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Chapter 4. LightWave 7 Layout > Using the Scene Editor

Using the Scene Editor

Managing any scene you put together requires that you are aware of everything going on in your animation. From time to time, however, you will need a visual reference of your setup and the capability to control items and make changes to them. Figure 4.29 shows the LightWave 7 Scene Editor with a scene loaded.

Figure 4.29. A complex scene shows each item’s hierarchy and keyframes.

The Scene Editor also can be considered the scene outline. You can use this to parent and unparent items, instead of the Motion Options panel. To do so, drag the selected item underneath the item to which you want to parent it. Figure 4.30 shows the line that appears representing the parenting position.

Figure 4.30. You can use the Scene Editor to parent and unparent items. The line represents the parenting position.


Although the Motion Options panel can be used to parent items, the Scene Editor is a better way to do so. By working in the Scene Editor, you have a hierarchical view of your object. The Scene Editor also allows for multiple parenting of items.

In Figure 4.30, the highlighted item has been selected and dragged underneath another item. The line represents where the selected item will be parented. If you move the mouse slightly over the parent, the line will indent, signaling to you that the selected item will become a child of the parent. Otherwise, you are simply re-arranging an item, which also makes the Scene Editor useful. Any item that is parented to another will be indented.

Keyframe Adjustments

In addition to the organization of your Layout items, the Scene Editor also can help you change the pace of your entire animation, or just one item. Figure 4.31 shows the Scene Editor with a small scene loaded. The shaded lines on the right side of the interface represent items that are in motion. The small plus signs within them represent keyframes.

Figure 4.31. The Scene Editor displays items that are in motion (the shaded lines on the right side of the interface) as well as keyframes (small plus signs).

Also, you can see in Figure 4.31 that the BlueBall object and the Follower_Camera have been expanded. By clicking the small plus sign in front of any item, you can expand the item’s properties to show its XYZ values for Position, Rotation, and Scale. Across the top of the main Scene Editor window, you’ll see numbers. These numbers represent time in your animation. If your scene is 185 frames long, you’ll see these numbers listed through 185. The Scene Editor is similar to the Graph Editor, without the ability to change keyframes.

You can click a shaded motion track and drag it to adjust its timing. Figure 4.32 shows the BlueBall object with its motion now starting 40 frames into the animation, rather than at 0. This was accomplished by dragging the motion track.

Figure 4.32. The Scene Editor allows you to move the entire motion of an item simply by dragging the shaded areas.

You also could move this motion to negative 40 frames. Perhaps you’ve set up a perfect motion for a flying logo. The only problem is, you need it to animate to its resting place much sooner. If you set up new keyframes, the perfect rotations and timing with other elements will be off. Instead, you can drag the motion to a value less than 0. When you begin rendering the scene at frame 0, the flying logo would already be in motion.

Later in Chapter 17, “Broadcast-Style Animation,” you’ll use the Scene Editor in a project to adjust the timing of animations.

Control Options

The Scene Editor also provides control for various options, such as the visibility of your Layout items, selection sets, colors, and Scene Editor channel control. You can choose to view which items are seen as wireframes, points, or shaded. Also, you have the ability to expand or collapse various channels. Figure 4.33 shows the section of menus available for adjusting your scene’s visibility at the top of the Scene Editor panel.

Figure 4.33. The Scene Editor gives you the power to adjust any item’s visibility.

With these menus, you can choose what to select, such as Objects, Lights, Cameras, or Bones, and how to view them, such as Wireframe or Solid. You can select various items and hide them to help keep Layout clutter to a minimum. Also, you are given the capability to make each item a separate color for organization.

Although the visibility controls in the Scene Editor are straightforward, take some time and click around in there. Try various selections and colors. Expand and collapse the channels of items while experimenting with parenting and rearrangement.

Audio Files

Audio files also can be loaded from the Scene Editor panel. Figure 4.34 shows the Audio drop-down menu requester.

Figure 4.34. Audio files can be loaded from the Scene Editor panel.

When you load an audio file (WAV file), you can instantly play it by choosing the selection from the menu list. By default, the Fixed Frequency option is turned on (checked). This keeps the pitch of the audio file constant as you scrub through it on the timeline. You will use this feature extensively in Chapter 11, “Character Construction.”

Shift and Scale Keys

The Scene Editor also allows you to Shift or Scale selected keyframes. For example, suppose that your client loves the animation you’ve created and is ready to sign the check. But, before that happens, the entire animation needs to be exactly five seconds shorter. By using the Scale Keys function, you can scale the entire scene to exactly the length you need. This is handy because throughout the animation, elements have varying keyframes, and resetting each of them would be quite tedious. Shift and Scale allow you to adjust timing without resetting keyframes. Chapter 16, “Nonlinear Animation” will give you a step-by-step explanation of these features.


There are a few other cool features in the Scene Editor, such as the ability to toggle items on and off. Do this by using the small checkmark. You also can shrink the horizontal size of the Scene Editor panel by dragging the left border. Add LightWave’s Item Picker and you have a good amount of control for your scene setup.

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