View Full Version : LW8's new C.A. tools.How good???

12-08-2003, 07:00 PM
Can someone enlighten me on what to expect from LW8's new character animation tools? I've looked at what Newteks website has to offer(nothing but a couple of screen shots) so is anyone else here in the know?

I'm thinking of jumping ship to Maya or just use LW 7.5 to model and animate in Messiah:Animate 4.

Just getting real curious.I wonder why Newtek wont give more info.Especially since 8 is just around the corner.

Thanks for any insight.

12-08-2003, 10:21 PM
It's a good idea not to double post.

12-08-2003, 10:34 PM
thats funny...I thought it was actually a GREAT idea to double post.


12-08-2003, 11:33 PM
What are you looking for in terms of improvements?

12-09-2003, 12:36 AM
Hi Larry-let me just say you are the reason I got LW to begin with.I saw some of your spline tutorials and WOW-I was sold.

sorry for the butt kissin : )

Anyways,as far as improvements...I dunno. I mean i'm new to the animating part and really i'm going on what others in this forum have said in the past that LW isnt all that great for C.A.

I tried to learn and did some basic stuff(very basic) and it did seem kinda complicated. I recently downloaded Messiah:Animate and was REALLY impressed with how easy it was to get going.I mean,within an hour I had a character doing a basic walk cycle.I spent hours in LW before and finally gave up.

Maybe its just me because I know some of you pros kick butt in animating in LW but to me M:A made more sense and wasnt so frustrating.So I guess I'd like Newtek to rip off PMG : )

I'm just confused right now and guess i'll just wait and see what LW8 has to offer.

Thanks for any advice you might give !

12-09-2003, 01:07 AM
ROFL! Thanks, but that was funny. :)
I have more tutorials up BTW. :)

Anyways. Messiah and Motion Buiilder are both great character animating tools. Between the two Im probably more partial to Motion Builder because it seems easier to use and is cheaper.

I also feel that Lightwave is a very good character animation tool. Ive used it for years to do character animating and continue to use it now. Im always a little adverse to jumping onto another external app when I dont feel I REALLY know what Im doing with my core application (Lightwave).

I think its important to listen to people who are actually character animators. Ive seen a few people mention the things you have and most of the time its repeating what someone else has said etc etc.

Character animation is a timing thing. Its about the application fo a combination of basic physics, art, staging and acting. If a person doesnt know how to effectively apply them in one medium or application they wont be able to do it in another. In other words you have the Art of animation and the Tools to create it.
If you dont know the art, the tools wont help that much.

I do a lot of character work in Lightwave and I know a lot of others who do and seem to think LW IS a good tool for character animating. Since you have Lightwave I would do what I could to learn how to character animate with what you have now. You certainly wouldnt be prevented from moving over to something else once you were proficient enough in Lightwave to determine if it was meeting your needs or not.

For most people the biggest issues about Lightwave and characters have been rigging issues; easy creation of rigs in layout and reusabilty of rigs between characters and a good dopesheet editor.

Both of those issues in LW8 are no longer issues. The character tools have been upgraded in such a way to make the rigging and animating process far simpler and more powerful then before.

My advice would be to stick with LW8 and get some training on how to use the Character tools already available in LW7 and LW8.

Theres lot of good general books on animation that can be easily applied to LW. I also have a comprehensive course on character modeling, texturing, rigging and animating which you can read about
HERE (http://www.3dtrainingonline.com/professionalcharacterseries.html)

12-09-2003, 01:36 AM
Thanks for the info Larry and i'll give LW another shot.Cant wait for 8.

BTW, Motion Builder is no longer cheaper than Messiah.They got rid of the $100 thing and now its $1000 for the base and over $4000 for the other.

holy smokes!

12-09-2003, 01:47 AM
I too am trying to get into C.A., but my concern is more with Lip Syncing rather than body movement.

At the moment i am thinking of going down the route of using David Mathews animation loader for Mimic/Poser/Lightwave integration, as I don't think I want to delve into the world of dope sheets (?).

Being able to import a sound file into poser via mimic and having the mouth move automatically seems the best (well quickest anyway!) way for me, then bringing the figure into Lightwave and dropping the Poser file onto animation loader to get the lip syncing done just seems ideal.

Unless.....LW 8 (or even motionbuilder) has something similar? (or even LW 7.5 and I just missed it!!)

Anyone got anything to add prior to me making my anim loader purchase...? Exeriences, good or bad...??


Kevin McPoland
[email protected]

12-09-2003, 01:48 AM
Holee Cow!
I take back what I said then! :)

When I see pricing like that whatever benefits I see just fade.
I do a lot of freelance work. A lot of it lately has been character work. Lightwave has worked very well and the new stuff in LW8 will make it that much better definately. :)

Hey Kevin,
I think Lipsync in LW is pretty easy right now.
A dopesheet is a great tool when properly implemented and from what Ive seen its going to be great. I just really dislike having to rely on external apps if I can avoid it. What part of the lipsync process in LW do you find difficult? Im also curious how well the path youre contemplating will seamless work. It seems that using a lot of external apps also introduce their own little idiosyncrasies. :)

12-09-2003, 03:10 AM
..okay, but bear in mind I am talking about wanting to get into it so my knowledge of what is possible is limited :)

The dope sheets. I am planning an animation for a music video (not paid or asked for, I am just giving myself a project or else I stare at a blank screen waiting for inspiration!!).

It is my understanding that you break down each word/sentence into it's vowels or sounds. Doesn't this generate hundreds of pieces of paper which have to be gone through bit by bit? Isn't this time consuming? To then apply each mouth morph at a specific time frame and stuff... If so, I kind of guess that being able to play an audio file into something like mimic and have it do all the work in almost real time must be so much quicker... (but obviously I could be wrong!!)

The workflow would be as follows:

Generate a Character in Poser with Morphs etc (at the moment because of my skill levels not being overly high in Char Modelling this is the quickest way for me to get 3d people modelled quite well).

Create the animation I want he figure to do (all said and done Poser isn't top bad at creating CA).

Create the sound/lip syncing files in Mimic and bring them onto my Poser figure, so at this point it is animated with full lip sync done.

Bring the Character into LW using David's CR2 Loader/Rigger.

Load the animation file using David's Animation loader, then fine tweak the animation using LW itself.

Now before someone says why use LW? Why not do it all in Poser?...it's because of all the other stuff I can do in LW, such as environment/building modelling/lighting/rendering etc, which I find so much easier than any other prog.

The daft/annoying thing is, I want to use LW for all of it, but I find that the time I can spend on what is in effect just my hobby is limited, and I want to produce something in a reasonable time frame to give me more inspiration...

Does this make sense? (Why are there only 24 hours a day dammit!!!). And by the way Larry, thanks for taking an interest. When someone of your ability can take time out for a hobbyist, it makes me feel humbled...(creeping over now!)

Kevin McPoland
[email protected]

12-09-2003, 04:14 AM

See if you can find an old Shave dongle (they usually sell for about $100.) It comes with LipService, a really nice lipsyncing plugin.


In my opinion, MB wasn't such a great deal even at $100. I use it. It is undeniably fast, but in my experiences, flaky -- especially the LW import plugin. I animate more and more directly in LW, which is not nearly as bad in CA as I was made to believe.-

12-09-2003, 04:19 AM
Hey Kev,
Thanks! This started out for me as a hobby. Ive just been doing it for a long time. My interest in this stuff if probably generated more from the hobbyist standpoint then anything else. I do this simply because I like it. Im just lucky enough to get paid to do it. :)
That concept of a dope sheet is based on cel animation. Im not sure if anyone does it that way anymore. A very useful tool is Magpie Pro (http://www.thirdwishsoftware.com/magpie.html) for laying out lipsync. Keith Lango has a great explanation of what a dopesheet is in the sense of using it in a 3D app. http://www.keithlango.com/popThru/popThru.html
Basically the dopesheet editor that will be in LW8 allows you to group various items quickly so that they can be shifted in time conviniently. If you read thru Keith Langos tutorial youll get what I mean and why thats cool. :)
Keith also has a good little article on lisync here:

Before I do my lipsync I animate the character and his body language. Ill then go in and put in the rough emotional states that more or less match up with the dialog, mood and body language. Once Ive done that Ill drop in the lipsync

In reality the lipsync can be done in parallel with, before or after the rest of the animation. The morph mixer project can be saved and reloaded onto the character at any time.

Ive done pretty much what he describes, just set up a few emotional facial targets, some eye brow epressions and then some basic mouth shapes for phoenemes and go to it.

Ill take a wave file and reduce it down to the bare minimum so that it will play quickly. Ill get it down to 8 kilohertz or so and mono. I just need it good enough to hear and so I can scrub thru quickly.

Once I get the sound loaded I will block in a section of frames. What i mean is say for example I have the phrase "Hello World"
Ill scrub thru and figure out where the world HELLO is located and set my starting frame in my scrub bar to start a few frames before the H and the ending frames just afer the O. Then Ill hit play and let it loop thru so I get a quick feel for what needs to go where.

Ill make sure morph mixer is up and I start matching up the right mouth shapes for the right sound. Its best to have the mouth shape precede the actual sound. We tend to form the mouth shapes a bit before we actually make the sound. THe other thing is to make sure you dont hit each and every mouth shape PERFECTLY. We tend so slur things together somewhat.

It doesnt take long to get the hang of this process. You can also render out a preview anim as an avi which will also have the audio embedded with the avi. The process goes very quickly which is why I dont do it externally. :)

12-09-2003, 07:17 AM

is excellent. You assign a morph target to phonemes, and then draw out a word block in a dopesheet/NLA style interface. You type in the word in the wordblock and it animates the morphs for you. You can move the word blocks, or the positions of morphs in the word blocks to more accurately represent the vowel sounds. Use it in parallel with morph mixer, or assign emotions to morphs and use it as a NLA system for morphing :) Really really powerful, and free!