LW-LINK 2021

Introduction

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My LW-link script for Vegas Pro 17 automates part of your workflow so you can focus on the creative aspects during development of your story, and translate ideas into an efficient production. Save time and money by reducing the amount of disapproved scenes on the floor of your edit suite.

This .NET script is readable and easy to edit with a text editor. Modify it to suit your needs.



GATEWAY TO YOUR PROJECT FILES

Quickly access your creative project files from the NLE timeline to turn your inspiration into ideas. Adjust layout and lighting, add blocking suggestions, and refine your animation without the usual distractions. Simply select a Media Event, hit Backspace to run the LW-link script, and you will be guided to your destination and back again, to your NLE with an updated Take for the same event you selected.

Combined with the Legato plugin for LightWave the LW-link script also transfers data from media-related markers and regions, as well as timeline-related markers and regions. Use them to add comments for suggestions or improvements, to mark important triggers, to isolate motion or poses.

LW-link for Vegas Pro provides a data link between NLE and the Lightwave Layout application, the animation environment. It can create, prepare, access, or preview your Lightwave 2020 & NRC / SynthEyes / Krita / Reason / Fusion project files from the NLE timeline. Animation scene settings are derived from the Vegas project settings, for easy setup.

The best news is that the LW-link script is readable. Modify it to suit your needs! So there is absolutely no problem if you have different applications for the same type of jobs.


FLEXIBLE WORKFLOW WITH BUILT-IN ASSISTANT

Start developing your story with tekst only, or a few dialog audio events, some sketches and photo or an empty event (it links to a Lightwave project file without background image or audio). Anything that could help you to iterate the timeline into something meaningful.

Continue refining your story with proxy or final video to experiment with the best locations and clearest staging, test the mood designs and adjust dominant shapes, colors, fabrics, arrangements, and atmospheric lighting that supports the story.

Add markers and regions per clip or per timeline, to remind the animator of specific storybeats and developments during important actions. Balance the rhythm and pace of your story to avoid unnecessary animation and rendering - that's the expensive part of your production.

The current LW-link script can recognize new events that are based on PSD/PNG/JPG image sources, and will ask you how to process them: open them in Krita, or treat them as a backplate for your animation.

No matter how you've named these files, LW-link expects a next version to have a 3-digit sequence number at the end of the filename. If you send a source image to Krita (or any other painting application) a dialog will popup with the filename you should use. The advantage of this method is that you don't have to close Krita to continue in Vegas. Simply hit the OK button and LW-link will search for that file. When available, it will be added to the current event as a new take. So earlier versions remain perfectly accessible.

Ready for the next step? Continue the process by bringing background plates (still or moving) to your animation environment, along with speech and important sound effects. You probably need them for synchronization.

To prepare a new 3D scene, LW-link generates the backplates in 3 distinct qualities - Legato has 3 quick presets for this, to balance between playback speed and visual details during animation. LW-link automatically adds a 25 frame shot-handle at the start and at the end. Depending on your timeline, as spare frames or to embed the shot as a reference. All this is added to a new LightWave 2020 LWS scene file, using animation scene settings derived from the Vegas project settings. Basically everything has been setup so you can immediately enter the layout phase. So go ahead and decorate the scene, and place lights, props, and characters.

If you need to match-move a camera shot, LW-link has a separate workflow to send uncompressed images to SynthEyes (or any other match moving application) and receive undistorted and/or stabilized footage in return. If you include a border, you can always re-distort the animated footage to match the features of the original footage. Of course you need to do this before preparing a 3D scene. In Layout, use command Load Items From Scene to retrieve the final solve of the motion envelopes of both the camera and its zoom lens. Sometimes you can even add the solved position and direction of light sources.

Another interesting option is to render an isolated part of your timeline audio to a new audio file (including handles at the start and at the end), and send it to your digital music studio software like Reason or any DAW.

For example to use it as a sample for an instrument or a sequencer, add pitch correction, or you could distort it with a vocoder or any other MIDI device in your digital rack.

After initial setup of your media event, the main dialog is presented upon triggering LW-link for events that have a valid link to a LightWave scene file. This link is stored in the TapeName data field, in the Event Properties dialog. A backup link is kept with the event as a hidden parameter. In case a different link is detected you still have the option to restore it.

Add the main story events and emphasize expressive pose accents for the main character, opponent and sidekick. Initially, you should animate them roughly, without wasting too much time on details that could be stripped down at a later stage. When ready (or whenever you need a coffee break), render a preview. When you exit Layout, LW-link will search for the preview AVI or image sequence, as defined in your LWS scene file, and adds it to the selected event as a new take.

Keep refining your shots by pushing the expressions of your characters even further, remove technical glitches.

If you have changed any marker or region in Vegas, you can update them in Legato with the VERSION++ button. Timeline markers and regions (Director) to the top of the graph area of the Legato interface. Media markers and regions (Animator) to the bottom of the graph area of the Legato interface. You can use them in Legato to move/stretch the timing of entire hierarchies, rubber band style. The markers and regions at the bottom can follow the modifications of the markers and regions at the top. By default, Vegas markers and regions are protected in Legato. Legato markers and regions are linked to the Hierarchy Master item. Combined with the Operation Mode, the actually affected items are being filtered. This way you avoid getting a huge amount of unnecessary keys.

Show your story reel to different test audiences. Encourage them to be critical and let them question every aspect, both 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 maybe your intentions do not come out very well. Whatever happens, never argue. Always learn from their perspective. Sometimes a small adjustment makes a huge difference.

The events on the NLE 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.

Tell your story as efficiently and as entertainingly as possible. Remove exaggerated explanation that underestimates your audience. In this project phase, adjustments are still relatively cheap.





IMAGE & DATA EXCHANGE

What has been implemented in LW-link 2021 so far?

What happens when you select an Event on the timeline and run the LW-link script, preferably via a keyboard shortcut, depends on an important data field Tape name, as can be found in the Event Properties, tab Media.
Tape name is an editable text field that LW-link exploits to store the path to a LWS scene file.

Each Event Take has its own version of the Tape name, making it extremely handy for version management. For example to make the transition from concept text + moodboard → storyboard → backplates → animation layout → animation blocking → animation refining → color correction and final version.


VEGAS ⇄ LIGHTWAVE

For LightWave 2020 with the Legato plugin applied, LW-link renders AVI files in 3 distinct qualities, each with a different effect on playback speed. The files are named after Active take name as can be found in the Event Properties, tab Video Event.

In return, LW-link checks availability of an updated preview version of the LWS scene file, as a PNG- or EXR Image Sequence or AVI file in the ./Renders directory, also named after Active take name + sequence number.

When dealing with LightWave, the Tape name will reflect the path to the (.lws) project file.

Bidirectional.
Multi-select aware once initialized, handled serially.

To initialize each LightWave animation, you must select one Video event, or one Image event, or one Audio event, or one Video + one Audio event, or one Image + one Audio event. Created from a file or generated by Vegas Pro (text, patterns).


VEGAS → NRC

LW-link generates a (.nrc) render task text file for each selected Event that has a valid link to a (.lws) scene file.

When dealing with NRC, the Tape name remains unchanged.

Unidirectional.
Multi-select aware, handled serially.


VEGAS ⇄ SYNTHEYES

LW-link renders an image sequence, named after Active take name as can be found in the Event Properties, tab Video Event.

In return, LW-link checks availability of an Undistorted (and/or Stabilized) version of the backplates, generated by SynthEyes, as a PNG- or EXR Image Sequence or AVI file in the ./Undistorted directory, also named after Active take name. In general, you want the LightWave scene file to use the Undistorted (and/or Stabilized) version of the backplates to match the path of the solved camera.

In case you need to redistort your animation to match the physical lens distortion in the original backplates, you need to preserve all image data by adding a border to the Undistorted backplates.

Do not use Stabilization in SynthEyes if you intend to match the motion blur caused by camera motion.

Never use in-camera stabilization as it will ruin your options for a successful match-move result.
Use (electro-)mechanical stabilization instead, especially if the camera sensor does not have a global shutter.

When dealing with SynthEyes, the Tape name remains unchanged.

Bidirectional.
Multi-select aware, handled serially.


VEGAS ⇄ KRITA

LW-link recognizes a single PSD, EXR, PNG or JPG image file as Krita compatible and asks about your intentions. If you agree to send it to the Krita painting application, the path to that file is copied to the Tape name data field for the next time, and opens Krita with that file or sends the file to Krita if it is already running in the background. While waiting for an update, LW-link shows a dialog with the expected updated filename. As soon as you confirm, it will verify existence of that file and adds it as a new take to the selected event. This mechanism avoids shutting down the Krita application for each update.

In return, LW-link checks availability of an updated version of that image in the same directory. You need to manually add a sequence number to the new filename (if it isn't there yet) or add 1 to an existing sequence number. For example ./myImage_v007.psd becomes ./myImage_v008.psd etc.

When dealing with Krita, the Tape name will reflect the path to the updated image file. Every time you run LW-link, you have to option to convert the image to a backplate for a LightWave scene.

Bidirectional.
Single-selected events only.


VEGAS → REASON

LW-link renders an audio track, named after Active take name as can be found in the Event Properties, tab Video Event. The audio track includes a 25 frame handle at the start and at the end. After rendering, LW-link opens a new Reason project with the rendered audio track applied to Reasons timeline.

When dealing with Reason, the Tape name will reflect the path to the (.reason) project file.

Unidirectional.
Single-selected events only.

WARNING: multi-selected events will render the first selected event into an audio track for a new LWS scene file. The second audio event will only be audible in the end-handle, typically limited to 25 frames.


VEGAS → FUSION

This function still needs to be adapted to the NRC environment in LW-link 2021.



TO BE CONTINUED



Copyright © 2005- by V.D. Mesman, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, EU. All rights reserved.