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In LightWave 10 Essential Training, author Dan Ablan provides thorough, step-by-step instructions on building 3D models, scenes, and animations in LightWave 10. Beginning with a tour of the interface and LightWave's two main programs, Modeler and Layout, the course covers key concepts such as building models from basic polygonal shapes, assigning textures, and employing lights and 3D cameras to build real world scenes. Also included are tutorials explaining particle animation, dynamics, and bones. Exercise files accompany the course.
Creating an animation in LightWave might not be as hard as you think. To do so, we're going to start with simply just the camera. We're not going to put any objects in the scene. You're going to see how simple this is. I've set my Timeline to 300 frames, giving me a ten second animation. I've got my Camera selected and I'm looking at it from a Perspective view. I'm going to start at frame 0 and I make sure that my Auto Key is on. So what happens is anywhere I move my Timeline, whenever I move that camera, or a light, or an object, it will be recorded in that time space. So I'm going to start over here.
I'm just going to move my camera up by clicking and dragging on the green handle, and let's say I want to go all the way to the back of the frame about 150. Okay, now here is a little trick that I use for creating animations. I set up my final resting spot or at least half way if there is a big turn. So I want the camera to jump down the frame and then come back. So I'm actually going to grab the blue handle and push it all the way down. What you're going to see is this little motion path that's created. That will actually determine and show you how that camera is moving.
You will also notice that there is a little yellow mark where the 150 is. That means a keyframe has automatically been created, and at frame 300, I want it to be back at 0. Well, instead of just moving it back to 0, because I want it to be at the exact same place. Here is little trick. I'll come back to frame zero, and then I'll hit Create Key. I am creating a key for the Selected Item At-- well, not at zero, but at 300. And I want it to be for the Position, the Rotation, and the Scale of that item.
So while I had the camera already set as a keyframe at frame zero, I want to copy that keyframe, so I'm simply just going to add existing position, then hitting Create Motion Key, and telling it make that same position at 300. And what happens is this. If I hit the Play button, the camera moves forward at 150 and then comes back. It's exciting, isn't it? And then of course, the animation starts over. Well, let's say in between that, I needed to move my camera left or right.
Perhaps this light, let's go to frame zero. Perhaps this light is in the way and we want the camera to pass around it. I am going to move up my view just a little bit. Back to the camera. So my light's in the way, and it needs to just kind of pass around that. How would we do that? Well, if I try to guess what frame I need to move beyond this light just to move around it, I probably would be wrong, and what would happen is the camera would move at a certain speed, and then kind of jerk around the light, and then perhaps move too slow.
But by setting the first keyframe and then the last keyframe, the computer has interpolated those frames in between. So now I know that right here is frame 53. That's a little bit arbitrary and most likely I would have keyframed it 40 or 50, or 45, something more even. So I'm just going to select frame 53, and then I'm going to grab the green handle and pull the camera aside. But what you're going to see is that the motion path automatically starts going to that next keyframe. So at frame zero, I am starting out and then it's going right to 53.
Well, I want it to stay in a straight line until it gets close to the light and then passes around it. So right about here is where I would need it to start coming out around the light. So I'm just going to move to that frame, select the right-handle here, and just pull that over, and now you can see I'm straightening out that Timeline and the camera comes and moves around slowly. But keeps the same motion path, keeps the same constant motion. And by the same token you can come to the backside of it, right about here, and then just move that back in place.
So now I've created not a very complex animation, but something with little motion. If I wanted to do a little bit more perhaps at frame 53, I can grab the green handle and pull that up, or I can select Rotate and I can give it a little bank, so that when I go back to frame zero by hitting the Rewind button down here. Hit the Play button to the right. It starts banking around the camera. If I go to the very last frame at frame 300, I can even rotate it this way.
What happens is that the computer does its best job to interpolate. So you see it already has an angle going into that last frame. So it's not very hard to set up keyframes in LightWave. But let's say you wanted to move one of these. There is a little trick here. If you move your arrow right above this Timeline, you'll see a little arrow pop up, kind of looks like a little Christmas tree. If you click that, you're going to see an additional Timeline. What that allows you to do is select over any of these keyframes and you can move them by clicking and dragging. You could select one of them, right- click, and you can copy those keys, paste those keys, delete them, and that's the same Delete Key you're going to see right here as well.
But a lot of times you might just want to adjust and it's quickly added to your Timeline just like that. So now things happen a little bit differently. And I can take this keyframe here and maybe I want it to instead of 150, get down to the back at a 139, and maybe I don't want it to happen at 300. Maybe I want it to come back to the front really fast. So I'll just click and drag that keyframe up to 180. Watch what happens now. So the same motion path happens here. Watch how quick it comes back.
Just like that, I was able to edit the keyframes quite easily. So working with the timeline is not that hard. A lot of times you're going to just worry about the numbers, and you shouldn't. Worry about what you see in the motion, and if it doesn't feel right, tweak it a little bit and the way you can tweak it is with this additional timeline above the regular timeline. You can always close that out just by clicking back on it to keep your interface neat. So, creating keyframes works very well with Auto Key. It can be used for lights, for objects, and for cameras, as well as surface properties, color values, and many other things throughout LightWave.
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