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View Full Version : FYI - Kiwavers (NZ) Meeting, 19 March 2003



kevman3d
03-22-2003, 07:44 PM
For anyone curious, here's the low-down on how last weeks NZLWUG went... Enjoy!

19th March 2003, 6:00pm-10:30pm

NOTE : BTW, before I continue - The usergroup name is 'Kiwavers' - That's pronounced 'Kee-Way-vers'. I've been getting a constant barrage of people referring to it as the 'Kiwi Wavers'... Just figured I should correct that point! :-)

So, for those who weren't there, what did we do?

ICE BREAKER:
Yes, in usual style, I played a few new videos from the online world - A mixture of Dragons, horrorific aliens and brain sucking milkshakes! There wasn't too much to download this month that was worth showing, but I picked what I felt looked cool!

Many thanks to Stuart who ordered in a couple of Pizza's. And there was coffee and tea available as well...

SHOW AND TELL:
Again, nice to see people coming in with some exceptional 3D work! I started out showing a space fighter I had built earlier in the week - A Work in Progress, but still, I figured I'd take the chance to show what I'd been doing... Hopefully before the next meeting I'll have more work to show - Possibly the ship model completed and perhaps even some texturing! :-)

This was followed up with an awesome character model of an old man that Kevin McCullough had been working on - All textured, well modelled with wrinkles and a definite bit of 'character'... Very Nice work! Kevin is doing Larry Shultz's 3D character course, and its great to see he's putting those skills to awesome use! :-)

Logan Maire followed that up with some very impressive Photoreal renders of electronics - In fact, the renders are also on the official LightWave Gallery! You can view them in the gallery here :

http://www.newtek.com/products/lightwave/gallery/spgm.php?g=LightWave3D&p=67&frpg=6&f=#pic

I'm not sure whether this link will remain valid as new images get added to the gallery, but give it a whirl anyway (you might get lucky!)

Nice work from Everyone! Keep em coming, folks! Its always fantastic to see local work and just how talented Kiwi's really are!

DEMO - CREATING A VIDEO TUTORIAL:
As everyone knows, there's a barrage of video tutorials starting to appear on both the internet, and the commercial training circuit. Most of these were produced using an excellent package called camtasia from Techsmith (www.techsmith.com). However, while an excellent package, it costs around US$349...

Now, the good news for those of us who'd love to make our own video tutorials, but have tight wallets is that from http://www.rendersoftware.com comes an open source (as you can get the source code if you want to play with it yourself and enhance it) program with similiar features called 'CamStudio'.

This tool is not only free, its incredibly good too! Add to that there is a new 'lossless' codec created for it that allows high quality screen recording at a really good speed (Yes, even fully rendered openGL playback in Layout was recorded at a fast framerate!) and you have the tools you need to produce your own tutorials or video examples! This tool will also compress AVI into SWF (Flash/Shockwave) animation files, shrinking the AVI files even further, allowing you to insert them cleanly into Web pages...

I did a few small demonstrations of this program in use. Very efficient, easy to use and free!

THE DEMO AND THE NEXT LWUG
I suggested near the end of the meeting that the next LWUG we have a 'video tutorial roundup' - I'd love to see tutorials from anyone who feels they want to create one themselves and bring it to the next meeting! If we get enough great tutorials from Users, we can create a User Group CD rom for all those involved!

DEMO - MODPAK:
Most people have been familiar with Plugpak, or Overcaster... These are excellent utilities from Eki Haalka that give us some handy ways to achieve fast, realistic lighting effects in LightWave, amongst some other things! Now he's back with a pack of utilities for Modeler, aptly named 'ModPak'.

After installation (which included a switch to install for 7.5 OR 7.5b (Very up-to-date, given 7.5b is relatively new)), I demo'd only a few of the handy tools offered in this great little package.

CityGen is a script that generates an entire city! The tool allows you to specify some parameters for buildings, windows, nurnies on the rooftops, shape of the roof, surface naming options and more before it chugs away and actually builds a 3D city model for you! Someone asked me last meeting 'How would you go about creating a city?' - Well, this is one very easy way!

TreeGen - Surprisingly generated a variety of trees! Setting up some simple parameters for branches, leaves, size, etc for the tree, the tool quickly generated a tree in seconds. This, along with CityGen give you some very fast ways to create your 3D virtual worlds.

I sadly didn't spend too much more time running through the rest of the tools, though there was a variety of cool things, from Q-Thick which added some bulk to 3D meshes through to some clever bevelling and cloning tools. Perhaps the next meeting I'll use a few more of these tools to show you some of the other features of this cool little product. You can download it and
try it for yourself from here:

http://www.kolumbus.fi/erkki.halkka/modpak/

Perhaps you could make a tutorial video about using some of these tools for the next meeting using Camstudio? :-)

TUTORIAL - 2-SIDED POLYS:
ModPak had one thing that spurred a little discussion - Q-air - Adding an 'air' poly layer to a model. I used this opportunity to quickly explain why 'Air' polys were an important item for creating photoreal glass effects, etc with a demonstration of refraction on a rather obscure looking sculpture I'd quickly built in modeler!

I also showed how you could effectively create a single poly object with two different surfaces on back and front, saving clicking the 'double sided' option on the surface editor... Now your polygons can have '2 sides'. :-)

CAUSTICS:
I also used this opportunity to point out how Caustics, the reflection and refraction of light, could be used to enhance the realism of glass as well. For this I used the LightWave 'ring' example that comes on the LW CD rom...

TUTORIAL - EXPRESSIONS:
I demonstrated what Expressions were and how to access expressions within other expressions (commonly noted as 'SubExpressions'). This I followed up quickly (since there were so many confused faces in the room!) with the cool tool called 'Builder'. This tool provided a nice simple 'wizard' type interface to create expressions without the need to type mathematics!

I showed how simple it was to add your own expressions to the builder (with an imaginary expression for making doors open when Captain Kirk walks towards them). This was simply a demonstration of how to build a library of User expressions that appear in the builder...

This tutorial went well, though I did spot many people looking a little paniced when I tried to explain how 'cool' expressions were. I think next time I'll use a practical example of where an Expression actually helps make animation better! :-)

DEMO - VIDEO EFFECTS MIXER:
I'd been playing with my older plugins I'd written for LW5.5 at work, so someone piped up and asked if I could demo the 'Old film effects' I'd made a plugin to do... I demo'd this plugin, fondly called 'Video Effects Mixer' and used it on one of Newteks example scenes from the LW7.5 CD (Avengers). This gave us the impression of an old WWII newsreel! Of course, this old plugin did have a few small issues running in 7.5, however only the user interface seemed to be an issue...

For anyone interested, you can also create such effects directly in LightWave! I'll put together a tutorial for the next LWUG!

DISCUSSION:
SATURDAY MEETING IN MAY?
Just a quick ask if people were keen on a weekend meeting in May? I still don't know what people think of this? I have a 3D Artist from the USA, currently in Wellington working on some small film, with a career that includes the games industry (including such companies as WestWood Studios (The company that created the hit game called 'Command and Conquer')) and more that would be keen to come up and hang out with us for a while - We may even be able to get him to tell us a little about some of his experiences in these fascinating industries... :-)

LW WORLD TOUR:
I bought up the point that there was the opportunity to attend the LightWave World Tour (www.fxacademy.com) that was coming here in August this year, and that a group booking of people could really get us a discounted price on the relatively cheap US$199 for 2 full days of full on LightWave knowledge from
some very experienced people!

While I've had almost no kind of feedback through this mailing list, I was happy to see about 16-18 hands in the air! This is the kind of interest I like to see - I'll ask about how much of a discount we can get for this size group and we'll try and book early while the exchange rate is still good! I can probably add more to this number, and if you have any friends you think might like to invest some money into such a great opportunity then let them know!

There was the usual banter, people asked questions and the time dragged on til the late hours... I also had the usual pile of 'didn't get around to demo/tutoring' stuff again, but I'm sure the next meeting can just continue again...

Thanks again to EVERYONE, specially those who bought their hard work along to show us all!

Hope to see plenty of video tutorials at the next meeting...

See you in a month!




Kev