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© Copyrights 2005-2018 by V.D. Mesman
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, EU







  lw-link 2018





GENERAL

This plugin for Vegas Pro provides a data link between my NLE and the Lightwave Layout application. It can create/access/preview your (Lightwave/ScreamerNet/SynthEyes/Reason/Fusion) project files from your NLE for quick adjustments and on-the-timeline preview, between the other clips.

Start developing your story with some dialog audio events, some sketches and photo or an empty event (it links to a Lightwave project file without background image or audio).

Continue refining your story with proxy or final video to experiment with the best locations and clearest staging, ensure distinct personalities, test the mood designs, add the main story events and emphasize pose accents.

Show your story reel to a critical test audience. Encourage them to be critical and let them question every aspect, generalities and details. Then listen and make notes about its strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that their criticism sometimes feels personal or unnecessary or your intentions do not come out well. Whatever happens, never argue. Always learn from their perspective.

These NLE events on the timeline, combined with the NLE project settings, help defining initial project settings for the practical stuff: match-moving, animation, lip-sync, music, rendering, and compositing.

LW-link is all about generating LWS scene files from the NLE-timeline, based on audiovisual content like photo's, video, speech and music.
Links to audio and visual sources are automatically set in the LWS scene file for lip-sync and image backgrounds.
Many Lightwave 3D project parameters (like in-/out-point, frame-rate, frame aspect/size) already reside in the NLE project. Instead of defining these parameters again and again for each LWS scene file, LW-link uses them to generate the LWS file.

When updating the LWS scene file, the file is being cloned and renamed using the same filename with an updated serial number. This makes LW-link safe to use and it's easy to revert to a previous version in case of emergency.


FEATURES

LW-link supports a number of activities in your 3D production:
  1. PREPARE A SHOT FOR LIGHTWAVE/REASON/SYNTHEYES

    • It renders a selected video clip for matchmoving and opens it in SynthEyes. Optionally it also handles the (25 frames) shothandles from the timeline before and after the clip, as a reserve during the animation process.

    • It renders selected audio-, image- and video clips and generates my initial Lightwave 3D LWS scene file with relevant project/clip parameters correctly setup - it sends Markers and Regions from the media event and from the timeline to a dedicated part of the Legato plugin data section

    • It stores a link in the event properties to my 3D project file and opens this LWS scene file in Lightwave 3D

    • It instantly shows the shot changes on the timeline after scanning for updated output files, as defined in its LWS scene file, and automatically adds a take to the media event

    • It updates Markers and Regions from the media event and from the timeline to a dedicated part of the Legato plugin data section

  2. OPEN THE LINK IN LIGHTWAVE OR REASON

  3. OPEN THE LINK IN SYNTHEYES

  4. SYNC NLE TIMELINE TO LIGHTWAVE PROJECT

  5. RENDER WITH SCREAMERNET
    It renders multiple selected (Lightwave 3D) media events with ScreamerNet optionally using a common render preset.

  6. SCAN OUTPUT IMAGE SEQUENCES
    It detects existing streams that have been specified in the LWS scene file and places them in the Vegas Pro bin.

  7. OPEN COMPOSITION IN FUSION



VEGAS PRO CLIP PROPERTIES

As you can see here, LW-link stores the filepath to the LWS scene file in the Tape name field. The name section of that file is actually derived from the Event name field (on the Video Event tab in the Properties dialog).


Clip Properties in Vegas Pro

LW-link clones the specified LWS filepath from the editable event.tapename parameter to the (hidden) event.name parameter as a backup, so LW-link can take proper action.
  • FIELD DATA ERASED
    • LW-link can restore the field data
    • LW-link can clear both fields permanently to reset the event

  • FIELD DATA RENAMED
    • LW-link can re-link to the new LWS filepath
If you clone the event itself, the tapename field data remains the same.
This can be a disadvantage if you want multiple cuts or versions based on the same media. You actually need to clone the source media in order to link to a different 3D scene. The advantage is that you're certain that there can be only one project per media file.


NEW LINK DIALOG


New Link dialog of LW-link

Select a media event and launch the LW-link plugin.
The New Link dialog pops up. If you choose to prepare for SynthEyes first, this dialog will also appear the seconds time.

Prepare (audio or video or image) for Lightwave or (audio for) Reason.
LW-link generates:
  • Background Image clips (movie or single image) in different qualities and an Audio clip for lip-sync, including 25 frames additional media (the Shot handles) at the start and the end of the selected event.

  • A version 2018 LWS scene file, including a plugin data section for my Legato plugin.
If you need Lightwaves legacy format (version 2015 and older), in the LW-link.js plugin file you should swap function BuildNewLWscene2018(...) with function BuildNewLWscene2015(...) with a text editor.

The script is readable text so it's easy to make adjustments. For instance if you use different external applications or if you want different defaults or presets.

Prepare (video) for SynthEyes.
Matchmoving, undistortion and shot solving should be performed before generating the LWS scene file.

If you put the SynthEyes project file, undistorted image sequence and solved LWS scene file in predictable directories and filenames on your drive, LW-link will find it and clone its Background Image settings and Camera settings + motion to the new LWS scene file (while preparing for Lightwave).


MAIN DIALOG

The main dialog is displayed after LW-link generated a LWS scene file or if you manually assigned the media event to an existing LWS scene file, in the Tape name field of the Event Properties dialog of Vegas Pro.


Main dialog of LW-link

Select an event on your NLE timeline and launch LW-link. The main dialog pops up. The event.name is in the titlebar. The number of valid links found in the selected events is presented in the top-left.

OPEN in LightWave
Simply press Enter on your keyboard or click on the first button, labeled OPEN in LightWave, in order to send the LWS scene filepath to the Lightwave Layout application.

MATCH MOVE in SynthEyes
Click this button if you ignored your first possibility to prepare the shot for match-moving, or if you want to open your existing match-move project for refinements.

SYNC timeline to LW
Marker- and region definitions from the timeline or from the media are written to a special NLE part in the Legato plugin data section. They are protected and are stored separate from Legato's internal markers and regions.
LW-link can only overwrite the NLE part. Legato can only convert the protected markers/regions into internal (Global) versions.

RENDER with ScreamerNet
Opens the ScreamerNet Quality Settings dialog that handles just-in-time parameter adjustments for all selected events.
You may save or load preset files, and define if you want to render All Events At Once or One Event After Another
The OK button sends the LWS filenames of the selected events to multiple ScreamerNet processes.

Besides that I'm experimenting in Legato Remote Control to be able to split render jobs, by slicing the output image into
multiple segments, using Limited Region. It has also an experimental implementation of a render farm.
Both LW-link and Legato have their own implementation of Render Profiles. I soon hope to synchronize these different methods.

SCAN for sequences
As soon as the first images are rendered by ScreamerNet, you can scan the designated output filepaths (as defined in the LWS scene files) for actually existing files. Found media will be shown in the media bin so you can drag them to their event and use Add as Take for easy access. From that moment on, you can drag the timeline cursor and watch live updates from the ScreamerNet processes. The output is black at unavailable frame files.

COMPOSITE in Fusion
LW-link can scan version 2015 LWS files for output file sequences and generate a (readable) Fusion project file with one Loader for each sequence.


RENDER PROFILES

This method has been developed with LightWave 11. Since then it has not been tested with LW2015 or LW2018.


ScreamerNet Quality Settings dialog of LW-link

I'm considering an improved method that combines the
Render Profile methods in Legato with the ScreamerNet Quality Settings methods in LW-link. Also, LW2018 (and even LW2015) has more advanced features to render buffers into separate layers.

Another idea is to start with a renderfarm in Legato Remote Control, because it has more space in the user interface, and it already has the segmentation feature to split a single-frame render into a matrix of render jobs, depending on the number of desired render targets.

A new system should be able to work without running the NLE software in the background, consuming resources.


CAMERA SWITCHING

At this moment I'm developing a new method for camera switching within a single shot, to simplify handling of multi-cam shots.

The proposed procedure is something like this:
  1. Add some camera's to your LWS scene file.

  2. Copy the Tape name data field, for instance:
    "S:/myProjectDir/Scenes/myEventName.lws"

  3. Paste the copied text into the Tape name data field of a new empty event on the timeline

  4. Append startframe and camera name to this data field, for instance:
    "S:/myProjectDir/Scenes/myEventName.lws@startframe#cameraname"
The advantage: there is only one LWS scene file (for a sequence of shots) with maximum continuity.






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