Introduction:  Timothy Albee's Facial Animation studio (TAFA) from Timothy Albee and Mac Reiter is a new program designed to allow the user to develop award winning lip-synch and facial animation. It takes the simple power of morphs and translates then into an even more powerful, single MorphMixer or .mdd file file. The natural design for TAFA is geared specifically towards facial animation plain and simple. Yet since it uses morphs any type of morphed object can be created and used for animation in TAFA. While testing this wonderful application I tried to think of everything I could to break it. Thus I came up with the idea to test complex non-facial models, morphs and animations. Instead of breaking TAFA I found a whole new universe of work TAFA is fantastic for. This first in a series of tutorials will begin to explain the basics of some of the expanded uses of TAFA. 

Iím going to assume you are pretty much a newbie to TAFA. Iím hoping you have gone through the manual (Help guide) which Mac spent A LOT of time working on. It includes a fantastic 'Getting Started' guide that is excellent. After going through it you pretty much have mastered 95% of TAFA. From there its just playing with it a little to become an expert. In other words in a single afternoon or two you can take something you may have never tried or you may already be an expert in and transcend your self to a level of productivity and creativity you would not have believed till you tried TAFA! 

In this first tutorial Iím not really going to walk you through something that is ripe for production. In fact its more of a, í Well thatís kinda cute but-----.Ď type of project. Trust me though, Iím doing this first one to introduce you to some of the techniques and methods which I will use in the subsequent tutorials. Since TAFA was not designed for single point work you have to do some creative thinking to get it to work. Plus I hope I can introduce, or at least re-introduce, you to a couple of cool tricks in LightWave.

1 - The first thing we need to do is to create something to play with. Since one potential use of what we are going to be building is for logo animation lets make an animated TAFA logo.

2 - So in Modeler open the 'Text' panel (Create->Text->Text, hit W) select a font to use. I'm keeping this simple and just using the Times New Roman font. If you don't have this one available in your drop down list or you want to use another font then you need to go to Create->Text->Manage Fonts (F10) and get the font(s) you want to work with.

Set Font to Times New Roman 
Alignment:  Center
Axis:          Z
Scale:        10
Corners:     Sharp

3 - We want more points to play with then just the few which we have now. We can easily fix this with the julienne tool. First, however, we need to extend the geometry to get julienne to work. So switch to Polygons mode and flip the geometry (hit - f).

4 - Using the Extrude tool (Multiple->Extend->Extrude, hit E) drag the text polys along the -Zaxis in your Right view port.

5 - Now select the julienne tool (Multiple->Subdivide->Julienne). Set the 'Axis' to 'X' and set 'Divisions to something like 70. You want a few divisions but don't over do it because we need some distance between points as you'll see shortly.

6 - Now rerun the Julienne tool and this time set the 'Axis' to 'Y' and 'Divisions' to '25'. This will give us a pretty symmetrical grid of points to work with.

7 - We really only need the front face points for this particular project so go ahead and switch back to 'Points' mode then select all of the points on the logoís front face. Cut the points (ctrl+x) and then delete everything else in the layer. Finally paste the points back in (ctrl+v). As I said we are only deleting all but the front facing points for this project but please don't think that this is a hard rule. As I'll show you in the next tutorial points in all 3 dimensions work just as well. Its just a matter of project design.

8 - Now hereís a trick which you must pay attention to. What we want is to take points which have been morphed and create a morph mixer or motion designer file to be carried over to Layout. We can then add hypervoxels to our points to make them renderable. TAFA is the perfect place to orchestrate our morph based animation. However at this current time TAFA will not let you see single points or single point polys. Its not that this is a short coming of TAFA after all it is designed to be an extremely powerful facial animation package. What we are doing here is using it to do something it was not initially designed to do. We just got lucky enough to have Timothy Albee and Mac Reiter design a tool that is so versatile. Thanks guys!!! So hereís the trick. We need to create a small proxy object that will stand in place of our points while we create the animation in TAFA. Later weíll come back and convert these proxy objects back into single points.

9 - In order to get this to work we need a small simple proxy object, how about a cube. On a new layer create a Box (Create->Primitives->Box, hit X) and make it so x, y, z are all 100 mm and centered on the x, y, z axis. Go ahead and sub-d it (why not it looks good and does no harm, but its not really needed.)

10 - I would also highly recommend creating a new surface (hit q) and give it a nice bright color to work with like red (rgb = 255, 0, 0). This is just for easy visibility in TAFA.

11 - Now hereís a limitation of using this method. We have created a proxy cube which we will clone every place a point is in our logo in just a few minutes. Later we will merge the box points to create the single points again. What we need is to make sure we have enough space between the points so that when we merge the cubes the only points that get merged are for those in each cube individually and not merge points in neighboring cubes.

12 - So just to be safe lets get rid of any points that could cause merging problems later by doing a merge now. Select merge (Detail->Points->Merge Points, hit m) change the 'Range' to 'Fixed'. Leave ' Keep 1-Point Polygons' active and set the 'Distance' to 150mm. Remember our curve is 100mm on a side so adding the extra 50 mm should provide us a big buffer zone. Hit OK.

13 - Now is a good time to save the object if you have not done so already. I have saved mine as TAFA_Logo.lwo.

14 - Our next feat is to create our morphs. There is another cool trick which we need to perform to get this to work and which maybe new to some of you. If so prepare to get excited this is one to remember. Since we desire to make morphs of our points but we need to have our proxy cubes stand in for our points we need to find an easy way to create our morphs with the cubes. Well unless you have a whole heck of a lot more patience and skill then I do, we can rule out moving the cubes by hand. Say hi to early retirement if thatís the route you decide to take. So whatís a starving artist to do. Well what if we create our future morphs on individual layers with just our points. Then what if we clone our cubes to each future-morphed layer. Now here comes the cool part. We can go to our original object, with the proxy cubes in place and start adding the modified layers as morphs to the main layer using the 'Background to Morph' tool. A little lost. No problem, trust me this is a lot easier and definitely more fun then it sounds.

15 - One other thing I'm going to show you are a few different modification, 'Modify' tools and some interesting tricks to get animations to flow smoothly with morphs but this is by no means an exhaustive end to what can be done. On the contrary this is just to wet your appetite to a brave new world of creativity which as I'll show you later has some real production environment applications!

16 - OK enough rambling. Grab a Red Bull, stretch your fingers and lets morph!

17 - First thing you want to do is make sure you get rid of the extra layers that the julienne tool created. I would suggest using the Layers panel to find and delete them (Windows->Layers Panel, hit F7). Next Cut/Paste (ctrl+x then ctrl+v) our cube to a distant layer so we have plenty of room to create all our morphs layers.

18 - The first couple of morphs we are going to create allows us to move from our text logo to a cloud of points. Copy (ctrl + c) the first layer which has all of the points for the logo. Now paste them into a the next layer.

19 - Move to the Modify tab where we are going to have a lot of fun time! Select the Jitter tool (Modify->Transform->Jitter). Change the settings to

Type:        Gaussian
Radius X:    2m
         Y:    2m
         Z:    2m
Hit OK.

20 - Copy and paste this layer into the next layer. Select the Jitter tool again and change the settings to;

Type:        Gaussian
Radius X:    4m
         Y:    4m
         Z:    4m
Hit OK

21 - Copy and paste this layer into the next layer. Select the Jitter tool again and change the settings to;

Type:        Normal
Radius X:    6m
         Y:    6m
         Z:    6m
Hit OK

22 - OK, why did I do all of this and not just create the final morph. Patience little grasshopper, patience, TAFA is good, TAFA is wise, TAFA is all powerful and we can do some real magic if we give it the right ingredients! Oh by the way save now, save often. Trust me it always in the most unexpected and inconvenient time that something will go wrong and you'll loose everything. Lets not support the drug companies more then we need to :)

23 - Now back to creating more morphs. Copy the newest layer to a new layer. I would suggest moving it to the first spot in the next bank of 5 layers. You'll see a little wisdom in this later. Now lets create some morphs which compact our points into a smaller, more coherent cloud. After playing with this I think we need a new tool called gravity to help with this. But for now lets try this, select the Centered Scale tool (Modify->Transform->Centered Scale) and set the Factor to 0.75

24 - Copy and paste this layer into the next layer and repeat the Centered Scale Tool with the same settings as last time. This time lets also select the Centered Stretch tool (Modify->Transform->Centered Stretch). Set it to Axis: X Factor 0.75 Hit OK.

25 - Copy and paste this layer into the next layer and repeat both the Centered Scale and Centered Stretch modifications as you did in the last step. Thatís enough of this morph series. Please notice and remember all we did here was shrink things in towards the center. Save your work!

26 - Copy and paste this into the first spot in the next bank of 5 layers.

27 - Now lets do a little tornado like effect. First we need to start stretching some points up. What I'm going to do here is use the Magnet tool (Modify->Translate->Magnet, hit : ) In the back or right view port place the tool towards the lower portion of points and while holding the mouse button down drag down just a little bit.

28 - Now move all of the points up towards the axis origin (Modify->Translate->Move, hit t). This will allow the tornado to grow up and not down. Just my choice even if nature does build one from the top down.

29 - While still on this layer select the Vortex tool (Modify->Rotate->Vortex) Go up to the top view port and center the crosshairs of the tool on the origin and with the right mouse button pressed down drag the tools circle out till all points are encompassed within the circle.

30 - Press the left mouse button and drag the mouse to along the -x axis and notice the points rotating. Keep moving (rotating) the points till the mid-points rotate about 90 degrees. Deselect the Vortex tool.

31 - Copy and paste this layer into the next layer. Select the Magnet tool and again grab the lower points and drag them down a little but. Note if the tool is not working the way you want it/expect it to, right mouse click and enlarge the sphere of influence in both the back and right view ports then try dragging the points. When your done with the Magnet tool. Move the points back up towards the origin and select the Vortex tool and rotate it some more by moving the mouse from the center along the -x axis.

32 - Repeat the last step one more time.

33 - Copy this layer into the next layer and just use the Vortex tool. Don't forget to increase the size of the tools influence to get all of the points to rotate. Repeat this process 5 - 6 more times. Just go ahead and fill up all 10 of these layer banks.

34 - We are now done with the vortex morphs. Save, get the point yet?

35 - So far we have been copying and pasting the last worked on morph into the next layer to act as the starting point for the next morph but we don't have to work this way. Lets jump back to Layer 4 which is the last layer we created with the Jitter tool. Copy and Paste it into the next free bank. Lets play with another cool, but little known tool, Wrap Sphere.

36 - The first thing we want to do is shrink our cloud a bit so we don't create so much motion from just one morph. So go back to our new friends 'Centered Scale' and set the Factor to 0.5 this time. Plus select the Centered Stretch tool, keep the x-axis and set the Factor to 0.5.

37 - You know what to do next, copy and paste into a new layer. Anybody getting carpel tunnel yet? Now select the Wrap Sphere tool (Modify->Transform->Wrap Sphere) and set it to

Inner Radius:  4m
Outer Radius:  6m
Points:           All
Hit OK

38 - Lets do something a little more fun here. Copy and paste into a new layer. Select the Jitter tool and change the settings to:

Type:       Radial
Range:      6m
Center      0, 0, 0.
Hit OK

39 - Copy and Paste into a new layer. Use the Wrap Sphere and set it to

Inner Radius:   5m
Outer Radius:  6m
Points:           All
Hit OK

40 - Repeat the last step exactly

41 - Repeat again, don't forget to copy and paste. This time use these settings

Inner Radius:   3m
Outer Radius:  4m
Points:           All
Hit OK

42 - Now lets try a couple unorthodox things to throw into the mix. Up till now we have taken points based off of the original base logo object to create the next new morph base. But as I mentioned in passing earlier we do not have to stay committed to this approach. We can create whole new morph bases which we can 'tween' between. 

NOTE: A very important thing to note, you do not have to have the same number of points in the new morph base as the original base but it can not, I repeat can not have more points. If you try to build a base morph with more points then the original base and you go to turn your base morph into a real morph LW will crash on you! You can have the same number and you can have less. There is an issue with having less and you'll see that later with our first special object.

43 - For our first special object, we'll create a simple 2D smiley face. It seems to be a thing of mine to work with them so why not add him in here.

44 - Go to your next available free layer and create a Disc (Create->Disc).

Axis            Z
Sides          400
Segments    1
Center 	X  0m
	Y  0m
	Z  0m
Radius	X  10m
	Y  10m
	Z  0m

45 - Now for some quick eyes. Create another disc

Axis            Z
Sides          170
Segments    1
Center 	X   -3m
	Y   3m
	Z   0
Radius	X   1.5m
	Y   3m
	Z   0m

46 - For the other eye just create the new disc with the same parameters except change the Center X parameter from -3m to 3m.

47 - For the mouth move to a new layer and turn the smiley face on in the background. Create a new disc with these settings

Axis            Z
Sides          170
Segments    1
Center 	X   0m
	Y   6.5m
	Z   0
Radius	X   9m
	Y   14m
	Z   0m

48 - Next select all of the new discs points which lie above the x-axis and delete them leaving only the bottom points. Finally to give it a better shape select the stretch tool (Modify->Transform->Stretch, hit h) place the cursor on the axis origin and just stretch (drag) the mouse straight up till it gives you a nicely rounded smile.

49 - Cut (ctrl+x) the smile layer and paste (ctrl+v) it into the face layer. Everything here is in polygons and we only want the points so select all of the points and then cut/paste them back in.

50 - Just to be safe go back to your base layer and find the point count of your TAFA logo. The easiest way to open the Point Statistics panel   (hit w). Make note of that number of points. Now go back to your new smiley face and check what its point count is. If the smiley face has a higher point count you need to lower it till it has at least the same number of points or less.

51- Well that's all we need to do for this object. This one is a 2D image which we are going to 'tween' to and from. So now you may be wondering what about 3D objects? You betcha lets try it. I was going to have you create a funky star but I came up with a better idea while working on the next tutorial. Timothy Albee has graciously aloud me to use his wonderful CartoonWolf from his 'LightWave 3D[8] Character Animation', book. We'll be working with him more in the next tutorial but for now I have beheaded the cool guy (sorry pup) and created a special point object just for our current needs. So if you have not done so already, download the support zip-files found at the bottom of the page and unzip it.

52 - Navigate to your next free double bank of 10 layers. In the first layer in that bank select, File->Load Object into Layer. When the file requestor dialog pops up navigate to where you unzipped your support files to and select the 'CartoonWolfHead.lwo' under the Object directory.

53 - First, again, make double sure your cartoonwolfhead is small enough point wise to work in your project. I made it to have 838 points which is less then my base object which stands in at 843 points.

54 - What we are going to do is rotate the cartoonwolfhead object in TAFA to see it in its glory. I want him to rotate semi-fast but smooth so we will make morphs with 45 degree increments. To do this copy (ctrl+c) this first layer and paste (ctrl+v) in the next layer. Select the rotate tool (Modify->Transform->Rotate, hit y) set it to rotate 45.0 degrees on the y-axis centered on the origin, then hit apply.

55 - Close the numeric pad if that's what you used, copy and paste this layer into the next layer and repeat the last rotation exactly. Keep repeating this step till you have 8 layers including the first, original layer.

56 - That's all we need to do with him for now.

57 - I think we can call this enough morphs to play with. I got a little carried away but I thought that this was a great chance to let you explore some tools you may never have played with before. Please feel free to experiment all you want here. Thereís a lot of cool tools native to LW and even more 3rd party plugins that allow you to do some pretty nifty tricks. But the real magic awaits us in TAFA and we still have work to do before we get in there. So save you project and lets start creating those proxied layers to create morphs form. One side note. Some of you might be a little concerned that we now have points that are to close together for merging the cubes points back together in many of these morphs. Never fear when all is done we only need to change the base layer and all there morph layers will follow suite without causing problems here. Hey what can I say LW is one smart little cookie!

58 - Remember what I said earlier? We are going to use a cloning tool to get this to work for us. In particular we are going to use the Point Clone Plus tool (Multiple->Duplicate->Point Clone Plus). In order for it to work you need to have your object you want cloned in the foreground layer and the points you want to clone to in the background layer. This means we need to copy and paste our proxy cube into a new layer, in fact one for each layer we created in the previous section. You can either do this as you go or do it all at once. Either way I highly suggest you keep the same pattern of layer bank setup as the you created them in the last section. Doing so will help you keep track of where you are, as youíll see in a second.

59 - Now that you have at least one layer with your proxy cube in it make sure that your first layer is in the foreground. Jump all the way back to the first layer and select that as the background layer. Another way of doing this is to use the Layers Panel (hit F7) it makes life pretty fast and easy when doing this if you have a sharp mind and eye.

60 - Now its time to clone the cube. Select the Point Clone Plus tool (Multiple->Duplicate->Point Clone Plus) and leave it at its default settings and hit OK. You have now placed your proxy cube centered around each point in your background layer. This is good, very good! Now the bad news keep doing this till you have created a proxy cubed layer for each point layer you created. Don't worry I'll still be here when your done. Save often and remember if you do screw up someplace a modelers best friend is ctrl+z (UNDO!)

61 - See I told you I would still be here! So now there is one last thing we need to do before finally jumping into TAFA and thatís create the actual morphs. What we need to do here is go to out first base layer WITH the proxy cubes. In fact if you wanted to you could save this object under a new name and then go back and delete all of those single point layers, we have no need for them anymore. But I do recommend keeping them in a file someplace to work with later if you so desire to extend on what we have done here.

62 - Anyways, go to your base layer and set it to the foreground layer. Select your next layer and set as the background layer. Go to the Map tab and select the ĎBackground to Morphí tool (Map->Morph->Background to Morph) Now hereís where wisdom in keeping things in separate blocks comes in handy. You'll notice that the panel asks for the endomorph (morph) name. Well our first set of morphs where jitters, the second set cloud condensing, the third the vortex and the forth the sphere wraps so lets name them as such. For example for the jitters I'll name them like this 'Jitter.Jitter_1', 'Jitter.Jitter2', ect. I'll put a table below for how I named everything for your reference. Please notice that I do have a '.' (dot) between the Jitters. This allows things to get broken up nicely in TAFA and in Layout for nice easy workflow. So go ahead ahead and name the first morph 'Jitter.Jitter_1' and hit OK.

63 - If you open the Vertex Map Panel (Windows->Vertex Maps Panel, hit F8) and expand the morph section you should now see your new morph! If you still doubt what happened click on the Jitter.Jitter_1 morph so its no longer selected. Hey thereís our base layer! Click on the morph again and thereís the morph.

64 - Enough playing back to work. Make sure you have the morph deselected so that the base layer is visible. Select the next layer as the new background layer with the base as the foreground. Run the Background to Morph tool and name it Jitter.Jitter_2.

65 - Keep repeating this process till you have converted all of your proxied layers to real life morphs. Just remember you need to deactivate the morph so that the base is the foreground and the new layer is the background layers before running the tool.

66 - Hereís a list of how named all of my morphs for this project.







67 - When your done with that you are pretty much ready to go. However when we jump into TAFA we only want the one layer with our base object and its associated morphs. What I would suggest you do is save this model then start a new model making sure you keep this one open. Now copy the base layer with its morphs and paste it into the first layer of the new model. Now save this new model as TAFA_Logo_Morphed.lwo.

68- Phew we are finally done with Modeler, well at least for now. We have another step we need to do which we could do now but I'll save that for later just so you understand the work flow better first.

Timothy Albee's Facial Animation (TAFA)

69 - Go ahead and start up TAFA.

70 - I'm going to assume you have already gone through the help guide. If not I highly recommend you do. Mac Reiter has done a stupendous job on creating a fantastic set of instructional materials covering everything in TAFA. Plus its loaded with tips, tricks, hints and tutorials up the yin yang! Having said that since most of you will be new to TAFA when you first see this tutorial I'll cover things on a very basic level. This way you can become more familiar with this awesome application and begin to see some of its tremendous power. Like I said TAFA was never designed to do what Iím going to show you here and in future tutorials. I just can't wait to see what smarter people then I come up with!

71 - With TAFA open all you should be seeing right now is the Main editor window and nothing else.

72 - The first thing you need to do is select the model file we just created. Go into the File menu and select 'Select Model'.

73 - Using the File requestor dialog box navigate to your TAFA_Logo_Morphed.lwo file and select it.

74 - You should now see your base object somewhat in the Main Editor window. Lets change things so you see it a little better by changing the background color to a nice dark blue color. To do this you can click on the 'Color Wheel' on the toolbar next to the big '3' or you can access the ĎBackground Colorí panel by going to the 'View' menu and selecting 'Background Color'. Now set your RGB settings to

R   0
G   0
B   64
Hit OK

75 - That should be a lot better. You should now see all your little proxy boxes spelling out TAFA. If for some reason your TAFA is displayed backwards, never fear thatís just due to the orientation you build things in Modeler. There are two ways of dealing with this. The first is to right mouse click in the Main Editor window and simply spin it around. This is cool. Look you can have this thing sit in any position you want. Later when we are playing with the morphs try the same thing on the each of the individual objects in the morphs cells. You can rotate them each individually. Just to make things complete you can also spin the morph objects in the puppeteer cells but we will not be playing with puppeteer today. The second way to deal with this problem is so much easier. Open the 'View'' menu and select 'Flip Front/Back'. This automatically flips ALL of the objects and by all I mean all. Notice that the objects in the morphed objects in the Main Editor, Morph File panel, and Puppeteer panel have all flipped. Cool Aye!

76 - Next we need to setup the animation length. Normally at this point you would add in your audio file where in the animation length is automatically set to the length of the audio file. In this project we are going to go soundless. This does not mean you can't add sound if you want it. So by all means add a sound file if you want. I'm just not doing it for this project. Its a copyright type of thing and after 20 plus years of trying I still canít read music thus I play no instruments, well outside of Acid anyways (and I mean the program, not the drug ;) )

77 - Go back into the File menu and select ' Specify Project Length'

78 - Set the frames to 800 and leave the rest of the settings alone.

79 - Once you have hit OK you should now have few new panels opened. The first one is the X-Sheet. You'll be spending a lot of time working in this panel so I suggest you get to know it real well. You should notice you have 1 track (column) already loaded for you which is titled 'AUDIO' if you had added a real audio file using the 'Select Audio File' menu selection you would see the waveform of that file in this track. But since we never loaded an audio file its blank and it will stay that way for this project. The second panel that opened is the 'Curve Editor'. The Curve Editor is another panel you'll spend a lot of time playing with for fine tuning your work. For this tutorial we are not going to worry about it though. The other panels which may have opened for you will cover as we get to them.

80 - We are finally at the point where we can start creating our animation with TAFA. If your 'Morph File' panel is not already open, open it by clicking on the little Folder button with the smiley face on it, itís the third button from the left.

81 - For the sack of clarity with this tutorial I'm going to switch my surface setting in TAFA so that all of my boxes are rendered as wire frames. This just gives you the ability to better see what I'm doing in the tutorials images. So how did I do that? If you don't already have the 'Surfaces' Panel open just click on that little red ball button which is the second from the left? In that panel you will see an eyeball button, red ball button, white/gray ball button, a box with a cross in it and a cute little ghost. These are the different shading possibilities in TAFA and relate as follows. Eyeball button - Texture shaded (Surface shaded plus UV texture maps. There are limitations to what is used here so see the manual for details) Red ball button - Surface shaded (These are the Surface settings you set up in Modeler.) White ball button - A plain gray surface. Box button - Wire frame mode. Ghost button - Invisible and trust me this is a very important button as we will see in future tutorials. On the right side of the panel you should see a list of all of your surfaces. With this model we only have one. Either a 'Default', a 'BOX' or whatever you named your box surface. So In order to get the wire frame for my boxes I simple click on the cell for the wire frame for the 'BOX' surface.

82 - The first thing I want you to do is to click on the down arrow button at the button of the panel. Notice there is also a left arrow and a right arrow button. We'll get to those in a second. Once you have clicked on the button you should see a list of our different morph groups plus a few strange looking selections.


83 - The first strange morph group is called 'Miscellaneous'. Go ahead and select it if its not already selected. You'll notice that there is only one morph in there and its called '~Blank~'. This is a special morph and you will find it in all morph groups and trust me as you get used to TAFA you'll find that having it in all groups is a blessing! All this ~Blank~ morph is, is your Base object with out the morphs applied. While its full power does not get truly noticed in this tutorial it will in any TAFA Facial animation tutorial.

84 - The other strange morph groups ~Cloud, ~Jitter, ~Sphere, ~Vortex. All your morph groups are automatically split into asymmetric (left/right) morphs and given its base name preceded with ~.

85 - Now as for those left and right arrow buttons at the bottom of the panel. They allow you to go to the previous (left arrow button) morph or to the next (right arrow button) morph in the list. This can be a real time saver if you have a short list and/or know exactly where you are going.

86 - Lets get started with our animation. The first thing we want to do is morph our TAFA logo into a random cloud. Remember we did this first by creating the Jitter morphs. So select the 'Jitter' morph group. You should now see your three Jitter morphs plus the special ~Blank~ (our base object).

87 - At the top of the Morph panel you'll notice those buttons we talked about in the Surface panel and guess what they are the same. In addition the next button up there is the 'Mix' button which gives you a mix of textured and shaded modes. The next button is the 'Text' button, what this does is replace a graphic rendering of the morphs with just the name of the morph. Finally we get to the most important button of all in this toolbar, its the button that looks like a column with a bright light shining off it. That lights there for a reason it gives light and life to our animation by allowing us to create a new 'Track' in the X-Sheet. So what does that mean? Well what TAFA does is create a series of 'Tracks'. As we start adding our morphs into theses track we are creating or orchestrating our animation. If this were a facial animation tutorial we would first start with a 'Dialogue' track and that would be used to create our lip-synch animation. Notice I said tracks, as in plural. Thatís right baby we can add in all the tracks we want. So say after we have created our lip-synch track our lips move but the rest of the face is still static. Ughh you'll never get an award winner with animation like that. Dream big, reach for the stars add a track and go ahead and animate the eyes blinking, the eyebrows moving, the emotional shades, ect. Whoa, but we aren't doing that here. Yeah right, just wait and see what you can do, muhahaha!

88 - Lets create our new track. Go ahead and click on that ĎNew Trackí button and notice that you now have a new Track in the X-Sheet called 'Jitter'. Remember you also have a track in here called 'Audio', which will always be in your project.

89 - Lets do something here that will help us later. Go up to the 'Jitter' title in our new track and right mouse click on it. Notice a new context menu pops up with a lot of choices. I'm not going to go into them but you can find out about all of them in the manual if you can't guess at what they each do. What we want to do is rename this track to something more descriptive later. So select 'Rename' and name the track as "Logo_Main". Please note you can not add spaces in your titles. Thereís wise reasoning in this so trust me you can't do it and itís good.

90 - The first thing we want to do is start off with our Logo with our base our. In TAFA lingo thatís the ~Blank~ morph. Go into your morph panel and left mouse click on the ~Blank~ cell and with the button still pressed down drag it to the first frame in the track which is Frame 0 in the Logo_Main track. Once there the cell will become highlighted and the morph background will be blue. Go ahead and release the mouse button thus dropping the morph into the frame.


Once released you should see ~Blank~ centered in the Logo_Main frame 0 cell. You won't actually see a difference in the Main Editor window other then the base object is now permanently part of the project.

91 - Now a note on some of the features you currently see in the X-Sheet. First remember back to when we set the project length we told it we wanted to set it to 24 frames per second. If you have the Audio Control Panel open you also see that it is set to 24 fps (to open the Audio Control Panel if it is not already opened, click on the button in the Main Editor that looks like VCR style control buttons. Its the 6th one from the left.) So what you see in the X-Sheet are first little white dashed lines that separate each track into individual frames. If you look in-between frames 7 and 8 you'll see a thin gray line dividing the tracks into 1/3 of a second. Last you'll see a darker, heavier gray line in-between frames 23 and 24. This type of line separates the tracks into seconds. To test this out you can jump into the Audio Control Panel and change the fps to something like 29 fps and notice how the lines adjust accordingly. Go ahead and set yourself back to 24 fps. Thereís really nothing magic about 24 fps as far as we as are concerned today so we'll just leave it there for now. Trust me it will not affect your animation in the end.

92 - So why is this important. Well for this project we are going to add each of our morphs at 1 second intervals to start with. That will give us a nice smooth animation and also will allow us to see everything we created in Modeler. Later we add more things in.

93 - Go in to your Morph panel, click on the 'Jitter_1' morph, drag it to frame 23 of the Logo_Main track and drop it.

94 - Now grab, drag and drop 'Jitter_2' into frame 47 of Logo_Main. Then drag and drop 'Jitter_3' into frame 71. If for some reason you dragged and dropped the wrong morph, simply click on the morph in the X-Sheet and hit the 'Delete' key. If you dropped it into the wrong frame cell click on that cell then click and drag it to where its supposed to. Note you much first click on it to select it, then click drag and drop it. It may take you a second or two to get use to this but it will help you later. Notice we have placed these morphs on the first frame above that thick gray line. We will be doing that for each of the morphs we place in this track. Well initially anyways.

95 - Well itís not much but lets see what we have. Go to your Audio Control panel and press the Right arrow button. These buttons function just like you'd expect them to with a VCR, DVD or any multimedia player. Since you work with CG app's (hey your playing with this right) then you should be used to this setup by now. Any ways go ahead and press it and watch the first three seconds of your animation. A couple of quick tips here. You can use the space bar to start and stop the animation. If you scroll to the top of the top of the X-Sheet, and you click on frame 0 (or anywhere for that matter) while you are playing the animation it will jump back to the frame you clicked on.

Q and J      Rewind
D and K      Plays forwards
A              Plays backwards
S and Esc   Stops

One last cool feature you may not be familiar with but be should learned well and thatís the Punch In/Out. Say what? First stop your animation if itís still playing. Go into your Logo_Main track and click on frame 0, then go down and shift+click on frame 71. You'll notice that all those frames are now highlighted in blue. Go back to your Audio Control Panel and press that little green box on the second row on the left side.


Notice that those select frames are now brick red in the audio track specifying that Punch in is selected and we are going to loop through just those chosen frames. So go ahead and press play and see what I mean. It just keeps recycling through the work we have selected. Stop the animation and reclick on the Punch In/Out button and it will no longer cycle through those frames. Things to note; In order to make it loop the loop button has to be active and thatís the green button just below the Punch In/Out button. The second is that once you have Punch In activated you can deselect those frames to add new morphs, remove morphs, move them around, edit their strengths and symmetries while still cycling through those 'Punched' frames. Major cool here folks. We'll be using this more later so don't forget about it

96 - OK enough playing lets change the morph group to the 'Cloud' morphs in the Morph panel and add those morphs to these frames

Frame	Morph
95	 Cloud_1
119	 Cloud_2
143	 Cloud_3
167	 Cloud_4

97- After that switch to the Vortex morph group and add those morphs to these frames

Frame	Morph
191	 Vortex_01
215	 Vortex_02
239	 Vortex_03
263	 Vortex_04
287	 Vortex_05
311	 Vortex_06
335	 Vortex_07
359	 Vortex_08
383	 Vortex_09
407	 Vortex_10
431	 Vortex_03
455	 Vortex_02
479	 Vortex_01
503	 Cloud_3

Notice, that at frame 431 we switched all the way back to Vortex_03 and then used Vortex_2, Vortex_1 and finally Cloud_3. I did that to more gradually ease out of the vortex morphs into the next set of morphs. We could have jumped straight to something else but I wanted something a little more fluid looking here. Well explore the jumping later though so you can see what happens.

98 - Now switch to the Sphere group and add those morphs to these frames

Frame	Morph
527 	 Sphere_1
551	 Sphere_2
575	 Shpere_3
599	 Sphere_4
623	 Sphere_5
647	 Sphere_2
671	 Sphere_1

99 - Finally jump back to the Jitter group and add them to these frames.

Frame	Morph
695	 Jitter_3
719	 Jitter_2
743	 Jitter_1
767	 ~Blank~

100 - Well thatís our basic setup. Go ahead and play your animation and see what you have created. Itís cool, but trust me the magic has yet to fully materialized. You should already see things right from the start that you want to change and man that vortex section is long. Can't we spice that up? Hang on thatís what this tutorials is truly all about. It maybe the smallest section but itís the most important.

101 - While you have your animation running, hopefully with Looping on, take note of another cool feature you have available to you, which you do not so easily have in LW. Jump into the Main Editor window and right mouse click and then start rotating around. Real-time viewing of your animation as its playing. Go ahead and try that in Layout. Sure you have the perspective view and you can adjust the view port while particles are playing but not with the same ease as you have here! Whatís so cool about this? Well you can start to setup you camera shots here. No TAFA does not have multiple cameras nor the ability to record the cameras position, at least not yet. Knowing Mac anything is possible though! But you can start to storyboard some of those if you have not already done so.

102 - If you think your animation is playing to slow you can determine the frame rate by taking a look at the title bar of the Main Editor window, which displays the current fps. You might be able to speed this up a bit by adjusting the subdivision level TAFA is rendering to. So take a look at those numbered button in the center of the toolbar, 0, 1, 2, and 3. Not the ones encircled inside little light bulbs those control the different lights available in TAFA. I'm going to skip lights this time around so check the manual out for those cool guys. Back to the sub'd levels, well as you may have guessed 0 means no subdivision level. 1 is a low level of smoothness, 2 a medium smoothness and 3 a high level. As per the manual you'll find that each level is about 4 additional LW subdivisions higher. Thus the higher the smoothness level the more calculating power, hence time, is needed. So to solve a speed issue try lowering the smoothness level by clicking on a lower smoothness button.

103 - OK so I bugged you pretty heavily in Modeler to save, save, save. You really need to do that in TAFA as in all applications. How? Well the same as you do in other applications, File->Save or File->Save As. This will save your scene as a ' *.fa_scene' file for you. I highly recommend that as with all of your work you work in an organized directory structure and that you create a special TAFA folder to hold your TAFA files. File organization will save you so much time and energy later that itís not even funny.

104 - Lets take a little more critical look at our animation we have created and begin to see some of the real power behind TAFA. Notice what happens between frames 71 and 95. Go ahead and select those frames (Click on frame 71 in the Main_Logo track and then shift+click on frame 95) now activate the Punch In/Out button, make sure looping is on and play. Notice how the transition from the Jitter to the Cloud morphs bring us through what looks like our base morph? Is that due to a bug in TAFA? No. What we are really concerned with is getting rid of the base object here, sure its cool and you might like it but I want to show you another TAFA feature.

105 - Scroll up and Click on 'Jitter_2' in frame 47 of the Main_Logo track and then right click it and select copy from the context menu that pops up. Now go down and right mouse click on frame 85 and select paste. Cool real-time editing of tracks while itís playing our selection only. Plus notice we never fully see our base logo anymore.

106 - That was fun and definitely one way to deal with this problem. But oh TAFA is so much more powerful then to make you work like that. Lets try something else. Go ahead and select that new keyframe 85 which you just created and delete it.

107 - In your Morph Panel, with the Jitter group selected click on the New Track button. You should now have a new track up in the X-Sheet with a title of "Jitter". Click on the 'Jitter_2' morph from the Morph Panel and drag and release in on frame 85 under the new ĎJitter' track.

108 - Make sure you still have frames 71 - 95 selected and Punched with looping active and hit play. Notice how much smoother that is now? No? Well try this. While your still playing that small section in looping mode click and then click and drag your new Jitter_2 morph and frame 85 under the Jitter track to frame 85 under the Logo_Main track. Now you see where TAFA is going to gain some power that you just would not see easily any place else. Go ahead and drag and drop your Jitter_2 back to frame 85 under the Jitter track.

109 - Wow, that was cool but lets stop and look at something really quick because somethingís just not completely right in Dodge. First right mouse click on the 'Jitter' track title to bring up the context menu for the track. Now click on 'Active' to deactivate the track. Next click on frame 0. You should be seeing our base logo all pretty like. Now right click on the 'Jitter' title again and click on 'Activate' to re-activate the track. Man, we fixed one thing and broke another. No, not really everything is just the way it should be, not the way we want it but the way it should be. Very loosely speaking what TAFA does is it creates blends, using spline curves, (see the manual if you really want more info on this) to smooth the transitions out. So what is happening is we have added a single morph in and its blending nothing into something but since you can't have nothing it assumes that we mean that you want all the frames before and after to have the same strength as your lone Jitter morph in this track. Again this is a simplistic view of the guts of TAFA.


110 - Well then how do we fix that? Easy give it something to blend. In this case we want to use the base object for the initial state. From your Morph panel drag and drop the ~Blank~ morph onto frame 63 of the 'Jitter' track. Whatís happening now is that we are saying let frames 0 - 63 be the full strength of the base object and then from frames 63 to 85 lets morph from ~Blank~ to Jitter_2 and while we are doing this let that transition blend in with the transitions taking place in our 'Logo_Main' track.

111 - Now that we are thinking about this we have the same conditions taking place after our Jitter_2 in the Jitter track. Jitter_2 will hold its full strength all the way through to the end of the animation. While that might be cool we don't want that, at least not today. However, if you deactivate the track you might notice another section where that little blending umph would be nice. Lets take care of both situations. Make sure you have reactivated your track then drag and drop another copy of ~Blank~ into the Jitter track into frame 143. If you play your animation now it should look a lot nicer.

112 - Well this has all been fun but it does not really show off the full power or TAFA's morph blending which is what I would like to explore right now. Remember the smile and wolf head we created? Well lets through those in mix things up and see if we get soup.

113 - Right now we have an audio track, Logo_Main track, and a jitter track. Lets add a couple more in. From the morph panel select the 'Vortex' morph group and create a new track.

114 - Now create a new track using the Sphere morph group followed by one for our Smiley group. We are going to use the Jitter, Vortex, and Sphere tracks to help smooth and control or transitions. After playing with techniques like what I'm about to show you I stat think of morphs and tracks like this as effectors and control morphs. You'll see why in future tutorials but take notice of how and why we use them here. These morphs can provide real creative outlet to your soul.

115 - The first thing you are going to want to do is grab one of the ~Blank~ morphs, it does not matter which they are all the same, and place a ~Blank~ on frame 0 for the Vortex and Sphere tracks.

116 - Next drop down to frame 85 in the Jitter track and delete your Jitter_2 morph.

117 - Lets go ahead and deal with our Smiley morph. Select the Smiley group in the morph panel and place a ~Blank~ morph on frame 40 of the Smiley track and then another at frame 111. What this does is bracket off a region were we can safely run our new morph. Well place the Smiley morphs in between them so frame 0 - 39 will be unaffected by our smiley morphs as well frames 112-end.

118 - Select the Smiley_1 morph and drag and drop it into frame 67 of the Smiley track and then again on frame 75.

119 - First select the Smiley_1 morph at frame 67 and take a look at the main editor. That sure does not look like your smiley, well at least not like mine anyways. What's going on? Well take a look at what you have going on in the Logo_Main track. You have Jitter_2 at frame 47, Jitter_3 at frame 71, and Cloud_1 at frame 95. So you are blending those frames into your Smiley_1 morph. We don't want that. We want just to see the smiley face. So go ahead and delete the morphs at frames 47and 71. Next click on Cloud_1 to select it then click and drag it to frame 103.

120 - Next you'll just have to take what I'm going to show you on faith for a minute. I'll explain what's going on in a second with something that demonstrates 'over run' a lot better. Drag and drop ~Blank~ morphs into frames 54, 55, 89, and 90.

121 - Well we would think that we are done and all is well. Lets check to make sure. Place your mouse cursor on frame 67 in the Audio track and while the left mouse button is pressed 'scrub' back and forth between frames 67 and 75. Hmm, well things look fine at frame 67 and at frame 75 but in between he blows apart. Man TAFA's gotta bug. Nope not really its doing exactly what its supposed to be doing. Lets take a look at what's really happening.

122 - If you don't already have the curve editor open, open it now by pressing the funky little yellow X looking button which is the fifth one from the left. Scroll down so you can easily see frames 67 - 75. Click on the Smiley_1 morph in the X-Sheet to make sure you are looking at the Smiley_1 morph curves. Notice how the curve slopes up to 100% at frame 67 and down from frame 75. But in between it continues to climb to a peak at frame 71.

123 - What's happening hear is that TAFA is solving the spline based on the accelerations given it from your ~Blank~ to you morph. It has a lot and it takes a few frames for it to break completely. Mac makes excellent reference to this by comparing the whole thing to a car driving along a road. Even by slamming on the breaks you can't come to a dead stop on a dime, you end up skidding a bit before you make that stop. So what we need to do is add a little extra force to control that breaking better. How about a parachute?

124 - Drag and drop the Smiley_1 morph into frame 68 and then again into frame 74.

125 - Now take a look at you curve. You have a little 'over run' but for the most part you made a pretty good turn traveled straight turned again and headed down again. To prove the point go ahead and scrub between frames 67 and 75 again. Ahh, there that is so much better.

126 - Please, please remember this fact and trick. We will be doing it again here and you will be doing it frequently when you have long stretches between morphs and then expect sudden perfect changes. In fact this simple thing could very well be the number one most important tip/trick in TAFA!!

127 - I want to add something little more into the section between the start and the smiley. So drag the Vortex_1 morph from the Vortex group and drop in into frame 23 of the Vortex track. If you play that section you see that the morph is way to strong. We want to tone the strength done abit. To do that in the X-Sheet hold down the control key. Now Left mouse click on the Vortex_01 morph. A new little funky looking panel pops open. Once open you can let go of the ctrl key but keep the mouse key pressed. You can now move the mouse around in that box and you'll notice a little yellow bar following you around. That bar represents the strength of your morph. Now you may be wondering why you can tilt that line. Well part of the function of this panel is to control the morph strength, the second part is that it allows the control of left/right asymmetry of your morph. We are not going to deal with asymmetric morphs in this project so keep the mouse centered on that vertical line in the center of the panel.

Tip - If you create a morph which is asymmetric and you try to export a MorphMixer file you'll be warned that you can't and that it will calc the 50% strength and use that instead.

128 - While still in that morph editor panel set the strength to about 50%, half way from the top and on the center vertical line.

129 - When you release the mouse button the morph will be set and you should notice that the morph name in the track is now grayed meaning it has been edited.

TIP - The strength of the morph controls the gray scale of the text of the morph in the X-Sheet. If its black the strength is ~ 0. If its white its ~100%. 50% gray = 50% strength.

130 - If you play the clip through the smiley morph section you no longer see the smiley morph. How do you fix that? Hopefully you guessed right add a ~Blank~ in before the Smiley_1 morphs frames.

131 - Drag and drop ~Blank~ and place it frame 55 and then again at frame 56. Again the double morph placement is to control that over run in the blending of the morphs. Then do the same thing at frames 95 and 96.

132 - If you play your scene now all should look well. Now lets add in our CartoonWolfHead.

133 - We'll add the CartoonWolfHead into the first part of the vortex section to brake up that lengthy section. Like we had to do with the smiley face we need to clear out a section of the Logo_Main track to allow the new morph to be rendered without interfering blending. So in the Logo_Main track delete the morphs in frames 239, 263, and 287.

134 - Next we need to set the ~Blank~ brackets to make sure we are dealing with the base object and we also need to take over run into consideration here so place ~Blank~ morphs in frames 237, 238, 286, and 287. How did I determine these frames? Well that's a good question. I actually did it from experimenting after I already had the CWolf morphs in place. So you are getting the settings in hind sight as it were. So when you do your own work you will have to do playing yourself. You will quickly learn how the spline curves work and will just know basically what you need where. Form there its just a matter of a little scrubbing to fine tune things. Fortunately TAFA is so intuitive that a complete idiot like me picked it up dang near instantly so real brains like you should get the just of it already!

135 - For now go up the track title bar and right click on the 'Jitter' track and select 'Activate' to de-activate it. Then de-activate the Vortex and Sphere tracks as well. Well deal with those up in a minute but lets get the CWolf morphs in place first. The Smiley morph is not going to cause us any grief so you can leave it active.

136 - Switch the Morph panel to display the CWolf morphs and add those morphs to these tracks in the CWolf track:

Frame	Morph
208	~Blank~
238	Wolf_1
245	Wolf_2
251	Wolf_3
257	Wolf_4
263	Wolf_5
269	Wolf_6
274	Wolf_7
281	Wolf_8
287	Wolf_1
310	~Blank~
311	~Blank~

137 - Basically you have a slow transition to the construction of the head and a slow transition to the destruction of the head with the head making one full rotation in between.

138 - Go ahead and select frames that bracket the whole CWolf section and activate 'Punch On' then hit play with looping active.

139 - That should be fairly nice. However notice how it jumps really strongly to the tight vortex due to the Vortex_6 morph at frame 311. The morphs is way to strong. Click on the morph then with the ctrl button pressed press the left mouse button to open the morph edit panel and drop the strength to about 50%. Remember keep that pointer centered on the center vertical bar.

NOTE - you keep the animation playing while you are making these adjustments and see the results in real time!!!

140 - As a fun exercise for this best step make sure you can see the curve editor. Keep your animation playing with Punch activated to just your CWolf section. Now go up and 'Activate' the Jitter track again.

141 - Drag and drop the Jitter_3 morph into frame 303 of the Jitter track.

142 -Notice how your wolf is an jittered out head. Remember this for your own future projects! But this is not what we want here. That means one thing and yep you already know (see I told you, you were smart) you need to add a ~Blank~ morph into keep the CWolf morphs where they are supposed to be. Add ~Blank~ to frame 284 of the Jitter track.

143 - Take a look at the curve editor and notice how the ~Blank~ morph, the black spline curve, arcs down and then takes a sudden dive at frame 303 where we added the Jitter_3 morph? We don't like that we want a smoother transition.

144 - To do that simply add another ~Blank~ morph at frame 286. Notice how it smoothed both the transition for the ~Blank~ morph and the Jitter_3 morph? You have to love TAFA's track blending two tasks done with a single addition!

145 - Plus now look at your animation. Notice how wolfey rotates, blows up and then forms the vortex and all that with adding the Jitter_3 morph in and controlling it influence with the ~Blank~ morphs.

146 - One last thing to do for the Jitter track. We have left the Jitter_3 morph running and full strength for the rest of the clip. Add a ~Blank~ morph in the Jitter track at frame 358. That allows a smooth transition to the vortex instead of an instant jump back to its full strength.

147 - Having added the Jitter_3 to play with the deconstruction of the wolf head lets do the same to the smiley. Re-Activate the Vortex track. Stop your animation and de-activate the 'Punch In/Out'.

148 - Drag and drop ~Blank~ morphs into the Vortex track at frames 95, 96, 135 and then add the Vortex_01 morph to frame 111 to the Vortex track. That just helps the transition of the smiley face back into the Cloud_2 morph a little better.

149 - That was nice but we can add little more mix up and control here. Re-Activate the Sphere track and add a ~Blank~ morph into the Sphere track at frames 119, 120, and 191. Now add a Sphere_2 morph into frame 143 and edit its strength till its ~40% full strength.

150 - To help with the CWolf moprhs add a ~Blank~ morph in the Sphere track at frames 215 and 311.

151 - Now to give the vortex some more life add a Sphere_3 morph at frame 347 in the Sphere track with a strength of ~30%.

152 - Add a Sphere_5 morph at frame 375 in the Sphere track with a strength of ~20%.

153 - Close it off with a ~Blank~ at frame 407.

154 - First make sure you save your scene.

155 - The next thing we need to do is create a Morph Mixer file for Layout. We also have the choice of creating a Motion Designer file (*.mdd) but since all our morphs are symmetric we can easily use the smaller Morph Mixer file. There are major differences as to which type of file to use and when to use them. I'll cover that in the next tutorial when we start working with some of the more advanced features in TAFA.

156 - For now go to the 'File' menu and select either the 'Create LW7 Morph Mixer File' or the 'Create LW8 Morph Mixer File' for which ever major version of LW you are using. When the File dialog box pops up give it name of something like Logo_MMixer and hit OK. You need to give it a couple of seconds to play through. Donít fret its not a mistake your seeing, TAFA will start playing your animation for you, and then save the file. Its part of the calculation process. When its all done you can go ahead and close TAFA down.

Back to Modeler

157 - Before we jump into Layout we need to jump back into Modeler and finish something. Remember why we made proxy cubes for each of our points? Well we now want to get rid of all those proxy cubes.

158 - In Modeler load your TAFA_Logo_Morphed.lwo file.

159 - To make life a little easier expand your right view port and selected all of the points that run vertically on the -Z axis and deleted them.

160 - Now life gets kinda fun. Lets get rid of the polygons by selecting all of the points and Cut them (ctrl+x) now Paste (ctrl+v) back in.

161 - We need to merge all of those point squares into single points. The logical choice is to use the Merge Points tool (Detail->Points->Merge Points, hit m) Change the 'Range' to 'Fixed', Keep Ď1-point Polygonsí should be checked and change the ĎDistanceí to 110 mm then hit OK.

162 - You might still see a couple of areas where not all of the squares condensed down. Go ahead and re-run the Merge Points tool with the same settings last time. Hopefully that took care of all of those extra points. If not you could try running the Merge Points tool again or just go in and deal with them by hand.

163 - In the end you should have a nice logo with lots of single points.

164 - The magic of LW is that changing the Base object automatically changes all of our morphs. If you don't believe me then just pop open the Vertex Maps panel (hit F7), expand the Morph group and start clicking on all of your morphs. Cool, they're still there and it all works!

On to Layout

165 - Save your new file as something like TAFA_Logo_Final.lwo, then either send it directly to Layout or close Modeler, open Layout and load you file.

166 - The first thing we would like to do is be able to see what we are working on so we need to turn on some HyperVoxels (HV's). I personally have cheated and created a special 'Dynamics' tab which has all kinds of FX-Tools on it including a quick jump to the HV pane, I highly recommend you do that for yourself. Its well worth the couple minutes to set it up. For the rest of you go to Windows->Volumetric and Fog Options. On the ĎVolumetricsí tab click 'Add Volumetricí and select ĎHyperVoxelsí. Once selected double click on it to open the HV panel. See wouldnít having that on a special tab been easier?

167 - For now the only thing that we'll deal with is activating 'Show Particles' so click on it. Now we can see all out points as renderable HVís.

168 - You can go back and adjust your HV settings later on your own. Lets get our animation up and running first.

169 - With 'Objects' (hit O) selected open the Properties panel (hit p). Switch the 'Subdivision Level' to 'Last'.

170 - Switch to the 'Deform' tab. Click on 'Add Displacement' and go down to select 'Morph Mixer'. Double click on the 'Morph Mixer' to open its properties panel

171 - Now you want to click on the 'Options' buttons and select 'Load Endomorph Mix'.

172 - This will now open a 'Load Animation Data', file dialog box. Find and load your morph mixer file we created in TAFA (Logo_MMixer.txt).

173 - The last thing you need to do is expand your time frame out to 1000 frames. Why 1000? Well back in TAFA we created our animation with 24 frames per second we are now set to 30 frames per second. So if you divide 800 frames by 24 fps you get 33.333. Now multiple the new 30fps by the 33.33 which now gives us 999.9 frames. So set it to 1000 frames. Thatís it go ahead and scrub through and watch your hard work come to life!

174 - Naturally there is so much more that can be done. I never walked you through setting up your HV's. I'll let you do that. If you need to figure out how thereís a ton of tutorials out there on HV's. I would also highly suggest popping opening the 'Preset Shelf' (Windows->Presets, hit F8) and find a fun one to work with from there. 

175 - I have also included in the attached .zip file my final scene which has a couple thing to take note of. First I extended the start of the animation (morph curves) in the Graph Editor an additional 30 frames to allow the transition from a solid TAFA text object to the particles. The second thing is I managed the color changes by playing with the Hue channel of the included 'Particle.jpg'. This image is used as the sprite clip map used for my HV's. The rest you should be able to reverse engineer on your own. If not give me a buzz and I'll be happy to help you out.

176 - Granted this particular project is not going to win you an award, which by the way the Oscars are playing right now and Chris Rock is pretty much saying the same thing I am. This is not a stars work. Timothy Albee is a star CG artist, Timothy Dunn is not. But the point is TAFA is a very large and powerful program that with a little imagination can expand and make your work easier. 

Hopefully what I have done is begun to open your eyes to some of TAFA's potential beyond what it was designed for. Plus I hoped to have shown you new or forgotten tools and methods in LightWave. In subsequent tutorials I'll start showing you things you would use these methods with LightWave and TAFA for real production setting uses.

Project Files: The project zip file contains all of the files needed to create the final animation which is also included in the 'Animation' directory.  The files were created in LW 8.2.1 but the camera settings have been set to default rendering to allow backwards compatibility. The animation file is rendered in DF with the DivX codec. You can download those files here:

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, problems or comments:

I also invite you to come join us over at 'Mac Reiter Creations' community where you can talk about or ask any question(s) you may have dealing with TAFA. Come share your thoughts and novel ideas.

Mac Reiter Creations