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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.
Setting up a simple scene like this doesn't require too much organization, but the organization process of a 3D scene is always important, no matter how big or small a scene can be. Let's open up the Scene Editor. So over here on the very left and it doesn't matter which tab you are in, you are always going to see the Scene Editor. When you click this, you are going to see Open, New Instance ,and Classic Scene Editor. Let's start with the Classic. This is the one I use most. What this does, it gives you an overview of your scene as well as your timeline.
I am going to expand this out. And what this will allow you to do is organize your scene in a variety of ways. First of all, we can see the hierarchy of our scene. We can see here is our Ground object, and we can slide this around if we want and move it and parent it to other items simply by dragging it. I can open and close the hierarchy of items. So you can see here that we've got our first cup and the cap that belongs to it, the second cup that we've cloned and the cap that belongs to it, and the third cup and the cap that belongs to it. Our Light, our Camera, everything else.
The checkmark here will determine what renders. So if you've got something in your scene such as maybe that center cup right there and you don't want it to render, you can just uncheck it and you can see it just disappeared right there. It doesn't mean you deleted it. Just it turns off the visibility, because don't forget this Virtual Preview Render that I am showing here is an actual render of your scene. This little eyeball icon, that will actually turn on a different kind of view for each one of your items. So I can say this one I want as a bounding box, this one I want as wireframe, and let's take our scene to a Shaded Solid, you could see what I am talking about here.
So now I have got bounding boxes, and this is really great if you've got a much more complex scene that you are working with. Sometimes a full wireframe might be too much data and you want just a bounding box, meaning just a representation of that to show up in your view. Sometimes just a Wireframe, and you can change it to Shaded Solid here or Front Face Wireframes. Everything you do in here, it all depends on how complex your scene is and how much or how little is in your scene as well.
The Timeline here cannot be organized. Now we have not yet talked about animation but here you'll actually see the keyframes, meaning the time-in-space the motion path for each one of these items. You can select all objects in here, all cameras. You can choose different favorites, you can create a set, and all these are different ways to organize your scene. We could take different colors, just to organize it as well. And this is especially great if you are doing any kind of character work. So I can say all the base items of our models are blue and perhaps all the caps are white.
Our ground we don't want to see it that much. Maybe it's a black. So whenever it's not selected, it is going to be dark. So what I will do is change to my camera and you'll see that now I've got a ground. And let's just change the color here for the Ground object. We will make this black so that when it's not selected, that wireframe is black and kind of gets out of the way a little bit. So these are just visual things. They don't actually have anything to do with how your scene renders. The only thing that will is that checkmark.
These visibility things right here all determine how you look in your OpenGL. Lastly is the Audio. Here you can load an audio file and use this as a timing base for your animation. Let's close out the Scene Editor. The other Scene Editor is a newer one. A lot more complex. This one is more of a spreadsheet format and also if you have ever heard term dope sheet, you will see that here as well. This is greatly use for character animation, so that you can really move your timing around.
Select Sections, right-click, and you can do a lot of different offsets. You can erase keyframes, put in gaps, delete, cut, and so on. So if you have got a more complex animation and if you had series of keyframes that run throughout, you can use the Dope Sheet to edit those. You can also look at the Property tab and any of your animations or objects that have certain variables set up, you can copy and paste those all within the Property tab. So if you look, you can click this top value here, you can see there are all kinds of options that you can choose from.
You can view different channels, look at basic surfaces, look to the alpha channels, look at different effects or resolutions. All of that's controllable in here. Again, this is not one that I use personally too often, but it will work great if you are doing a lot of character animation and it's one that you can use as well. You can do the surfaces in your scene and what are their names. So we have a Coffee_Cup, Coffee_Cup_Lid. Those are the surfaces for that object. We can look at the Ground surface and we can look at the motion channels. Every channel has an X, Y, and Z position, heading, bank and pitch for the rotation, and a Scale X, Y, and Z. You can look at each one of those and if there's keyframe setup for the motion, you will see those in here and you can edit them.
So a quite nice way to work. So the Scene Editor is a great place to organize your scene. What I like to do in the Classic Scene Editor is I like to use this for parenting, and it's very easy to take all of these items and parent them together. So let's do a little project real quick. I am going to move by Scene Editor over and I'm going to my Items tab and from the Add category, I am going to add a Null object and a Null object doesn't render. It's just a little reference you can use to parent things, to target a camera, or to group.
So I'll call this CupMASTER, like that. Before I do, I can open up the Edit dropdown and here I can choose a shape for this, like a pyramid or a diamond. I can choose the axis, I can choose the scale, how large it is. If it's filled or not. And I will call this MASTER, like that. We will say make sure it's the same, call it CupMASTER. And you can draw a line to a camera or one of the other objects if you want. We don't need to. The Selected Color, we can make it that bright yellow one it selected.
The Unselected Color, we can make it kind of a nice soft nondescript color. Text Color can be yellow as well, just something very bright that we can see it, and the opacity of it. If you click OK, what happens is not only that you have a nice item in there, and let me come back here to a Perspective view and I'll change to a Shaded view so you can see it. There is my CupMASTER right there and what can I do with that? Well, here it is in my Scene Editor and I am going to click and drag it up, and then I am going to select layer (1), layer (2) and layer (3).
All three cups, you can see them there. I am going to click, hold the mouse, and I am going to drag, but as I drag, see this white bar? I am going to make sure it indents, just like that. So it's underneath it and now when it indents it's actually parented to the master. You can see a little arrow pops up. So if I open and close this arrow and I see those underneath, now I know the parenting works. So that means this hierarchy of this cup now belongs to this MASTER. So if I want to move all of these objects around, all I've got to do now is click the MASTER and all of those cups move. It works quite well.
Great way to organize your scene , and again that doesn't render. If I put on the virtual preview, it doesn't render. It's just a null object. It's just there to reference other objects. So now I have got a whole parent for that and taking it a step further, if I went to Items and I hit CloneHierarchy for that CupMASTER, like this, what will happen, let me get back here to a Shaded view. Now I have got CupMASTER (2) and look what's beneath it.
A whole section of cups already cloned. So not only did we have CupMASTER (1) with 3 cups underneath, now we have CupMASTER (2) and we have a whole another clone. Get back to Perspective View by pressing 4. A whole other clone of those cups. I am going to put it over off to the side. You can rotate the cluster and very easily create randomized objects. Trees, bushes, debris, garbage.
Press 6 to get back to your camera and now I have got more cups back there. Just like that. So parented them all to a cluster and then we clone them, gives us more, and then you can of course size that cluster. Just press Shift+H, you can size that up. So a lot of possibilities with that. So organizing your scene is not that hard. A lot of it can be done all within the Scene Editor rather than in layout, because it gives you just a nice overview of how everything is looking.
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