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Chilton
10-23-2006, 07:05 PM
Hi,

I've been pondering the best way to teach someone how to use LightWave.

Fortunately for me, if I need to know something specific, I can just walk 10 feet and bother Marvin. Or Kurtis. Or Chuck. I'm going clockwise here, Chuck is actually closest. Or a few more feet gets me access to almost anyone else at the company.

But I can't drag everyone who wants to learn LightWave down (or up) here to San Antonio for a week. So I'm curious--how did you learn LightWave, how would you teach LightWave to someone, and do you have any suggestions for how we could teach more people how to use LW?

Thanks,
-Chilton

jameswillmott
10-23-2006, 07:33 PM
I taught myself, but I've found the best way to teach any package to someone is to mentor them. Instant feedback, bad habits get nipped in the bud, and usually the teacher also learns something from the student. :)

And if I need to know something right now, Skype is only a mouse click away.

Speaking of which, I've often wondered about the practicality of teaching via correspondance using Skype/Teamspeak....

Chilton
10-23-2006, 07:42 PM
I think it would work great. I used to host a weekly chat for SuperCard users (which is carrying on quite well in my absence), and that was a terrific place for new users to learn how to cut code. Hmm....

Wickster
10-24-2006, 12:03 AM
Books and Online tutorials. I'm a self thought Lightwaver from the mas side of the 3D world. Lightwave had so many books back then so access to new ideas and problem solving was just a bookstore away. Online tutorials were a big help too. I personaly didn't know anyone who used Lightwave back then so it was up to me to pusue LW education.

Yacomo
10-24-2006, 12:38 AM
I am still at the beginning of the Lightwave learning curve, mostly playing in modeler right now. Note that I am a mere hobbyist, so the time it takes me to learn things is not really an issue.

I am a 'learning by doing' kind of person. As a start, I went through the whole Modeler menu hierarchy and used every tool at least once to see what it actually did. If it did nothing upon first look I consulted the manual to figure out it's usage context.
I also found some of the videos on the Lightwave website tremendously helpful to get a grip an all the things possible.

From that follows that a logical menu structure within the application is most valuable to me. Unfortunately I did not find the default Lightwave menu structure that logical upon first look, the Studio / Production menu structure that came with Lightwave 9 made much more sense to me. Making that one the default and updating the documentation appropriately would make a lot of sense imho.

Next thing that really bugged me were context sensitive tools that required a certain selection within the application before being actually usable. For clarity I'd really love to see those tools disabled until the proper selection is made by the user ;) .

But overall, I do find Lightwave quite enjoyable to learn. It is tremendously powerful and I accepted that with that power comes a steep learning curve...

norlight
10-24-2006, 02:25 AM
Based in Norway with no training classes within several flight hours away, I had to make it on my own.

So for me there was only one option: Get some training DVDīs.

For the basic/intermediate level I think well-produced videos on DVD are excellent.

Then, when the more specialised needs do arise therīs Kurv Studīs. They not only show you advanced techīs, but also by watching experts doing this 24/7 Iīm able to get rid of bad working habits.

Iīd be surprised if any of this info is new, but anyway...:lightwave

Largemedium
10-24-2006, 02:41 AM
I think a good way to start is knowing how to model, then move onto lighting and texturing, then go onto animation.

I took a class in Lightwave at my local college. The first day, the instructor told us to bring 5 objects into class... nothing that would be too large that it wouldn't fit in a backpack. Students brought things like combs, toothbrushes, sets of keys, padlocks, cell phones, watches, etc. The assignment for most of the semester was modeling all of our objects. The final for the class was to texture the objects then place them in a landscape scene with a minimum three light setup. We had to render out 3 different camera views and then we did an in-class critique the last day of class. It turned out to be one of the best ways for me to get an understanding of Lightwave while becoming proficient with the basic toolset. Instead of spending a lot of time learning all of the tools, we only needed to know the basics but got to know them well through practice.

I think that's a great way to build confidence and keep from being overwhelmed with too many options and the enormous learning curve that 3d is famous for. Once a person is fluent with the basics, it's easier to move onto the more advanced stuff. Most people new to 3d want to do cool stuff right out of the box and they get overwhelmed and discouraged. With our instructor having us focus on creating the different objects that utilized most of the basic tools, we didn't get bogged down in trying to learn too much too fast.

toby
10-24-2006, 02:57 AM
Taught myself the basics ( LW is extremely easy to learn compared to how powerful it is ), then a one year course at a school helped me get a really solid understanding of 3D and related aspects, like 2D, video and the industry.

Having to learn Maya now, I consider tutorials to be the best thing next to a training course, which I'm not in the mood to shell out thousands more for, just to show me what AA is :)

Tutorials teach you a work-flow as well as where everything is, minimizing frustration, maximizing productivity and confidence.

The first tutorials I did after reading the LW manual were in the next LW book, which I don't think are there anymore. People have a very hard time sticking their nose to the manual hour after hour when using the software is so much more fun, I really suggest providing plenty of good tutorials with the manual, a lot of people don't realize that they're easily available on the web, how to find them or what kind they should do.

You could also try adding a beginners forum here.

toby
10-24-2006, 03:06 AM
Good topic Chilton, as usual ~



( What is this 2 minute time limit on editing your posts?! It's ridiculous, you can't edit your post it in that time unless you try to do it immediately and rush as fast as you can! Better to remove the edit option completely, it'll be less :bangwall: )

colkai
10-24-2006, 03:42 AM
As a hobbyist working in my room, all alone, in the night. (Sorry, tangent there :p)
I tend to learn by reading stuff off the web or in books. These days, it's better because there are so many video tutorials to help as well.
It's hard work though because sometimes, you can bang your head against a brick wall for ages when if you could just turn to someone and ask them, you get the problem resolved straight away.

That said, the head-to-wall negotiations can sometimes be very fruitful as you pick things up along the way.
Even now, I tend to try and learn something myself as I find it more rewarding, even if it does tend to take longer and become frustrating at times, I honestly think it gives you a more solid understanding.

I now have people asking me for help and if I can't talk them through something on MSN or Skype, I tend to produce quick VTM's showing what I mean.

I find that easy for me as part of my background is in computer based training, so I am used to having to explain things.

VTM's are also cool as you can reply the thing over and over to clear it up in your mind.

The recent bout of DVDs are good as well as the authors are so approachable online for things you don't quite "get".

I am also an advocate of doing the same tutorial a few times, as I think doing it once is almost pointless as you "walk away" from it and forget the little details. Nothing locks something into your mind like repetition, after all, you wouldn't play a tune on a guitar once and expect to be able to reproduce it at will from that one playing, 3D is no different really.

gatz
10-24-2006, 04:11 AM
The books and DVDs I've purchased have at least matched the cost of my LW setup (plugins and all). And none of them have made it easy. There are so many variations on a theme tools, plugin based work flows and just plain philosophical differences that you almost need to know the program before you can learn how to use it.

A basic camera path query will result in instruction on how to shape a motion path, attaching the camera to curve or an expression base follower scheme. The rigging DVD material I've purchased have all presented different methods for rigging a character. And besides the philosophical differences there are basic procedural contradictions (rest all bones vs never rest bones vs if you rest bones you must also...). Without a frame of reference this kind of material can be counter productive. I don't know whether this results from old school work arounds or Newtek's refusal to cull the redundant tools, but it is daunting starting out.

I'm reasonably confident in my knowledge but I still run into "don't do X that way because hypervoxels/morphs/etc won't work." While in theory it's great to be able to accomplish a goal several different ways, there always seems to be a "right" way that takes into account broken tools or third party plugs. Hence books like Killer Tips becomes a forehead bruising read. In short, I haven't found a magic bullet in the learning arsenal. Half of the art to finding answers seems to be in learning how to describe the problem so the search engine finds valid results.

Kuzey
10-24-2006, 04:19 AM
I would say the best way is to look over the shoulder of an experienced user or video tutorials :D

I made a request before to have Lscript have a record button (in Modeler) with import/export options. So a user can load the Lscript, hit play and watch a model being built before your eyes. Stop the lscript at a certain stage and have a go at making it yourself and then press run to advance a few more steps etc.

:D

Kuzey

John the Geek
10-24-2006, 06:17 AM
I'm an old fan of RTFM. Unfortunately, my cheap boss got the EDU copy without manuals, so I'm stuck reading my screen in PDF while trying to follow along with a window hidden behind it.

So, I'm going to absorb the PDF manuals first, then read some fine words from Dan Ablan once they are officially released to the public.

CrackWilding
10-24-2006, 09:13 AM
Dan Alban's book Inside LightWave 7 opened the door for me.

dglidden
10-24-2006, 09:40 AM
I'm definitely in the "learn by doing" and "learn by copying" camps. One of the best ways for me to learn how stuff works (Lightwave included) is to be able to take something apart that's already working. Probably the best resource for me to figure out how something works in Lightwave is the huge set of sample scenes and objects and things that comes with it. At least when it comes to the technical side of "how do you do something in Layout." When it comes to other things, such as actually modeling something, it's much easier for me to start with a finished project, then be able to walk through step by step, tutorial-like, and follow along at each step of the way, doing it myself and comparing with the "expected" results. Then I can tweak knobs one way or the other and see what happens compared to what was "expected" and learn how all the little knobs affect the final outcome.

mike_stening
10-25-2006, 06:14 AM
i started off by playing with free trial versions of apps like strata studio , extreme 3d and similar apps on the macworld discs etc. then i got use of a friends version 5.6 for a while and by just messing and buying books i got a resonable understanding of how it all worked. then the company i was working for i persuaded them to buy version 7 and just bought the Inside books and other books available and geeked out reading them. Mostly modeling to start with then moving on to texturing and finally playing with animation even though the bulk of my work is for press.
I have found learning in a job better than just messing, bit of pressure always helps, example in point we had a job last year where we had to make some water in a pretty specific way, found real flow seemed to be able to do the job but only had 2 days spare in which to learn it :yoda: pressure on we got the job done and i learnt more in those 2 days than i probably wuld just by going through tutorials. obviously all the rendering and texturing was handled by lightwave and we managed to add another tool to our belt.

seem to find learning from pdf files harder than if it was in a book or if i printed the pdf out (not always easy to do as some of them can be quite long and it doesn't always go down well hogging the printer) but the video tutorials are very handy, but hands on practice wins hands down.

eblu
10-25-2006, 07:20 AM
I taught myself 3d.
first Crystal Topaz, strata, infini d, Alias power animator (v. 4 - 8), maya, Animation Master, and Lightwave. When I started on the basics, there were no 3-d web sites, tutorials on the web, or even that many books.

it was good during the learning process for alias, to have a mentor, but the fundamentals came from Doing it. When I got around to Lightwave I had a vastly experienced Lightwave coworker to lean on... But between you, me and the wall... When I was asking him a question, it wasn't about a concept, I was having difficulty with Newteks implementation of it. Sometimes the boys got something right, but usually... Lightwave did things differently just to be a pain in the rear. And don't get me started on the bugs, probably the biggest barrier to learning.

the best way to learn? today kids are spammed by the concepts behind 3d everyday, they have an advantage most people my age never had. They start out with a gentler learning curve, so I suggest they get one of the free apps and do a few tutorials. If they find that doing that, feeds some internal need, then they'll just devour whatever 3d learning they can find.

Fix the bugs in Lightwave, clean the UI (make it work as advertised, make it consistent), market in the right places, and Lightwave will become an onramp for these kids, and expand its user base.

HowardBerry
10-25-2006, 07:26 AM
I taught myself - at University we had a module in 3D modelling, and the University owned LightWave. The lecturer who was teaching the module was downloading a tutorial from the net and teaching it to us from that the following day... needless to say none of us really learnt anything useful. The lecturer didn't know the software and was familiar with the tutorial anyway (which also wasn't a very well written piece of text). I went on to get a D grade for the module and was told I had no aptitude for 3D.

Now I am a lecturer with an MA in 3D digital animation (taken at a different University) and I teach LightWave to my students. Unfortunately what I teach is governed by time-scale and also what the module brief is (written by the head of the course and not by me). This is the first time my students have covered 3D modelling and animation and the project set to them is to model, rig, texture, animate and render a snail! I thought that this was way too much for them to be able to do in just a few weeks of using the software - but I've been surprised by how many of them have picked it up.

Matt
10-25-2006, 07:27 AM
Couldn't be bothered to read all the long posts, so if I repeat anything forgive me!

1) Give them some basic video tutorials that go through the really dull stuff

2) Sit down with them and help them model something really basic - let them do it, but be there to help when necessary, explain concepts etc.

3) Give them something slightly more complex and leave them to it with a manual (answer questions when they are really stuck)

4) Give them some more complex video tutorials to follow

al3d
10-26-2006, 09:21 AM
I bought Lightwave in the good old days when it came with real manuals at no extra cost...i read them and started experimenting. then after i discoverd online discussion forums I was introduced to some Pro's of the industry and started to learn more efficiant ways of working with Lightwave. I found that most books or DVD tutorials tend to fix on to " specific issues" for me. So i went on a more trial and error base learning curve. but when i started to model and paint professionly, my skills grew a LOT faster since i exchanged a lot of tricks with the likes of Fred Pienkos, Lee Stringer, Gabe etc etc..:)

toby
10-26-2006, 11:00 PM
I bought Lightwave in the good old days when it came with real manuals at no extra cost...
Dude! It was 2500 bucks back then!! :foreheads

Meshbuilder
10-27-2006, 02:26 AM
..and do you have any suggestions for how we could teach more people how to use LW?


Newtek should have a DOWNLOADABLE demo of the LATEST version of LightWave on the website...

al3d
10-27-2006, 05:37 AM
Dude! It was 2500 bucks back then!! :foreheads

SO?...updates had full manuals then as well!..trust me..i got a binder with photocopied or laser printed page for 100$ for LW8.0!.....that is what i called beened ripped off. A manual does'nt cost that much to be produced, i know, i've been in the print world for 20 years

toby
10-27-2006, 11:04 PM
SO?...updates had full manuals then as well!..trust me..i got a binder with photocopied or laser printed page for 100$ for LW8.0!.....that is what i called beened ripped off. A manual does'nt cost that much to be produced, i know, i've been in the print world for 20 years
SO, a price reduction of $900.00 goes a long way towards buying a manual. You think you should only pay for paper and ink, and not the salaries of the people writing it? They can't exactly make up the costs by selling in bulk. And apparently they can't offer a cheaper version with no manual for the people who don't need them, without being called rip-off artists.

al3d
10-28-2006, 06:58 AM
SO, a price reduction of $900.00 goes a long way towards buying a manual. You think you should only pay for paper and ink, and not the salaries of the people writing it? They can't exactly make up the costs by selling in bulk. And apparently they can't offer a cheaper version with no manual for the people who don't need them, without being called rip-off artists.


wow..you're a genius in buisness as i see !!!..the staff is writting the manual even if it's not been printed out..so that's irrelevant. 100$ is screwing people and that's final.

toby
10-28-2006, 01:11 PM
Sure, since they're doing it anyway, why pay them?

Newtek, roll back your prices to $1500 or even $2500, just don't charge us business geniuses $100 for the manual, it's not fair. We know that, because we know how to run a software company because we've been in the Print industry for decades. But we still don't know how to read pdf.

And that's "final".

al3d
10-28-2006, 01:24 PM
Sure, since they're doing it anyway, why pay them?

Newtek, roll back your prices to $1500 or even $2500, just don't charge us business geniuses $100 for the manual, it's not fair. We know that, because we know how to run a software company because we've been in the Print industry for decades. But we still don't know how to read pdf.

And that's "final".

seems i've hit a nerve..;)

kfinla
10-28-2006, 03:44 PM
I first started playing with 3d in autocadR12, then picked up more 3d animation concepts in strata studio pro.

I outgrew strata and learned Lightwave by having a friend at school that used it and could answer questions. I also picked up the book Inside LW 6.

John the Geek
10-28-2006, 08:48 PM
wow..you're a genius in buisness as i see !!!..the staff is writting the manual even if it's not been printed out..so that's irrelevant. 100$ is screwing people and that's final.

My big gripe is that my boss bought the copy without printed manuals, and I can't find anything on buying them after the fact.

I can read a PDF, but it gets in the way of the actual application. And I can't see both at the same time. Or maybe it's just a paper fetish.

=(

BigHache
10-29-2006, 06:08 AM
I've found that especially with robust apps like 3D modelers/renderers that a real good way to learn is to have projects. i.e. Here's a goal, model a simple house let's say, then learn the tools to accomplish that goal. Memorizing tools from a book is okay but it's better if you use them with an intention. I found the same to be true of AutoCAD. I had a book, architects, and interior designers around me, but without a project to apply the tools it became more daunting of a task to simply learn the application.

Printing is not a cheap process and most books you'd buy on Lightwave are black and white as well. Dan Ablan's books for example are b/w. Take a look at the size of the 3 manuals and compare each to what you would pay for similarly sized books at a bookstore. $100 is a lot at one time for an amatuer or freelance artist, but NewTek probably doesn't make much profit off of the manuals themselves.

I believe sharbor.com offers LW9 manuals separately.

MysteryMonkey
11-17-2006, 12:25 PM
I started teaching myself AutoCad by AutoDesk quite a while ago. I went through the manuals. . . . After a while I moved onto Animation: Master by Hash and bought several different books to learn with. That worked out pretty well. . . . Now with LighWave 9 I've been using a combination of the manuals and the tutorials available on the NewTek website. I find the interactive and movie tutorials very helpful, but I do miss some of the small details the demonstrators might be using.

I would really like to become more proficient with LW and I am wondering if anyone has tried the DVD set of "3D GARAGE LightWave v9 Signature Courseware" by Dan Ablan? If so what is your opinion? It says its a 2 DVD set with near 17 hours of video. Its a little pricey, but if its good the price will be well worth it I think. I'd just like to hear if the set has helped anyone out?

s4man3
12-09-2006, 02:10 PM
Newtek should organize Lightwave user group meeting in every city. Every 30 mile radius there should be a place you can visit. Where experts in Lightwave can personally organize the masses! Free DVD and Quicktime Downloadable training is the next best thing. the Key is free training and Demo software.

Darth Mole
12-10-2006, 04:30 AM
I've taught myself over the last (ooh, eight years?) just by playing, double-checking with the manual, maybe asking a few questions on forums.

But absolutely the best way is to give yourself a project - a scene or small animation with a distinct endpoint and maybe even a deadline. Mucking about with new features is all well and good, but when you have a target to aim at it really brings it all into focus and sharpens the mind.

Learning tools, like books and DVDs are also useful as a back-up - but nothing beats just getting on, doing it, making mistakes and problem-solving yourself.

kief
12-10-2006, 10:34 AM
I learn best by just doing projects. If I come up to something I want to do but dont know how, giving me an opportunity to learn Lightwave better, I'll either figure it out or if desperate ask on a forum. I think experience is the best teacher.