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WilliamVaughan
08-14-2003, 09:58 AM
My take on 3D Garage: Sig Courseware

I've always been a big fan of Dan Ablan's Inside LightWave series from New riders, and was quite interested when I first heard about his Signature CourseWare over at 3D Garage. I had an opportunity to chat with Dan about it a little here:
http://www.newtek.com/products/lightwave/profiles/DanAblan/index.html

I decided that I needed to go thru this courseware and see what the buzz was all about. Here is what I discovered. The Courseware shipped in a great case to hold all 20+ Cd's and a printed TOC so that I knew what was on each CD. Having gone thru all the CD's I would have loved an option to have the courseware sent on a portable drive instead, at my expense. The reason the courseware ships on so many cd's is that it is packed full of great learning material that doesn't appear to show any compression...the movies are large full screen and I had no problem with the visuals or the audio.

Request to Dan: Give costumers the option to have the courseware dumped to a Portable drive at their expense. This will save you the hassle of creating all those Cd's and will allow the customer to access all the great content from one location. Maybe I'm just too lazy to swap CD's, but I really got into this training and fumbling for the next CD (maybe it was the beer) could have been avoided if it was on a drive. (I was also too lazy to copy all the CD's to my drive :)

Don't get me wrong...this is a good problem to have....what this means is that for the price of the training Dan didn't sacrifice the quality of the content or the amount of content. This is a great beginners course, although I picked up quite a few tips and tricks myself. Dan also makes sure that the training isn't platform specific, so all the MAC users will be very happy that he keeps both MAC and PC users in mind when going thru all portions of the training.

Not only does he teach you indepth info about using LightWave, he also talks about the industry based on his experiences and it can really help you understand more then just the app. This was one of my favorite things about the training...it was like having a conversation with Dan about LightWave and the 3D industry...something you can't really get in a book.

The Training is very easy to follow, very in-depth and entertaining...for the advanced LightWave user it might go a little too slow for you but it's worth the it for a refresher course on areas you might not live in and there are hidden tips and tricks all over the place. Oh...and did I mention that it's over 20 hours of material....

I'm looking forward to the Advanced series from Dan and would highly recommend anyone interested in getting up and going in LW fast and easy to look into this series. ok...I've rambled long enuff...back to your regularly scheduled program :)

Titus
08-14-2003, 10:59 AM
Well, maybe an investment in pressed (not burned) DVDs?

I have both Inside Lightwave[6] and [5] so you don't need publicity :)

archiea
08-14-2003, 11:05 AM
I also put my vote for the DVDs. Using a portable drive might be to much of a hassle for both parties. They have doule sided 9GB DVDs, but even with the ingle sided, you would have only 5 DVDs and not 20 CDs .

WilliamVaughan
08-14-2003, 11:19 AM
I like the idea of it being on a drive so I can save my work with the content as I go thru it.... :)

But DVD's would be great as well...if I had a DVD player in my Laptop and home machine :P

Titus
08-14-2003, 11:44 AM
Just go to CompUSA and buy one of those inexpensive internal DVD players for $100 and an external USB/firewire case converter for other $40 :)

Technology is so cheap at the north of the border!

3deeelite
08-14-2003, 12:20 PM
Dan, sorry I missed your Siggraph sale on your Signature Training course. Please post an expiration date whenever you decide to have a sale again. Perhaps you could a have a sale bundle on both your Signature AND Advanced Training courses when purchased together.

Thank You,

Michael

dablan
08-14-2003, 02:16 PM
Wow!
William and everyone - thanks for the comments and vote a confidence. This is training I wish I had when learning LightWave!

We're always looking to produce more quality training at AGA Digital Studios, Inc. The Advanced courseware is close to release. I'm having more info put on the 3D Garage site as is appropriate.
3D Garage is growing, and I hope to have our LightWave 3D software sales all worked out very soon. AGA Digital Studios, Inc. is now an authorized LightWave reseller in addition to a training center.

Now, as for DVD's - we DID offer DVD's for the first few months. Instead of 25 CD Rom's you got 3 DVD-ROMs. The problem however, is that many people had problems reading them. Some worked, and some didn't. This cost AGA a lot of time and money. So, I pulled them. Until the DVD recording technology is more standardized, we won't offer DVD's.

William - your idea about removable media is an excellent one. I think the total courseware for PC is like 12GB, and Mac 23G. I'll have to check. I'm not sure if people are willing to send in their removable drives of this size. Removable media is pretty darn cheap, so who knows.

Thanks again. Comments and suggestions always welcomed - dablan @ earthlink dot net.

WilliamVaughan
08-14-2003, 02:58 PM
I would be willing to pay you to for teh drive....maybe you could mark it up a bit but I think if it was an option no one could complain :)....

dablan
08-14-2003, 03:00 PM
Great idea.
I'll look into drives and see what I can find. If I can setup AGA Digital Studios, Inc. as a hardware reseller, we can offer very low cost options.

See, Vaughn is always thinking. Gotta love that. :)

WilliamVaughan
08-14-2003, 03:06 PM
I can see why some people would want DVD's but unless I drag my PS2 into my studio at home I'm kinda stuck.....and the quality of the movies as they stand are perfect...so I'm for the vote of keeping them off DVD....it would probably keep your costs down which means you can give us more content :)

dablan
08-14-2003, 03:09 PM
Well, we put them on DVD-ROM, not DVD video. So the quality remained the same. Just DVD+R burner here at the office I guess doesn't make discs that all players like.

So, we wait until this technology is improved - unless we go out of house and make glass masters or something. But that's not feasible.

I'm looking into the HD option, actually. If we can find the deals, I'll have another option on the storefront for the course on CD, or on portable usb drive!

CoryC
08-14-2003, 03:53 PM
Glass masters around here cost about $1000 per DVD plus duplication, screening, and packaging. That starts adding a lot of expense to low run sets.

dablan
08-14-2003, 03:59 PM
Yep. All duplication is expensive right now - we want to keep our costs down. In order to make it cost effective per disc, you're looking at 25,000 discs - that's 1000 copies of each CD. Glass Master DVD's are even more.

So, we'll keep going with CD's for now. Looking into the removable HD options too.

Thanks,

Titus
08-14-2003, 06:17 PM
To give materials on removable media is not a crazy idea. The guys from Yellow Dog Linux have this option since I can remember.

iFX
08-14-2003, 06:22 PM
Hi Dan,

We had quite a few compatibility problems with DVD+R, but virtually zero with DVD-R...

Once we started using the Pioneer burner with the DVD-R media, it worked in nearly all DVD (set top) players (DVD Video), and haven't yet had a problem with any DVD-ROM drives (in computers) at all...

So maybe your problems were with the "+" format???

Or did you try both?

dablan
08-14-2003, 06:31 PM
iFX - yeah, I'm pretty sure the +R is a major problem.

Although, to go buy a -R drive right now, then attempt this again - I'm not so willing. But, we are converting all the files to DIVX so that they'll play on mac and pc from the same discs. Right now, we have seperate sets, AVI and QT's.
The DIVX should be much smaller files without quality loss.

But thanks!

gjjackson
08-14-2003, 08:04 PM
I'm about halfway through Signature. I must say I didn't think I'd really learn much but I was surprised. The only thing I didn't like was the sound that sounds like a typewritter clicking. That is somewhat irritating. But anyway I was surprised I could pick up any new information from the basics. It's surprising how you can read a manual thoroughly and still miss things. I am looking forward to the advanced course. I thought it would come before I was finished but that okay.

dablan
08-14-2003, 08:18 PM
Thanks GJ -
Advanced stuff is almost ready!

richpr
08-14-2003, 08:33 PM
So how long, on average, would it be to work through all of the material?

dablan
08-14-2003, 08:39 PM
Signature course is 20 hours.
Well paced, and easy to follow.

Advanced course is coming in around 15 hours.

jeromeOlivier
08-14-2003, 09:51 PM
I'm interested in the courseware, but the information on the website doesn't give much. Would it be possible for someone (Dan?) to list out exactly what the courseware topics are? You know, something like: lesson # 15 is XYZ, etc.

Thanks!

dablan
08-14-2003, 10:22 PM
Hi Jerome,

one thing to remember is that there are many, many, tips and tricks and information throughout the course so that you understand how LightWave works. The disc listings here are topics covered, but there's much more within each that explain additional tools, panels, buttons, and techniques. For example, do you know what the Pole tool does in Modeler? What's it there for? What's the difference between Pole 1 and Pole 2? Or how about Taper 1 and Taper 2? The course shows you exactly the difference and why. You'll find yourself saying "ah haaa."

The following is the breakdown of the Signature Course.
I won't post Advanced Courseware complete listings until the discs are burnt. This is for our own sanity, as well as yours :)

Please let me know if you need any more info:

DISC LISTINGS:

Disc 1 Getting Started in Modeler Viewports 30 Minutes
Disc 2 Modeler Create and Modify Tabs 34 Minutes
Disc 2 Modeler Multiply Tab part 1 22 Minutes
Disc 3 Modeler Multiply Tab part 2 13 Minutes
Disc 3 Modeler Multiply Tab part 3 18 Minutes
Disc 3 Modeler Construct Tab part 1 21 Minutes
Disc 4 Modeler Construct Tab part 2 24 Minutes
Disc 4 Modeler Detail Tab 21 Minutes
Disc 5 Modeler Map Tab part 1 13 Minutes
Disc 5 Modeler Map Tab part 2 21 Minutes
Disc 5 Modeler Display Tab 23 Minutes
Disc 6 Getting Started in Layout Options 20 Minutes
Disc 7 Layout Items Tab 27 Minutes
Disc 7 Layout Objects Tab 19 Minutes
Disc 7 Layout Lights Tab 27 Minutes
Disc 8 Layout Camera Tab 36 Minutes
Disc 9 Layout Scene Tab 36 Minutes
Disc 9 Layout LScript and Display Tabs 18 Minutes
Disc 10 Projects Simple Modeling 31 Minutes
Disc 10 Projects EPS Importing 12 Minutes
Disc 10 Projects Biz Card Logo Tracing 26 Minutes
Disc 11 Projects Surface & Texture part 1 37 Minutes
Disc 12 Projects Surface & Texture part 2 40 Minutes
Disc 13 Projects Surface & Texture part 3 40 Minutes
Disc 13 Projects Ocean Creation 34 Minutes
Disc 14 Projects Moving Ocean 18 Minutes
Disc 14 Projects Landscape Creation 32 Minutes
Disc 15 Projects Cartoon Plane Modeling 25 Minutes
Disc 15 Projects Boolean Stencils 40 Minutes
Disc 16 Projects Parenting & Keyframing 40 Minutes
Disc 16 Projects Inverse Kinematics 36 Minutes
Disc 17 Projects Cabinet Making 31 Minutes
Disc 17 Projects Particles & HyperVoxels part 1 32 Minutes
Disc 18 Projects Particles & HyperVoxels part 2 33 Minutes
Disc 18 Projects Simple Deformations 40 Minutes
Disc 19 Projects Car Modeling part 1 36 Minutes
Disc 20 Projects Car Modeling part 2 37 Minutes
Disc 21 Projects Lighting and Radiosity part 1 35 Minutes
Disc 21 Projects Lighting and Radiosity part 2 31 Minutes
Disc 22 Projects Lighting, Caustics and Refraction 30 Minutes
Disc 23 Projects Compositing part 1 33 Minutes
Disc 24 Projects Compositing part 2 26 Minutes
Disc 25 CONTENT and CODECS

hrgiger
08-14-2003, 10:32 PM
I know you said you weren't going to post details about the advanced couseware Dan, but can I ask if there is any coverage of character animation? I don't mean softbodies and rigging and stuff like that but actual motion,timing, weight, exaggeration, walk and run cycles, character interaction, stuff like that? There is always a shortage of good material on that. I'm looking forward to Jeff Lew's(Killer Bean) training DVD's which I believe are exclusively character animation training.

jeromeOlivier
08-14-2003, 10:36 PM
Looks like there's a lot I can learn from your courseware. Thanks for posting!

SLAYER
08-14-2003, 10:47 PM
Do you cover any UV texturing?
If so, is it in this course or the advanced?

Thanks

dablan
08-15-2003, 07:13 AM
HRGIGER,
there will be some character animation, but in the form of inanimated objects, in the advanced course.

The advanced course is project based, covering complete modeling, complex texturing with UV's, and more. For example, the first project creates a realistic landscape waterfall, with the necessary surroundings such as skies, trees, etc. All done in LW. You'll build birds and learn how to texture them, make them fly, flock them across the sky, and learn why you're doing this too. Another project takes you into organic modeling of complex, real world objects. This is a project that will help 90% of the LW users out there - because this is something that can make them money. Once built, you'll texture this object, and then render it with HDR lighting. But then, you'll take it to the next level and make it come to life using IK and bones. We're adding another project that's not yet complete.... more info soon.

We intended to release last week, but of course, we didn't. Like the Signature Course for those that pre-ordered, they found that it was worth the extra wait.

As for character animation - we'll have a third training series covering that. Also, Inside LightWave 8 will cover this extensively, modeling and animating more than just people :) You'll do more than just build and rig a character, too.

I have a 4 DVD set through www.classondemand.net called Character Builder that takes you through building a character, point weighting, and animating. You can also check out Todd Grimes excellent DVD character set at www.desktopimages.com.

- here's hoping you have power -

mattclary
08-15-2003, 07:16 AM
OK, color me excited! Can't wait for the advanced course!

hrgiger
08-15-2003, 05:33 PM
Thanks for the advance info Dan.

Steve

adrian
08-16-2003, 02:36 AM
Well, not only was I going to buy the advanced course, but reading what a couple of people have said here about the sig. courseware, I'm going to buy that now as well!

I thought it would be a bit too simple for me to justify buying it, but by the sounds of it, there are lots of hints and tips hidden in there that I probably don't know about.

Damn, some people are just so good you can't help throwing your money at them!!

Keep up the good work Dan!

Adrian.

dablan
08-16-2003, 09:57 AM
Thanks a lot Adrian -
let me know if you have any questions.

And just so you know - support is free, for as long as you like. Some people go through the 20 hour course all in one shot. That's fine. Others go through it over the course of months. Even people that went through it last Feb still email with questions about the course, or other situations. I'm always happy to help.

Have a great Saturday.

adrian
08-17-2003, 12:34 AM
Well my order is now placed (for the advanced course anyway - will have to wait until next months paycheck to buy the sig.) so now waiting impatiently..... good things come to those who sit patiently twiddling their thumbs as the saying goes!

The follow-up support is an unexpected bonus, although if the tyre-tut is anything to go by, the project(s) should be easy to follow, as opposed to looking at a still image in a book and saying to yourself when you're stuck "What does he mean... if only he was beside me to show me!"

I'm particlularly excited about learning how to texture properly with UVs - and to texture things properly in general.

Here's an idea for the future: "How to recreate your favourite Hollywood special effects in LW" - as a working pro you (Dan) must know how to do many of the effects we see on the big screen....

Adrian.

dablan
08-17-2003, 12:49 AM
Thanks Adrian -
you'll receive a follow up shortly.

The tire tutorial is a web-only sample we put together. The courseware itself is more in-depth. The advanced stuff keeps getting more interesting. You'll see what I mean soon!

Beamtracer
08-17-2003, 05:12 AM
MPEG-4 is a more efficient file type than DiVX. Real Newtorks is now adding support , as well as QT and others.

dablan
08-17-2003, 10:22 AM
Not so much.
We converted our AVI's to Quicktime MPG4's. While the quality is excellent, the playback sucks. The file sizes actually grew in length, and depending on the computer system, the audio lagged behind the video.

Sorenson 3 is actually proving to be the best multi-platform compression at the moment.

Thanks though.

hrgiger
08-17-2003, 04:10 PM
Just a little OT, but I just wanted to say Dan that I just picked up a copy of Keyframe at B & N. It's the one with the soldier and hueys on the front. Looks really good. I enjoyed your forward and I hear where you're coming from. That's all the time I had to read while I was standing in line...

dablan
08-17-2003, 04:44 PM
Great - thanks!
We're adding new columns, more features, and just more! with each issue.

hopicus
08-18-2003, 04:27 AM
"As for character animation - we'll have a third training series covering that. Also, Inside LightWave 8 will cover this extensively, modeling and animating more than just people You'll do more than just build and rig a character, too."

Cool Cool... So,.. any guesses as to when we might be seeing the third training series shipping?

Ignore the fact that i haven't ordered or gotten the first two series as of yet... soon... :D

js33
08-18-2003, 04:45 AM
Dan,

How the he*# do you find time to do all of this stuff? You are the Lightwave Santa Claus. :D I mean you run a production studio, author the Inside LW books, produce all this courseware and now you're the editor of Keyframe. Do you have several clones of yourself or a bunch of elves in the backroom to help you?

Maybe you could do a tutorial on effective time management. :D

Cheers,
JS

dablan
08-18-2003, 09:37 AM
Well, I pretty much get up in the AM, work out to get the blood flowing, head to the office, do multiple things there, head on home around 4 or 5, hang for a little, and pop open the laptop for the rest of the night.

Have laptop - will travel :)

alanchan
08-18-2003, 10:19 AM
Laptops RULE!!

Hey Dan - my laptop is thinner than yours.

dablan
08-18-2003, 10:40 AM
Mine's cooler with a nice 15.4 widescreen! nahahahaaaaahaaaa

js33
08-18-2003, 08:23 PM
Ah. So that's the key I need to get a laptop. :D

Cheers,
JS

dablan
08-21-2003, 05:15 PM
Most of the LightWave users in Hollywood, working on television commercials and movies have used (and still use) my Inside LightWave books. The feedback from those users has helped create the 3D Garage Signature and Advanced Courseware CD's.

The 20 hour Signature Course is one of the best ways you can learn LightWave. We take you through every panel and button, so that you clearly understand what you're doing, and how LightWave works. Here's a breakdown of the movie files which contain many topics within each:

Disc 1 Getting Started in Modeler Viewports 30 Minutes

Disc 2 Modeler Create and Modify Tabs 34 Minutes

Disc 2 Modeler Multiply Tab part 1 22 Minutes

Disc 3 Modeler Multiply Tab part 2 13 Minutes

Disc 3 Modeler Multiply Tab part 3 18 Minutes

Disc 3 Modeler Construct Tab part 1 21 Minutes

Disc 4 Modeler Construct Tab part 2 24 Minutes

Disc 4 Modeler Detail Tab 21 Minutes

Disc 5 Modeler Map Tab part 1 13 Minutes

Disc 5 Modeler Map Tab part 2 21 Minutes

Disc 5 Modeler Display Tab 23 Minutes

Disc 6 Getting Started in Layout Options 20 Minutes

Disc 7 Layout Items Tab 27 Minutes

Disc 7 Layout Objects Tab 19 Minutes

Disc 7 Layout Lights Tab 27 Minutes

Disc 8 Layout Camera Tab 36 Minutes

Disc 9 Layout Scene Tab 36 Minutes

Disc 9 Layout LScript and Display Tabs 18 Minutes

Disc 10 Projects Simple Modeling 31 Minutes

Disc 10 Projects EPS Importing 12 Minutes

Disc 10 Projects Biz Card Logo Tracing 26 Minutes

Disc 11 Projects Surface & Texture part 1 37 Minutes

Disc 12 Projects Surface & Texture part 2 40 Minutes

Disc 13 Projects Surface & Texture part 3 40 Minutes

Disc 13 Projects Ocean Creation 34 Minutes

Disc 14 Projects Moving Ocean 18 Minutes

Disc 14 Projects Landscape Creation 32 Minutes

Disc 15 Projects Cartoon Plane Modeling 25 Minutes

Disc 15 Projects Boolean Stencils 40 Minutes

Disc 16 Projects Parenting & Keyframing 40 Minutes

Disc 16 Projects Inverse Kinematics 36 Minutes

Disc 17 Projects Cabinet Making 31 Minutes

Disc 17 Projects Particles & HyperVoxels part 1 32 Minutes

Disc 18 Projects Particles & HyperVoxels part 2 33 Minutes

Disc 18 Projects Simple Deformations 40 Minutes

Disc 19 Projects Car Modeling part 1 36 Minutes

Disc 20 Projects Car Modeling part 2 37 Minutes

Disc 21 Projects Lighting and Radiosity part 1 35 Minutes

Disc 21 Projects Lighting and Radiosity part 2 31 Minutes

Disc 22 Projects Lighting, Caustics and Refraction 30 Minutes

Disc 23 Projects Compositing part 1 33 Minutes

Disc 24 Projects Compositing part 2 26 Minutes

Disc 25 CONTENT and CODECS

Our course comes to you all at once, not over time. Your support (if you need it) is always free, for as long as you like. It's not limited to the time you're using the course. And what is support? Support is asking me personally any questions you might have about the course, or other projects you're working on.

We're offering a free CD to anyone that orders our Signature Course now - the CD is a LightWave 8 QuickStart CD, with over an hour of new tutorials covering just LightWave 8. This will ship to you at the time LightWave 8 is released from NewTek.

Don't be fooled by the amount of material - be concerned with the quality. As a note, most of the LightWave animators at Foundation Imaging, the popular LightWave FX house that created shows such as Babylon 5, and Dan Dare learn LightWave from one of Dan Ablan's books.

Please visit www.3dgarage.com and download our samples, and read the quotes from a few students.

Keep on wavin'!

Dan Ablan
AGA Digital Studios, Inc.

Editor-in-Chief - Keyframe Magazine
Author of 7 best selling international LightWave books for New Riders Publishing.