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Thread: Vue 9.5 xStream, worth its price?

  1. #1
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    Vue 9.5 xStream, worth its price?

    ... I mean, I know what Vue stand-alone can do, but I'm wondering about how the integration with LW works, what can be done and what cannot; for example: can I animate a character doing free climbing on a vue generated cliff or similar?

    Thank you
    Riccardo

  2. #2
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    We use xStream at work and I use Infinite at home. Both are identical except for the plug-ins that allows direct integration and operation of Vue inside of Lightwave.

    If you composite, you can pretty much get the same results using Infinite since it accurately imports Lightwave cameras (via Vuesync which comes with Infinite,) lightwave objects, imports .mdd data, and can even export Lightwave scenes (mainly for occlusion objects in Layout; you will want to freeze your ecosystems first.)

    Both versions export all kinds of useful data as G-Buffers (excellent if you use Fusion or similar compositing packages compatible with .rpf format,) or multi-layered images/PSD files. Lately, we're finding Vue's Layer Mask option to be extremely helpful for 'sandwiching' characters and vehicles in a scene. (You can do with with either Infinite or xStream.)

    What xStream essentially gives you is a Vue scene inside of Lightwave with some Vue tools and controls. This renders well and the tools sort of work, but you have to be aware of a lot things that won't work as you might expect. (Mainly lighting issues.)

    Also, when you import a Vue scene, be careful which camera is selected; for some reason the Vue camera always gets selected when you open the Lightwave scene file but you need to render with the original Lightwave camera if you want to match what you see in Vue. If you select the Lightwave camera and submit the scene to your LW render farm, it will correctly render with the Lightwave camera but when you reopen the scene it will switch back to the Vue camera. We're pretty sure this is a bug but it's worked this way for several versions now.

    Anyway, you can't go wrong with xStream but IMO it's not very necessary for most users (myself included.)

    G.

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    Thank you very much for your response, it is very enlightening, I need just a few clarifications
    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    [...]
    If you composite, you can pretty much get the same results using Infinite since it accurately imports Lightwave cameras (via Vuesync which comes with Infinite,)
    can an animated camera be synched too?

    lightwave objects, imports .mdd data, and can even export Lightwave scenes (mainly for occlusion objects in Layout; you will want to freeze your ecosystems first.)
    Is the exported scene detailed enough to be used in layout to fine tune the animation? ( like the example I made about the climber or any action/event that show an interaction between LW object and Vue scene)
    And what about lights, can be synched too?

    Both versions export all kinds of useful data as G-Buffers (excellent if you use Fusion or similar compositing packages compatible with .rpf format,) or multi-layered images/PSD files. Lately, we're finding Vue's Layer Mask option to be extremely helpful for 'sandwiching' characters and vehicles in a scene. (You can do with with either Infinite or xStream.)
    I have no experience with compositing other than simple alpha blending or chromakey but will learn, any suggestion for a good software that will not cost an eye?

    What xStream essentially gives you is a Vue scene inside of Lightwave with some Vue tools and controls. This renders well and the tools sort of work, but you have to be aware of a lot things that won't work as you might expect. (Mainly lighting issues.)
    [...]
    I think I'll go with Infinite then, so can you suggest a workflow?

    Thnk you again
    Riccardo

  4. #4
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rikperni View Post
    can an animated camera be synched too?
    Yes. That's what Vuesync does. Basically, you use it to write out a camera file from Lightwave and then apply that to your camera in Vue. Note: By default, the camera in Vue is scaled 50x when you import the data, and you will need to reset it to 1x. This is a bug; we used to have to scale the camera up to 50x to get normal scale.

    Is the exported scene detailed enough to be used in layout to fine tune the animation? ( like the example I made about the climber or any action/event that show an interaction between LW object and Vue scene)
    And what about lights, can be synched too?
    In general, you leave Vue stuff in Vue and Lightwave stuff in Lightwave. The way xStream works is that it places an actual Vue scene with all the vue parameters inside of Lightwave. You don't tweak or reanimate this using Lightwave, you use the Vue control panels. The reason for this is that you will never get Vue to properly export to Lightwave and still retain all the special qualities that make it a Vue render.

    So, short answer is: Adjust Vue elements, shading, lights, animation using Vue, either in Vue or in Vue xStream (the Lightwave Plug-in that puts Vue inside of Lightwave.)

    That said, I think you can affect Vue objects with Lightwave lights and vice versa, but it can become tricky and unpredictable. At least, I couldn't get it to work as expected a year ago. These days we don't even try...it's just easier to keep the lighting separate.

    There's actually a lot of ways you can do this. For example, now that Vue supports .mdd, you can actually bring in your Lightwave objects and apply the animations in Vue. Of course will need to re-apply your textures and set surface properties using Vue's native shader system. (I haven't used the Vue .mdd import feature myself yet but in the near futre I will mainly use it to animate 'hidden from camera' shadow caster characters in Vue.)

    I have no experience with compositing other than simple alpha blending or chromakey but will learn, any suggestion for a good software that will not cost an eye?
    I use Fusion. It's a very powerful nodes based system but it does cost an eye and maybe a leg too.

    AfterEffects is a lot more affordable and very powerful. It's a layers based system and if you're familiar with Photoshop it's very easy to learn and use.

    Hope this helps. Hopefully, somebody with more Vue experience than me will come along and post more helpful info.

    G.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    [...]
    There's actually a lot of ways you can do this. For example, now that Vue supports .mdd, you can actually bring in your Lightwave objects and apply the animations in Vue. Of course will need to re-apply your textures and set surface properties using Vue's native shader system. (I haven't used the Vue .mdd import feature myself yet but in the near futre I will mainly use it to animate 'hidden from camera' shadow caster characters in Vue.)


    I use Fusion. It's a very powerful nodes based system but it does cost an eye and maybe a leg too.

    AfterEffects is a lot more affordable and very powerful. It's a layers based system and if you're familiar with Photoshop it's very easy to learn and use.

    Hope this helps. Hopefully, somebody with more Vue experience than me will come along and post more helpful info.

    G.
    Thank you very much for this detailed information, I just bought Vue Infinite and hope to have some time to setup some test during the week-end. I think I'll try first to use .mdd for animated object and render everithing in Vue, it seems much easier...

    Ciao
    Riccardo

  6. #6
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    BTW, I had to learn Vue quickly for work and I found that AsileFX's video training courses are comprehensive and well presented. I highly recommend them.

    For free Vue tutorials, Geek At Play is very good.

    G.

  7. #7
    Super Member ben martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rikperni View Post
    I think I'll try first to use .mdd for animated object and render everithing in Vue, it seems much easier...

    Ciao
    Riccardo
    It depends on what you are working!
    If in your scenes you have the need to use Particles, Hypervoxels, Dynamics or FiberFX (to simulate hair) you won't be able to import such feaures from LW into Vue to render.

  8. #8
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben martin View Post
    It depends on what you are working!
    If in your scenes you have the need to use Particles, Hypervoxels, Dynamics or FiberFX (to simulate hair) you won't be able to import such feaures from LW into Vue to render.
    What Ben says is true. Personally, I would mainly use .mdd in Vue for shadow casting of animated characters/objects and/or occlusion masks, and that's mainly because I use Vue Infinite at home. If you use Vue xStream this is somewhat less important since you can render a Vue scene directly inside a Lightwave scene and have elements interact. (To a degree that is; lighting rules can be a little funny between Vue native and Lightwave native objects and lights. At least this was what I experienced on a project last year.)

    But, that doesn't mean you can't use .mdd to render animated characters into Vue. The main thing is that you will need to shade and texture them using Vue's shading tools, which can be quite different from Lightwave. Also, as Ben points out, there is no hair/fur system available in Vue, so you will need to use polygonal surfaces and calculate the dynamics in another package (like Lightwave's ClothFX for example.) This isn't meant to sway you in any direction, just letting you know what to expect.

    Hope this info helps.

    G.

  9. #9
    Super Member ben martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    (To a degree that is; lighting rules can be a little funny between Vue native and Lightwave native objects and lights. At least this was what I experienced on a project last year.)
    G.
    Absolutely true, G.!
    I did not tested 9.5 yet, so I am not sure if the light sync problem keeps being funy.
    I guess so, since Vue xStream 9.5 keeps installing the V7 plugin version, (same old same).

    My process to avoid such light sync problems, is to deactivate all Lightwave default environment lights in the scene editor.
    (Since, Vue xStream environment lights influence Lightwave objects/scene, all will be fine and tidy in the end)

    NOTE:
    When I refer to Vue Lights in Lightwave, one must realize that Vue xStream creates new light items in Lw Layout.
    I don't touch on such light settings!
    Last edited by ben martin; 06-15-2011 at 12:15 PM.

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