View Full Version : NZLWUG (Kiwavers) - 20th July meeting - NZ LW9 Launch Party edition...

07-21-2006, 10:24 PM
Its been a while since I posted any NZ LWUG stuff on a forum - Usually it gets posted to our mailing list, but I figure its time to start pushing things up again... :thumbsup:

I called this meeting the 'NZ LW Launch Party' because of how close
it was to the release of LW9! It worked fairly well, though I
expected more people (the 3 big bags of groceries I bought for
munchies still managed to be gulped down by the 10-12 people that did
come... :D )

So, what did I get up to showing?

UV MAPPING, the PLG way!
Yes, it was straight into LW9 - Before we got into the details of
LW9, we used LW9 to take a quick look at a new free suite of tools -
Essentially one tool from the suite called plg_Make_UV_Edit - I
demo'd this at work doing an unwrap of the Taron_Head.lwo model from
the LightWave content directory. This was extremely cool stuff -
These plugins are well worth the download (there's more tools -
Including mesh simplification, some UV modification tools and more!)
and can be found at:


However attempting to subpatch the UV map (changing the
interpolation) screwed it all up - Or so we thought - Until suddenly
it clicked that I had forgotten I'd been playing in Catmull-clarke
mode earlier when prepping up to demo 9 (hence why the UV's didn't
behave properly! Doh!)

We started out looking at modeler, at the new SubD modes and edge
weighting. As I hit the render button, I quickly learnt that Catmull-
clarke at a subD level of 50 was well, a little more extreme compared
to the other subD format! Doh! A couple of minutes of the PC
hammering its hard drive like crazy trying to swap out enough memory
to create the several million polys eventually forced me to shut down
so that we could move forward - Lesson learnt as to not over-subpatch
objects in CatMull-clark mode!

This took us into Layout, and a quick tour of some of the cool new
features and tweaks that had been made to LW9 - From the new Display
options (the ability to tweak the 'defaults' is a nice addition), to
the auto-content detection and ability to create the folders for a
content directory were a welcome start!

After some playing about, we looked at some of the new camera's,
including a couple of freebee's - Tilt_cam and Cushion cam - showing
how developers could create new camera types for LightWave! Wow!

We didn't do a lot with the Advanced camera (I'll save that one for a
tute at the next LWUG perhaps!). However loading up the
Old_record_player sample scene that was included in LW9's content
gave us an excellent opportunity to show the speed improvement using
Perspective camera mode. At the same time, I also demo'd Perspective
cam's more efficient threading model, showing how it would more
efficiently reallocate render info to other threads. We shaved 30+
seconds from the classic render to show the performance improvement
of Perpective camera.

Nodal took up a lot of time (Its my personal favorite play-thing in
LW9!) We looked at the flexibility of Nodal, and how we could drive
things from nodes - And just why this system will open a whole new
world of creativity to artists!

Looked at a few shaders and how we could change the shading model of
polys to generate more accurate surfaces that behave more like the
materials they were made from (Minnaert was a good one for Velvet for
instance). Combining shaders like Translucency and Minnaert, then
driving the colour of the translucency effect using a freaky
procedural also showed a little of what was meant by "unleashing
creative license". :-)

Someone asked about what a Function was - At first my blurb about how
it was similiar to Vue's surfacing filters didn't quite sink in (not
many Vue users have gotten that 'deep' into Vue) - So a demo was in
order - Using functions and animated sines, we created a brick teapot
with freeky wavey bricks... From this, I then went into creating a
gradient-styled eye texture for the teapot, and showed how we could
manipulate and modify gradient keys through controlling the pupil
dialation by driving the gradient via light illumination information
from a node!

Nodal texturing opens up LightWave surfacing to some extreme
creativity! That's probably almost inderstated! :-)

From here, we went into Node-based displacement. Comparing the old
Displacement texture maps and their 1-axis nature to Nodals full 3-
dimensional nature was demo'd through applying nodes to normals. Of
course, quality is dependant upon the density of the mesh and this
was a good place to demo of the APS system - Looking at the
differences between the settings and modes, and how the differences
between each worked.

Modelling tools in Layout were also demonstrated. I created a toroid
from a null, and even subpatched it inside Layout using the G-Toggle
tool. I also used this item to demonstrated the same level of
creativity in Nodal for displacements by driving a displacement map
through other nodes for dynamic animation.

Nodal was also available in Volumetric lighting, however at this
stage, I think we were almost nodalled out - And of course, there's
always cool tutes for future meetings to think of! :-)

Someone bought up Subsurfce scattering - And that was a great excuse
to play again in Nodal (so we didn't quite get away from nodal just

We used a demo head model from the content that shipped with LW9, and
while it wasn't the best looking skin, it did demonstrate how to
bring shaders into play to create something a little more interesting
then layering multiple image maps.

Almost 4 hours of solid LW9 demoing started to make some people a
little unsettled, so I decided to just finish up with some basic
Relativity for wheel rolling, which also showed off the
updated 'Align to path' feature, and then how to use the break-out
panels for item lists for picking items.

At 10:30pm, people had to head off so they could get sleep before
work in the morning - I could have gone on and on, but the aircon was
off and the room had gotten to a dozy 'mugginess' meaning time to
break and meet up again in a months time!

Lots more LW9 to come... Should be a great year for the LWUG!