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Thread: Should I upgrade, or look elsewhere?

  1. #1

    Should I upgrade, or look elsewhere?

    I'm an old time LW user, but I haven't updated since 6.0.

    A couple months ago I picked up a Mac Pro and I've started to get back into my 3D hobby. So I'm looking for a decent well rounded 3D application, but I have some high requirements. I want an application that can handle layers of dynamics and character animation.

    I know LW can do these things in general, but...

    For example. I want to be able to have a character or several in a scene with layers of dynamic clothes, necklaces, modeled hair and facial animation. The works.

    To give a hint of what I dream of is something in the order of Final Fantasy Cinimatics (the games not the movie).

    I have faith in LW's rendering and modeling abilities, but I'm uncertain in the realm of character animation and dynamics. Especially when you get into layers of dynamic effects and collisions.

    I hear that things like ClothFX have some problems with being jiggy. Is it so bad that even Maya's Softbodies would be better then LW's ClothFX? I can't even recall seeing any character work recently of that caliber in LW.

    Problem is I'm not rich. This is just one man's little dream hobby. I even looked at Blender. I have a strange feeling, though, that Maya is the answer to my questions, but the $6K Unlimited is out of the question and Maya Complete only has the basic dynamics.

    SO... Is it best to upgrade my LW and stick with it or is it time to jump ship and start saving my pennies for the big-ol Maya? Being on a Mac my choices are limited and I really don't care to Dual-Boot either.

    I'd love to see some examples of LW character work + dynamics.
    ~gp~

  2. #2
    Worms no more! Free fun! Dodgy's Avatar
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    For the price, either LW or XSI essentials. XSI has a rep for having the best character animation tools in the biz, so while I can get done what i want done in LW, you might want to look into this. No hard body dynamics in essentials, while LW has it, but out of the field those two are your best choices I think for all round packages.
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  3. #3
    Worms no more! Free fun! Dodgy's Avatar
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    Sorry, I thought essentials was the $500 version of XSI... Have they stopped doing that? I thought that version would be right up your alley, but now it seems you can only get the $1995 version which does have Hard body dynamics. Looks like LW is the only contender for sub $500.
    Last edited by Dodgy; 05-20-2007 at 05:22 PM.
    Push the software, don't let it push YOU!
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  4. #4
    Worms no more! Free fun! Dodgy's Avatar
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    Doh, missed the link for Foundation at the bottom of the www.softimage.com page
    That's the package i was on about.
    Push the software, don't let it push YOU!
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  5. #5
    LW Board Lurker Extent's Avatar
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    Lightwave is a tool, and it is what you make of it.

    FF cinematics don't come out of a tool, they come from a team of talented artists. People have been turning out excelent work from blender for years and years, and I've seen more than my share of absolutely terrible demo reels done in maya. If you're looking for an app that has a row of easy buttons for cloth/hair/dynamics and everything else I'm afraid you won't find it.

    You can do cloth in LW just fine, and the same with character work, how much effort are you willing to put into it? You may find that another package that has a better implementation, but it is sure to be lacking in some other area. If there was a perfect package somewhere why do we see so much crap animation done with every major package on the market?

    You seem to have some talent as an illustrator, what would you say if you only had photoshop to do your work in, or OC or MangaStudio? What if you had to use Paint, or even work traditionally on paper and ink, would you still be able to draw up comics that look good? Is it your paint program that makes your comics look good?

    All of the major 3d apps on the market (and even some of the not so major ones) are extremely powerful and capable in the hands of a clever artist.

    I fear this thread is destined to end in a flamewar.
    "I am interested in entertaining people, in bringing ... laughter, to others, rather than being concerned with 'expressing' myself with obscure creative impressions" -Walt Disney
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Extent
    Lightwave is a tool, and it is what you make of it.

    FF cinematics don't come out of a tool, they come from a team of talented artists. People have been turning out excelent work from blender for years and years, and I've seen more than my share of absolutely terrible demo reels done in maya. If you're looking for an app that has a row of easy buttons for cloth/hair/dynamics and everything else I'm afraid you won't find it.

    You can do cloth in LW just fine, and the same with character work, how much effort are you willing to put into it? You may find that another package that has a better implementation, but it is sure to be lacking in some other area. If there was a perfect package somewhere why do we see so much crap animation done with every major package on the market?

    You seem to have some talent as an illustrator, what would you say if you only had photoshop to do your work in, or OC or MangaStudio? What if you had to use Paint, or even work traditionally on paper and ink, would you still be able to draw up comics that look good? Is it your paint program that makes your comics look good?

    All of the major 3d apps on the market (and even some of the not so major ones) are extremely powerful and capable in the hands of a clever artist.

    I fear this thread is destined to end in a flamewar.
    I'm not trying to start any kind of flamewar. I can't help if anyone gets offended, but that's not my intention. And, sure, LW may have all the proper tools, but the argument that it's all about talent is a half-truth if you ask me. Talent can only take you so far if the tools have limitations.

    Doing a quick search on these forms about ClothFX alone seems to turn up a lot of people claiming how it has problems being "jiggy". What amount of talent can fix that?

    In reference to my illustrations, I use Photoshop. I don't use Gimp because it lacks some key tools that I use in Photoshop. That's not to say I couldn't get a "similar" result if I work hard at it in Gimp, but why should I struggle against a tool when another one has exactly what I need to get the same job done more efficiently?

    But in that case we are talking about a free application to a $600 application.

    It does seem a true case of you get what you pay for. Yes, talent is very important and no amount of tools can make you talented, but at the same time tools that just don't work well can't be fixed just by talent.

    Just my opinion.
    ~gp~

  7. #7
    Heir to the Throne RedBull's Avatar
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    I think you answered your own question....
    Maya is great, especially for FX.. however only unlimited offers the features you need...

    XSI is also good however you will need Essentials or Advanced to make the most of it...

    For example ClothFX and Motion Designer2 may not be the best, but they are workable. You won't get Cloth in Maya or XSI without very advanced pricing.

    XSI Advanced uses built in Syflex cloth, (also available for Maya and LW)
    So if you want advanced cloth you buy Syflex for LW or Maya or the new Ncloth for Maya.

    LW is dated in some areas, but for a one man team there are few other all round tools to offer the functionality for similar price.

    For the price it would cost to upgrade LW6 to 9.2, you would get a pretty decent upgrade. NT have always been good with upgrading from previous versions, unlike Autodesk and the like.

    Upgrade to LW9.x and maybe buy Messiah or XSI Foundation for Character Animation. (However as you don't want to dual-boot, it would really depend on what your goals and aims are with the tools you would be choosing as to what would be better for your work.)

  8. #8
    Thanks for all the feedback. I guess I was kinda hoping for someone to say that the dynamics and character animation in LW is actually not as bad as people seem to say it is and maybe even show some real world examples.

    I was doing research and when I was reading about the problems with ClothFX it kinda killed my excitement to upgrade as dynamics are pretty important to me.

    Being on a Mac also doesn't help. My choices are really LW, Maya, Cinima 4d and Blender I think.

    Don't get me wrong, I want nothing more then to stick with LW. I've been using the LW Modeler since 1994. I know it well. My knowledge in Layout is semi-limited though when it comes to Character and Dynamic work.

    I'm sort of waiting for the UB Demo to come around so I can maybe do some tests.
    ~gp~

  9. #9
    LW Board Lurker Extent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morbius
    I'm not trying to start any kind of flamewar.
    I should be clear, I don't think you'll start a flamewar, there just always seems to be a small group of people who love to troll threads like these.

    As an example to the "talent" vs. tools I spent a lot of time working to get ClothFX (then motionDesigner) to simulate the 2pt poly chains of a sas wig, it was a bit slow and sometimes tricky to setup, but I managed to get something that I was happy enough with because I'd played with it so long. I sat down and tried to do the same thing with Syflex a while after it came out, arguably a superior cloth sim and certainly much much more expensive. I couldn't get anything close to what I wanted. Perfect example of talent (or lack of it in this case) trumping the tool, even presented with a better plug in I couldn't turn out better work.

    I don't think any of these packages could be considered "tools that don't work" and maybe that was my point. LW cloth is not so broken to be unuseable, and it's not the best solution out there. Early filmmakers worked with tools that would be "broken" by todays standards, without color or even sync sound, but they were able to overcome those limitations. Even modern animation still has that sometimes, for instance, Monster House was done without any cloth simulations on the characters cloths at all. You'ld think that a big studio would be able to plop down and just do it, but for whatever reason they didn't.

    Ehh I'm just ranting now, so I'll spare you the rest Grab the PLEs and see if you like them, XSI has a bunch of neat stuff and I'm sure they have a demo as well. And good luck with your search.
    "I am interested in entertaining people, in bringing ... laughter, to others, rather than being concerned with 'expressing' myself with obscure creative impressions" -Walt Disney
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  10. #10
    Super Member SplineGod's Avatar
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    I think LW is up for what you want to do. I see a lot of people complain about various things but then you have to ask yourself is it limitations in the software or is does it have a lot to do with how well they know it?
    LW is perfectly capable of allowing you to do great character animation. The tools are there. Dynamics the same way. There are ways to use them to be able to get around some of the limitations when using geometry heavy characters and cloth. Much of it is simply coming up with a workflow that maximizes LWs strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. I constantly see people saying LW cant do certain things when I know it can and in many cases quite easily. Many people seem to take a linear approach to using the software. For example some will say to use HVs, particles or dynamics to solve problems that can more easily be solved using other methods or techniques.
    I tend to look at what needs to be done and figure out the quickest/easiest way to do it. Ive used LW to do production work since before it was called LW and Ive yet to be forced to use something else instead.

  11. #11
    Newbie Member HanJobSoSlow's Avatar
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    character animation is a joke - yes you can animate with it - but I can also run a marathon carrying a fat lady.
    Han :spam:

  12. #12
    Super Member SplineGod's Avatar
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    Morbius,
    Many people have and are successfully doing character work with LW and its not that much of a pain IMO. You already have LW and it doesnt hurt to spend the time to come up to speed on that part.
    My experience has been that people tend to have difficulty just with character animating in general. LWs toolset as they stand are quite useful and probably more powerful then most know what to do with them.

  13. #13
    I'd also say that LW is very capable of doing character animation. Just like EVERY software you need to learn what not to do. There is plenty that can be improved. But if price is a factor LW is very well off.

    Cloth sim in LW is also pretty good. It's weakest aspect is collision with mesh. This can be complimented with collision primitives is complex or sharp areas. And on top of all that LW has one of the best post dynamics editing systems called "edit FX". And if you ask anyone that get paid to do 3d, they will tell you no sim will be perfect. So you will need to edit them after they have been computed.

    So I'd say download the demos make a simple test for each app to accomplish. When you are done testing them ask the community to evaluate your examples and ask if you approached them in a manner that best suited for the software's design.

    If you don't have the money or time for the more expensive apps. Then don't waist your time and just go to work with what you can get.

  14. #14
    Worms no more! Free fun! Dodgy's Avatar
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    Let me clear, I have done cloth dynamics stuff in Lightwave, and got reasonable results, and I do lots of character animating, entirely in Lightwave. If you're looking for a character animation package with everything at the top of it's field, LW isn't quite there yet. XSI has a very good rep, so for the same price as an upgrade to LW, Foundation could be the way to go. Download a trial of both and see which you prefer. I'm saying this as a dyed in the wool LW'er who has to defend LW to my Maya using collegues :P
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  15. #15
    Working Monkey StereoMike's Avatar
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    The few times I had to dive into character animation were a pita.
    Allthough Maestro was a great help in my latest project (the beta walkcycle generator saved me one or two weeks stupid trial and error), LW's sluggish OpenGL really ruined the joy.
    I had only one character and the feedback was really bad. That was one of the open betas (deformation problem I guess) and I hope they got it sorted out (never tried again since then).

    mike
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