February 5, 2021 : Lightwave 2020 Will Have A Learning Curve

I finally got Lightwave properly installed – thanks to UrbanExile and with absolutely zero help from Newtek support (ugh). Unlike previous upgrades, it looks like I will need some time to study and learn about the new version. When opening up a previously created Scene in 2020, Lightwave creates new files and source directory folders. More importantly, the scene looks different, with the Textures/ Shaders (and thus renders) affected.

I am a little torn about this. To be honest, at the moment I don’t have the time to learn new software. One of the reasons I like Lightwave is my familiarity with it and how it fits into my pipeline so easily. Then again, these changes could signify Newtek actually improving the software. It’s worth pointing out these changes could very well have taken place in Lightwave 2018, but I skipped that upgrade.

In either case, it looks like they didn’t focus much on having satisfactory customer support… awful.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:27 pm

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December 30, 2020 : Lightwave 2020 – In The Arsenal

I finally got around to purchasing Lightwave 2020 this week. For tax reasons, I planned on doing it before the end of the year – and I did just before the deadline!

The last version I had was 2015… so yeah, it’s been a while. I haven’t installed it yet, nor do I have any plans to use it in the near future (or projects to use it on), but I’m excited. Lightwave is far from industry leading, but it fits nicely in my pipeline for certain things – and I always advocate using what works.

posted by Pi Visuals at 9:59 pm

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November 29, 2020 : Well, What’s Next?

Whenever I complete a project, there is a mix of emotions. Obviously a sense of accomplishment is there. However, I start to feel a certain anxiousness because I know a question to myself always arises: What’s next?

In the short term, there’s usually a list of items related to the recently finished project: uploading it, sharing it with peers, potential submissions to festivals (ugh), etc.

The past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied with that along with a few non-Me-and-Me related things. Still, I’m starting to wonder what is next. At the moment, the answer is “I don’t know.” I’m always hesitant to jump into a new project, knowing I need some time to unwind; but couple that with the limited time I currently have to work on new projects, I’m not surprised that I don’t have an answer to the initial question.

At the same time, not working on much of anything is weird and won’t sit well with me. Therefore, I’d like to think I will try to occupy my time with something, even if it’s not intended to amount to anything. In the meantime, my goal is to enjoy the Holidays… and I’ll probably purchase and install the new version of Lightwave before the end of the year (for tax purposes).

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:51 am

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April 23, 2020 : Lightwave 2020? I’m Considering It.

This week, New Tek announced the release of the newest version of Lightwave 3D, and I have to say… I’m thinking about getting it.

I don’t want to imply that I am floored with the new features. In fact, I have only skimmed what it has to offer. Some of it looks pretty cool, but honestly my usage of the program is pretty esoteric so I am not sure how much of it I would actually take advantage of. As it is, there is so much of the program already I don’t utilize.

That said, I realized it has been 5 1/2 years since my last purchased update, and I might be due for one. To be fair, I believe I went even longer before the previous update. Still, the $495 upgrade price is reasonable, plus I did a few extra freelance projects earlier in the year that will allow me to justify (as well as write off) the cost.

Either way, I probably won’t pull the trigger for another month or two; and I definitely won’t install anything until my current personal project is complete. Speaking of which, I have done next to nothing with that for the past nearly two months; but I do expect to have a little more time moving forward to resume work on it. I even looked at some of my notes earlier this week to remind myself where I left off – so stay tuned…

posted by Pi Visuals at 9:17 pm

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January 19, 2020 : After Effects In All Its Glory

The first half minute of the new short is moving along, and several sequences required a good deal of After Effects work. One particular shot that just wrapped up was particularly heavy, and I liked how it came out. As such, I decided to create a quick gif (note you might need to click on it to animate):

Lightwave and After Effects work is done for the first 35 seconds. Before animating new scenes, the plan is to add sound effects and review the overall pacing. I really want to make sure the flow works, particularly since the initial shots set up the rest of the story.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:37 am

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November 27, 2019 : Animation In Full Swing!

It’s not breakneck speed, but things are moving along with the new short. So much so, that my time has been devoted solely to animating – and any time in Lightwave is a welcome sight.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve made a concerted effort to spend an hour every day or two on the project. This has resulted in just over 17 seconds of material done. For a short expected to be just over two minutes, this is a decent chunk.

Now, it’s worth pointing out, the finished sequences have been pretty easy – mostly establishing shots, with only one person. Plus, they still need a fair amount of work in After Effects. However, I am pleased with the progress as I don’t have a hard deadline for the project.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:23 pm

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November 9, 2019 : My Struggles With Establishing Shots

I had a little time to work on the new short recently. Things are moving slowly, but that’s mostly due to other obligations (versus the difficulties of the project itself). Animation is about to kick-off – I am just tying some loose ends with Pre-Production.

The recent work has reminded me of my difficulties associated with Establishing Shots – in particular, what goes after them. If there is an exterior shot, which leads to an indoor scene, I struggle determining what shot to use after the establishing shot.

In many ways, this is a second establishing shot since it needs to set the table specific to the immediate upcoming actions. However, this should be quicker than the previous shot since you’re on the clock trying to grab/ keep the viewer’s attention.

Right now, I am finalizing some storyboards and running into that fine line between descriptive and excessive. It’s a fun exercise but can be stressful because of the importance in setting the table for the scene, which is the main focus for the story.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:50 am

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July 13, 2019 : UV Mapping

Slowly but surely, things are moving forward with the second character’s model. The modeling itself is almost done; but before I can take care of the rigging, I need to do some surfacing. This includes UV Mapping, something I am admittedly rusty at.

In the past, most of my projects reused a basic UV map for the face – needed to draw in the nostrils, ear marks, or chin shadows. My more recent models have moved away from this to image projections. Instead, this model will need some UV Mapping for the clothes. It isn’t all that complicated, but I still needed to look up a few things in order to refresh my memory on how to go about taking care of it.

That said, I am almost done with the the UV portion of the surfacing. After that, I need model the face components and tweak some colors… then I can take care of the rig.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:17 am

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June 14, 2019 : Reacquainted With The Node Editor

After a short (and planned) hiatus, things are moving forward again with the new short. Except for a few last minute tweaks, the rig for the first character is complete. This one took a little longer than the second will because I had re-familiarize myself with some of my ‘more recent’ updates to my master rig (‘more recent’ means only two years old).

This included work in the Node Editor, something I have always wanted to get better at but never seem to follow up. For the rig, the Node Editor was used to better handle the Edges of the facial features (Eyes, Brows, Nose, Mouth, etc.). Below was the node structure I had to duplicate:

To prevent future slowdowns, I spent extra time documenting the steps needed to set this part of the rig up – as well as detail the logic behind the methodology. As for the second character, the rigging should go more smoothly. However, I will have some additional modeling – something that will take more time but will be fun.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:11 pm

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May 24, 2019 : Some Good Old Fashioned Rigging

Production is moving along for the new short. In addition to some preliminary storyboarding, I have also finished modeling the first character. The next step is rigging the model in Layout, which I have begun:

The rig I will use for the short is very robust. Unfortunately, this means it’ll take some time to set up. Throw in the fact that I haven’t created a new rig in about two years, and I will need a little extra time to get things just right.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:30 pm

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