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View Full Version : Crowd creation: FXLinker and MD Scan in action



WilliamVaughan
11-03-2004, 10:47 PM
Here is a 2 part demo showing creating a scene in LightWave where a bunch of characters walk around using a particle emmitter and FX Linker

Part1 (ftp://ftp.newtek.com/pub/LightWave/Tutorials/Vidz/MDscan_small.mov)

Part2 (ftp://ftp.newtek.com/pub/LightWave/Tutorials/Vidz/FXlinker_small.mov)


Thanx to Cel Shader for her simple steps!

Exper
11-04-2004, 02:28 AM
Good one... finally... an "official" crowd tutorial... maybe the Thread's title should be "Crowd tutorial"! ;)

caesar
11-04-2004, 09:46 AM
Very...useful....meaningful...joyful...THX :D

Trawler
11-04-2004, 09:57 AM
Never seen this explained so well!!! :) Thanks :D

Lightwolf
11-04-2004, 09:58 AM
Hi, nice tute.
One thing that might make the randomness a bit easier to handle (end of second video).
You can multiselect a bunch of objects before you apply FXLinker.
So you could prepare a bunch of those birds with different offsets, select them and FXLink them, instead of changing the offset afterwards.

Now if we could get cycler to work with FXLink :)

Cheers,
Mike

kevinmcpoland
11-04-2004, 10:35 AM
So close to being perfect for a tute...the missing bit is how to make them all follow a terrain shape (I'm still after this and no one yet has explained it as easy as this style of tutorial...)

Still, here's hoping....(Hint proton, what about a Part 3?) :D

Kev McP

Exper
11-04-2004, 10:52 AM
...the missing bit is how to make them all follow a terrain shape (I'm still after this and no one yet has explained it as easy as this style of tutorial...)

Still, here's hoping....(Hint proton, what about a Part 3?) :DAgree!

Waiting till Part 3... you can use...
Vertigo (http://www.andynicholas.com/thezone/index.php?area=downloads)

;)

WilliamVaughan
11-04-2004, 10:57 AM
Use Gravity on the terrain collision and teh particles will drop down on the terrain....

remember thatthese are aprticles...they can be affected by Wind, gravity and collision objects.....so particles can interact with other particles....so the birds can collide with each other :)


it's really limitless once you start playing with it....this video just shows the basics...it's up to you mad scientists to take it toteh next level :D

blabberlicious
11-04-2004, 01:53 PM
Thanks for that Proton,

Just to add, if you are running LW8 on a Mac, you will be unable to save the .MDD file to your hardisk.

Boo!

Had me stumped for a while. Then I realized that LW falls over trying to access filepaths longer than 32 charcters.

But

If you replace the Filepath it adds in the MD SCAN file requestor from:
MyMac:users:me:applications:Lightwave8:content

to

:Lightwave8:content


then it will write out the file in your current content directory.


I'ver beeen told by Support that it's been fixed, and is due for inclusion in their immanent update :-)

I hope so, because it's a bug that affects quite a few other mac lscripts that need to write to a file to access presets (Jettobevel & Rounder).


Now, mac people, go join the PC crowds!

Cheerio

HarverdGrad
11-04-2004, 05:45 PM
Thanks for the tutorial Proton.
Very cool!

Silkrooster
11-04-2004, 07:02 PM
Proton,
Thanks for these cool tutorials. Keep up the good work.
Silk

cresshead
11-04-2004, 09:02 PM
cheers proton!

:D

SplineGod
11-04-2004, 11:57 PM
Celshader (Jen Hachigian) and Dave Jerrard were kind enough to give a pretty nice demonstration at the LA User Grou on how they did this for crowd scenes in the Last Samurai. Thanks guys! :)

Exper
11-05-2004, 02:09 AM
Great guys... indeed! :)

SplineGod
11-05-2004, 05:54 PM
Yup! :) It was pretty interesting. The meeting was a good turnout and it was interesting to hear about how some of the others on the team over at flash filmworks used particle interactions to get crowds to jostle as they crossed a bridge in opposite directions and lots of other effects.
Dave also mentioned that you had to be careful using gravity to get particles to track the ground because sometimes particles (soldiers) can get stuck on parts of the ground that stick up too much. Thats one thing I really enjoy about the LAUser Group is that you have so many professionals who are working or have worked on cool stuff coming out to share the experience. Afterwards we usually hit a restaurant to share war stories. :)
Ive been talking to Jessica Vitale (the current Pres) to see about how we can record at least some of the meetings and make that available sometimes. :)

Ade
11-05-2004, 08:26 PM
Good tute !...

How hard would it be to add A.I to these suckers?
Or how hard would it be to write an AI feature?

Like you could have various behavioural presets that u allocate to random characters and these presets react to each other.

spec24
12-13-2004, 06:11 AM
I have tried this tutorial to no avail. I load in my character who is then loaded him up with an MD_Plug file I made earlier. I then load in a grid object and follow the tutorial exactly. What I get instead of object in place of the particles is bounding boxes at the particles and all the duplicate models ontop of the original model. So say if I make 4 clones they are all on top of each other but their bounding boxes DO follow the particles. I've tried recreating the scene several different ways. When I put the grid object in the same file as my character on a different layer what happens is that the GRID object gets cloned instead of the character even though the character's layer is selected. Please - any help would be appreciated since I'm starting to pull my hair out on this one.

Also - I notice the MD_Scan clips the beginning of the path that you set the first time you run it and then you have to retype it in manually. Is this a bug in 8? 8.1?

Thanks!!!!


p.s. Also, proton's got 36 characters walking nice and smooth. My character is not all that complex and it started chuggin badly at more than 4 characters. Proton - what rig are you running lw on? I'm using a 2.8ghz P4, 1 gig RAM and an ATI 9800XT with 256mb.

spec24
12-13-2004, 06:02 PM
Any one???? Am I the only one experiencing this???

Dodgy
12-13-2004, 06:26 PM
There's a toggle in MDplay called key-move. Did you set this to on? And Match by to Node?

If you're using cloth FX to do it, you can use Playback mode set to Local or distance map if you want to repeat as the particles move a certain distance.

WilliamVaughan
12-13-2004, 06:42 PM
try using one set to subd level 0 for display and higher for render.

spec24
12-13-2004, 07:03 PM
Dodgy you're the man! Thank you - solved the problem. Proton - thank you too. It was only set at 3 but it does make a big difference. That's the problem with taking time off :) - you forget these little things.

spec24
12-13-2004, 07:41 PM
one last thing - I went into one of the individual characters and set the MD_Plug's Action Start(s) parameter to a different number but it didn't change anything. The character's stride is exactly the same as all the others. :confused:

MD_Scan is also listed as a legacy plug-in in the help file. Is there a new way to acheive the effect that MD_Scan gives you???

Dodgy
12-14-2004, 02:48 AM
Clothfx has this functionality under the file tab...

spec24
12-14-2004, 08:25 PM
This will record the position of the points in the mesh as deformed by bones like MD_Scan will???

Only problem is the motion will not save. Scan Motion saves nothing and Save Motion does nothing. No MDD file is created. Even after calculation.

I take it back - it just won't save the MDD file to where I want it to be. Real convenient.

Does any one know how to use the Cloth FX motion scan to do the same thing MC_Scan does? I've tried it but I get nothing. I save the motion, but when trying to load it into the same model in an empty scene I get nothing. MD_Scan and MD_Plug work, but what am I missing with ClothFX?

Dodgy
12-15-2004, 04:05 AM
Don't know. it works for me....

Have you recorded the motion with sub-division set to last, then loaded in in your empty scene without setting subdivision to last on your new loaded object? You will get a 'Node Matching error' if the point count is different between your recorded object and your playback object.

Can i have more info on your problem?

spec24
12-15-2004, 06:51 AM
See this is the problem with having a regular day job, I can't get back on LW when I need to :) And then I have school at night - gives me very little time to further my knowledge of LW. I appreciate the help :) Get back to you if I can't get it to work tonight.

spec24
12-15-2004, 04:06 PM
Okay - I was able to load the motion into ClothFX and get my character walking like he did when he was boned. However I'd like to duplicate the crowd tutorial by now using the FX_Linker but no combination of settings will work. It duplicates the characters per each particle but the ClothFX motion is lost. So now they just slide across the floor.

Dodgy
12-15-2004, 05:16 PM
When I cloned my object, I did get a 'Node match' error, but I just reloaded the file and that seemed to update LW and now it works fine. I saved the scene and loaded it and everything is fine...

spec24
12-15-2004, 05:36 PM
so you got a little crowd of walking characters??? Hmmm. Mine just snap back to their resting position. I'll try saving and reloading. You saved the scene after you cloned them with FX_Linker??

spec24
12-15-2004, 07:09 PM
that's really strange and kind of annoying. I reloaded it and you're right - it came in correctly. Thanks again Dodgy! :)

G-Fox
01-01-2005, 08:40 PM
Like spec24 I To have a day job although not night school but I still find it hard
to find time towork on LightWave. I wish I could take half a year off and get
away from it all. Like Timothy Albee did when he made Kaze Ghost Warrior.
You know gust to Get away from it all gust to work on and get to know
LightWave better.
I have next to no time to really dive into and learn the more complex features of LightWave
with no distractions to cep from losing my concentration. :(
So finding info like this is like finding a precious stone. :D It also brings to me
a better perspective on the power of LightWave I would not have found on my own without many many years of work and learning. :rolleyes:

So grate thanks to proton for the two .mov files.
and to Dodgy and proton for the extra tips on them. :)

Now! I can go make hordes of things run around. YAeeeee! :D

Axis3d
01-02-2005, 05:41 PM
Does anyone know of a way to randomly adjust the MD_Plug settings for Action Start or Replay Speed? I would like to randomize the crowd with these settings, but, opening each object individually (out of hundreds) can be quite time consuming.

It would be nice if the FX_Linker panel had a couple more options like "Random Action Start" and "Random Replay Speed". There are "Random" entries for Rotation, Scale, and Spin with a Min and Max setting. Perhaps in a future update.

SplineGod
01-02-2005, 06:51 PM
When Jennifer Hachigian created this tutorial she also mentioned that she had also written a scriipt in PERL that randomized where each character started its walk cycle so it looked more natural. I know shes posted the link to that script before....

spec24
01-16-2005, 10:39 AM
When I cloned my object, I did get a 'Node match' error, but I just reloaded the file and that seemed to update LW and now it works fine. I saved the scene and loaded it and everything is fine...


Any chance this could be addressed in the upcoming patch as this is really annoying! I created a flock of fifty butterflies and had to hit ok to the d*mn node error warning fifty times. Then of course I had to clear the scene and reload it for the process to work!!

faulknermano
01-16-2005, 11:58 AM
Now if we could get cycler to work with FXLink :)

Cheers,
Mike

mike, how do you mean?

faulknermano
01-16-2005, 12:31 PM
Does anyone know of a way to randomly adjust the MD_Plug settings for Action Start or Replay Speed? I would like to randomize the crowd with these settings, but, opening each object individually (out of hundreds) can be quite time consuming.

It would be nice if the FX_Linker panel had a couple more options like "Random Action Start" and "Random Replay Speed". There are "Random" entries for Rotation, Scale, and Spin with a Min and Max setting. Perhaps in a future update.

the adjustment would probably have to be MDPlug, not FX_Linker, because MDPlug is what controls the action start and replay speed.

i think the MDPlug params are available in the scene file. it's just a matter of parsing the scene file and changing them.

what would be nice is the ability to dynamically change replay speed by the speed that the object itself is travelling.. that way we can simply adjust the particles' randomness and have MDPlug just figure out how fast it has to play.

Axis3d
01-16-2005, 03:08 PM
faulknermano

Yes, you're right. Some kind of master panel to control the MDPlug settings would have to be it. Being able to vary the playback speed by how the object moves would be great also, kind of like Cyclist - where we are able to cycle through a movement based on the speed of travel.

I have been working on a project where I need to have hundreds of bats flying around. I opened the scene file in a text editor, which makes randomizing the parameters a little less painful. Thanks for the tip.

JVitale
01-16-2005, 03:30 PM
Yup! :) It was pretty interesting. The meeting was a good turnout and it was interesting to hear about how some of the others on the team over at flash filmworks used particle interactions to get crowds to jostle as they crossed a bridge in opposite directions and lots of other effects.
Dave also mentioned that you had to be careful using gravity to get particles to track the ground because sometimes particles (soldiers) can get stuck on parts of the ground that stick up too much. Thats one thing I really enjoy about the LAUser Group is that you have so many professionals who are working or have worked on cool stuff coming out to share the experience. Afterwards we usually hit a restaurant to share war stories. :)
Ive been talking to Jessica Vitale (the current Pres) to see about how we can record at least some of the meetings and make that available sometimes. :)


I was worried about the turnout that day 'cause it had rained so badly the day before....
Jen called her crowd scene technique El Cheapo Massive :D
mmmm...We should have another demo on crowd scenes and other stuff you can do with particles...The arrows shooting in Last Samurai were also done with partciles and even some soldiers running into battle :o

JVitale
01-16-2005, 03:32 PM
When Jennifer Hachigian created this tutorial she also mentioned that she had also written a scriipt in PERL that randomized where each character started its walk cycle so it looked more natural. I know shes posted the link to that script before....

I begged Jen to create a disc tutorial on her crowd technique but her concern was that the Perl script would be best served if turned into L-Script instead.... :confused:

Roadwarrior
10-08-2008, 04:46 PM
FXLinker and MD Scan vs HD Instance 2.0

Which one works the best for all types of crowds & soldiers marching?

HD Instance looks like it takes some setting up
whereas Fx Linker MD Scan seems quicker route

Any thoughts on this

Axis3d
10-08-2008, 07:03 PM
I have to say that I am a big fan of HD instance now, having bought it a few months ago.

I used to do it with the method of FX Linker and MD scan, but my biggest issue was offsetting, randomizing, and varying the speeds of the instances. HD instance makes this incredibly easy and I would definitely recommend it.

Also, and this is a huge difference between the older method, HD instance can render literally millions and millions of instances with no ram hit because it is rendering the instances as volumetrics instead of polygons. With the MD Scan method in LW, you would have to have those clones loaded into the scene and you run the risk of running out of ram (and have long scene load times). So far, I have not come across a scene or situation that I couldn't render with HD instance.

HD instance is definitely the quicker/easier route to setting up crowds, forests, etc.

Roadwarrior
10-08-2008, 09:02 PM
it sound like it runs rings around the ol mdd scan
and fx linker way of doing stuff then!

Axis3D i assume ur running HD Instance 2.0 ??

Looks like the Oggy tutorial is out the door if
this is the case and the Md node plugins as well!:rolleyes:
unless someone has a better pipeline setup in LW
which achieves the same results.

HDInstance has certainly left us with some outstanding vfx
in several films which i dare say is giving
that all unaffordable Massive a run for its money!:hey:

Axis3d
10-09-2008, 01:45 PM
Roadwarrier,

I am running HD Instance 2 and am very impressed with it.

Although, it is by no means a replacement or an equivalent to a program like Massive. The biggest difference is that Massive has an Artificial Intelligence library/decision mechanism which allows the motions of the crowd behavior to unfold organically and in reaction to events that are happening in the scene.

HD Instance allows you to bake and use a HDM file (their version of an MDD file, but with more info in it). This one file is then randomized among all of the instances in your scene.

Roadwarrior
10-09-2008, 09:23 PM
Thanks Axis3d !!!
personally Massive is for millionaires with large sums
of cash to burn.
With Proton's great tutorials:D the great help on this Newtek forum :newtek:
and HD Instance one could certainly stop drooling over Massive for a while.

Its got its pluses sure but when you consider you have to
take out a loan and take on another 2 jobs to get it
I think the cost has alot to do with it.

Im for the "el cheapo massive" way of doing things :neener: