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  1. #1


    howdy fellows,

    well, i just have a feeling that a MAJOR GROUND UP TOTAL TEAR DOWN rewrite ala XSI/MAYA to SI/PA is not in the cards for lw - for the forseeable future anyway (just a gut feelin') - so i didn't think it was possible for us to have distortion free SDS uv mapping which seems to rely on having HISTORY at the very least.


    in figuring out how the MAYA system works, i do believe that i've engineered a very simple system that will in effect do what the maya scheme does without requiring a history or other aspects of more recent software design.

    in other words, the classic and familiar LW WORKAROUND.


    -----------WHAT MAYA DOES TO OVERCOME DISTORTION--------------

    after you are done creating your model, let's say that you have a
    pretty low density mesh that would be perfect for skinning and rigging but it would distort a lot in uv space. maya allows you to STEP UP YOUR CAGE RESOLUTION arbitrarily and create your uv map on the highly curved and subdivided state which would result in VERY LITTLE (negligible) distortion.

    note, that maya never puts the higher order SDS patch curves in uv space to overcome distortion. only polys. and that's why we in the lw world can follow.

    the great thing about maya though is that after you get the uvs that you want, you can STEP DOWN YOUR CAGE RESOLUTION back to your low density base so that you can WEIGHT MAP and SKIN on that much more manageable and pleasing cage! lw cannot do that. we could indeed make the base mesh much denser and curvy for uv's sake but then we'd have to skin that! not good.

    --------------------------WHAT WE CAN DO IN LW--------------------------

    the basic idea is this - since we cannot STEP BACK DOWN the resolution of the cage, we create TWO COMPLETELY UNRELATED (not entirely true but i'll get to that) MESHES:

    - one will be the LOW POLY CAGE that we skin but cannot texture without distortion.

    - the other will be the HIGHER POLY CAGE that we can texture without distortion but don't (!!!) want to skin.


    we do this with METAMATION!!!

    the LOW POLY CAGE is skinned and rigged as we want. but that lower poly cage is not what's rendered.

    instead, that low poly cage is DRIVING THE DEFORMATION of the HIGHER POLY CAGE.... this deformation is according to POINT ORDER and in effect, it is exactly the same as having the low poly cage become subdivided by SDS.

    you will note that at this point, we are NOT using lw's real time SDS surfaces!

    both the higher cage and lower cage are simply polys. the higher one is derived by using METAFORM PLUS in modeler.


    the really cool thing is, if you put the SUBPATCH ORDER to LAST, you can hit tab on the HIGHER POLY CAGE and then this higher poly cage WILL be lw's RT SDS and can become as dense as you want/need in layout and the textures will not distort because anymore because your uvs were created from a mesh that was sufficiently curvy and dense enough to begin with.


    this does mean that the lowest resolution cage you can render is the HIGHER POLY CAGE (because that's the lowest res cage that is textured).

    but because the higher poly cage is sds, you can become as dense as you need for film work and such.


    so basically, we're using our METAMATION link with multiple geometries in order to overcome our inability to jump up and down a hierarchy.

    ---------------------------SAMPLE SCENE--------------------------------------

    i've included a SAMPLE that shows how this will work on a simple cube. we would not be able to uv map this base low poly cube geometry if it were sds but this method shows the smooth version having a perfectly undistorted uv map and able to go to a much higher poly count by simply setting the subpatch density in layout.


    also, in order to do this yourself on your own models, you must load in the METAFORM plugin from legacy as well. this is the metaform plus plugin from lw 5.6c days.


    because you are essentially uv mapping and texturing simple polys, you can use third party apps like DEEP PAINT 3D and DEEP UVS without reservation.

    because you should note that SDS surfaces from ANY APP are currently incompatible with third party apps like 3d painting solutions.

    ------------------------------CAVEATS & BUGS--------------------------------

    the nice thing is that your model relies on the subdivision algorithm of the NON-RT metaform plus. a much nicer subdivision algorithm than our current RT version - results in much less pinching and also can handle N-GON polys greater than 4 sides.

    but because of that, you can't use specific aspects of SDS now like VERTEX WEIGHTING because there is no such thing in metaformplus.

    also, this can become a BIGGER PROBLEM in the future because if newtek fails to create a distortion free uv mapping method for SDS, whatever OTHER advances that they make such as EDGE WEIGHTING will become utterly useless because we will still have to go back to metaform plus and metamation in order to work with final, textured models.

    so after working this out, i thought, hey alright, we're now ready for prime time and we could do a very similar workflow to WETAs for the last two LOTR movies. we can even generate a DISPLACEMENT MAP of high frequency detail from the excellent free app:

    but an essential lw bug still remains - IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO APPLY A DISPLACEMENT MAP (bump, normal or otherwise) ACCORDING TO A UV MAP!!!!

    you still have to use the legacy projections and that just won't do. this must be fixed at a level that i have no hand in.


    because newtek failed to provide a clean way to uv map SDS surfaces when it enabled us to take SDS right into LAYOUT, thus 'making it more than a modeling tool', SDS in lw wasn't quite ready for prime time.

    this method recognizes that and basically ends up relegating SDS in lw again as basically just a MODELING TOOL again.

    but considering the lack of CROSS COMPATIBILITY of fully textured SDS surfaces between major 3D apps as well as with important 3rd party tools like 3d paint apps, i feel that SDS as a primitive type is actually not quite ready for prime time.

    in any case, we now have an internal lw method to uv map sds surfaces - in a manner of speaking.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by jin choung; 01-18-2004 at 09:01 AM.

  2. #2
    Welcome back, dude.

  3. #3

    thank you very much. glad to be back.


  4. #4
    I am Jack's cold sweat Karmacop's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    Bathurst, NSW, Australia
    Nice work around, just wish you'd put your time and effort into something useful

  5. #5
    Partially Baked blabberlicious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    London, England
    Originally posted by Karmacop
    Nice work around, just wish you'd put your time and effort into something useful
    What a joker!

    Seriously, I am totally with Jin about this, and appreciate the effort he is putting into to find a way round this lamentable omission to LW UVing.

    Just getting people to understand the problem is exhausting!
    Steve Williams | d i g f r e a k | UK

    Mac: Dual 2.5GHZ G5, 2g Ram, ATi 128 OSX 10.3.7

    PC: AMD 64 X2 Dual Core +3800, Quadro FX 1300, 2 GiG Ram

  6. #6
    Originally posted by blabberlicious

    Just getting people to understand the problem is exhausting!


    that is SOOOOO perfectly apt!


    alas, the problem is compounded simply because lw has had a legacy tradition of texture mapping that is VERY DIFFERENT than the other guys!

    actually, JUST UV MAPPING ITSELF is singularly difficult for some die hard lwers to grasp because of that unfortunate tradition....

    same thing with weight mapping vs. the bone hot dog zones....


  7. #7
    I am Jack's cold sweat Karmacop's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    Bathurst, NSW, Australia
    The thing is, nothing can really be done about it. The only work around is to change the uv's, pure an simple. The easy fix is to use more polys so you don't get an ugly distorted mesh in the first place.

  8. #8
    It's all in the motion
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Brooklyn, NYC
    I haven't full explored this work around but if you copy your mesh to a new layer then freeze it at a higher sub-d level when you paint it's UV Map images wont they be undistorted when used on the unfrozen mesh in the same file?

    My computer is dead so Ihave to try this later to see if this is actually workable.


  9. #9
    Partially Baked blabberlicious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    London, England
    (apologies if I veer wildy off topic)...)

    For all you LW knockers (me included)..

    A story:

    ...I purchased Maxon's Bodypaint 2 in the vain hope of freeing me from the hell of UVing in LW.

    Well it didn't work out like that;

    The love affair with Bodypaints Projection Painting and UV editing soon died when I realised that it was hopeless for fine tuning of UVs...had no tools for alignment of UV points, no constrained dragging/stretching of point (or anything)....

    and worse (much worse) it didn't understand many of Photoshop's layer modes - so that 'underpainting' a bump map texture with colour to produce a quickly shaded Colour texture is impossible.......trashing all those stacked layers that made up your carefully constructed .psd imagemap.

    and finally...I after getting nowhere trying to explain the issue to their friendly technical support - I had to send them a QT movie PROVING that the UV to LW export plugin for macs wasn't working...

    All this took me weeks, plus the time time I spent learning the apps (and realising that it wasn't '3D for the Real World', as it claimed.

    I spent more time explaining to them what was missing adn why than I did gettng any use out of it.

    Meanwhile, in order to make a living, I had to learn to prep UV in LW.

    Which frankly was my worst nightmare come true...

    But as it turned out...I'm comfortable with it now. Apart from the distortion issue and needless unweadling, etc...its ok.

    Lynx3d's UV generator gives me almost as much control as BP II - but will better point editing....and it was free!

    If they port the recent Super UV tools
    to the mac (please) then LW will have much of BP's good UV functionality within the app.

    (BP's Distortion free paintng is nice, but it sure as hell slow, and cumbersome to use on large models....believe me)

    Maxon offered me a refund, which is decent of them - and no reflection on a product that has great potential (sometime soon, just not now)...They were 100% more responsive than NT, but obviously overstreach and in a harry to release the product

    (where have I heard that before?)

    So the moral is:

    For all it's faults LW is pretty ace at 90% of what you need to get done....

    So repect to da NT massive!

    Unfortunalty, the other 10% seems to have fallen into the pit of confusion and despair known as NT's development strategy...

    Guys, we love the Layout / rigging stuff....
    but us artists like to see more than a few nulls flying about in layout.

    They tend to look nicer when they are mapped & textured well ;-)

    So who do we hassle to get taken seriously????

    'UV'ers of the world unite - you have nothing to lose but your nurbs!'
    Steve Williams | d i g f r e a k | UK

    Mac: Dual 2.5GHZ G5, 2g Ram, ATi 128 OSX 10.3.7

    PC: AMD 64 X2 Dual Core +3800, Quadro FX 1300, 2 GiG Ram

  10. #10
    where can we find Lynx3d's UV generator?
    "Between midnight and dawn, when sleep will not come and all the old wounds begin to ache, I often have a nightmare vision of a future world in which there are billions of people, all numbered and registered, with not a gleam of genius anywhere, not an original mind, a rich personality, on the whole, packed globe."
    -- J.B. Priestly

  11. #11
    karmacop and claymation,

    right, that's why maya's own SDS mapping solution DOES rely on just making your mesh dense enough so that you don't get distortion.


    in maya, you don't then have to SKIN and RIG that density! you can STEP BACK THE RESOLUTION BACK DOWN for weight mapping purposes.


    two separate questions:

    1. how dense do you need your mesh to be to properly SKIN and RIG for character/skeletal animation.

    2. how dense do you need your mesh to be to UV MAP without distorting.

    in maya, you the answer to questions 1 and 2 can be DIFFERENT! and frankly, depending on your model, the answer to 2 will likely be greater than the answer to 1.

    and skinning an unnecessarily dense rig is not my idea of a good time.

    in lw, without the workaround, the answer to the above 2 questions must in the end be the same - so the answer ends up being 'WHICHEVER IS GREATER'.

    but as for just laying out uvs for straight polys, i think lw is really great. it IS odious that we have to constantly UNWELD/MERGE but other than that, it's a lot faster and direct than even MAYA.

    and yah, lynx3d did a true service to the lw community by FIXING TEXTURE GUIDE!

    i have to skin/rig everything in maya for export to a game engine but i do all modeling and uv mapping in lw.


    p.s. personally, i can't afford deep paint 3d or body paint but personally, i actually don't want to give up PHOTOSHOP for most of my image processing. i actually don't need a PHOTOSHOP replacement. in that case, for initial markup and roughing things out and eliminating seams in 3d, i find this the perfect tool:

    you MUST have your uvs already laid out but after that, it allows you to paint on the object very reliably.

    so by jumping between lw, tattoo and ps, i've found a very pleasing and affordable texturing workflow.

    btw, tattoo is 25 gbp!

  12. #12
    Seems surreal to me that it should be so difficult to develop a "Relax UVs" tool. Isnīt it just the reversion of the effect that SDS has on the UVs. That should be easily done if one knows the aproximate SDS level you-ll use in Layout..
    Chris Burkert

    ArchiPacked models

  13. #13
    And wouldnīt the problem be gone, if we could see SDS in the UVtexture window?
    Chris Burkert

    ArchiPacked models

  14. #14
    digital art wizard sire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Hamburg, DE
    If LW UV mapping is your worst nightmare than you haven't experienced what I did. In 1998 I was modeling and texturing for a video game. While I used LW for most of it, there was no UV mapping support in LW at the time(pre version 6), so I had to use Softimage 3D for this. UV mapping was done in a special module, similar to Vertex Paint in Modeler, called "Paint" and actually was not much more gifted than MS Paint. It was a huge pain in the you know where to edit the UVs with this tool. It only featured the most basic functions, and even they were not very well implemented. Everytime Paint was called, I had to literally wait minutes since ALL textures in the scene were loaded, although it was only possible to edit one object at a time with it (without seeing its surroundings while in edit mode). Crashes were not exactly rare, too. In comparison to that, todays LW UV mapping is paradise. Also the Bodypaint UV editing features are not bad.

    Anyway... The workaround Jin suggested for the UV distortion problem might also work without Metamotion, I guess. With Metamotion it is only possible to use hires-versions of the model which are subdivided with Metaform Plus. Alternatively one could use MD_MetaPlug. This would require an MD_Scan of the lores model each time something changes in its animation, but in LW8, as it seems by Protons demos, something like this could be much easier to set up and resulting in something better integrated.

  15. #15
    Foot in mouth wacom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Portland, OR
    Not that this will solve the problem...but it might take 1% of the pain out...

    I'm sure you already use this though Jin as your uv explorations are far reaching. Keep on trucking.

    On another note I'm glad to see that this issue "could" be so "easy" for NewTek to fix- because it NEEDS to be fixed. They've thrown around that 8 will have improvements on this issue...but right now I don't see them on the list...

    Why did they retract their claims? Lets just hope that they're trying to get it right this time instead of ignoring the issue...

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