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kevman3d
07-25-2003, 10:30 PM
For anyone interested in finding out just what happened at the NZ LWUG meeting in July, here's the gossip!



Thanks again to everyone who came along to the LWUG meeting on Monday. Was great to catch up again with all the regulars, and some new people too!

ICE BREAKER:
As always, we started out with a handful of wierd 3D stuff I dredged off the Internet. The Invader Zim trailer showed just how wierd and bizarre this cartoon is, complete with plenty of celshaded LightWave work too! Also had some rather amusing animation from Dutch crew 'Lemonade', with rats singing about Star Wars, as well as the disturbing 'Eat your Peas' (done in Maya, but hey, cool animation!)

Stuart also had some examples of work done by one of the guys who does animation for WNTV (What Now TV) - Simple, but with a few amusing moments!

SHOW AND TELL:
EFFECTS SURPRISE!
Surprise, we we're very privileged to have a chance at some video-previews of the effects of two very cool effects plugins being coded for the Swedish company 'Tuff Little Unit' by programming guru Jarno! The effects were extremely cool - From pools of HV water (without needing a million particles!) to frozen-in-time effects... Thanks again for teasing us with what look like very cool tools! Can't wait until these are released! :)

HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE:
Surprise, surprise! I found my old web site (KRAP) from 1996-2000 - Why did I bring this? Simple, it contained the original Kiwavers 'mini-site' showing a little history and just how long the whole thing has been about (starting back in mid-1998!). The first ever meeting was on 16th Nov 1998.

Yes, to set the record straight, the LWOz users group is NOT the official representative for the NZ LW community - Even if there *is* a check-box on the LW Registration form that ships with LightWave when you buy it offering you the opportunity to 'sign up' to it! ;)

'Kiwavers' used to be listed on NewMagic's web site - Even then, there was no Aussie UG presence - Since their site revamp, it seems to have slipped their notice (even though they are well aware we exist)

Like L&P, we're world-famous - But only in New Zealand. :)


ONLY HALF A LIFE LEFT...
Dave bought along a half-hour presentation video showing the fantastically real looking new 'Half-life 2' game! The realtime engine, with emotion-driven characters, realistic environment and lighting and amazing world 'interactivity' was very cool to see! Can't say I'm a big game player myself, but I am always fascinated at just how advanced some of these new 3D
games are becoming!

AND I WARNED YOU!
So nobody else bought along stuff? Well, I had warned people that I would prepare plenty of my own stuff and force them to watch! This time around, an ever growing 'old' project from a few years back, based around my old 2000 'Nurbdroid' character. Now that I have a grunty new Athlon and plenty of speed to render volumetrics and depth of field effects, I decided to get back into some old, old projects that I found painful to work on with slow hardware!

In this case, a newly laid out sequence of shots showing my robot spinning about to prepare for an anonymous enemy(?) trying to break into his bunker.

I used this project to show how I was making use of 'Digital Confusion' to perform a rack-focus effect. I discussed a few other approaches I had taken and the pro's and cons. While I had material prepared to show in LW itself, I didn't actually get around to showing it until very, very late in the meeting (after most had left)


BREAK
Well, we decided to take a short break - Nicola had bought some yummy cheese and crackers to the meeting, and Rick had also bought some chips and drink - Seems that meetings are starting be become 'BSF' (Bring Some food) as this isn't the first time people have been kind enough to supply a few snacks!

Many, many thanks to everyone who's supplied munchies - its greatly appreciated!

LW WORLD TOUR
Yippee! I had two people sign up at the meeting, so FINALLY I got to use my handy-dandy receipt book! Thanks guys... I just received a couple more payments in the mail, so this thing is starting to look like its gonna be a real cool event!

TELEVISION FEEDBACK
Over the break, I had some mpegs I'd grabbed off VHS from a couple of TVC (Television Commercials) I'd worked on at Flux - Flux is a great little company, producing a LOT of 3D animation, specially in the character field.

I'm often left thinking just how lucky I've been to have the privilege to work with this team of great people...

Nevertheless, I felt while we snacked it was a great opportunity to discuss some of the technical aspects of these commercials from the texturing techniques to optimising techniques to ensure the work got rendered in a timely fashion. While I didn't go into detail, it was great to get a good flow of discussion going within the room...


TUTORIALS:
SOFT REFLECTIONS
On my old web site, I'd also found some old plugins I'd developed for LighWave 5.6 - One of these was a soft reflections plugin called 'Softy', designed to create soft focussed reflections. While it still worked in 7.5c, it was still SLOOOWWWWW!

I also had a gradient-controlled texture approach to create similiar
effects. We also looked at the Built-in soft reflections option ('Reflection Blur') under the Environment tab of the surface shader. This worked great, and was a LOT faster then my shader (what a surprise! :) )

VMAP WORKFLOW
There were a few small tips I wanted to cover regarding workflow and fixing morph issues in Modeler. The first was the handy 'Vertex Map' window that you can access directlty from the "Modeler -> Windows" menu. (CTRL F6 is the keyboard shortcut). This window is a quick and fast way to select morphs,
weightmaps and all other kinds of VMAP in modeler from a non-modal window that you can leave on screen...

MORPH-MOMENTS!
I followed this up with a few morph issues some people may have run into in the past. I started with a 3D head, complete with lots of morphs. I then decided the head was too big, and well, it was facing the wrong way on the Z axis - A rotate, and a scale fixed the base model, but all those morphs were whacky!

The solution is in fact very simple - 'Modify' Tab has two tools - 'Rotate Morph' and 'Scale Morph' - Obviously, they're right in front of you, but I was pleased to realise I wasn't the only person that never noticed they were there! You'd be amazed how many people tend to just delete all morphs and re-do them... These tools would have saved hours of work for many of us, if only we'd looked a little harder! :)


CLOSING IT ALL UP
There was the usual banter, people started to slowly drift away and we called it a night around 9:30pm. Another cool meeting!

Thanks again to everyone who came and for the great 'thanks' many of you gave me! Your gratitude and appreciation are always a great incentive for me to try harder to make meetings more interesting next time! Thanks for everybodies support - I can't believe I've been doing this for almost 5 years now!

See you in August - Perhaps around the LW World Tour, or just after so we can all get together afterwards and discus how it all went!

Cheers!


Kev