Exporting LW Animation Keyframes to UNREAL via the UNREAL BRIDGE...

stevebfx

Visual Effects Supervisor
Hey All,
We've just added UNREAL to our render pipeline and have been VERY pleased with the results of the LW to UNREAL Bridge in transferring objects, textures, lights and parenting. I see that it says you are able to BAKE the animation to export THAT into UNreal.. which is very convenient since I can animate WAY quicker in LW that in UNREAL... but when I tried it... it didn't work, or at least it didn't APPEAR to work. The main obstacle to this logically for me is that UNREAL needs the addition of the CINEMATIC SEQUENCE object in order to do any kind of animation. I tried to see if the bridge had created a new SEQ.. but could not find one. Has anyone successfully exported KEYFRAME ANIMATION *simple object MOVE and ROTATE keyframes* nothing more. I am running LW 2019.1.5 build 3134 and running the LW to Unreal bridge for 4.25 and using Unreal 4.25.4 under Windows 10. Many thanks in advance! Steve
 

lardbros

Not so newbie member
It sends a 'sequencer' animation straight over to UE4. :)
You have to double-click on it to open up sequencer, which isn't particularly obvious. (and I guess you figured out, but am putting it here for future users.)

It actually works remarkably well, and I've now done a few renders using UE4 as the render engine.
Turning on raytraced reflections and AO really makes it look LOVELY too, and even with motion blur etc, you still get VERY fast renders.

My biggest gripe is animating inside UE4... I still prefer animating in LightWave and using the UE4 Bridge, rather animating in UE4. It's not horrendous, but it's just quite clunky compared to LW's graph editor (but I do love the graph editor in LW).
 

stevebfx

Visual Effects Supervisor
Hi Lardbros,

EXACTLY! ME TOO! I think this alone is invigorating the LW base... So far.. I've been pretty impressed with how much work I can get done within LW and then just send it on over to UE to render.

Now.. I just wanted to add.. don't know if this is a bug specific to me.. but in my case.. just SENDING ALL to UE from LW via the plugin DOES NOT send over the SEQUENCE. I find that, after I press SEND with everything ticked.. I have to go back to LW and then press the SEND ANIMATION *(with ALL still selected above it)* and THEN I get the "LIGHTWAVE ANIMATION" sequence over at UE. Is there something I'm missing? I'm using UE 4.25.4 with the LW plugin for 4.25 and LW 2019.1.5 build 3134.

Also.. where do you turn on raytraced reflections and AO in UE? Haven't located that yet. AND.. one more thing.. So far.. I find that even if I create the textures with the node editor over at LW and make them UNREAL TEXTURES... I still only get the DIFFUSE sent over to UE.. not the specular nor the bumps. I find I have to recreate them over at UE. Have you figured that out yet?

AND LASTLY.. thanks so much for offering your thoughts on this. Appreciate it.

Steve
 

lardbros

Not so newbie member
I HOPE so... I really do. To have a nice tight link with UE4 is really beneficial. More so than I thought it would be initially.
We used to render everything in Arnold, well the rest of our team does (and I used LW native), but now we seem to do more and more UE4 animations.

Now.. I just wanted to add.. don't know if this is a bug specific to me.. but in my case.. just SENDING ALL to UE from LW via the plugin DOES NOT send over the SEQUENCE. I find that, after I press SEND with everything ticked.. I have to go back to LW and then press the SEND ANIMATION *(with ALL still selected above it)* and THEN I get the "LIGHTWAVE ANIMATION" sequence over at UE. Is there something I'm missing? I'm using UE 4.25.4 with the LW plugin for 4.25 and LW 2019.1.5 build 3134.
This is the way it's meant to work. It won't send the animation unless you click the 'Send Animation Sequence' button. If you just send all, it won't send the animation.
I guess it does this, in case you don't need or want the animation to come over?

where do you turn on raytraced reflections and AO in UE?
Unfortunately it's not a one-click solution yet. It requires a certain build of Win 10, a decent GPU and a load of checkboxes ticked.
This video runs through much of it I think.


I find that even if I create the textures with the node editor over at LW and make them UNREAL TEXTURES... I still only get the DIFFUSE sent over to UE.. not the specular nor the bumps. I find I have to recreate them over at UE. Have you figured that out yet?
This is the only issue I've seen a few times. If you do a fresh send, into a clean UE4 project it usually works, but it can go wonky if you do certain updates and things. Resending some materials can cause things to come detached, or not send over any longer. I'm hoping for some updates to the UE4 Bridge which will fix some of the issues.

Although it's a pain, and takes some learning... I tend to create all my materials inside UE4.
Creating a Base Material with whatever options I need, then instance all my materials from that one. This is the most performant way to do it (as we do all our stuff for VR, so we have to really).
 

stevebfx

Visual Effects Supervisor
Thanks! You really set my mind at ease.. and thanks for the video link!

For the record... tonight, I was working on a sequence.. that I modeled, textured and lit in LW then moved to UE4... rendered it out.. and thought.. dang... I don't have enough time to massage UE4 to get it to perfection.. so I think I'm gonna have to stay in LW for this one.. so I rendered the sequence out in LW.. *(took an hour)*... then... just for kicks... compared it to the previous UE4 render... and GOLLY GEE WILLICKERS *(hehe)*... the UE4 one.. actually still looked better EVEN WITH the textures crippled... I was sort of pleased by this.. since the UE4 render took exactly all of 15 seconds... compared to LW's hour... so... BACK TO UE4 for me it was! Rebuilding the textures and procedural noise tricks I was using in LW in UE4 to surprisingly great results.

Pretty psyched.

AGAIN.. many thanks for your comments and help! Much appreciated!
Steve
 

lardbros

Not so newbie member
No problem at all, always happy to try and help!

As much as a love LightWave and UE4, I still prefer working in LightWave. Texturing is easier, and rendering certain things (like fading objects) is WAY easier in LightWave.
Recently had to do some dissolve stuff in VR, and you basically have to cheat it, which doesn't look brilliant really. If you're not hindered by the number of materials etc. you can do it per material which will look decent.

BUT... for speed and most other things, UE4 does the job nicely.
Especially being able to turn on Depth Of Field and Motion Blur and it still being mega quick! We tend to do most things in VR, so if we're doing that, making a render using sequencer is a no-brainer as everything is basically set up ready to go.


One other quick thing... In 4.26 (added in 4.25 i think) there's a plugin called 'Movie Render Queue' for rendering out your sequences. Only discovered it the other day, and it beats using the one built into Sequencer itself. It has lots of options so you can alter the render settings separately from your main UI viewport. (y)

UE4 Movie Render Queue
 

stevebfx

Visual Effects Supervisor
Wow.. once again.. many thanks for your help and suggestions!

After I finish these shots for this music video we're producing.. my next step will be to try my hand at VR for my Oculus Quest headset then diving into the setups for 360 LED stages which seem to be all the rage now after Mandalorian... and a potential source of future services... (maybe I'll swap headset and stages..)

It's funny how technology is... we've been a Lightwave house for over 26 years... resisting Studio MAX and MAYA because of their high cost. Then 2 years ago, we got awarded a Disney project which required the use of MAYA.. so I bought the license.. learned it.. and decided perhaps it was time to integrate it and retire LW... (heavens NO!).. but it never failed.. if a client needed something "YESTERDAY", my best bet was LW.. since it's what I knew... so.. the Disney job complete.. then the Pandemic... so when it came time to renew the MAYA license.. I decided it wasn't worth it.. so I let it lapse. Then came Mandalorian... and UE... and here we are. LW **NOT** being retired... instead.. being coupled with UE to bring it to contemporary times...

Diving back into UE4..... **splash**. ;-)

Thanks again!
Steve
 

lardbros

Not so newbie member
Your work sounds nice and varied :) Similar to mine.

I got my Oculus up and running in UE4 recently, so if you get stuck or anything, feel free to shout.
I'm no good at the coding side of stuff, but plugging it in an looking at your environments, I can do. :)

I'd be quite interested to hear your progress on the 360 LED screen thing too, I've recently been asked if I would be able to investigate doing the same thing.
I reckon it'd actually be quite straightforward (if you had a huge LED wall) to set it up to work with a tracked camera in UE4, but not actually done it as yet. Good luck, sounds like a cool venture.

Amazing you got a Disney gig, congrats...
I find the same thing as you. Ultimately, some people think the more industry standard the tool, the better the result, but I've found my results are usually nicer when done using LightWave over 3ds Max. Not sure of the reasoning... But I'm always pleased with what LightWave is capable of.
Was looking at some old work done using Arnold and 3ds Max and the renders just don't look as polished as LightWave.
I find it's faster to iterate using VPR in LightWave, than Arnold's IPR.

Anyway... If you get stuck on any UE4 stuff, I'll try my best to help!

Cheers,
Tim
 

stevebfx

Visual Effects Supervisor
Tim, I feel we are definitely kindred spirits! Glad we connected. Here's my email so we can move this out of here and stop nauseating people with how kindred we are! haha.
[email protected]

It'd be great to stay in touch. (plus, I'll need you to help debug my foray into Ocu-land..! haha).
Steve
 

stevebfx

Visual Effects Supervisor
Hi Tim,
Haven't gotten your E yet... but in the meantime.. I think I've hit an insurmountable obstacle between LW - the Bridge - and UE4... and that is.. I needed to transfer what would be a very simple thing in LW.. which are two IMAGE SEQUENCES mapped onto a flat poly inside a model *(to have live action actors inside a spaceship)*.. but when I went to UE.. the image sequences were all converted to single images.. AND.. after doing a ton of GOOGLE research.. the methodology for getting an IMAGE SEQUENCE to map onto a poly WITHIN UE is amazingly clumsy... with the image player.. then assigning the image sequences.. then having to isolate the surface poly's in UE *(very kludgy there too)*.. and then it wasn't respecting the ALPHA channels that the SINGLE images were... all in all.. a nightmare... had to just downshift back into LW to render out this particular shot... anything I'm missing, or is that about right? I saw going through many many posts.. that using an IMAGE SEQUENCE in UE is a relatively recent addition... thoughts? Thanks again, Steve.
 

lardbros

Not so newbie member
Just pinged an email over :)

This is a really interesting point. I've never even attempted this. There are things called 'flipbooks', which take a load of stills and pumps them into an asset.
It's generally used for sprites in games, so have no idea if it can deal with movie res shots, or huge assets, and it's very very clunky and messy compared to how LW deals with sequences. I'm not sure this is the way to go though, there must be another method...

It must be possible though, as I've seen videos where The Mill have used UE4 for their movie rendering and things, but they never give away their secrets :D
So much of UE4 is still in flux, especially the movie-based FX additions. I hope it gets easier though.
 
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