Life Forms and Lightwave

Q. I purchased the PowerPak motions for Lightwave. Is there a generic human model that I can download or you email to me so I can adjust my characters to fit the neutral skeleton scene. I am adjusting the character but have to go back and forth and this is taking a bit of time. If I had a generic model that fits the skeleton, I can open it in Modeler and adjust my character to your proportions in the background layer....this would greater help speed things up.

A. I would recommend using the Life Forms Studio 5.0 Demo, available here:

The simplest method to use is to build your mesh around the PowerPak skeleton. However, since you already have a skeleton built, you should map the PowerPak motion to your existing skeleton somehow. I recommend Life Forms to do so. The following is a quick and easy method and it should save you a lot of time.

Export the skeleton from Lightwave. Open your Lightwave character in Life Forms (LWS). Open the PowerPak motion in Life Forms, then copy all keyframes from the powerpak motion (Ctrl-C) and Paste (Ctrl-P) into the timeline of your Lightwave skeleton. The Joint Map Editor will pop up. This tool allows you to pick the joints that should match between the models, this is because you will undoubtedly have a different naming convention for the bones between the skeletons. Your skeleton is now animated in Life Forms. Then you can export and use the Merge option to bring the skeleton back into your Lightwave scene file. There is a batch converter in LifeForms that allows you to do this to a whole batch of motion files. Check out the Help files in Life Forms for more info on the batch converter.

Q. I can import the model from Lightwave into LifeForms and map motion onto the bones but afterwards when I bring the model back to Lightwave, the mesh model is either distorted or the bones don't line up with the mesh . What is the problem?

A. This usually occurs when importing your model back into Lightwave after mapping motion to your bones in Life Forms. What you need to do is to reset the bones within Lightwave before replacing the null object with the mesh object. After doing this, replace the null object and adjust the position and orientation of the mesh in the Lightwave Modeller module to line up the mesh object with the bones if they are out of alignment. 

Q. I've built a model in Lightwave but when I import it into Life Forms and map the motion onto it, the model is disoriented and the limbs are pointing in different directions than where they should be and the model moves awkwardly. What is going on?

A. This problem occurs when the joints of the model are not oriented correctly. To fix the problem, you much click on each joint and make sure that the orientation is correct by checking the Joint Axis indicator. Then you can begin to map motion onto the model. Also, it could be that your model rest position is different from that of the bones from the mocap file. For instance, Biovision skeletons have arms down and to the side. In order to fit the Mesh to the skeleton it helps to rotate the arms and thigh bones of the skeleton to the approximate position of the Mesh.

Q. My Lightwave model doesn't import into Life Forms correctly and sometimes not at all. What gives?

A. Make sure that the Lightwave model, is linked and it pivots set correctly, and its object names are unique with no special characters or spaces. Also, make sure objects are linked to one root object only and make sure that there is only one null object representing the root and that it is located at the pelvis of the skeleton. 

Q. I've tried unsuccessfully to import a LifeForms animation in Lightwave using the "merge bones" path. What's the problem?

A. If you have problems importing a Life Forms animation into Lightwave by the "exporting with Bones only" method, first determine whether you are having problems with actually opening the file in Lightwave or getting the motion to map onto the character. By exporting from Life Forms with this option, only the bones with the mapped motion will be displayed in the scene so you will need to replace the null or root object with the mesh model you created. Make sure you reset your bones before doing this. Also, before you actually map the motion onto the skeleton in Life Forms, you should created a keyframe of the skeleton in it's original rest position first. That way when you reimport your skeleton, it will line up with the original mesh rest position.   

Q. I have got into the program and am having a few problems. I would like to use the animation data from the PowerMoves CD for a model I have made for internet use. This model is a single mesh LWO; built in Lightwave 6.x. Unfortunately I have just found out that the program cannot copy the animation data to Lightwave bones. I can get the animation data out of LifeForms and into Lightwave at the correct scale for my mesh but am having a real problem 'skinning' the mesh to these bones. The mesh that I have built is in a neutral pose and therefore deforms incorrectly as the animations do not begin in neutral position. What can I do?

A. Regarding your problem with mapping motion onto your Lightwave bones, you can adjust the skeleton's pose in the first frame within LifeForms to match that of the neutral pose of your Lightwave mesh and set a key frame at that frame. Then this keyframe would blend to the Powermoves animation that you paste to the skeleton.
Then you can map this animation onto your model in Lightwave the same way you did before and the skeleton should match the neutral pose of your mesh.   

Q. The problem is this: I'm using Lightwave running on Mac and Life Forms. If I use a model (Lightwave) and move the Scene file (lws) and the object files (lws) into my personal folder architecture than from the one I originally saved in from Lightwave, LifeForms is not able to handle the new individualized folder architecture.
Now the idea of Lightwave is to be able to individualize your content architecture so you can have Scene files and object files on a different hard drive, etc. Can you correct Life Forms to support this?

A. Download and install the new Life Forms 3.9 for Lightwave plugin for Mac from our website. It should be able to fix this problem. 

Q. I've found that LifeForms 3.5/3.9 is unable to import the new LW6 layered geometry format. Is there a way to fix this?

A. Download and install the new LifeForms 3.9 for Lightwave plugin from our website. It should be able to fix this problem.

Q. I own a copy of LifeForms Studio 3.5. I have been using it with Lightwave5.6 and now have Lightwave 6.x. I see you have a plugin update for LW[6.x]

  • What does the new plugin LifeForms 4.0 for Lightwave plugin enable?
  • Can LifeForms 3.5 use the new LW[6] plugin?
  • Does LifeForms 3.5 work OK with LW[6] without using the new plugin?
  • If using LifeForms 3.9 or 4.0 ,does the new LW[6] plugin also work with LW6.5?

A. To answer your questions, the current plugin download allows LifeForms to better handle Lightwave 6's geometry and animation data. It also allows LifeForms to handle Lightwave 6's multiple layer geometry format. The current plugin does work with LifeForms 3.5 which you will definitely need if you want it to work with Lightwave 6/6.5. With the plugins, LifeForms 3.5 should work fine with Lightwave 6 and 6.5. The new Lightwave plugin update is available for download from our website's support page.