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Lightwave 3D FAQ

by Michael B. Comet

This is the Frequently Asked Questions posting for the Lightwave 3D Mailing list and Newsgroup. This posting is sent every so often to answer general questions that users of the 3D rendering software, Lightwave 3D by NewTek may have. It is aimed toward all users, especially newcomers to the program.

Please note that this FAQ is also available on the World Wide Web at: http://cnswww.cns.cwru.edu/php/comet/LW/

If you find any errors or have answers to other frequently asked questions that you would like to have included in this posting, please send e-mail to: mbc@po.cwru.edu

- Mike C.

COPYRIGHT & DISCLAIMER

The Lightwave 3D FAQ is Copyright 1995, 1996 Michael B. Comet. All Rights Reserved.

No portion of the Lightwave 3D FAQ my be duplicated in part or in whole, by any means electronic or otherwise without prior written consent of the author. The Lightwave 3D FAQ may not be sold either individually or as part of other material. The Lightwave 3D FAQ may be distributed via electronic mail, Usenet news and other internet resources so long as no charge is incurred for the actual document itself.

There is no guarantee regarding any information presented in this document either implicit or implied. The information may not be correct, useful or helpful. The reader accepts ALL responsibility for actions pertaining to reading this document regardless of consequence.

***

Date : September 10, 1996 Tues.

Issue Number : 7

What's New : Section 4, #10 AVI Saving Problems with Windows 95

Section 4, #11 Lightwave crashing with animation savers

Section 4, #14 Corrections: Joint Comp & Muscle Flex

Section 4, #15 Effector Displacement Plug-in?

Current Version of LW as of this FAQ: LW 5.0 rev C

***

CONTENTS:

SECTION 1 - Support/Products/Sites

1] How do I reach NewTek?

2] Lightwave related: References/Help Books/Magzines/FTP sites.

3] What is the Lightwave Newsgroup and Mailing List and how can I obtain it?

4] Is there any documentation regarding the 3D Object File format for Lightwave Objects?

5] How can I write my own Plug-Ins for Lightwave?

6] I am having problems installing LW from the CD-ROM!

7] I am having problems transfering scene files from the PC to the Amiga

SECTION 2 - Lightwave Modeler

1] How do I merge multiple layers into one layer?

2] How can I save an object so that data gets loaded back into its original layer?

3] My object has duplicate polygons, how do I remove them?

4] Why on the Amiga version of Modeler am I getting the error message "Internal buffer too small"

5] Is there a way to "Un-metaform"?

6] How do I create particles?

7] Modeling with Metanurbs - Tips and tricks

SECTION 3 - Lightwave Layout - Surfaces and Textures

1] List of common Index of Refractions (and not so common too!)

2] I texture my object and save my scene, but next time I load the scene the settings are gone!

3] My Lens Flares fade behind objects I don't want them too!

4] How can I copy a surface and paste it onto another?

5] How can I measure the size of my object to figure out texture sizes?

6] I am having problems getting LW to load 256 color images without expanding them to truecolor (24 bit)

7] I am rendering an object with bones but my polygons seem to keep getting errors or are not smooth!

8] Why are my smaller objects with the glow effect not really showing a glow?

9] How come edge transparency doesn't seem to function for flat polygons?

10] How do I use Image Sequences?

SECTION 4 - Lightwave Layout - Animation

1] I move my objects into position, but they keep "forgetting" where they were.

2] I have problems setting bones for my object. My object keeps resizing or changing.

3] Can I click on an item to select it in Layout?

4] Whenever I create a preview wireframe animation, my objects don't show up, but I can see Lightsources and paths.

5] How can I copy a keyframe for an item?

6] Quick Spline Control Tips

7] I have problems trying to position objects with my WACOM tablet!

8] How come when I rotate objects or bones in a hierarchy they don't rotate or move the way I expect?

9] How can I make objects that flow around and through complex turns?

10] I am having problem with the AVI saver and Windows 95!

11] Lightwave crashes when trying to render animation files out!

12] When I load a large object, I find I can't position the camera or other objects with enough precision.

13] I am trying to use Inverse Kinematics (IK) but it doesn't seem to work correctly.

14] I have turned on joint compensation and muscle flexing for some bones but nothing seems to happen.

15] How do I use the Effector Displacement Plug-in?

SECTION 1 - Support Products/Sites

1] How do I reach NewTek?

NewTek, Inc.
Executive Offices
1200 SW Executive Drive
Topeka, KS 66615

Voice: 913-228-8000
FAX: 913-228-8001
Customer Service: 800-847-6111
Dealer Sales: 800-368-5441
Dealer FAX: 913-228-8099

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Voice: 913-228-8282
FAX: 913-228-8222
BBS: 913-271-9299

E-Mail

lwfeatures@newtek.com - Feature Ideas and Requests
tech@newtek.com - Bug reports and Technical Questions

Each of these addresses are monitored and read by people in the LightWave Group.

Those with World Wide Web access might also wish to look at http://www.newtek.com/ which has product information and pricing, tutorials, and more.

In addition there is a NewTek FTP site at: ftp.newtek.com

***

2] Lightwave related: References/Help Books/Magzines/FTP sites.

REFERENCES AND HELP BOOKS:

"Lightwave 3D Layout Reference and Modeler Reference", NewTek Inc., 1995 (Yes....read the manual!)

MAGAZINES:

These are some good graphics magazines, some focus on Lightwave, the Video Toaster or general graphics. If anyone has some other suggestions please mail me the pertintent information.

"LightWavePRO"
Avid Media Group
273 N. Mathilda Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
800-322-2843
408-774-6770
(LightWavePRO is the definitive LightWave Newsletter/journal for the LightWave user.)

"LIGHTSPEED: The video Magazine for the Lightwave enthusiast"
2763 West Ave L Suite 172
Lancaster CA 93636
Voice: (800) 764 - 8696
or (805) 726 - 3545
(Lightspeed is a new video magazine series released monthly that users can subscribe to. Each issue contains many tutorials, product reviews, and animations. Run Time per video is approx. 90-120 mins in length. Each issue also contains tutorials and reviews by different people so you get a variety of styles and techniques.)

"Video Toaster User"
Avid Media Group
273 N. Mathilda Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
800-322-2843 USA
408-774-6770
(A magazine focusing specifically on NewTeks Video Toaster device. Also has a Lightwave column.)

"Computer Artist"
P.O. Box 3188
Tulsa, OK 74101
Voice: (918) 831 - 9405
FAX: (918) 831 - 9555
(A magazine specifically for computer artists. Articles on software and methods from Amigas, PC's and MAC's)

"Computer Graphics World"
P.O Box 122
Tulsa, OK 74101-9845
(800) 443 - 6632
(918) 835 - 3161 ext. 400
(918) 831 - 9497 (FAX)
(A general computer graphics magazine focusing on the latest technology from PC's to SGI's)

"AV Video"
Montage Publishing Inc.
P.O Box 16925
North Hollywood, CA 91615
or
701 Wetchester Ave.
White Plains, NY 10604
Voice: (914) 328 - 9157
(800) 800 - 5474
FAX: (914) 328 - 9093
(An audio/video and computer magazine. Has articles about all types of video and graphics applications including the Amiga and Video Toaster)

FTP SITES:

Those with internet access can use FTP to retrieve and send Lightwave Objects, Scenes, Surfaces and more.

FTP Site: ftp.newtek.com
Info: NewTek's FTP server

FTP Site: tomahawk.welch.jhu.edu
Path: /pub/LW

New items should be placed in the appropriate directory under /pub/lw/incoming

***

3] What is the LW Mailing List/Newsgroup and how can I obtain it?

Obtain access to Usenet news on the internet. Then run your newsreader software and use the USENET newsgroup for Lightwave:

comp.graphics.apps.lightwave

Once again this group is setup so that people may post questions, answers and related discussions about Lightwave 3D.

In addition there is a mailing list for Lightwave Users. For information on this list send mail to: majordomo@tomahawk.grandi.com Place the text: INFO LIGHTWAVE in the body of the message. This will send back an automated set of instructions.

***

4] Is there any documentation regarding the 3D Object File format for Lightwave Objects?

For documentaion on the 3D Object file format FTP to:

FTP Site: ftp.netcom.com
Path: pub/lw/lwsdk
Filename: fmtLWOB

***

5] How can I write my own Plug-Ins for Lightwave?

You need to get the LightWave Server Developer Kit (LWSDK) which contains headers, libraries, samples and documentation for plug-in development. The LWSDK is available for the Amiga OS, SGI IRIX, and Win32 on Intel, MIPS and Alpha platforms.

The LWSDK is supported on the "lwplugin-l" mailing list. To subscribe to the list, send a message to "listserv@netcom.com" with the message body (subject is ignored):

subscribe lwplugin-l

You will receive a informational message when you subscribe explaining the list and how to get the LWSDK by FTP. To get the informational message without subscribing, send a message to the same address above with the message body:

info lwplugin-l

***

6] I am having problems installing LW from the CD-ROM!

Some CD-ROM drives have a problem reading certain files off of the LW 4.0 Pre-release CD-ROM. To do a complete install, run the LW install again, but do not select PostScript Fonts. Then manually copy the fonts over from the CD-ROM when the installation completes. Some PostScripts fonts such as "Unitus" may not copy over.

***

7] I am having problems transfering scene files from the PC to the Amiga

The PC and Amiga handle Carrige Return and Line Feed characters slightly differently. You need to convert CR/LF <-> LF. If you are using CrossDOS turn on the file filter to do this. CrossDOS will also handle Control-Z EOF markers that DOS uses. You can also strip out the CTRL-M's on the Amiga side.

SECTION 2 - Lightwave Modeler

1] How do I merge multiple layers into one layer?

Bring each layer you want to merge into the foreground. (ie: Shift click the foreground layer button for each layer). Then select "Cut" to remove all data and keep it in memory. Then select "Paste" to place all the data into the first selected foreground layer.

***

2] How can I save an object so that data gets loaded back into its original layer?

Normally when you save an object all foreground layers are simply saved into the file and when reloaded placed into the first foreground layer. However, you can tell modeler to store information about what was in each layer so when the object is reloaded, the data is placed back into each original layer.

Select the layers to save as foreground layers (like normal). Then press and hold the 'Alt' or 'Amiga' key while selecting "Save As". Enter the filename to save the file as, you may still need to hold down the 'Alt' key. Now click the "Save As" button in the dialog while holding down the 'Alt' key. The object is saved with layer information.

***

3] My object has duplicate polygons, how do I remove them?

Sometimes you may have duplicate polygons on an object, To remove them choose 'Unify' from the 'Polygon' menu.

***

4] Why on the Amiga version of Modeler am I getting the error message "Internal buffer too small"

This is a known problem with 3.5a on the Amiga. Obtain 3.5b. A patch is available on the ftp site: tomahawk.welch.jhu.edu or at the NewTek site.

***

5] Is there a way to "Un-metaform"?

With Lightwave 5.0 there is a "Reduce_Polygons" plug in for modeler. In modeler, select the tools menu, then custom and then Reduce_Polygons.

Note that this plug in tends to create non-planar polygons. So it might not be useful for truly trying to un-metaform.

***

6] How do I create particles?

There are two types of particles. Single point (your basic point particle) and double point (a line). You create them the same as any other polygon.

Select the point (or points) and choose "Make" from the polyon menu. You will then have a one point or two point polygon.

***

7] Modeling with Metanurbs - Tips and tricks

Metanurbs provides an easy way to create complex organic shapes. However there can be problems with getting 4 sides polygon objects, and adding detail to metanurb objects. Here are some tips.

- Start with a cube, metaform it a few times to give enough starting polygons. The resulting object will have 4 sided polygons.

- You can extend polygons or add flanges to objects by using a bevel command. If you continue to bevel you will get more segments. When you bevel use a 0 value for the inset and some small amount for the shift.

- You can merge polygons into 1 large 4 sided polygon. Then you can bevel that to make larger appendages. Simply select adjacent polygons and choose Merge from the Polygon menu. Note: in order to get a new 4 sided polygon you will have to merge specific polygons in your model.

- You can individually select 4 sided polygons and do a smooth subdivide to break it into 4 smaller 4 sided polygons.

- When you freeze a metanurb object into polygons you can change the amount of polygons/detail created using the Patch Division setting in the Object|Options dialog. The default setting 3 creates 3 polygons for every patch.

SECTION 3 - Lightwave Layout - Surfaces and Textures

1] List of common Index of Refractions (and not so common too!)

(All items except Vacuum are in alphabetical order) (STP = Standard Temperature and Pressure)

MATERIAL Index
-------------------------------------
Vacuum ...................... 1.00000 (exactly)

Air (STP).................... 1.00029
Acetone ..................... 1.36
Alcohol ..................... 1.329
Amorphous Selenium .......... 2.92
Calspar1 .................... 1.66
Calspar2 .................... 1.486
Carbon Disulfide ............ 1.63
Chromium Oxide .............. 2.705
Copper Oxide ................ 2.705
Crown Glass ................. 1.52
Crystal ..................... 2.00
Diamond ..................... 2.417
Emerald ..................... 1.57
Ethyl Alcohol ............... 1.36
Flourite .................... 1.434
Fused Quartz ................ 1.46
Heaviest Flint Glass ........ 1.89
Heavy Flint Glass ........... 1.65
Glass ....................... 1.5
Ice ......................... 1.309
Iodine Crystal .............. 3.34
Lapis Lazuli ................ 1.61
Light Flint Glass ........... 1.575
Liquid Carbon Dioxide ....... 1.20
Polystyrene ................. 1.55
Quartz 1 .................... 1.644
Quartz 2 .................... 1.553
Ruby ........................ 1.77
Sapphire .................... 1.77
Sodium Chloride (Salt) 1 .... 1.544
Sodium Chloride (Salt) 2 .... 1.644
Sugar Solution (30%) ........ 1.38
Sugar Solution (80%) ........ 1.49
Topaz ....................... 1.61
Water (20 C) ................ 1.333
Zinc Crown Glass ............ 1.517

***

2] I texture my object and save my scene, but next time I load the scene the settings are gone!

Surface settings are saved with the object file not the scene file. After surfacing your object in layout, choose the "Object Panel" and then "Save Object" (or save all objects). Choose Yes to overwrite the objects with the new coloring. Next time you load the scene or load the object into another scene the surfaces will be correct.

***

3] My Lens Flares fade behind objects I don't want them too!

Lens flares can fade out behind objects. To do this simply set "Fade Behind Objects" button in the Lens Flare panel. However any object with 'Cast Shadows' turned OFF will allow the flare to show through (ie: it won't fade). Thus by making say the glass in a bulb not cast shadows, a flare inside will still show. However if you move the bulb behind an object that casts shadows the flare will fade behind.

***

4] How can I copy a surface and paste it onto another?

In Lightwave versions prior to 5.0 there was no actual cut and paste operation. However you can save the surface you want, select the new surface and then load the previous settings into place. The usual way to do this is to select the source surface and then to save the surface to a name such as 'temp.srf'. Then select the target surface and load temp.srf.

With Lightwave 5.0 you can do a test render of the original surface. Then select the new surface you want to paste to. Click on the little test rendering and a requester will appear asking if you wish to overwrite the current surface settings with those that were used in the test render. Choose Yes and those settings are now assigned to the current surface.

***

5] How can I measure the size of my object to figure out texture sizes?

There are two ways. Once is to manually build several grid objects. Basically create a flat cube in modeler with a set size and set number of sections. When you load it into layout you can use this as a reference. Under the 'Object' panel you can turn on "Polygon Edges" so that the grid even shows during rendering.

Another easy way is when starting to set your texture or imagemap, select the default "Planar Texture" and then choose "Automatic Size". Lightwave will then set the center information to the center of the surface and the size to the size in meters of the surface. Note this works on a per surface not a per object basis.

***

6] I am having problems getting LW to load 256 color images without expanding them to truecolor (24 bit)

LW will load images from 2 bit to 24 bit. If you are having problems getting 8 bit (256 color) color images to stay at 8 bit to save memory try renaming the file 'IFF' in the directory NEWTEK\HIIP\LOADERS\ 2,4,8 bit and other IFF images should load properly after that.

***

7] I am rendering an object with bones but my polygons seem to keep getting errors or are not smooth!

Even if you create many polygons for your object you may need to go into Modeler and 'Triple' your polygons. What happens is as your object bends, the 4 or more points that make up your polygons will move and become non-planar. This will cause Lightwave to become confused when rendering the object. To solve this, start Modeler, load your object and choose 'Triple' from the 'Polygon' menu. This is a good idea for object animated with bones or displacement maps.

In addition it is possible that the angle of the polygons is greater than the allowed smoothing angle set in the surfaces menu. Make sure smoothing is selected for the surface and try raising the smoothing angle if needed.

***

8] Why are my smaller objects with the glow effect not really showing a glow?

Small polygons, particles (single point polygons) and other objects will glow with the glow effect. However as the intensity of the glow is relational to the surface area of the polygons. More of a glow will be created by numerous particles or polygons.

In addition besides setting the surface to glow in the surface panel you should check to make sure it is enabled globally in the 'Effects' panel.

***

9] How come edge transparency doesn't seem to function for flat polygons?

The 'Edge Transparency' setting in the Surfaces panel is used to create transparent edges on objects that are seen from a side and are rounded, such as a sphere. Flat polygons will not show any edge transparency. You may round them off and back to obtain the effect but it may not look the way you want.

***

10] How do I use Image Sequences?

Lightwave has the ability to map a different image onto a surface for each frame. This feature known as Image Sequences can let you place an "animation in an animation" such as a video inside of a 3D television set.

From the 'Images Panel' in Layout choose the 'Load Sequence' button. Now simply choose the first image in the sequence. The file extension, sequence digits and offset are all set for you. Alternatively you can simply enter the text part of the image name, and enter the extension and digits yourself later.

There are some important things to note with image sequences.

- All images in a sequence must share the same number of digits such as: pic001.iff pic020.iff pic325.iff In this case the digit number is 3 and the extension is .iff

- Lightwave uses the last picture it can for all frames until a new one is found. Thus for the above, pic001.iff is used from frames 1 to 19. Then at frame 20 pic020.iff is used until frame 324 and so on.

- It is easier to simply select one of the files since you simply enter the name such as "pic" when loading a sequence you must manually enter the number of digits and extension.

SECTION 4 - Lightwave Layout - Animation

1] I move my objects into position, but they keep "forgetting" where they were.

In order for Lightwave to remember the postion, rotation, size other other settings of objects during an animation you must make a keyframe for that object. To do so, select "Create Key". Then select either "Selected Item" or "All" depending on if you want to create a keyframe for just the selected item or for all items.

An improtant note: Even if you create a key frame for an object Light or Camera, if you go back later and alter it's position, rotation or other setting you must choose "Create Key" again. Otherwise the item will be set back to it's last "key" setting.

This is why there is no UNDO function in Layout. If you wish to undo a change, simply go back or forth to another frame without choosing "Create Key". When you return to the frame, the item will be reset to it's last settings.

HOWEVER, if you want to be able to simply change an item that already has a keyframe set without having to select "Create Key" again for that frame, choose "Auto Key Adjust" from the Option menu in Layout. This sets Layout to always remember the last settings for an item when you alter it in a keyframe. Note that the only undo ability will be to reload a saved scene in this case.

***

2] I have problems setting bones for my object. My object keeps resizing or changing.

In order to place bones for your object there are 4 basic steps.

1. Add a bone
2. Position the bone, and resize it using REST LENGTH not size.
3. Create a Keyframe for the bone
4. Press 'r' to active it and set it's rest information.

There are 2 important notes. If you want to change the size of the bone for setup, use the "Rest Length" operation, not the "Size" operation. Otherwise when you press 'r' the object will suddenly grow or shrink.

Also, you should set a keyframe for the bone, or it will be reset to it's default settings.

TIP for adding Child Bones:

Because child bones are added relative to their parent bones, it's often easier to add 1 parent bone first and get it setup to the proper size and rotation. Then go and add a child bone or bones. If you do this, the child bones size will probably be more appropriate. On the other hand if you add all your bones at once, you will have to set the Rest Length for each.

***

3] Can I click on an item to select it in Layout?

Yes, you should press the SHIFT key and click on objects origin. The origin is the location of the object that rotations take place around. Note this is in Lightwave 4.0 and you must click fairly close to that position.

***

4] Whenever I create a preview wireframe animation, my objects don't show up, but I can see Lightsources and paths.

In the Windows version of Lightwave, some display cards have a problem with their video driver software. This causes objects to not appear when you create a wireframe preview. To remedy this you should contact your display card manufacturer to obtain a new version of your graphics drivers.

***

5] How can I copy a keyframe for an item?

Go to the key frame you wish to copy from. Select "Create Key". Now, change the frame number for the create key dialog to the frame you wish to copy to. Click Ok.

Note that the spline control settings are NOT copied. ie: tension continuity and bias are not copied over.

***

6] Quick Spline Control Tips

Spline controls are used to get better control at object motion and other envelopes in Lightwave. The following is a quick guide to them. One thing to remember is that spline controls effect the action at that point or keyframe.

Tension: + Positive = Items moves faster through point
- Negative = Items moves slower through point

Continuity: + Positive = Smoother curve point
- Negative = Sharper bounce at point

Bias: + Positive = Slack/more data after curve
- Negative = Slack/more data before curve

Linear: Straight motion from previous keyframe to current. Other settings may still affect motion up to the next key.

For example:

To make an object slow down at a keyframe you would want to have a negative Tension. To make a ball bounce with a sharp change of direction at a keyframe you will want a negative Continuity. To make it accelerate at that bounce frame you will want a postive tension at the frame as well, and probably a negative one at the start of the top of the fall.

***

7] I have problems trying to position objects with my WACOM tablet!

Those with WACOM tablets may have noticed that trying to move objects in Layout around doesn't work. This is because Lightwave keeps reseting the mouse position and performs the move based on the relative change of the mouse. However the WACOM tablets report position in absolute mode.

The solution is to set the tablet into relative mode. I think the ARTZ-II has a button for this on the tablet itself...though check your WACOM docs to be sure.

Note that with Version 5.0 in Layout there is now a "Input Device" button in the Options|General Options menu. Selecting Tablet instead of Mouse should make the tablet work.

***

8] How come when I rotate objects or bones in a hierarchy they don't rotate or move the way I expect?

Lightwave does not handle local transofrmations for an object in a hierarchy as one might expect. What happens is the object moves in the transformed coordinate system. However the direction it moves is based on what view you are using and where the mouse is going as if it were not transformed.

This means in a Front view, moving the mouse to the right will make an object move in it's positive X axis. If it has a parent that is rotated, it won't move exactly in the direction of the mouse, but rather in the plus X axis direction of the parent.

You can hold down the control key to get local positioning for child objects though there is no way to get local rotations.

***

9] How can I make objects that flow around and through complex turns?

At first it might seem difficult to get an object to flow around other objects. For example little arrows moving around the inside of a copy machine showing how it works, or paper going through rollers. However with the use of bones and morphing it is actually pretty easy.

For an example suppose you had a long piece of paper and wanted it to progress through a series of rollers. Model a square with enough segments that it can bend smoothly. Then in Layout add bones starting at one end, and then progressing down the length of the paper object.

The bones should be small enough that you will be able to arc them smoothly. Create keyframes at frame 0 for these bones and make them active. Now that these bones are set in their rest positions, move them so that they align to a path through the rollers. Keyframe the moved bones at frame 1.

Note that you can go back to frame 0 to tweak the inital rest position if needed. For the actual animation the bones from frame 1 (and on) are used.

At this point the paper object should be conformed to one possible frame through the rollers in frame 1. You might think you would have to move and keyframe the bones object to animate it. However with a morph you can accomplish the same thing in a few easy steps.

In modeler load your paper object. Shift it "back" along the long part of the paper. ie: if your paper is lying flat in the X-Z plane and is long along the X axis, shift it along the X axis. Save this repositioned object under a new name.

In layout load the transformed paper in. Set the morph target of the boned object to be the moved object. Then morph from one to the other.

What happens is the object always conforms to the bones. As the morph occurs the polygons progress left to right but still keep their bone structure. This causes them to move but to bend around following a "bone path".

***

10] I am having problem with the AVI saver and Windows 95!

(Provided by: Chuck Baker/NewTek Tech support)

When saving an AVI, you must type in a complete filename in the filename requester, including the extension ".avi", or no file will be saved.

Also Lightwave versions prior to 5.0 had problms with AVI saving. Here is how to solve them:

1) Go to the Settings option on the Windows "Start" menu,
2) Select the Control Panel,
3) Select Add/Remove Programs,
4) Select Windows Setup,
5) Select and remove the Multimedia group.
6) Exit and restart Windows.
7) Repeat 1-4 and re-add the multimedia group.
8) Exit and restart Windows again.
9) Delete the file NewTek\Programs\LW.CFG.
10) Run LightWave, add all Plugins from the NewTek\Plugins\Layout directory, including HIIPAVI16.P, HIIPAVI32.P, and NT_AVI.P.
11) Exit and restart LightWave.

After this, the plugins, including the HIIP AVI and NT_AVI savers should be available and working.

There is a bug in the Microsoft AVI codecs such that you can appear to have rendered a blank AVI. If you load the file in MediaPlayer and scrub the AVI you will find that while blank sections may have been appended to the beginning and the end of the AVI, the AVI has actually rendered successfully.

***

11] Lightwave crashes when trying to render animation files out!

(Provided by: Chuck Baker/NewTek Tech support)

Lightwave versions prior to 5.0 had a known bug in the handling of the scene file parameter for the animation type. If you save a scene file with an animation type selected, when you reload the scene and try to render, LightWave will crash. The workaround is to edit the scene file in a text editor. Look for the line:

AnimationType 4

(the number will vary depending on what you selected for type) and either remove the line or change the number to 0.

Another workaround is never to save the scene with an animation type selected; always wait and select that at render time.

Lightwave 5.0 does not have this problem.

***

12] When I load a large object, I find I can't position the camera or other objects with enough precision.

Lightwave uses the grid size to determine the amount something changes when you are positioning it. When a large object is loaded Lightwave will automatically increase the grid size to help you position it. To get more precision decrease the grid size. This is in the Options panel, then the Layout View Tab then Grid Square Size.

In the same way if you are trying to move an object farther and it is not moving fast enough you can increase the grid size.

***

13] I am trying to use Inverse Kinematics (IK) but it doesn't seem to work correctly.

When you create an IK chain the last object may appear not to reach properly for the goal object. This is because what is actually used in the "reach" is the pivot point of the last object.

For example in an arm, the upper arm connects to the lower arm connects to the hand. Usually the pivot point for the hand is at the wrist. If you used IK on this chain the arm would move and reach for the goal. However the hand might seem to dangle or bend strangely. This is because the last point reaching for the goal is at the wrist.

To correct this add a null object after the last object in the IK hierarchy. In this case you would want it positioned at the end of the hand, where the fingers would be. Now the Null Object is the last object trying to reach toward the goal. This makes the hand rotate in line toward the goal as you would expect.

Another common problem with IK is keyframes. Inverse Kinematics is basically a positioning tool. Until you move the goal object the chain will not move. Once it looks the way you desire, you still need to keyframe every object in the chain.

The exception to this is the "Full-time IK" feature available in Lightwave 5.0. In this case the goal object can simply be moved and keyed and the chain will always try to reach for the goal.

In general however full time IK may not give the desired results. This is because typically there are any number of ways to rotate a chain to reach for the goal. On each frame the Full-time IK may pick a different rotation for objects which results in the chain seeming to jump. To get around this simply use IK to position the objects at keyframes and let Lightwave create smooth inbetweens.

***

14] I have turned on joint compensation and muscle flexing for some bones but nothing seems to happen.

In Lightwave 5.0 some new bone features were added. These include joint compensation and muscle flexing. Joint compensation help stop the pinching of the object where 2 bones bend. With muscle flexing you can make part of an object bulge when you bend a bone, similar to bending your forearm and having your bicept muscle bulge.

If you are having problems getting any results with these features note the following:

First the child must rotate on PITCH. If the child is not rotated on Pitch, then you will not see much if any effect of these features.

Suppose you have an arm type object, say a simple cylinder. Add a bone and a child bone. ie: if a +------- is a bone:

+----------+----------

(say the one on the left is the upper arm, and the one on the right is the lower arm, and they are centered throughout the length of the cylinder.

\
\
\
+----------+

Now if you bend the lower arm as above and try to set "Joint Compensation" and "Muscle Flexing for Parent" for the lower arm it should work but may not be as strong as you like.

The problem is the lower arm should have a position offset relative to the upper arm. In fact this is what you need if you want it to bend properly anyhow. Position the pivot point of the lower arm bone at the top part of the cylinder/lower arm. For example:

\
\
\
+---------- and +
+---------- +----------

This will work. In this case you want to set "Joint Compensation" and "Muscle Flexing for Parent" for the lower arm bone. Note that by offseting the lower arm bone you will probably need to increase its strength or add a child bone to help grab the bottom part of the lower arm.

Also note that you can increase the percentages for these settings over 100% by manually typing them in.

***

15] How do I use the Effector Displacement Plug-in?

The effector displacement plug-in allows you to have one object repeled or attracted to another object based on proximity. For example, create a simple sphere in modeler. Save the object. In layout create a new scene and load up the sphere object.

In the object panel choose "Add Null Object". Then after adding the null object choose "Save Object" so you can rename the null. In this case assign it the name "Effector".

Now select sphere object in the object panel. Select "Disp Map Plug-ins". Choose the "Effector" plugin. Select options. Note the "Effector Prefix Name". This name should match that of the null object you added. What will happen is when the Effector object comes near the sphere object the sphere will be repeled.

You can adjust the size of the effect sphere that has full strength with the "Core Radius" amount. You can set how far the effectors strength reaches overall by adjusting the falloff.

If you make a keyframe for the Effector null outside the spehere, then another one closer and above the sphere you will see the sphere push in as the effector comes closer.

If you want the sphere to be attracted to the Effector instead of repeled, size the Effector Null to -1,-1,-1.

Note that after you move the Effector you will have to get Lightwave to calculate the amount the object changes. You can do this by keyframing the effector and then going back and forth a frame.

END OF LW3D-FAQ

 
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