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Thread: Animating characters - which method?

  1. #31
    Axes grinder- Dongle #99
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    Cool

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    I wish I could recommend Joints but until LW3D fixes the oddball weight map offset issue...G.
    Greenlaw, feel free to RTFM me, but I've never heard of this w.map issue, what is it?

    chazriker: about the symbol thing: while it's true that the working area representation of joints differs from bones, isn't it also true that the Scene Editor icon is identical for the two? You work with both infinitely more than I do, but wouldn't it be Good if the SE icon were different, bones vs. joints?

    And both of you: THANK YOU for all your contributions to the forum-- always informative!!
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  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by jeric_synergy View Post
    chazriker: about the symbol thing: while it's true that the working area representation of joints differs from bones, isn't it also true that the Scene Editor icon is identical for the two?
    I've never found it to be a problem; just color them differently if you want them to stick out. I usually color joints red for my purposes... deformers get colored purple, IK chain top/bottom gets colored yellow, nice n' organized that way
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  3. #33
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeric_synergy View Post
    Greenlaw, feel free to RTFM me, but I've never heard of this w.map issue, what is it?
    I would except I'm not sure the manual even acknowledges the need to offset the weight map for joints.

    When I first ran into this problem, I got a lot of helpful advice from people like Cageman, Rebel Hill, Dodgey and Celshader, for how to work around the issue. In fact, it was Rebel Hill who told me that weight maps did get applied directly to the joint in an early version of the 9.6.1 open beta, but for some reason it was decided to move the weight map to the child, which of course broke compatibility with third party packages. It's been this way ever since, and the offset issue created a lot of unnecessary work for me when creating the mocap character rigs for 'Happy Box' and later for 'B2'.

    BTW, I think I might have described the problem backwards, so I'll forward you to an old video by Rebel Hill on the subject. He does a much better job explaining the problem than I can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcqpgGwBUJY

    G.

  4. #34
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    BTW, what I do to work around this issue for Motion Builder is it to bring the rig into Maya first, have it 'auto skin' the character, then go in with the weight painting tools and fix any problems. It's not terribly difficult but this still means I need to work the weight mapping twice for each character. Because I don't need it to be 'perfect' for MB, I find this approach a little quicker. Well, until I need to make the next rig change anyway.

    The point is, however, if Lightwave would simply conform to how joints work in ever other 3D packages, the interchange would be more seamless and not require these silly 'hackaround' solutions. And even if you didn't need interchange, setting up and editing joints inside of LightWave would be less confusing because it would be closer to how you set up weight maps for bones.

    G.

  5. #35
    Axes grinder- Dongle #99
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    Thumbs down

    Well, GEEZE, that was uploaded three years ago, and LW3dG hasn't addressed it yet???

    MADNESS. Especially since it looks like such a simple fix.
    They only call it 'class warfare' when we fight back.
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  6. #36
    I´ve just seen the amazing "Backwater Gospel" and "the making of"... https://vimeo.com/19954543
    Instead og morphing the mouth on the Tramp (guitarist) it looks like it is just changing the image of different mouths.
    Is this something that could be done in Lightwave, easily, and how?

    Regards
    Alan

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Safewood View Post
    I´ve just seen the amazing "Backwater Gospel" and "the making of"... https://vimeo.com/19954543
    Instead og morphing the mouth on the Tramp (guitarist) it looks like it is just changing the image of different mouths.
    Is this something that could be done in Lightwave, easily, and how?
    I'd set up a series of 2d mouths that all occupy the same space on the character's face, then tie their dissolve value so that when the controller is in a certain position, the mouth plates will alternate between 0 and 100% to hide and reveal as the controller moves. This way, the user can keep the workflow entirely within Lightwave. Another method of doing it is to use a 2d animation program, animate the mouth as a transparent image sequence, then load it up in Lightwave.
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  8. #38
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Safewood View Post
    I´ve just seen the amazing "Backwater Gospel" and "the making of"... https://vimeo.com/19954543
    Instead og morphing the mouth on the Tramp (guitarist) it looks like it is just changing the image of different mouths.
    Is this something that could be done in Lightwave, easily, and how?

    Regards
    Alan
    That looks awesome! Thanks for sharing the link.

    As for a '2D drawn mouth' style technique, we use a form of it for the Brudders shorts, first in Happy Box and currently in 'B2'. In our case, we use Magpie Pro to animate the lipsync to the drawings and then output an image sequence with alpha channels. Then, in LightWave, this sequence is mapped to the geometry where the mouth is in a 'mouth only' scene and rendered as a layer for compositing. Finally, in compositing, the layer is given color correction and edge blur to integrate better, and a little edge filtering to simulate depth (it's very subtle.) I think we're also using a little bit of frame blending or maybe RSMB on the mouths--again, a subtle effect, but it helps smooth the transition between the shapes. It's a very quick process--the lip sync animation for Happy Box was done in a single day. It took me longer to R&D and figure out the workflow.

    Alternatively, I could animate morphing 'drawn' mouth shapes in Magpie Pro using Endomorphs created in LightWave, and output image sequence of the morphing shapes. Or, I could use Anime Studio Pro and Switch Layers to morph between mouth shapes hand drawn in that program, and output the image sequence from this program for LightWave.

    I recall having this discussion in another thread a while back, and somebody suggested controlling the image sequences within LightWave using nodes. Sorry, I don't remember the details but you can probably do a search for it. I don't have any experience with that method but my feeling is that it might not be as quick to create lipsync with as using a 2D animation program.

    I'm sure there are many other ways to do this--these are just a few that come to mind. Hope this gives you a few ideas.

    G.

  9. #39
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Oh, I forgot one thing: the 'mouth card' on the Brudders characters is designed to slide over the surface of the muzzle to favor the camera angle. The idea was to simulate how the characters are drawn in my comic strip, which sometimes has the mouth offset to side of the face.

    G.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by chazriker View Post
    I'd set up a series of 2d mouths that all occupy the same space on the character's face, then tie their dissolve value so that when the controller is in a certain position, the mouth plates will alternate between 0 and 100% to hide and reveal as the controller moves. This way, the user can keep the workflow entirely within Lightwave. Another method of doing it is to use a 2d animation program, animate the mouth as a transparent image sequence, then load it up in Lightwave.
    I like the idea of doing it all inside of LW, but I do not understand how to set up the 2D mouths to the characters face. Will they be on a separate polygon plane and "glued" on :-) ? Or could they be in separate layers in modeler and turned on and off?

    Alan

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    That looks awesome! Thanks for sharing the link.

    As for a '2D drawn mouth' style technique, we use a form of it for the Brudders shorts, first in Happy Box and currently in 'B2'. In our case, we use Magpie Pro to animate the lipsync to the drawings and then output an image sequence with alpha channels. Then, in LightWave, this sequence is mapped to the geometry where the mouth is in a 'mouth only' scene and rendered as a layer for compositing. Finally, in compositing, the layer is given color correction and edge blur to integrate better, and a little edge filtering to simulate depth (it's very subtle.) I think we're also using a little bit of frame blending or maybe RSMB on the mouths--again, a subtle effect, but it helps smooth the transition between the shapes. It's a very quick process--the lip sync animation for Happy Box was done in a single day. It took me longer to R&D and figure out the workflow.

    Alternatively, I could animate morphing 'drawn' mouth shapes in Magpie Pro using Endomorphs created in LightWave, and output image sequence of the morphing shapes. Or, I could use Anime Studio Pro and Switch Layers to morph between mouth shapes hand drawn in that program, and output the image sequence from this program for LightWave.

    I recall having this discussion in another thread a while back, and somebody suggested controlling the image sequences within LightWave using nodes. Sorry, I don't remember the details but you can probably do a search for it. I don't have any experience with that method but my feeling is that it might not be as quick to create lipsync with as using a 2D animation program.

    I'm sure there are many other ways to do this--these are just a few that come to mind. Hope this gives you a few ideas.

    G.
    I can see that this method works fine - nice short :-)

    Alan

  11. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Safewood View Post
    I like the idea of doing it all inside of LW, but I do not understand how to set up the 2D mouths to the characters face. Will they be on a separate polygon plane and "glued" on :-) ? Or could they be in separate layers in modeler and turned on and off?
    Kind of like this: mouthtest.zip

    This is just a real rough example; you'd of course want to use separate transparency textures in order to get the mouth shapes cut out properly. You could even use the Kinect with Nevron to drive these mouth shapes depending on how your mouth is positioned.

    This example uses cyclist + stepped keyframes to get things moving, with each mouth shape encompassing a set # of rotational degrees on the bank channel of the controller null.
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  12. #42
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Another variation of the '2D mouth' trick is to create multiple cards, each with a different mouth shape painted on it. The trick then is to show and hide the cards in sequence--essentially you're doing parts replacement like some stop motion studios do (Leica, for example.)

    What I did in my test was I placed all the cards inside the character's head and used morph mixer to re-position each cards on the surface of the face when called upon. You'll want to set the morph envelopes in Graph Editor to Step mode so the cards will snap into place at 100% and snap back inside at 0%.

    You can do the lipsync for this method inside of Lightwave, or use Magpie Pro or the free Papagayo to generate a MorphMixer envelope to drive the morphing cards in Layout. (Go to Mike Green's website for the Papagayo to Lightwave plug-ins.)

    I almost went with this method but abandoned it because the system I'm using now (described above) is a bit easier to setup and work with for the Brudders projects.

    That said, there is one big advantage to using the morphing cards method: you don't need to render and manage a bunch of image sequences for each character and scene, or save a unique mouth object for each scene (for each image sequence.)

    G.

  13. #43
    Hey, THANKS ALOT! Extremely helpful - great example and ideas.
    I´m not so experienced with LW, although I´ve had it since 7, only modeling, never animated.
    I guess I have to watch some tutorials on setting up controllers to manage to do this by myself,
    but now I understand how I can do it.

    Alan

  14. #44
    I hope this helps a few people... I have a new tutorial up: Lightwave to MotionBuilder & Back Again 2 - Multiple Characters!

    http://3ative.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02...onbuilder.html
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