New Features in Taft 2.0

The new update to Taft adds quite a few new features! This page describes the new controls and how to use them.

Hoser

Hoser is considerably extended! Despite its simplicity, Hoser is perhaps the most used tool in the Taft collection, and users have demanded (quite strenuously!) more power. This update gives it!

First, Hoser used to define what area of the object would "bend" in a very crude way.. anything in the +X direction would bend. This is an annoying limitation! The new "Base Set By:" control allows you to define any starting position and direction you like. This is set by picking a null object, moving that object to the beginning of the desired hose, and rotating the null so its +X direction faces in the hose geometry's direction. This new null base object should usually not be moved or animated! It's used to define, not deform, the hose, so typically you will parent it to the main object and leave it alone. Setting up the position and direction is relatively easy since you have interactive feedback in Layout. The rotation angle is particularly clear how to set up, since an incorrect direction can cause very wild obvious effects that are easy to notice. The main goal to realize is that almost always you'll want that control to have its +X direction point directly at the far tip of the modeled "hose" or arm. By default there is no Base object, in which case Hoser uses the object's own +X direction and 0 0 0 center, which is what Hoser always did previously.

The next major feature addition is in the controllers, the null objects used to animate and bend the hose. This used to be called an "anchor" object, but notice the plural "s" at the end of the new name "Controller(s)". You can now clone a null and select more than one to control the hose. This gives you independent control of the middle parts of the hose, allowing you to define curves much more precisely. Use clones of a control null to keep the controls more organized. If you have 3 clones of "Anchor" you'll see that "Anchor (1)" controls the first third of the hose, "Anchor (2)" controls the middle third, and "Anchor (3)" controls the end part. There is no way to pick specific nulls "in order" with the object picker, so the alphabetical names of the controllers define everything. This is why we strongly recommend you to use numerical clones, which are much more intuitive. When you are defining new directions for the hose with a base object, you may find that other distant parts of the geometry start to interfere. The classic example is an octopus: you want one instance of Hoser to affect one arm but not the others.

The "Width Range" control helps you keep the application restricted to only a certain width distance from the base of the tube. This is measured in meters (based on an unscaled object size). In practice, if the hose is deforming other arms or distant parts of the object you don't want to bend, decrease this distance. Remember multiple instances of Hoser can be added, so you can have one copy of Hoser control one arm/hose, and just add layers of Hoser to control as many arms as you like.

The hose can be "rolled out" along its length with the new animatable "Extrude Length" control. This doesn't work well with more complex hose geometry, but for simple tubes it can be useful.

When you have multiple controllers, sometimes the kinks and bends of your nulls are too sharp and it's tough to get them to look natural. Increasing the "Smoothing" control will blur out the kinks of the hose's curves from these extra controllers. Also, the center of the hose can be optionally rotated by the center controller's rotations. This is also a bit hard to control and usually better results come from a natural hose direction instead of the exact directions of nulls. The "Follow Orientations" control forces the hose to twist in the direction of the center nulls. Remember Hoser's interface is nonmodal, so editing values is now much easier to deal with since you get immediate feedback.

Whirley Points

Whirleypoints has been extended with new features as well! "Droop" allows you to have parts of your object bend downwards naturally, a quick way to add a soft slump to your object shape. "Restrict to Point Set" allows you to use a Modeler point Pick set to define which parts of your object are allowed to move. This is often easier to specify than surfaces. The new "Apply Strength" contains a lot of power, because it allows you to use texture strengths including image and weight maps to specify the strength of applied effects. The "S" button opens a panel (very similar to the ones used in Sasquatch) for specifying strengths. Note that these strengths are multiplied by the classical gradient strength of Whirleypoints. If you are using mapping, it's common to set the old "Effect Bias" value to 0.0% to turn off this base gradient so that the mapping alone defines the strength of the Whirley effect.

A last fun new feature is "Motion Reaction From:" which lets you specify a new object to react to. This means an object may not be moved at all, but it will wiggle and sway based on the motion of a different object. This could have many applications, like making grass polygons sway from a footstep, a belly pucker and vibrate from a punch, or to simulate the effects of a vibrating airplane on its soft cargo. Note that the reaction from an external object dies down, leaving the original object in its original pose. This is by design, if you want to actually move the object, you should move the object itself (or its bones) , not get the reaction from another object. It's often useful to use a negative reaction strength when this option is used, because without the original object motion, the "Reaction" may seem backward to what you expect. [Ie, if the motion reaction object moves up, the reaction in the Whirley object will be down, sort of like how an accelerating car pushes you back. It's often nice to reverse this just because it feels nicer to control that way.

On the PC, the built-in OpenGL preview can now be toggled on and off. It is off by default since the nonmodal Whirley panel makes it easy to view the effects immediately in Layout. Note that Whirleypoint is still a modal panel on the Macintosh, due to LightWave's windowing limitations.

Tracer

Tracer's speed has been improved enormously (previously, it was nearly unoptimized, now it uses a variety of efficiency improvements). The interface has been compacted to take up less screen real estate, so the four layers of colors are now accessible via a cycle button. New features are the ability to use a single instance of Tracer to fire from multiple gunbarrels, just by picking more than one item in the item picker. This makes big warships much easier to populate with many firing guns. The guns can fire together or staggered in time using the "Synchronize" control. Previously, Tracer shots always traveled in a straight line, but new Gravity Arcing will allow them to bend naturally. Aiming arced shots is trickier, but the new "Elevation Boost" is useful to compensate for the drop by raising the firing angle.

StickyFP

A much-requested feature, alpha channel mapping, has been added, allowing you to use an extra image to specify where the color and transparency maps should be applied. This is useful when you want just part of the object mapped, and carving surfaces is a pain.

Multiple cameras are now supported as well, which is very useful if you want to make special "mapping" cameras that are never used for rendering. Previously, you often had to move the main camera to various mapping locations before your "real" scene started, resulting in the hassle of having scenes that start at frame 100 instead of frame 1 and such. Now you can just say which camera applies the map.

You no longer need to render a frame of the scene in order to freeze a mapping: StickyFP can now figure out the object its applied to itself.

The other plugins

Camera Match, Mosaic, and Heatwave are essentially unchanged from the previous version of Taft.