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Previsualization with the Poser Pro Pack and LightWave

Plan your shoot better, even make storyboards and animatics By Jon Carroll
Sometimes it can be hard to get things "just right" for a shoot or figure out how you want to do things ahead of time, especially when you plan on positioning actors in front of a greenscreen for compositing. Even highly trained videographers sometimes have to "see how their lights will work" when lighting for a scene.

Curious Labs recently purchased rights to produce Poser from Metacreations and came out with Poser version 4, and added to it what they call the "Pro Pack," which makes several additions to Poser itself, along with supplying Poser scene/object import plugins for both NewTek's LightWave and Discreet's 3d studio max. Using this you can previsualize a bit of a scene in your 3d software and plan your shoot better... you can even use this to make storyboards and animatics for a scene.

First I built a decent approximation of our greenscreen ( a 9' wide roll of disposable greenscreen paper picked up at Mole-Richardson's studio expendables store in Hollywood, Studio Depot ) in LightWave. While it is to scale in LightWave, Poser's method of scaling is a bit different... when importing into Poser you have to scale the object by its "Percent of Standard Figure Size", as seen below. Since our greenscreen is usually set up along a standard hieght wall it should be about eight feet tall, and of course the width of the paper (nine feet) wide. Since their import method is a little odd, expect to finesse the sizing after you import it.

To do this, select your stage within Poser with the character model you intend to use loaded into the scene, as above, and you can use the dials on the right side of the screen to adjust the size or, if you prefer, select the sizing tool above the window and use it instead. Use whichever is comfortable and use the numeric inputs to lock it down.

Set up your scene within Poser, either using individual poses or fully animated if you like. You can approximate your framing now but remember that you'll be finishing it in Lightwave later, and that's where the framing and lighting will matter. When you save the scene for LightWave to import, if you used Poser's walk cycle editor to animate a walk, you will need to delete the path that the character walks along in order for the import to be successful. Also, be aware that when you load the scene in LightWave, the 'props' may not import with the characters and thus you will have to load them in again once inside LightWave. When you save the final Poser animation file (all the objects and animation data are contained within this file) save it to somewhere within your Lightwave content directory. When you open the Poser scene in LightWave, the LightWave plugin supplied with the Pro Pack will convert the entire Poser scene into a LightWave scene. Animated characters are handles by a displacement plugin, the application of which Poser will handle itself.

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Related Keywords:LightWave, Poser, 3D, animation


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