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Thread: Node reference material

  1. #31
    What do I know? JBT27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    You couldn't have misunderstood me more if you tried. My point was actually more along the lines of don't break your brain trying to figure out the really esoteric stuff first -- start with the basics. You only need to worry about dot products and vector normalization and stuff like that if you're building your own lambert shaders and stuff like that inside Nodal. You can do it and it's a lot of fun, but it's not the sort of thing I would recommend doing until you're very comfortable with the concept of nodes.

    Start with something simple. Then do something a bit more complicated. Then something even more complicated. Then re-do all of them with the lessons learned.

    Once you're able to use Nodal to do anything you could do in the old system, THEN you're ready to start doing the really freaky stuff that you simply CANNOT do in Layers.
    Oops - I did understand but replied very poorly - apologies.

    Yes, good and sound advice - thanks - that's what I will do.

    I am getting much more comfortable with building basic stuff and actually love using nodal - understand what's going on with what I can do, and want to know more, as I replied to colkai.

    One step at a time.....

    Thanks again!

    Julian.
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  2. #32
    How Old? Really? Aww Heck colkai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBT27 View Post
    Oh, actually.....quite right.....I heartily disagree with myself now you point out how I said what I said

    So basically, yeah.....what you said!
    Hey, no worries.

    .....except that I guess I am specifically aiming at the maths nodes - the ones that do a math thing, like sine, cosine, tangent and so on.
    ...
    I know what sine, cosine and tangent are, by the way, but as yet I cannot see how they might be useful in a nodal surface tree -

    Julian.
    Yeah, here I tend to do wierd things like google, not on nodes, but on trying to find what sort of thing such functions could be used for. A bizzare approach I know and one that can take a lot of digging.
    Even then, some functions are like "say whu?" so where possible, I try to look at node presets and reverse engineer them, mucking about with function to see the impact. Even stripping it down so I can see just that section.

    Sometimes it works, other times it can get very ugly and I end up twice as confused, but hey, at my age, I can always write that off as being "because I'm old".

    As for trying to convince yourself about these things, right there with ya.
    Too old to die young.

  3. #33
    NewTek Developer jameswillmott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAClark View Post
    I'm happy to pay for tutorial material if it's good, but the Kurv nodes DVD was a big let down, when I had hoped it would be the key to grasping nodes.
    Wow, this is very disappointing to hear. I authored that DVD and I'm sorry you didn't get much out of it. Please private message me so we can go through what you expected to learn, I can figure out why the material wasn't up to your expectations, and if you have any questions about nodes I can hopefully answer them in a way that gives you some value.

    My apologies.
    LightWave3D training, assets, news and discussion at www.liberty3d.com
    My opinions are my own and do not represent the opinions of any other entity, Liberty3D is not officially endorsed by NewTek.

  4. #34
    Super Duper Member kopperdrake's Avatar
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    I feel your pain Craig. I freaked at Vue's node-based texturing, probably down to infamiliarity, so when LightWave introduced them I freaked again. Figuring I'd best knuckle down and get to grips with them I bought the Kurv DVD but it really didn't help things click into place. I've just run a 2-day project where I really wanted to use the glass node, but try as I might I could not tweak the results as quickly and easily as I could in standard surfacing so I ended up using the old gradient technique. I know it takes time to learn, my point is that often you don't know which bit you need to learn until the project happens along, and then a deadline negates any learning time you might have had.

    Not all of us have weeks on end for trial and error. We're not lazy, heaven knows I literally haven't had a full day off since last year, it just boils down to the fact it would be great for a good handful of tutorials that held your hand through some node-based surfacing projects which introduced each nodein as clear to real English as possible.

    If someone made a comprehensive set of tutorials on nodes I could watch in bed I'd buy them. Sad but true...gawd knows why my wife puts up with me (phwoar...nodes...phwoar...)
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  5. #35
    Registered User PhantomPhish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kopperdrake View Post
    Not all of us have weeks on end for trial and error. We're not lazy, heaven knows I literally haven't had a full day off since last year, it just boils down to the fact it would be great for a good handful of tutorials that held your hand through some node-based surfacing projects which introduced each nodein as clear to real English as possible.
    The problem is, nodes aren't that useful by themselves, once you learn how to use them together is when they start becoming really powerful. Thats the whole point of node based surfacing.

  6. #36
    What do I know? JBT27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kopperdrake View Post
    I feel your pain Craig. I freaked at Vue's node-based texturing, probably down to infamiliarity, so when LightWave introduced them I freaked again. Figuring I'd best knuckle down and get to grips with them I bought the Kurv DVD but it really didn't help things click into place. I've just run a 2-day project where I really wanted to use the glass node, but try as I might I could not tweak the results as quickly and easily as I could in standard surfacing so I ended up using the old gradient technique. I know it takes time to learn, my point is that often you don't know which bit you need to learn until the project happens along, and then a deadline negates any learning time you might have had.

    Not all of us have weeks on end for trial and error. We're not lazy, heaven knows I literally haven't had a full day off since last year, it just boils down to the fact it would be great for a good handful of tutorials that held your hand through some node-based surfacing projects which introduced each nodein as clear to real English as possible.

    If someone made a comprehensive set of tutorials on nodes I could watch in bed I'd buy them. Sad but true...gawd knows why my wife puts up with me (phwoar...nodes...phwoar...)
    Project-based tutorials would be especially useful for nodes.....probably go so far as to say essential - I'd pay for such things. I say again that NT ought to consider some video training, hopefully by William Vaughan, that covers some intermediate stuff.

    As PhantomPhish says, by themselves they are not useful, abstract.....but then they are not intended to be useful on their own for the most part.

    But then what projects would be universally useful?

    Perhaps a list of suggestions? What do people do the most, and are most confounded by nodally?

    What about that fabulous lava someone did back in the early days - tough to do with layered - that would be a good nodal project, blow by blow.

    Julian.
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  7. #37
    NewTek Social Media Chuck's Avatar
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    The format in our documentation of Nodes is that each Node is covered with:
    • A basic description,
    • An explanation of the inputs and outputs on the node,
    • An explanation of the edit panel for the node,
    • A usage example "mini-tutorial."


    The best way that I can see for us to improve on the documentation is to have very specific and detailed feedback on the existing documentation.
    • Are there nodes for which documentation is not present in the original text or the "What's New" documents for the v9.x series?
    • For which nodes do you find the documentation not clear enough?
      • Which specific elements of the documentation for a given node are confusing to you?
      • What are the questions you have about those elements?
      • Are the explanations too technical, too hard to follow?
    • For which nodes are the Usage Examples not sufficient?
      • Is it the case that the given example itself does not assist you in understanding how to use the node?
      • Is the usage example not clearly explained?
      • Or is it the case that the given example is useful and clearly explained, but the node really needs additional usage examples for a more thorough understanding?

    I've passed along some of the comments here on items not being present in the HTML docs that are covered in the PDF manual. Our docs staff will work on getting the HTML docs updated.

    For those of you who can take the time to assist in providing detailed feedback, we'll do our best to improve the text and to add supporting usage examples as needed and requested, and you'll very certainly have our appreciation for your contribution to our efforts.
    Last edited by Chuck; 03-31-2008 at 04:57 PM.
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  8. #38
    NewTek Social Media Chuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBT27 View Post
    Project-based tutorials would be especially useful for nodes.....probably go so far as to say essential - I'd pay for such things. I say again that NT ought to consider some video training, hopefully by William Vaughan, that covers some intermediate stuff.
    William's first 24 hour run of tutorials includes 13 Node tutorials, and he will be resuming tutorial production soon (he's in the midst of a major production project at the moment).
    Chuck Baker
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    Software Developer's Dilemma: The better the new feature, the more feature requests it will generate. - C. Baker
    Please note that any statements regarding future product development are forward looking and subject to change without notice.

  9. #39
    What do I know? JBT27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    William's first 24 hour run of tutorials includes 13 Node tutorials, and he will be resuming tutorial production soon (he's in the midst of a major production project at the moment).
    This is all very good news!

    I knew about the existing tutorials (geez.....I even carry them around on my iPod - so does my business partner!), but more tutorials are always very welcome.

    I for one will be happy to contribute to these discussions.

    Julian.
    LW 2015.3 Win 10 Pro 64bit

    http://www.take27.co.uk

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by CAClark View Post
    ... Time is money, and more importantly, time is finite.

    Cheers!
    Well this is one of the best threads here since LW 9 and nodes have come out!

    Think it is about time something was done in this area. Have been doing LW9.x for over 6 months and still barely understand the nodes. Just use presets and examples on the forum to build on in a haphazard manner.

    What we don't want and there is far too much of:

    "you can take the Whatever Node and plug this into another Whatever or Entity and then this can be Combined with any Animation Parameter.....this is just a small glimpse of the unlimited possibilities ..."

    Badly explained, but for another example, say:

    You can take the garden hose into the kitchen and have a 3rd source of water (after hot and cold taps) perform water displays, the possibilities are endless, and don't forget you can also take the hose into any room in the house, you are only limited by it's length and the water pressure...

    But starting from the very beginning, first inconsistency (confusion) that I noticed :

    1. When you use nodes, ie check the node box on the original surface editor, none of the original surfacing attributes work EXCEPT bump???

    2. If you hook a material node up to the final surface tab, all other inputs on final tab don't seem to do anything. See image, this is a real bummer, as the possibilities here are endless for nothing happening at all.

    3. If material is set up correctly, how does one augment the surface by using the shader nodes? Where do these figure?

    Need specific (1st rate, no compromise) examples of exact situations and precisely how they work. What we don't need are generalizations.
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  11. #41
    What do I know? JBT27's Avatar
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    The Maths Thing in Nodes

    OK, I'm going back to this whole issue of just how much maths you need to work with nodes.....which is obviously like opening a debate on the length of a piece of string

    This goes to some nodes, as has been pointed out already, like Normalize and Dot, where you really do have to understand what the math is behind them and how they work together.....and therefore why and where you would use them.

    It may sound daft, but I see no harm in NT providing some paragraphs as to what these are mostly intended for, and that they require a certain proficiency in maths to be able to use them. So as Captain Obvious said, if you are building your own shaders, like Lambert, or a raytracer (and there's a thread on that somewhere I think), then these are for you. I suspect the vast majority of artists will not be doing this.

    There will be some who would like to know more, but as I said earlier, I don't believe it's NTs responsibility to offer maths tutoring at that level.

    That said, now and then on the forums, someone will remind someone that such and such an output will have to be normalised to get a result, for instance. In this kind of case, I think that some explanation would be useful. If the nodes are there, ie. as NT have seen the worth of developing and including them, it would be equally useful to provide enough primer info for people to get their heads around what the node does, enough to make sense of how and when to use it.

    A similar analogy is being able to make good use of a car without knowing all the mechanics of how it works, and why. OK, maybe that's not a great analogy, but that's the idea.

    This page on Wikipedia about vectors:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_(spatial)

    is useful.....I understand some of it - there are diagrams, which help alot.

    Now I'm not talking about all the maths nodes - use of Add, Multiply, and so on, should be fairly obvious. Simple examples would be enough for the real newbie. But even something simple like a constant being controlled by a multiply node gives clues to the power of nodal versus layered.

    I don't think anyone serious is looking for an easy ride on this, and NT need not get into the business of teaching math, but we need alot more than descriptions which, though accurate and concise, are still abstract and out of context.

    Julian.
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  12. #42
    What do I know? JBT27's Avatar
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    Spot Info

    This must be one of the most useful nodes in general use, and yet there is little explanation about what each output is and what you can do with it.

    Before I get flamed over that, here's what I mean:

    One of the output descriptions:

    *****
    Ray length (Type: Scalar):
    Ray length is the length of the ray from the source to the spot
    under evaluation.
    *****
    OK - that's simpler than others. But 'source' needs expanding.....presumably that's the light? But what if there are multiple lights in the scene affecting that spot? Are they averaged? Can you confine it to just one of them, and if so how? What could you use it for? Just some basic examples giving users the clue to run with it themselves.

    The normals outputs likewise - I think I know what normals are, but in this context how useful are these outputs and again, how do we make use of them?

    And I'm sorry, but the Incoming ETA is a prime example of what I'm asking:

    *****
    Incoming ETA or Incoming Refraction Index. ETA is the name
    of the Greek letter commonly used in 3D graphics to specify
    refraction Index. When the Greek character eta is unavailable,
    the letter ?n? is often used to represent the refractive index in
    many online discussions and examples.
    *****

    The vast majority of this description tells me about nomenclature - if it's not called eta, as in the Greek letter, it will be shown as 'n'. I'm not criticising that as a piece of info - it is useful - but exactly how is this output useful? Presumably Spot Info is outputting the IOR of the surface?

    It needs more explanation and examples and hopefully some diagrams.

    There are no usage examples for this node currently.

    Julian.
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    http://www.take27.co.uk

  13. #43
    How Old? Really? Aww Heck colkai's Avatar
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    Yep, it's stuff like that that leaves you scratching your head.
    I'd wager that stuff was written by a techie who knows fully what it does and so assumes everyone else must.
    A failing, alas, all us techies suffer from at times.
    Too old to die young.

  14. #44
    Almost newbier spiroz's Avatar
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    One other factor to easier understand nodes is more feedback
    in the node editor. For example, I think it would be a lot easier
    to understand the concept of shader/material override if other
    inputs in the surface node turns ghosted when a material or a
    shader gets connected to it.

  15. #45
    obfuscated SDK hacker Lightwolf's Avatar
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    The funny thing is, some of the descriptions in the SDK are better than in the manual (and yes, most of these outputs correspond to variables previously only visible through the SDK).

    Examples (LW9.2 SDK):
    rayLength
    The distance the viewing ray traveled in free space to reach this spot (ordinarily the distance between raySource and wPos).

    incomingEta
    Incoming refraction index. (note: Hey, that's all that's really needed to describe it).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    A definition for a spot in general (just copied from the SDK as well):
    For each pixel in the rendered image, the renderer finds the spot in the scene that the camera sees at that pixel. If the spot is on an object, its appearance depends on the suface assigned to the polygon it lies in.

    So a lot of the descriptions are already available. They might need some polishing, but they're available.

    @JBT27: If you know how Lamber works (or shading in general) you'll have little trouble using the more advanced nodes... and you'll know why you need to normalize a vector (The main reasion is to find the angle between two vectors, that you can only do with normalized vectors... i.e. vectors with a length of 1.0. They are also used to define directions... you use normalized vectors so you can multiply them by a distance(scalar) to define a position in space - since they have a length of 1, after the multiplication they will have a length of distance). And yes, that's high school math

    Cheers,
    Mike

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