Interview with Oliver Hotz

We speak to Oliver Hotz from Origami Digital about his OD Toolset for LightWave 2018

Posted: Mon 01 Jan 2018

Hi Oliver, how are things at Origami Digital?

Things are great.  We are fairly busy as you can imagine and 2018 looks like it could be another great year, but also, I am really excited about the opportunity to give back some to the community by creating the new toolset.  We started with the OD 2015 toolset, and that's been a huge success, and so with this new toolset, I combined all the OD 2015 tools, as well as the new ones into this massive OD 2018 toolset.

What inspires you?

I am a generalist at heart.  I get to supervise VFX, model, animate, composite, etc, but more than anything, I get to do what I love.  That, is a luxury to have, and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be able to do that.  This is not just a job for me, I've been doing this professionally for 25 years, and I still love it.  Being called to so many different areas of our trade, makes me see where things could work better, smoother, where things could be bridged, simplied.  When I see inefficiencies, I try to solve them.

Did I want to develop my own tools - not really, but, if I didnt do it, who would do it for me?  So I started out of neccessity and then realized, how much fun it actually is.  Look at some of the tools we have now compared to even 5 years ago.  Look how accessible they all are for the general creative.  The more we can work together with these tools, and solve inefficiencies that arise from using mulitiple tools, the more we can actually focus on creating.  To me, all this, is all the inspiration I need.

You wrote some absolutely essential Python scripts for LightWave 2018, I know it might be difficult because there are so many, but do you have any particular favorites?

Honestly, that is difficult, the pack covers so many areas, for sure, one of them has to be the preset system.  I believe it will change how people will work, in addition to providing people an opportunity to share preset packs in whichever form they choose.  In my world, we work on so many projects and a lot of times, it's harder to find and reuse an asset than to go and build a new one.  Take textures for example; lots of people have 1000's of textures, but for them to find one, will be difficult, it's often just easier to go to Google and find what they are looking for.

My new preset system changes that completely, not by only visually making it easy to browse, but by also doing useful tasks when you restore the asset.  It's really very hard to describe in text, but the videos show it quite nicely.  Look at the instancing preset system or the FiberFX preset system.  It's a thing of beauty to be able to apply any of the presets as a whole, or just as a layer to an already existing setup.  IES Lights, usually you'd have to go to an external application, and see what the IES light even looks like. All that, is a thing of the past.  I don't know how it could be made easier now, and that's a good thing.

Besides that, there are so many things that I have run into in the past, and just thought "This could be done better and more efficient".  On every job, I note these things and when there's some time, I try to fix them.  OD2015 and moreso OD2018 is the fruit of all that.

What changes in LightWave 2018 has helped you in writing these tools?

During the development, I've pushed so hard for fundamental SDK changes and additions.  Those changes, came with 2018.  The ability to make the different subsystems talk to each other I believe is game changing for Lightwave.  For non-scripters or non programmers, this might not mean much, however, as a 3rd party dev by heart, what I have shown with OD 2018 is really only scratching the surface. There's so much more to come. Also the general speed increase of working within Lightwave 2018 has made not just the development of tools, but also working on projects a lot more fun.

Do you have any tips for users coming from previous versions of LightWave to 2018 using your tools?

Specifically talking about the tools - watch the videos, they should give you a pretty good understanding.  And while you are working in Lightwave 2018, if you are missing something or do find something cumbersome, check OD Tools to see if there's a solution for it in there.

For those wanting to get into LightWave Python, which resources would you recommend?

This one, I get asked a lot.  I've successfully converted and helped quite a few artists, that didn't think they could script.  The #1 advice I could give: Stop thinking that you cannot do something.  Then, as a close #2, start with something simple.  Don't try to write a new particle system, start with very simple things, and slowly, but surely progress. A lot of people think the documentation is lacking, but don't get hung up on that.  You don't need to understand everything to get started.  There are a lot of example scripts included, and with time, I am sure the documentation will improve.  I have some ideas on that front, I just need to find the time.

Last but not least - ask for help.  The LightWave community has always been a great resource.

Last question, as we have you here, we have to ask, which LightWave 2018 feature(s) would you say are the most exciting to you as a LightWave artist?

There is so much; the volumetrics system is great, volumetric lights have never been easier.  The general speed increases working day in and out, are phenomenal.  But more than anything for me, it's the SDK changes, as there isn't a lot that I couldn't do now anymore.  As someone working in production, you simply can't expect a company to implement every feature for you.  It would simply be impossible, and even if it was attempted, the implementation might not work for you, or works for you but not others.  So I am happy with building blocks being created, so I can implement a feature on my own.  Focus on the building blocks first.  Everyone wins, a healthy 3rd party support is absolutley necessary.

Since it's the last question.  I want to take a moment to thank the developers.  It is hugely important to me, to give credit where its due. It's probably not a secret anymore that during this cycle I've worked very closely with them and, whether this means anything to anyone, I can assure you, that the development team was not standing still.  I understand that this might not be visible to the users during the wait for 2018, and it is not my place to defend any actions, but just know, that the developers have been exceptionally busy, and open to some of the wild things I was trying to get done.  A large variety of what you see in OD 2018, would simply not have been possible without their effort.  I applaud them for providing changes to Lightwave and the SDK that make what I did possible.  And, I have a belief this is only the beginning :)

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Oliver, and thank you for making these fantastic scripts!

Thanks for reading, thanks for watching the videos, hopefully you'll enjoy using the toolset and just have fun creating!

You can buy Oliver's OD Tools for LightWave 2018 here.