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Old March 12th, 2002, 06:54 PM   #1
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3D animation with DV

I got a question about my use of Lightwave with DV.

How goes it and all.

First off let me say, I don't use Truespace or other consumer level 3D animation software...they typically lack a lot fo features and control. I use Lightwave, LW is used regularly by the big studios in Hollywood. Name a movie with stunning special effects and you have seen lightwave in action. This includes Lord of the Rings, Star Wars episode 1&2, Artificial Intelligence and Final Fantasy. If you can't create something in Lightwave, it is pretty much your fault.

To be fair a lot of the animation is done using Maya. They take objects modelled in LW, and then rig them and control the animation in Maya. Rendering is then done either in Lightwave or using Pixar's Renderman.

Also reliability is astounding with these well made programs. I assure you, if you have problems getting it to operate properly it is YOUR system at fault. I would never say this of prgrams like Truespace or Premiere. Even Photoshop is flakey by comparison to LW or Maya.

Let me also say that you get, especially with Lightwave, the ability to pull of some absolutely astounding imagery and incorporate it into your productions. This stuff can absolutely floor your clients and audience.

Well there are some minor problems.

Most serious 3D animation programs are meant to work with Standard video and film formats. As of version 6.5b Lightwave did not support DV, which is slightly different than D1. D1 is 720x486 pixels. So you have to create a custom camera for any DV projects. By now this is SOP for me when creating a Lightwave scene. I believe LW 7 adds DV formats.

*****UPDATE: Someone who actrually OWNS LW 7 checked, they didn't add the DV camera resolutions. It is fairly trivial to fix if a bit annoying...don't let this "complaint deter your from using Lightwave.*****

Second, Lightwave Maya et al are meant to work with UNCOMPRESSED formats. This is a problem when doing non-trivial animation and incorporating it into a DV based Real Time NLE.

The normal way of doing things in 3D animation is to render your scene to still frames. Render times can easily go into WEEKS unless you happen to have a HUGE render farm...so we render to frames. This way if something happens to the machine while it renders, like a power outage, we only lose the frame we are working on. All previous work is already safely stored on disk.

If you try to incorporate these still images on the timeline you will have to render. This is trivial compared to losing a few days of compute time. Of course, you end up with two version of the animation on disk. One stored as 32-bit Targa files and one as DV. Still, with a little forethough you can get around this.

For shorter projects I actually do render directly to my RT DV format. (Matrox AVI DV/DVCAM) If you are running a render time less than a few hours, it is usually reliable enough. Then you can drop it on your timeline and just use the footage like any other DV clip.

Now, the rendered images can have a LOT more exposure latitude than you can manage with ANY DV, DV50 or Digibeta camera. The color depth is really damn good too- 4:4:4 infact, until you encode to DV. The only thing that can really match the quality of your Lightwave or Maya images is well shot film or HDCAM material. (The jury is still out regarding DVCPRO HD cameras...they fall 30% below the bitrate of HDCAM, and it shows...) IOW, the quality of the images can be TOO GOOD. You have to work a little to muck up the images to make it match properly.

All this and you still have all the trraditional animator worries about incorporating CGI that looks "fake" into your production.

Aside from these minor caveats you just use the modelling and animation tools like normal and they work fine. If you have the talent required, you can certainly deliver Hollywood style results with these Hollywood caliber tools.
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Last edited by Alexander Ibrahim; March 13th, 2002 at 07:34 PM.
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Old March 12th, 2002, 09:20 PM   #2
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Pixar

Steve Jobs the CEO of Apple owns Pixar.......just wanted to throw that in for all the Mac fans out there.
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Old March 12th, 2002, 09:47 PM   #3
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Steve Jobs owns Pixar

I am amazed that there is a "need" to appease the Mac fans...

Anyway, Jobs owns a portion of Pixar, not the whole thing.

Also, you will note that despite Jobs ownership share that Pixar does not use a significant number of Macintosh computers.

They use Silicon Graphics, Sun and IBM UNIX workstations primarily. There is some use of Windows NT with Lightwave for modelling, they use propietary software for rigging and animation, then render using renderman on SGI and Sun machines.

I expect on the next upgrade round they will move from NT to OS X and Linux on the workstations.
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Old March 12th, 2002, 09:56 PM   #4
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Appease

When you're the 10:1 underdog in overal computer user's worldwide but an overall favorite in a niche such as DV editing- we Mac user's tend to "uprise" our positions as computer user's.......

MacAddict Magazine wrote an article mentioning the fact that Steve Jobs bought Pixar outright from George Lucas (If i am recalling correctly) and since it was mentioned here I just thought it would be cool to mention it....

..most Mac owner's know who Steve Job's is- I bet most pc owner's don't know the name of the CEO of their pc's manufacturer.

...just a tidbit of fanfare for us Mac owner's- not a prompt for a fight.
(I don't have Steve Job's $$$- so I don't really care on a personal level)

Have fun-
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Old March 12th, 2002, 10:16 PM   #5
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I happent to know the CEO of the company who built my PC rather well...he is me!

What people know about their PC is who makes their OS...Bill Gates or Linus Torvalds. Whatever...

I personally don't care much about the tools or their makers, though my ire will be raised when whatever I am using doesn't work.

Mac OS X looks good enough to bring me back to Mac, when it gets a little more mature.

Anyway, I think that if more Mac users are frank about real technical and cost advantages of their system they will get more converts...but they need not evangelize. Let Apple advertising do that.
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Old March 12th, 2002, 11:23 PM   #6
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Just as an aside here, we will not engage in any Mac vs. PC or Canon vs. Sony platform wars on these boards... so y'all don't even think about it now.

;-)
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Old March 13th, 2002, 05:58 AM   #7
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I re-installed my LW 7.0b to check the camera settings you
mentioned. Seems like they didn't add DV resolution in NTSC.
The PAL (D1) resolution is good though:

NTSC:
D1 720x486
D2 752x480

PAL:
D1 720x576
D2 752x576
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Old March 13th, 2002, 10:11 AM   #8
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Steve Jobs did buy Pixar from Lucas for 100 million dollars. The render farm is SUN. They use Mac's alot.
I shoot on SONY, animate with Maya (on a dual 1 Ghz P3), edit with FCP3 on Mac (dual 500's and dual 800's) composite with After Effects (Mac) and print back to DVD and DVCAM (and VHS, S-VHS).
I have also shot the GL-1 and XL-1 (and a host of other pro line cameras) and I have used Lightwave, Bryce, Strata, 3D Max, infini-D, Cinema4dXL, and RenderMan. I have edited with Avid, Ulead, Media100, Premier, Cinestream and others on both Mac and PC.
The bottom line is... use what works for you. Of course I have my preferences as does everyone, if I shoot a film and you do the effects and she does the editing and he does the audio and they do the master, in the end, when it all looks really good, nobody will care what platform was used (least of all me) when it comes time to write the check and pay us!
Whatever gets you to do your best work is what you should use.



Especially if it is a MAC! (sorry Chris, just had to do it! LOL!)

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Old March 13th, 2002, 07:07 PM   #9
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Is Maya available for OS X yet? I heard that version is supposed to kick much ass, but I haven't heard about it for awhile. Right now I use Ray Dream Studio 5 in OS 9. It's actually pretty amazing what you can get that program to do, though you must add motion blur in post processing since RDS doesn't do that for you (that I know of). I have no trouble animating, my biggest problem is in the actual modeling. Ray Dream Studio doesn't seem to do that very well.
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Old March 13th, 2002, 07:32 PM   #10
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Maya is available for os x

Check Apples OS X page for a list of available applications.

Maya was one of the first native OS X apps, AFAIK.
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Old March 13th, 2002, 09:22 PM   #11
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On the Alias/Wavefront web site is a FREE demo version (called Personal Learning Edition) for both Mac and PC. Yes the Mac version is out but it doesn't have cloth and fur. It is very nice otherwise. Just as a note, you will need a 3 button mouse, Contour Designs makes a very nice one for about $100.00.
In all honesty Maya4 on a Dual Athlon XP machine is the fastest thing money can buy. MUCH faster than even a Dual 2Ghz Xeon Pentium4! The Mac version is better looking though.

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Old March 13th, 2002, 09:30 PM   #12
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What is the website URL and why would one need a 3-button mouse? I am assuming the free demo version does not permit you to render and/or save?
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Old March 14th, 2002, 12:06 AM   #13
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Maya runs off a 3 button mouse and the Demo is the same as Maya complete, you can save, you can render, everything. There will be a watermark on everything you do though. It is not for commercial use, they want people to learn it and discover just how powerfull it really is. Let me tell you, it is REALLY, REALLY powerful! It will take a while to learn all of it, heck it will take a while to learn some of it. The book SUCKS, it is the worst thing you could ever spend money on. For $17,500.00 (Maya Unlimited)you would think they could make a decent manual but they can't. What they can do is make the most POWERFUL and flexible 3D modeling and animation program I have ever seen. Heck they even have their own programing/scripting language called "MEL".
Well here is the link, I will warn you it is a 140MB download but you can order a disk for about $5.00 shipping.

http://www.aliaswavefront.com/en/Community/Special/maya_ple/alternate.html

Very best of luck!
Rhett

P.S. I think there are some good books out from PeachPit Press about Maya.
And say hello to Denver for me I moved here from there 2 years ago and miss it.
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Old March 14th, 2002, 02:42 AM   #14
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It downloaded it in about 7 minutes tops. Note to Mac OS 9 users: Netscape 4.7.x downloads files (not web pages) faster than ANY other browser out there. If you are getting 300K per second using Netscape, you will be lucky to get 180K per second using Internet Explorador on the same file from the same server at the exact same time of day.

I installed it and it ran fine. Seems pretty zippy even though I don't have a 3 button mouse (unless you count the scroll wheel) and I only have 256MB of RAM when it requires 512MB. You are right though, it will take a while to learn this program.

I stood outside and shouted "Hi Denver" for you. No response. :) I was just in Plano not long ago checking out some movie theaters (I am involved the movie exhibition industry). The Cinemark Legacy I believe it is called is not too bad. Could be better if they had smarter people running the projection booth. But they have one guy who knows what he is doing. I don't remember anything else about Plano except the Studio Movie Grill and "Nude Furniture".
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Old March 14th, 2002, 03:45 AM   #15
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If you are smart you'd use a download manager on such
large downloads to:

a) download at maximum speed (utilizing multiple channels)
b) be able to resume the download if something happens.

I never download from Internet Explorer or Netscape. Only
when it is a couple of KB....

Just a thought though.
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