decent node based system (at least in my experience).
Cheers,
Mike

Kvaalen
12-05-2003, 06:35 AM
I'm surprised nobody mentioned it (or if someone did I missed it :) ), but DFX+ is node based. Look at the screen shots or video tutorials of DFX at the NewTek site and you'll get a better understanding.

http://newtek.com/eyeon/primera/index.html
http://newtek.com/eyeon/index.html
http://newtek.com/eyeon/dfx-fusion.html

What most people seem to be asking for that is node based is the surface editor. To see a good example of that check out DarkTree. I tried the demo and I must say makes things so much easier, faster and (if I can say it) neater. :)

http://www.darksim.com/html/darktree25.html

Karmacop
12-05-2003, 07:23 AM
Originally posted by Lightwolf
Well, not neccessarily.
The more complex your scene/layout/comp whatever, the more of an overview you have with a decent node based system (at least in my experience).
Cheers,
Mike

Well not more complicated as in to set up I mean .. it's more abstracted, and more complex for someone to understand as in reality one object can not be within two containers. But yeah, I should have explained it better :)

Lightwolf
12-05-2003, 07:33 AM
Originally posted by Karmacop
it's more abstracted, and more complex for someone to understand as in reality one object can not be within two containers.
:) Well, even that is very subjective, I find node based systems to be much more intuitive to work with, because they represent a workflow, whereas, let's say, layer based systems, represent something more physical, but not inherently more logical.
Cheers,
Mike

Karmacop
12-05-2003, 04:48 PM
You're trying to annoy me aren't you? ;)

Maybe it's not mroe complex to understand, but it's a more complex idea. Hierarchical systems were first used on computers, and still are, because the idea is simple and something we can relate to in the real world. I bet the first people that had the idea of a node based system (probably some database people) were laughed at and asked why a computer should do something that can't happen in the real world .. though I gues you could argue it can happen in the real world :p

Anyway, I'm sure everyone knows what I meant, so shh :p

WizCraker
12-05-2003, 05:07 PM
It does happen in the real world. Look at any industry, in software development for example you have people who specialize in certain things and each person is a node in the greater picture. One person may be a rendering genius and another a lighting genius [I'm talking about programming here not point and click stuff], they build there tools and modules and there there is that other node [person] that can get the rendering node and the lighting node to work together with out a problem.

See where I'm getting at this, each node has a purpose that has attributes that can be edited within the limits defined. So a Background node just does background where a loader node loads elements up, etc...

Karmacop
12-06-2003, 02:22 AM
I see that as this structure:

person that makes them both work
|
|-- rendering person
|
|-- lighting person :p

Lightwolf
12-06-2003, 05:36 AM
Hi Karmacop,

Originally posted by Karmacop
You're trying to annoy me aren't you? ;)
Lol, ;) actually I'm not, no.
As I said, either approach works, and it depends on your style of work which one you like better.
I found, for _me_ that node based systems suite my style of approaching work better. Your mileage may vary, and I'm not trying to convince anybody to prefer one system over another.

As for the real world, you can use different paradigms there as well, depending on what you look at. Same thing. Are you looking at the structure (nodes), or the physical appearance(layers)? Both are paradigms, no more and no less.
there are times when taking physical paradigms over to the computer just don't really wokr, but still get accepted by people used to the real world (one example being video editing tools with A/B tracks, mimicking physical A and B players in an online suite. That just doesn't make sense in digital editing, but seems to have helped people switch).
Undos are another thing, they don't exist in the real world either, yet nobody complains about having them ;)
Cheers,
Mike - :p <- note: very friendly, not trying to annoy you

faulknermano
12-06-2003, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by Lightwolf
:) Well, even that is very subjective, I find node based systems to be much more intuitive to work with, because they represent a workflow, whereas, let's say, layer based systems, represent something more physical, but not inherently more logical.
Cheers,
Mike

especially since ubiquity of layers has not standardized their behaviors (e.g. "is the alpha layer ABOVE or BELOW the target layer????" :D).

node based systems can easily incorporate layers, like what you find in maya's hypershade (e.g. layered texture). but hypershade sucks in other aspects imo, needless to say, so hope lw doesnt follow those parts.

hairy_llama
12-06-2003, 05:42 PM
All I can say is I hope LW gets a node based surface editor soon...

blantyre
12-07-2003, 09:40 PM
Node based or not LW functions fine without it, though I believe it would greatly improve with it. Maya R&D stated once in a paper regarding their software design process, namely for Alias Studio and related products used in Car design, that the primary reason to go node based in various areas, is that certain tasks are handled easier visually, than numerically.

I personally think Amelie (the expression tool is nice but pure math, I think is best done on paper (numerically) though this may be proven wrong when LW8's Ecpression editor is run through its paces), It was stated in the paper that as children we learn basic math on chalkboards and introductory instruction this way- able to understand through visual illustration processes and functions, however as we age the brain (namely the male brain) operates in such a way to handle complex calculations best by thinking about it, writing it down, then testing it. similar to using calculators to do maths.

Where it gets interesiting is where visual representation is more efficient and better as opposed to numeric methodology. Where colour, texture(feeling, bump), look, and size are related Men tend to instinctually prefer visual representation. ;)

As a houdini user I must say that Alias and SideFX, have done their research. A friend of mine at Softimage(a closet LW user) told me once that he hated LW's texture editor because , being used to XSI's node based texture system he found himself finding it harder and harder to use LW's editor- in effect swimming upstream. This is the primary reason why people who light and texture in highend appz like XSI, Renderman etc can easily transfer those skills to Maya, Houdini etc. So technically speaking moving from say Maya to LW's visual system is defying what scientifically good GUI design. More and more tools are shifting to this means of representation because, simply ITS EASIER and thus faster. Remember when everything was coded, God forbid we return to that.

LW WILL greatly benefit from a node based system. but in only certain areas. This is why XSI does not use node trees for everything like Houdini. It should be noted that Houdini, unlike Maya or XSI or any app for that matter is procedural and any other system would be idiotic for Houdini . Sabre Sabre (http://kaniserver.homeip.net/%7Ekonoha/psycho/data/sabre_manual/indexE.html) is a great tool but because of LW's code Sabre is limited to the plug-in architecture of LW. I use Sabre for everything I can in LW because alot of the functions in Sabre just cannot be done in LW's editor. NEWTEK should look to this developer as reference for future improvements to LW.

Which areas I think LW should impliment Node based systems:

-Texturing
-Shader Development (which LW plugin free does not support you are llimited to Phongy Blinny lighting models)
-Modeling
-Maayyybe Motion Editing (Graph Editor)

Just my 2 cents