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View Full Version : Introducing Maestro 2 - The complete animation system



ericsmith
08-16-2005, 11:10 PM
When Maestro was originally released, it was viewed by much of the Lightwave community as just another autorigger, with a nice picker included.

Our goal with the release of Maestro 2 is to completely redefine what Maestro is all about. Yes, it can rig a character with a couple of mouseclicks. But That's only a small part of what Maestro can do for your animation workflow. It is a complete animation control system, with an advanced toolset specifically designed to eliminate many of the tedious, redundant tasks that are so prevelant in the process of animation. Animating with the Maestro controller is easier, more enjoyable, and most importantly, much faster.

The following is a list of the new features found in Maestro 2...
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Hotspot Modifications

The original hotspots were built so that the left mouse button and right mouse button could each have their own setup, effectively giving each hotspot two sets of controls. In Maestro 2, we've redesigned this concept to use the Alt, Ctrl and Shift keys to switch between these "layers". This gives each hotspot up to four complete setups. The real benefit of this new concept is that you can change layers "on the fly" as you drag the mouse. This means that with one hotspot, you can move and rotate an object in all 3 dimention with one mouse drag. Alternatively, you could setup a series of controls in one hotspot and easily pose a several elements at once. This is incredibly effective for things like complex tails, or being able to position an arm in 3d space, point the elbow, and point the hand, all in one mouse drag. The bottom line is that it makes posing much faster and easier by eliminating the back and forth process you usually have to go through to set an element's position and rotation in 3d space

You can now select multiple hotspots. If multiple hotspots are selected, dragging on any one of them activates all of them based on their own individual settings.

Rig Modifications

The hip centering and hand pinning setups have been redesigned to make it easier to switch between on and off on the fly. The hipcentering is no longer expression based, but instead incorporates a special follower plugin that keyframes the position of the hips when centering is on instead of overriding the keyframed channel. This means turning it on and off at any point in the timeline does not affect any previous animation on the hips. Hand pinning now incorporates two controls for the hips, spine and shoulder, giving a layered approach to animating the torso. You never have to turn hand pinning on or off, you simply move the torso with the appropriate control depending on whether you want the hands to follow, or stay pinned.

Saving and Loading Poses and Motion

You can now save and load Poses based on selections from hotspots or Layout. these poses can also be tied to new Pose Hotspots that allow you to animate from the character's current position to the pose tied to the hotspot. Imagine MorphMixer, but with objects instead of endomorphs. In addition to saving and loading Poses, you can also save and load motions, based on selection of keyframes. Motions can be loaded at their absolute time, or can be imported relative to the current time, making it easy to build complex animations from a library of motions. Pose hotspots are a useful tool for just about anything, but one area that they are especially effective in is lipsync. Because you can create keys for all facial controls at once with one hotspot, it's really easy to jump from one phoneme to the next without having to manually key the in and out keys of all the other phonemes at every key pose point. Also, the ability to export entire motions means you can create your facial and lipsync animation on an unrigged head-only model, and then export the animation to the fully rigged character. This makes it possible animate lipsync and facial animation on your character's fully detailed, subdivided head in real time.

Selection Hotspots

Selection hotspots allow you to group Items, hotspots and/or channels into one hotspot to make selection sets within the Maestro interface. Since Selection hotspots can be used to store a variety of different items in one place, they are great simplifiying the task of saving Motions, Poses, or even resetting a group of hotspots.

The Keyframe Editor

One of the major new components of Maestro 2 is the keyframe editor. This new tool brings the ultimate in flexiblity and speed in editing keyframes. To begin with, it works like a dope track, automatically displaying the keys for whatever items are selected. Then you can add additional tracks that display the keys for specific user defined items. Multiple items can be assigned to these tracks, and these items are not limited to just objects. You can access the keys for any channel in the scene, including light intensity, camera zoom, endomorphs, etc. The tracks can be custom color coded and labeled to make it easier to see what's going on when working with multiple tracks, and complex setups can be saved as presets. Keys can be moved, scaled, and dragged with a magnet like falloff. You can also dupe selected keys, and create hold keys by simply clicking right on the timeline. There are also tools to edit TCB values, as well as translating (move, rotate or scale) selected keys. The keyframe editor has been designed from the ground up to put all the controls you need to edit keyframes in one convenient workspace, and to eliminate wasted time spent sorting through all the channels in a complex scene to get at the keyframes you want to edit.

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We plan to release version 2 by mid-September. In the next week or so, we will post videos that demonstrate some of these cool new features.

Pricing information:

Maestro 2 will be available through Kurv Studios for $149.95.

Upgrades from Maestro version 1 will cost $39.95.

Anyone who purchased Maestro 1 after July 1st will receive version 2 free.

Eric Smith
Stillwater Pictures

note: The attached image shows the complete biped controller with facial controls. There are smaller interfaces available for those with more limited screen real estate.

DiscreetFX
08-17-2005, 12:01 AM
It sounds awesome Eric!

:agree:

riki
08-17-2005, 01:59 AM
Wow excellent news, can't wait to see the vids.

kfiram
08-17-2005, 02:20 AM
If I could just ask for one thing:

Look at Keytrak and copy everything you see.
The handy "+" option that lets you operate on entire hirerachies, the easily selectable "current item" vs. "selection sets", the layered channels...

If you can do that, put me down for at least 5 copies.

mav3rick
08-17-2005, 02:49 AM
i agree with kfiram there was nothin out so far that can replace functionality of keytrack, lw dopetrack is fine but misses cool stuff from keytrack... i with to see complete dope solution

ericsmith
08-17-2005, 08:16 AM
We're definitely looking at keytrak for inspiration. I've used keytrak for quite some time, and I agree that LW's native tools just don't have the polish. That's why we integrated our own ideas into Maestro. We do plan to to have the "operate on entire hierarchy" option, and selection sets are handled through the new selection hotspots. I think the only feature from Keytrak that we don't have is the whole layered channels thing. Keytrak somehow applies some kind of hidden expression to the channels for this, and it'll take a bit more research to get a handle on how to do that.

Eric

kfiram
08-17-2005, 08:42 AM
2 out of 3 ain't at all bad.
Keep working on that layered animation system.

Is scaling of keys as easy as it is on Keytrak? (just hit CTRL from either side of the selection and drag away).
Is automatic snapping of keys implemented in the same manner?
How about easily switching between TCB/LINEAR/STEPPED and being able to know of what type each key is just by looking at it (Keytrak uses different colors for each mode).

Oh, for christ sake, just copy the whole thing! :)

ericsmith
08-17-2005, 09:07 AM
You can scale keys not just from either end, but from wherever you click the mouse. There's also a drag tool that's really nice. It moves keys with a falloff, so you can push/pull keys around just like the magnet tool in modeler.

Keys snap to whole frames when scaled or dragged. We're also thinking about having different settings, so you could snap to whole frames, 1/10 frames, and 1/100 frames. It makes fractional frames easier to manage.

We haven't planed on making it possible to change the incoming curve on selected keys, but it sounds easy enough. I'll put that on our ideas list.

Eric

kfiram
08-17-2005, 11:56 AM
We haven't planed on making it possible to change the incoming curve on selected keys, but it sounds easy enough. I'll put that on our ideas list.



I don't know if you're aware of that, but most character animators these days work with stepped keys when they create the basic poses, and only after completing the entire scene switch to TCB. This is almost impossible to accomplish without Keytrak (the native LW way requires loading ALL your keys to the graph editor, which takes a LOT of time and is basically unusable). Actually this feature alone would keep me working with Keytrak.
So don't just put it on your "idea list". It's a real must for serious character work.

ericsmith
08-17-2005, 12:22 PM
Don't worry, It'll be there. :thumbsup:

archiea
08-17-2005, 12:47 PM
Is there a mac version> Maybe its time for me to use the PC I have for LW. Between gems like this and Surpass, I feel like staying on the mac I'm missing out on some specialized tools, at least until there is proper dual platform development... Not to mention open GL support...

ericsmith
08-17-2005, 02:24 PM
Both PC and Mac are supported.

Eric

harlan
08-17-2005, 02:46 PM
Great news Eric, you guys are kickin ***. Glad to see the continued Mac support as well. :)


Thanks

Rabbitroo
08-17-2005, 02:58 PM
Looks great Eric--I've had a lot of fun with Maestro 1 so far!

:thumbsup:
-K

archiea
08-17-2005, 03:19 PM
Both PC and Mac are supported.

Eric


For once!! Thanks!!

cresshead
08-17-2005, 03:26 PM
looking great!
and a nice update it'll make too! :lwicon:

NanoGator
08-17-2005, 07:51 PM
I don't know if you're aware of that, but most character animators these days work with stepped keys when they create the basic poses, and only after completing the entire scene switch to TCB. This is almost impossible to accomplish without Keytrak (the native LW way requires loading ALL your keys to the graph editor, which takes a LOT of time and is basically unusable). Actually this feature alone would keep me working with Keytrak.
So don't just put it on your "idea list". It's a real must for serious character work.

I think we can swing that. :)

I really think you'll also like being able to select a bunch of keys and slide all of the Position/Rotation/Scale values of them.

badllarma
08-18-2005, 04:56 AM
Apart from HD Instance Maestro is my number 2 time saving device the update looks great guys keep up the good work. :thumbsup: