View Full Version : character animation

04-27-2008, 03:11 PM
Hey Everyone,

I am a character designer and Illustrator working on a Mac in the entertainment sector. My job recently
asked me to research and obtain a 3D software package to do character animation and product
design. My choices came down to Maya and Lightwave, and I went with Lightwave because of “out
of the box” ease of use.

Recently I’ve been reading in the forums about how LW character animation tools and abilites are
lacking in comparison to some of the other “big guns” in the 3D app market.

I suppose I just want some reassurance that I made the right choice in the purchase of LW for doing
character work as well as product illustration. I have read that v.9.5 is supposed to have some
advancements in the character animation realm.

I’ve seen some tools for character work that seem as though they would be helpful.

- Maestro
- Project Messiah(unfortunately I don’t see a Mac version)
- Evil Plan Studios character animation DVD’s

I also found a movie on You Tube for an amazing looking rig controller


Essentially, I am calling on some of the experienced LW character animators to show a newbie
what LW is capable of with some links to good looking character work in LW.

Thanks everyone.

04-27-2008, 03:31 PM
Just to clarify, you've already purchased LW, and want to know some sources on the best possible way to master what LW can do, correct?

(In that case, perhaps a bunch of people filling the thread with the abilities of Maya would be, well, irrelevant..)

From what I understand the foundations version of XSI is also a good add-on to your LW animation workflow.

04-27-2008, 03:43 PM
Yes, I have purchased LW 9.3 and am currently working through the tutorials

04-27-2008, 04:48 PM
Some Lightwave animation seen on the forum...



William Vaughan and Dave School

These films prove it's possible to do professional work in Lightwave. The toolset is however, badly in need of TLC. Newtek have announced character animation will be improved in subsequent releases but many of us are still waiting for the Holy Grail - point manipulation in Layout, which allows for greater control over mesh deformation. Many specialist animators use Messiah or XSI in combination with LW's renderer or FPrime.

For all its present faults Lightwave is a great all round out of the box solution. Wish I had more time for animation. Mainly into modelling but I've always found rigging pretty straightforward in Lightwave. There are lots of free tutorials on the web and excellent specialist tomes including Kretin's 'LightWave 3D 8 Cartoon Character Creation: From Concept to Animation'.

04-27-2008, 05:07 PM
I haven't used other packages, so I can't compare. I do want to take this opportunity to plug Jonny Gorden's "Lightwave Cartoon Character Creation" books, which in my experience are the absolute best resource available for learning Lightwave character animation.

04-27-2008, 05:19 PM
If you find Lightwave tools lacking in character animation, and let's face it, they aren't the shiniest out there, I'd consider adding either Messiah or probably XSI foundation. You'd still be spending less then if you went with Maya and you'd probably be better off for ease of use.

04-27-2008, 06:45 PM
I will chime in and say that LW can do CA, but it takes more steps than XSI for example, which has more CA automation tools. Someone just looking into LW would get the wrong impression that you cant do CA in LW because of the bad flack it gets on the forums. LW does need more high-end CA tools but can do a very good job right now as is.

Look into some of the ad-ons mentioned but I tell you I bought into quite a bit of the third party CA stuff and find myself doing most of my character work with LW alone.

Its all a matter of how crafty you are on the TD end.

04-27-2008, 06:54 PM
I think it also depends on how complex your scenes are, and exactly what is trying to be done...

Nicolas Jordan
04-27-2008, 07:05 PM
Your choice of software will be just fine for most animation challenges that you will encounter. Not sure if you have heard of Timothy Albee(former Disney animator) but he chose Lightwave as his tool when he made his short film Kaze Ghost Warrior http://www.kazeghostwarrior.com/flash/index.htm

04-27-2008, 07:10 PM
Recently I’ve been reading in the forums about how LW character animation tools and abilites are
lacking in comparison to some of the other “big guns” in the 3D app market.

That may be true but you can do character animation with no problems. Just look the work done by this guy (taken from the link povided by you).


04-27-2008, 07:14 PM
Thanks for the great responses. There is certainly some great work out there.

I have heard very good things about Project Messiah, I am on a Mac, and from what I have seen, that particular add-on is only on the PC end. Has anyone used Maestro?

I assume as I delve into the app more, I will be able to figure things out for myself on the rigging and animation side. The CA tutorials from Evil Plan studios made it look as though nice character animation can be achieved within LW itself.

By the way I am new to these forums, and you all seem to be part of a very nice community. I look forward to being part of them as my skills grow with the program. Thanks for the help, and if you have any more links to great LW work please post.


04-27-2008, 10:25 PM
That may be true but you can do character animation with no problems. Just look the work done by this guy (taken from the link povided by you).


I think I just watched the bridge collapse like 50 times.

04-28-2008, 04:17 AM
As long as you dont work with other companies or subcontractors in your area then lw will be fine. In japan, our company works with many companies and subcontracts and sad to say lw is just disappearing over here. My bosses are making me study maya 2008(just because its gathering dust on the shelf) and slowly moving everything to 3dsmax for fx and animation.
Newtek please do better marketting in Asia, i really dont want to study maya. Lol!

04-28-2008, 09:23 PM
You will get a wide diversity of replies re: character animation on Lightwave, making it a difficult topic.

It is possible to do advanced animation with Lightwave. That said, it takes some work. There are third party solutions, each offering a different solution, but for now I'll point out the outof-the-box LW solutions:

1. Currently (pre v9.5) I would say most LW character animation is done by directly animating bones. In an animation pipeline, this can cause some problems, since the skeleton can change. And if you are using a lot of bones, it can be hard to sort out problems with the animation. That said, there are a lot of animators that do some really amazing work with just the basics.

2. Lightwave begins rigging by one of two methods: modeler or layout. Both have pluses and minuses. The tools in layout are still a little buggy, and not as precise as modeler's bone tools. On the other hand, bouncing back and forth from modeler to layout and testing bones (look for plugins to help) takes a lesson in patience.

3. Some people argue that IKBoost is the ultimate character pose tool built into LW. There is a website dedicated to its use. While it does have some robust tools, some argue that it's not intuitive to use. Additionally, this animates directly onto bones, which has plus and minuses.

The plus side is that CA on LW v9.5 is showing some signs of life, so the future is still rolling and your investment is safe.

04-28-2008, 10:52 PM
thanks adamredwoods, thats helpful. And thanks for the link to Rigmaster.