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View Full Version : Raising the VFX Bar In-House on Battlestar Galactica: Razor



WilliamVaughan
11-29-2007, 09:04 PM
http://vfxworld.com/index.php?atype=articles&id=3460

Nicolas Jordan
11-29-2007, 09:39 PM
It is nice to know that Lightwave is still being used as the pipeline including character animation on some projects. :lightwave Thanks for posting the link Proton.

ben martin
11-30-2007, 06:40 AM
"We also did quite a bit of sophisticated character animation with the Centurions and I was very pleased, because that is frequently an argument with LightWave -- that character animation is very limited. By comparison to Maya, that's true, but it's 10 times faster to get the animation out"

Nevertheless this does not mean that Lightwave is cool and sophisticated to be used in CA.
You guys :newtek: really need to revise the LW CA philosophy real soon!

Giacomo99
11-30-2007, 07:36 AM
I agree. "It's clumsy and limited, but it renders fast" is not a very persuasive marketing strategy.

cresshead
11-30-2007, 11:02 AM
it is when a deadline is approaching!
i moved my felix catfood scene from 3dsmax ink and paint based scene over to lightwave as it was rendering between 3 to 5 times faster...

and yeah lightwave is clumsy and annoying in some departments...but i STILL moved it from max to lightwave...

lightwave's renderer does RULE...newtek just need to make some new cool character tools.

i'll be pre ordering the Razor dvd btw...looks FAB!

meathead
11-30-2007, 01:25 PM
Hahaahhaa, how dare someone post something positive, an article about a show that was done, well, with LW, on a LW forum?!?!? The nerve.

What? Does NT think they own this forum or something?


Relax Francis.

Cageman
11-30-2007, 02:02 PM
Funny that the article didn't mention Atmosphere as a contributor to the show. Their work on the series was, among other things, the destruction of Pegasus, which won an Emmy Award, by the way....

EDIT: http://digitalproducer.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=181484
EDIT2: http://www.studiodaily.com/filmandvideo/currentissue/7304.html

meathead
11-30-2007, 02:26 PM
Nice trailer on the website:

http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/

hrgiger
11-30-2007, 02:36 PM
They should post this on CGtalk/CGSociety. Oh wait, was this done with Lightwave?

Cageman
11-30-2007, 02:49 PM
They should post this on CGtalk/CGSociety. Oh wait, was this done with Lightwave?

:lol:

LW_Will
11-30-2007, 03:37 PM
"We also did quite a bit of sophisticated character animation with the Centurions and I was very pleased, because that is frequently an argument with LightWave -- that character animation is very limited. By comparison to Maya, that's true, but it's 10 times faster to get the animation out"

Nevertheless this does not mean that Lightwave is cool and sophisticated to be used in CA.
You guys :newtek: really need to revise the LW CA philosophy real soon!

Gary Hurzel's full quote...


We also did quite a bit of sophisticated character animation with the Centurions and I was very pleased, because that is frequently an argument with LightWave -- that character animation is very limited. By comparison to Maya, that's true, but it's 10 times faster to get the animation out and that allows me to get the sequences that I want. Otherwise in TV, what you are really saying is, 'I give up!' because I cannot turn out 38 shots of Centurions in that period of time because it's impossible with Maya. But it is possible in LightWave to have animators like that here."

Yes... why would you sing the praises of something that is fast as opposed to something that is easy, but takes forever... :question:

Wow, if these guys found IK Boost, I'd stand back!

Dirk
12-01-2007, 02:24 AM
I would like to know if they used IKBoost .... :D

jin choung
12-02-2007, 04:19 PM
Atmosphere wasn't mentioned because they weren't used. all in-house (i guess that means bsg productions?).... no atmosphere, no zoic.

hurtzel doesn't specifically mention that rendering was the "fast" portion of lw character stuff so i actually don't understand his comments that maya is better for charanim but lw is faster?!

there seems to be some layer of information between those two statements that seem to be missing... perhaps pertaining to maya vs. lw operators? <shrug>

actually, i wish i could remember more of the charanim from it... i remember they did some stuff with cockpit shots and ejections....

anyway, razor was awesome.... and the fact that six and the admiral were knocking combat boots not only explains to a degree the level of sadism involved towards six later... but is also just really really hot.

jin

LW_Will
12-02-2007, 04:21 PM
Seeing that Tim "Mister Complicated Rigger" Albee did the Cylons, no don't think that IKB would've entered into it.

LW_Will
12-02-2007, 04:29 PM
hurtzel doesn't specifically mention that rendering was the "fast" portion of lw character stuff so i actually don't understand his comments that maya is better for charanim but lw is faster?!

I don't want to put words or ideas into Gary's mouth, but I think he's saying that Maya is more flexible for characters, but using those tools requires time. Lightwave is faster on the rendering, but harder to setup as rig, and there are more "gotchas" in LW than Maya.

In TV, it is be better to get three revisions as opposed to one. It just makes sense.

Cageman
12-03-2007, 02:42 PM
Atmosphere wasn't mentioned because they weren't used. all in-house (i guess that means bsg productions?).... no atmosphere, no zoic.
jin

The article mentioned Zoic:

"While previous years of BSG vfx were done with Zoic Studios, Hutzel says the shift ultimately allowed for more creativity and flexibility within a tighter budget."

Don't know why Zoic gets all the credits... :/

"In truth, many of the people who started working on the miniseries at Zoic are now working for me full-time" <--- it makes sense to mention Zoic in that line, but I get frustrated to see other studios not getting credit, even though they won the Emmy. It's like... seeing some cool VFX that you KNOW was done in a package, but the media and press says something else. Credit is important, and I honsetly think that Atmosphere, so far, have done the coolest and most impressive shots for a SCI-FI TV-serie. I've not seen Razor yet, though.

jin choung
12-03-2007, 03:01 PM
re: zoic, i just meant they weren't used in the production of razor. not very clear from my post though....

jin

Bog
12-05-2007, 03:34 AM
I think what was meant re: character animation is that the Centurions were quicker to rig and animate in LightWave - as they were all pivots and linkages, rather than meat, flesh and fabric, I can plain beleive it. There's no problem animating robots in LW at all, it's when you need squashy organics that the tools start to fall short.

And if you can't remember the gunbattle with the old-school Centurions, you need to watch it again. It's really ruined the new models for me. The 1978 Dodge Thug model is just way, way scarier than the 2004 Mitsubishi Fragile... (if you'll pardon my motor metaphor).

Cageman
12-05-2007, 11:36 AM
Seeing that Tim "Mister Complicated Rigger" Albee did the Cylons, no don't think that IKB would've entered into it.

Don't know about that. In his Character Animation Book (LW8) he have plenty of examples using IKBoost where he clearly likes to use it for some stuff.

jin choung
12-05-2007, 01:45 PM
I think what was meant re: character animation is that the Centurions were quicker to rig and animate in LightWave - as they were all pivots and linkages, rather than meat, flesh and fabric, I can plain beleive it.

even in that context it doesn't make sense.

from character setup to rigging controls to animation ... and then flexibility of modifying work later, even if we're talking about hardbody hierarchies like robots, there's NOTHING preferable about doing it in lw over maya.

certainly, this is not to say that it is impossible or hard to do robots in lw... just that his assertion that it's somehow better or faster to do it lw simply doesn't make sense to me. in a feature shootout, there's no contest.

there are no tradeoffs in which lw ends up being winner here except in price and possibly ease of teaching a rank beginner (which i assume they did not).

so i still don't get his statements but i guess i can understand it would be preferable to use lw if you intended to render in it and so the production pipeline would be less complicated doing the anims in lw.

jin

Bog
12-05-2007, 02:17 PM
even in that context it doesn't make sense.

from character setup to rigging controls to animation ... and then flexibility of modifying work later, even if we're talking about hardbody hierarchies like robots, there's NOTHING preferable about doing it in lw over maya.

Sorry, mush, gonna have to disagree. Rigging robots in LW is straightforward and actually pretty good fun. Nothing Maya does makes it significantly easier.

Ratboy
12-05-2007, 02:24 PM
But... but.... but it's Maya! Lookit all the buttons!

http://irrationaldesigns.com/emot-cybanjo.gif

LW_Will
12-05-2007, 02:59 PM
Don't know about that. In his Character Animation Book (LW8) he have plenty of examples using IKBoost where he clearly likes to use it for some stuff.

Really? :question:

I've read that book and frankly, it is WAY complicated on making the rig. IMHO.

Cageman
12-05-2007, 03:30 PM
even in that context it doesn't make sense.

from character setup to rigging controls to animation ... and then flexibility of modifying work later, even if we're talking about hardbody hierarchies like robots, there's NOTHING preferable about doing it in lw over maya.

We just had to re-paint the weights and re-bind everything on a turret (tank) just beacuse we had to change the model somewhat. We used a couple of tools to save out the weighting information (the one comming with Maya is very unpredictable), but non of them worked when applying the weights to the somewhat changed model. If it had at least worked on the parts we didn't change, but it didn't. Crap! In LW, we would only have to select the points on the added mesh and assign a weightmap (because the weightmap is tied to the mesh and allready there). There is also a free tool avaliable nowdays that lets you copy weights between objects in Modeler (if needed).

About weights, flexibility and the apparent lack of tools in Maya for this:

Avid came to us and demoed the new, not yet released, version of XSI. They had a singlemesh character rigged etc in Maya that they wanted to completely change the head on. Now, doing that in Maya isn't easy or fast, at least if you don't want to re-paint weights. So, they showed us a tool that let them transfer the weighted object into XSI where they exchanged the head in a matter of minutes, where the new head had the same weights as the original head. Then they transfered it back, replacing the mesh in Maya, without any need to repaint/rebind the skin. Now, there is a reason why Avid have developed this functionality/tools. The many Maya-based studios they visited during this "tour" were very interrested in getting XSI just for this simple functionality. I do understand why. *sigh*

LightWave isn't as flexible as XSI, but it's more flexible than Maya when it comes to this sort of thing. Even if this feature isn't needed in this particular production (BSG: Razor), I do understand the precaution IF things suddenly needs to change.

jin choung
12-05-2007, 03:45 PM
Sorry, mush, gonna have to disagree. Rigging robots in LW is straightforward and actually pretty good fun. Nothing Maya does makes it significantly easier.

as i said, i'm certainly not saying lw can't do it or it wouldn't be "pretty good fun"....

but does it make it any easier? any better? any superior features or workflow? in other words, is there ANY advantage in going with lw? (outside of the thing i mentioned about pipeline and of course price of a seat which i certainly agree upon). is there any justification for the comparison hurtzel seems to make?

my contention is no.

your entitled to your opinion of course but everything from parenting objects to setting their pivot points (snappable!) and of course the speed of the opengl redraw seems to make it a hands down winner in my book.

and of course, we're talking about a comparison between operators who are equally capable in each app. (i also have a feeling that it really is a personnel issue that hurtzel's talking about and is about the complexity of getting lwers up to speek in maya vs. doing it in lw)....

jin

jin choung
12-05-2007, 04:47 PM
We just had to re-paint the weights and re-bind everything on a turret (tank) just beacuse we had to change the model somewhat. We used a couple of tools to save out the weighting information (the one comming with Maya is very unpredictable), but non of them worked when applying the weights to the somewhat changed model.

lots of options:

1. the one MOST AKIN to lw's method of just editing the mesh and retaining the weights:
a. detach skin but KEEP HISTORY.
b. edit the mesh as you please.
c. bind mesh again.
d. delete non deformer history.
e. mesh has retained its weights and made whatever interpolations on the weights that make sense to accommodate the changes.

2. zoo weightsave
3. comet weight saver
4. and copy weights standard in maya allows lots of options for "projecting" weights from one mesh to another including according to proximity, normals, etc....

not harder in maya.

jin

Cageman
12-06-2007, 06:51 AM
lots of options:

1. the one MOST AKIN to lw's method of just editing the mesh and retaining the weights:
a. detach skin but KEEP HISTORY.
b. edit the mesh as you please.
c. bind mesh again.
d. delete non deformer history.
e. mesh has retained its weights and made whatever interpolations on the weights that make sense to accommodate the changes.

2. zoo weightsave
3. comet weight saver
4. and copy weights standard in maya allows lots of options for "projecting" weights from one mesh to another including according to proximity, normals, etc....

not harder in maya.

jin

I don't have the details on which ones we tried, but we have some internal developed tools for this as well as some free tools. Non of those worked.

Your trick with detaching skin without deleting history then do changes, then bind the skin and delete non-deformer history etc didn't work at all (when rotating the antenna-joint it affects the whole turret, which is not the way it was weighted). I tried this without actually changing anything on the turret. I just followed your steps, except that I didn't add/remove any geometry. If that doesn't work, I'm quite sure it wouldn't work if I actually did change the geometry.

The only downside, besides not working, was the fact that it took some 3-4 minutes to delete the history. Note that the history on the object has already been deleted prior to rigging, so there shouldn't be any non-deformer history on the object at all.

jin choung
12-06-2007, 11:15 AM
Your trick with detaching skin without deleting history then do changes, then bind the skin and delete non-deformer history etc didn't work at all (when rotating the antenna-joint it affects the whole turret, which is not the way it was weighted). I tried this without actually changing anything on the turret. I just followed your steps, except that I didn't add/remove any geometry. If that doesn't work, I'm quite sure it wouldn't work if I actually did change the geometry.


don't know what to tell you here.... we do this CONSTANTLY. works every time. did you try not deleting non-deformer history? or perhaps deleting it before you re-bind.

jin

Cageman
12-06-2007, 12:46 PM
as i said, i'm certainly not saying lw can't do it or it wouldn't be "pretty good fun"....

but does it make it any easier? any better? any superior features or workflow? in other words, is there ANY advantage in going with lw? (outside of the thing i mentioned about pipeline and of course price of a seat which i certainly agree upon). is there any justification for the comparison hurtzel seems to make?

my contention is no.

jin

Hmm... well, maybe they already had them rigged and ready in LW with one-button press to exchange the object into the lowres, animation friendly version with tons of custom controls/plugins/scripts that make things hell of alot better than for mere mortals like us. Maybe the animators, as you said, are more proficient with LW than Maya. I don't see the bad thing about that. With everything setup and ready, LW isn't that much different, not with as "simple" stuff as the Centrions. It all boils down to timing and feeling.

I'll have to dig little deeper into your number one suggestion, because if we can get it to work, it could save lives! ;)

With that said, let's move our little Maya problemsolving off this thread into private messages.

Stooch
12-06-2007, 10:08 PM
Sorry, mush, gonna have to disagree. Rigging robots in LW is straightforward and actually pretty good fun. Nothing Maya does makes it significantly easier.

what??? a robot rig might have alot of expression driven parts, i know my rigs do. Considering how broken the expressions are in LW, maya has a huge leg up on lw already. Then when we start talking about scene referencing, NLA and interaction speed and lw hits the floor like a sack of ****.

Cageman
12-07-2007, 09:04 AM
what??? a robot rig might have alot of expression driven parts, i know my rigs do. Considering how broken the expressions are in LW, maya has a huge leg up on lw already. Then when we start talking about scene referencing, NLA and interaction speed and lw hits the floor like a sack of ****.

Hmm.. do you use Relativity 2? Seems to be a ton more reliable, but it does bog down LW when using alot of them.

I havn't seen any Centrion animations that suggest the rigging being complex at all.

Bog
12-07-2007, 09:11 AM
Bog down? Eh? What? Oh. As you were... ;)

Jin, I'll give you the point about OpenGL speeds, and I'll agree with Stooch that expressions are easier in Maya. *shrugs*

So, it goes to Maya on points. But looking at the Cylon centurions in Razor, I still don't see anything that would be significantly easier in Maya.