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View Full Version : See "The Guardian!" You'll Rave for Lightwave's Waves



DonJMyers
09-28-2006, 06:38 PM
Disney's "The Guardian" opens this weekend and features some great cutting edge CG water work done with LW 8.5 and LW 9 Beta. All the reviews mention how exciting the action is and how good the cg looks so we at Flash are all happy.

Below is an image of the giant wave tank in action. Where you see the 50 foot blue screen will be replaced with lightwave geometry. The tank itself ran on compressed air and took several minutes to power up or power down and lose all it's kinetic energy. It made so much noise the director had to sit in a soundproof room with three sets of headphones on to control things! It could even be programmed for custom wave patterns like the "double diamond." Ironically the original tank was built in new orleans and was destroyed by katrina. This second one was built in Shreveport. The camera on a crane was often controlled by lightwave for later matchmoving. Here the director gets the same scene from two angles.

otacon
09-28-2006, 07:40 PM
I plan on seeing it friday. Judging from these stills the effects should be pretty cool!

harlan
09-28-2006, 11:21 PM
Hey Don,

Nicely Done, thanks for sharing. I had no real intentions of seeing this just yet, but I'll definitely check it out now (for support if nothing else). :)

The shots look good bro, it was nice of you to post the images and breakdown.

SplineGod
10-01-2006, 09:38 PM
Nice work. The actual water dyanimcs were done with Reel Flow?

Cageman
10-02-2006, 06:38 AM
Cool stuff! Looking forward to see it! :)

By the way... you guys really maxed out LightWave on this one, or so I've heard. Could you bring some additional information on how much stuff that went into LightWave..I heard you guys used thousand of particles...

How well did LightWave live up to all these demands?

DonJMyers
10-02-2006, 01:10 PM
Yes we used realflow to do the particle animations. This was problematic because the particle team had trouble making spray that was real looking instead of particley (as usual. Water is the hardest thing to animate!)

We pushed lightwave and realflow to the limit. What realflow does is create a series of sculptured objects of moving water, one for each frame. That means in every lightwave scene there is an object which must be swapped out frame by frame. That's not so bad except every object is 50 megs minimum! Have you ever seen a 50 or 100 meg particle cloud!? These gigantic objects caused network clogs, render delays and software choking. Regular 32-bit LW8.5 had a lot of trouble rendering more than a few frames before the software and windows just leaked memory and gave up!

Things got MUCH better after we switched to LW 9 beta 64bit and 64 bit windows XP. They do things so much better for huge scenes. Nevertheless shots like the first appearance of the cargo ship (seen in the trailer twice) were a huge effort. Our main 2d/3d guy, ken stranahan, worked on that shot for a year.

One of the girls on the board (yes there are girls here!) is CELSHADER, she was part of the particle team and could probably tell you more. She mentioned to me more than once how she felt so much freer with the new software the blew away the old limitations on particles, hypervoxels, polygons, etc. And of course the ability to render more polys in a close part of an object automatically (APS) was a godsend.

The main water animations were done non-procedurally. THe director hated the procedural (sine wavey or mechanical) look of "The perfect storm." Instead we took footage from the disney movie "master and commander" and sort of roto-morphed digital water to fit the real water footage. This is much harder and more time consuming than other methods, but it's the one way that works and the proof is in the movie!

I am a little disappointed in the critical response to the film. Critical reviews have been mixed and yet audiences love it and so did I (and I am picky)! Funny!

SplineGod
10-02-2006, 03:10 PM
Thats why I never pay much attention to critiques of movies. :)

Whelkn
10-02-2006, 04:09 PM
I saw it friday night and I thought the compositing was AMAZING the best ever---they should give all the compositors an award!!!! it was that good people---that good!

Cageman
10-02-2006, 11:09 PM
Things got MUCH better after we switched to LW 9 beta 64bit and 64 bit windows XP. They do things so much better for huge scenes. Nevertheless shots like the first appearance of the cargo ship (seen in the trailer twice) were a huge effort. Our main 2d/3d guy, ken stranahan, worked on that shot for a year.

Thanks alot for your reply. I can imagine that shots like this are hard whatever software is used. One year you say.. well... that is one year, one person. If there had been 12 people working on that shot, it would have taken 1 month (well, sort of). Not too bad. I'm really looking forward to see this movie, but I live in Sweden so I will have to wait a while... :)

DonJMyers
10-03-2006, 12:54 AM
Actually I neglected to mention he worked on the shot for a year but buy the end of it he was supervising a lot of other people who were making elements, especially realflow particle clouds. Ken was the 2d guy, the 3d guy AND the shot supervisor.

Celshader
10-03-2006, 01:49 AM
One of the girls on the board (yes there are girls here!) is CELSHADER, she was part of the particle team and could probably tell you more. She mentioned to me more than once how she felt so much freer with the new software the blew away the old limitations on particles, hypervoxels, polygons, etc.

Hi, Don! :)

For what it's worth, Lightwave 9.0 removed the 65,000 hardcoded limit for Hypervoxels, which was good. LW9.0 also doesn't choke when swapping out massive amounts of object data, the way LW8.5 would. LW9.0 would render the heaviest object sequences without a single hang-up.

I also didn't fully appreciate 64-bit systems until I worked on this project. 64-bit Realflow could generate MASSIVE amounts of data, which 64-bit LW9.0 would quietly render without complaint.

As for other technical stuff...hm. Realflow expert Mark Stasiuk (http://www.nextlimit.com/realflow/cs_guardian.htm) wrote Python scripts to generate the Realflow data -- splashes, wave crests, bow hits, water interaction, you name it. Me, I wrote Python scripts to smooth out (http://www.newtek.com/lightwave/case_flashfilmworks.php) the RealFlow->LW pipeline. I love Python (http://python.org/) now. :D

-+-

As for the Lightwave oceans...I remember those being done many different ways. I saw artists use bones, texture displacements, endomorphs, morph targets, ClothFX -- whatever combination they liked best for a given shot.

Safe Harbor
10-03-2006, 08:58 AM
Well, now I have to go see this movie this weekend. I'll try to overlook the fact that Kevin Costner is in it... LOL!

J/K I've been hearing great reviews so I'm looking forward to it.

Whelkn
10-03-2006, 05:43 PM
Kevin never gets any love :-(

Zane Condren
10-03-2006, 05:55 PM
Good work on the movie guys, the CG shots were very well done!!!

Jim_C
10-03-2006, 06:49 PM
My elder(70's) Uncle and Aunt saw it last night and loved it.

They raved about how someboady finally made a quality movie with NO cursing.

They said it showed real respect and did a great justice to the Coast Guard.

I told them about Lightwave and how it was used. They really thought it was all done either at sea or in a tank, but actually all real people and boats in real water.

DonJMyers
10-04-2006, 01:38 AM
Great to hear that! You know about the cursing, there's a moment where Costner says the "F" word almost by accident and suddenly ... well it's a very funny bit that breaks down the fourth wall and puts it right back up again!

LW_Will
10-04-2006, 02:31 AM
I was looking at Ebert and Roper this weekend, and the guest reviewer was Kevin Smith.

One of the things that Kevin said while giving the Guardian a good review was a big endorsement of the CG effects! He said that the effects were the best of any he had ever seen...

Not too shabby, a CG shout out from Silent Bob! ;-)

LW_Will

DonJMyers
10-04-2006, 12:38 PM
I missed Ebert and Roper this week. Glad Kevin smith had nice things to say! Did they end up giving the movie thumbs up or down?

LW_Will
10-04-2006, 04:31 PM
Thumbs up.

LW_Will

archiea
10-04-2006, 10:45 PM
Are anyof the sequences you worked on in the trailer?

Whelkn
10-05-2006, 01:36 AM
theres alot of mine in there ;-)

DonJMyers
10-05-2006, 06:35 AM
Pretty much every dangerous looking sea shot in the trailer is an FX shot. I worked on every one of them at one stage or another: animatic, look development, helicopter and boat issues like volumetrics, etc. Jeremy (Whelkin) worked on heavy duty compositing shots where lightwave was combined with stock footage and shots of the stars. He is currently finishing WB's "The Blood Diamond."

EyelandArts.com
10-05-2006, 09:04 AM
I havent seen the movie but I will soon. Don, its just nice to see a company talking about it openly on the forums. It makes the community stronger. Too often we are forced to be tight lipped by NDAs while some PR press release from the company blurbs some generic garble. Its also great to hear some praise for LW having an important role.
I think people would be surprised how often LW gets used in Film only for the company to turn around and say it was done in their ultra propietary uber expensive software so dont try it at home.
I guess I can understand they want to impress their clients with their magic show.

Cageman
10-05-2006, 12:14 PM
This (http://www.vfxworld.com/?sa=adv&code=3631a5a1&atype=news&id=18061) seems to be a pure advert for RealFlow 4. It almost makes it sound like LW was only used to render the stuff...

DonJMyers
10-05-2006, 01:30 PM
Yes I bet LW was used to model things we would never guess in movies but when it's time to hype it they say it was all done in maya or such :(

We used realflow for certain scenes and elements but 80% of the 3d was lightwave with naturefx I would reckon.

inquisitive
10-07-2006, 09:45 PM
Thank you for sharing Don

WilliamVaughan
10-08-2006, 03:34 PM
Congrats to the entire team at Flash Filmworks....amazing work!

Cageman
10-24-2006, 04:19 PM
Just came back from watching The Guardian. I was surprised how good it was, the movie as a whole, acting etc. There were people behind me crying a little bit as well... :)

The effects were good and well integrated. Well done to all involved on that part. I'm impressed that LW can be pushed to do this kind of effects, great inspiration! :thumbsup:

Unwanted
10-25-2006, 06:10 AM
I'm confused. Why do you say it's cutting edge water done with Lightwave if realflow was used? I don't get it. Is there something unique in how Lightwave uses realfow? Are there any water examples done without realflow?
I ask because I'm working on something now and this thread came up in a search and reading the first post I was very excited and read on to learn how but then later you say realflow

Cageman
10-25-2006, 06:20 AM
I'm confused. Why do you say it's cutting edge water done with Lightwave if realflow was used? I don't get it. Is there something unique in how Lightwave uses realfow? Are there any water examples done without realflow?
I ask because I'm working on something now and this thread came up in a search and reading the first post I was very excited and read on to learn how but then later you say realflow

To my understanding, RealFlow was used to create foams, spashes and things like that. The general water and its movements was done using multiple techniques in LW.

Things done in RealFlow was imported into Lightwave and combined with the rest of the stuff (general watermass, boats etc).

That's how I understand the process...

EDIT: For LW-only water, check out this thread: http://www.spinquad.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14741

NonPlanar
10-25-2006, 08:12 AM
I don't know.. but it sounds to me that the thing LW really did in all this was the rendering. So I'm not sure how just it is to rave and rant about Lighwave waves WHEN YOU NEED A 2700* DOLLAR PLUGIN TO DO IT!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH

:thumbsdow



* price quoted from Next Limit's website on October 25, 2006

Cageman
10-25-2006, 08:55 AM
I don't know.. but it sounds to me that the thing LW really did in all this was the rendering. So I'm not sure how just it is to rave and rant about Lighwave waves WHEN YOU NEED A 2700* DOLLAR PLUGIN TO DO IT!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH

:thumbsdow



* price quoted from Next Limit's website on October 25, 2006

I'll quoute DonJMyers

"We used realflow for certain scenes and elements but 80% of the 3d was lightwave with naturefx I would reckon."

And he worked on that movie. If you read the article over at VFXWorld, then, yes... it sounds like Realflow was used, and LW was the plugin, not the other way around.

Also, you could read the this case-study (http://www.newtek.com/lightwave/case_flashfilmworks.php)

Alot of talk about The Guardian there...

Unwanted
10-25-2006, 09:05 AM
So hand modeling water and deforming it (displacements? morphs?) to match ocean footage with footage projected onto it along with realflow particles for spray?

First, I'd like to hear about that process and second I'd like to know what you do if you don't have access to ocean footage from Master and Commander.

NonPlanar
10-25-2006, 09:06 AM
and if you'd read my post, you'd see I'm talking about just the bloody waves

Cageman
10-25-2006, 12:09 PM
and if you'd read my post, you'd see I'm talking about just the bloody waves

Ehm... ok.. well... instead of using hypervoxels ontop of deformed LW-geometry, they used RealFlow on top of deformed LW-geometry.

Happy now? :)

Celshader
10-25-2006, 12:59 PM
I don't know.. but it sounds to me that the thing LW really did in all this was the rendering.

I wrote one or two things on this thread. I'm not sure how much more info I can post, but I assure you that LightWave did a lot more than rendering for The Guardian.

Stooch
10-25-2006, 01:05 PM
I don't know.. but it sounds to me that the thing LW really did in all this was the rendering. So I'm not sure how just it is to rave and rant about Lighwave waves WHEN YOU NEED A 2700* DOLLAR PLUGIN TO DO IT!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH
:thumbsdow
* price quoted from Next Limit's website on October 25, 2006


With just realflow you would have a sim but it wouldnt necessarily look like you want it to. Have you used realflow? Its like black magic, forget about "matching" to stuff, you just sim and sim and sim until something looks close. The fact that they created the waves with blendshapes with LW is badass !

BTW realflow sucks for making rolling and cresting waves with large amplitude. Its great for splashing/pouring effects but not for rough seas.

Unwanted
10-25-2006, 01:10 PM
Well I wish all I needed at the moment was undulating water. I mean, how old is that SimplyLightwave tutorial? It sounds like the beauty elements are the mapping of high quality ocean footage and realflow sprays and splashes and I don't have access to either. :(

Cageman
10-25-2006, 01:20 PM
It sounds like the beauty elements are the mapping of high quality ocean footage and realflow sprays and splashes and I don't have access to either. :(

Hmm... I think they just used real ocean footage as a reference and frame by frame modelled the changes in LW so it would match the filmed footage. Then they used LW and a plugin called NatureFX to do the actual look of the water.

I'm guessing here, but reading through the case-study that is my impression of how they did it...

Stooch
10-25-2006, 01:29 PM
Well I wish all I needed at the moment was undulating water. I mean, how old is that SimplyLightwave tutorial? It sounds like the beauty elements are the mapping of high quality ocean footage and realflow sprays and splashes and I don't have access to either. :(

it doesnt give you good control. personally i would use displacement maps and move them across the mesh with smaller bump procedurals if i dont have real reference. With the new displacement features in v9 this would work pretty good i imagine.

Celshader
10-25-2006, 01:36 PM
Hmm... I think they just used real ocean footage as a reference and frame by frame modelled the changes in LW so it would match the filmed footage. Then they used LW and a plugin called NatureFX to do the actual look of the water.

I'm guessing here, but reading through the case-study that is my impression of how they did it...

Endomorphs + NatureFX were used on some of the shots, but as I mentioned earlier in this thread, many different techniques were used for individual ocean shots. Some artists used everything but endomorphs and NatureFX for their water.

Cageman
10-25-2006, 02:01 PM
Endomorphs + NatureFX were used on some of the shots, but as I mentioned earlier in this thread, many different techniques were used for individual ocean shots. Some artists used everything but endomorphs and NatureFX for their water.

Ohh... yes... my memory slipped a bit... well... as long as it looks right, it doesn't matter what technique is used. However, I got the impression that NatureFX was used all the time? Isn't NatureFX a shader? Or is it alot more than that? :)

DonJMyers
10-26-2006, 12:59 PM
Every trick in the book to make water was used on guardian:

1. master and commander real sea storm footage
2. on set giant wave machine elements
3. flash's splash library
4. realflow particle elements
5. lightwave particle elements/hypervoxels - my job!
6. lightwave water + naturefx
7. lightwave water morph targeted
8. lightwave water displacement mapped via hdri animated images - don't ask me how! It's magic to me!

It all just depended on each shot and who worked on it. So unless somebody has access to all the above mentioned you really can't make very good storm water. I saw some 3d simulation on the cbs news recently demonstrating "waterboarding," a form of torture the white house likes. The water looked like giant melted pearls! Who approved that??

Water is very hard. God is a tough act to follow.