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Author Topic: Dissecting A Character.Nif  (Read 6713 times)

Offline Cyber Burn

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Dissecting A Character.Nif
« on: November 01, 2014, 01:13:35 AM »
So, I've been messing with NifSkope for quite a while now. The thing is, when I started, I was always told "What" to do, and not "Why" I was doing it. So while I knew to click "Copy Branch" on a Mesh piece, and to click "Paste Branch" to place it where I wanted it, I've never really understood what the individual Nodes in the Nif were used for.

So basically, I'm starting this thread in the hopes that maybe some of the Meshers and Skopers would be willing to share their knowledge about the different parts of the Nif File. I figured that the best way to do this would be to start simple. I have the "Male_Basic_Effects" Mesh (Unconverted) to begin with.

This is the first thing that you see when opening the Mesh in NifSkope. The "Scene Root". I have no clue as to what it is, or as to what it's purpose is.


Clicking on that first little arrow on the left opens the "Scene Root".

This brings out the:
"Handle"
"Weapon"
"Male_Basic"
"Omni01"
and a little lightbulb looking thing. Again, while I somewhat know what to do with these, I really don't understand what I'm actually seeing.


My hope is that this thread will expand, and more of the Community will develop an understanding of the Nif File, maybe some will try out NifSkope, or maybe even some will try out Blender. Either way, I'm hoping this will be a positive, and some of us will learn a thing or two.

Offline SickAlice

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2014, 03:21:32 AM »
This and anything like it is a good idea.

Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2014, 04:55:36 AM »
Quote
Clicking on that first little arrow on the left opens the "Scene Root".

This brings out the:
"Handle"
"Weapon"
"Male_Basic"
"Omni01"
and a little lightbulb looking thing. Again, while I somewhat know what to do with these, I really don't understand what I'm actually seeing.

Interesting.  When I'm in max,  I like to hide most everything except the male_basic mesh and the Omni light.  I usually hide the handle and weapon objects.  That Ambient light is a scene setting that's only used in the scene.  I made the first ten meshes in the dark, until I figured what the heck that was for  :doh:

Anyway, for clarification. 
The male basic is the mesh, and, most of the time, it is linked to the handle. 
The handle allows you to resize the mesh and anything else linked to the handle. 
The weapon object is used in animation. 
The weapon object, the keyframes, and the contact or ranged notes in the keyframes are used in timing the impact or emission of your FXs.   
The Omni01 is a light, but it also helps the reflective effects of your meshes. Hope that helps.


« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 10:16:16 AM by grenadier »
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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2014, 04:30:19 PM »
Quote
Clicking on that first little arrow on the left opens the "Scene Root".

This brings out the:
"Handle"
"Weapon"
"Male_Basic"
"Omni01"
and a little lightbulb looking thing. Again, while I somewhat know what to do with these, I really don't understand what I'm actually seeing.

Interesting.  When I'm in max,  I like to hide most everything except the male_basic mesh and the Omni light.  I usually hide the handle and weapon objects.  That Ambient light is a scene setting that's only used in the scene.  I made the first ten meshes in the dark, until I figured what the heck that was for  :doh:

Anyway, for clarification. 
The male basic is the mesh, and, most of the time, it is linked to the handle. 
The handle allows you to resize the mesh and anything else linked to the handle. 
The weapon object is used in animation. 
The weapon object, the keyframes, and the contact or ranged notes in the keyframes are used in timing the impact or emission of your FXs.   
The Omni01 is a light, but it also helps the reflective effects of your meshes. Hope that helps.

Awesome, thank you for joining in Gren, I'm really happy to have your input here.

With the "Weapon" being discussed, this time, the Pic is of Jik's "Deadpool" Mesh (It's the only Mesh I can think of off the top of my head). Again, this Mesh is unconverted.


1.) When you're talking about the "Weapon", do you mean the little Blue rectangle in front of the Mesh?

2.) Is this something that most Meshes have/need?

3.) And is it safe to assume that you wouldn't need to mess with this Node unless you are modifying the animations?


Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2014, 05:54:24 PM »
Yes the weapon object is the rectangle that's always in front of the character. 
All meshes have this object and acts as the contact point when hitting another opponent.
It also acts as the emitter point when doing a range attack. 

Imagine your character throwing a knife and seeing the knife fx NOT going out of the meshes hand but emitting from out of nowhere five feet away.  That is because, that's where the weapon object is located.  When animating, that weapon object has to be repositioned near your character's hand to give the illusion that when throwing the knife, it is coming off his hand.
 
Normally this weapon object is hidden, but in deadpool's case, it was left to display.

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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2014, 10:16:42 PM »
Yes the weapon object is the rectangle that's always in front of the character. 
All meshes have this object and acts as the contact point when hitting another opponent.
It also acts as the emitter point when doing a range attack. 

Imagine your character throwing a knife and seeing the knife fx NOT going out of the meshes hand but emitting from out of nowhere five feet away.  That is because, that's where the weapon object is located.  When animating, that weapon object has to be repositioned near your character's hand to give the illusion that when throwing the knife, it is coming off his hand.

So, if that is the point where the FX is emanating from, then theoretically, could you add multiple Weapon Nodes? For example, leave the first one as is, then have a second one located in the right hand (Named "Weapon_RH"), one located in the left hand (Named "Weapon_LH"), and one located in the head (Named "Weapon_Head")?

Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2014, 07:40:52 AM »
I did that with the cable mesh for his eye.  You can do that, if you do not have the tools to animate. For example you have a base mesh with an animation that you like but want an FX to emit from the foot.  you can either tag the toe as the fx emitter in FFedit or duplicate the weapon node, rename it, link it to the foot, and position it near the area where you want the FX to appear.  Don't forget to call it in FFedit for the FX you're using.   There are various options depending on what effect you're going for.

« Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 07:42:31 AM by grenadier »
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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2014, 04:47:21 PM »
This is really interesting. So, for example, your "Superman_Gren" Mesh, if I were to copy the Weapon Node, and place it in the Head (Re-Naming it "Weapon_Head"), then I could have cleaner results when setting up FX for his Heat Vision or Cold Breath?

Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2014, 05:11:35 PM »
Yes, but you don't really have to if you use the bones from the Biped instead.  Any object can be used as FX emitters including bones.  It's more efficient to use what the mesh already has, as opposed to creating something extra and doing extra work.
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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2014, 07:34:47 PM »
Awesome, thank you Gren. I think this answers all the questions that I currently have regarding the "Weapon" Node, so I'll give it a day or two to see if anyone else has any questions regarding this. If not, then I'll head to the next topic which will be the "Omni01".

Offline SickAlice

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2014, 03:25:28 AM »
I pulled off something like that recently. I gave Duela a node called flower. What it was was a flower lapel for one of her costumes. I lined that up with the brass flower that acts as an nozzle to the hose extending from the joker gas tank on her back. I then copied the acid spray cone FX in Edit and changed the node to flower. Sure enough the FX came from that point in game. I was pretty happy considering it was a shot in the dark.

Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2014, 05:56:41 PM »
I apologize for not keeping this thread running, as I've been a bit under the weather lately. I know I've found this thread to be interesting and educational, and I hope others have as well.

But to get it going again, I'll start the next topic, "Omni01". I have to admit, I am really lost here.

To start things off, here are a couple of examples. Once again, I will use the original "Male_Basic_Effects" and "Deadpool_Jik" Meshes (Both are still unconverted).





The "Male_Basic_Effects" Mesh has the "Omni01", and has the effects working. The "Deadpool_Jik" Mesh doesn't not have the "Omni01", and does not have the effects working.

The Omni01 is a light, but it also helps the reflective effects of your meshes. Hope that helps.

As pointed out by Gren previously, the "Omni01" helps the reflective effects of the Mesh.

1.) Is it required, or can you have a Mesh use effects without the "Omni01"?

2.) I've noticed that some Meshes contain more than one "Omni" Node, such as Tommyboy's "TvLite_Fingers_Basic", which contains an "Omni01" through an "Omni05". Are all 5 needed? Does this change the way the Reflect and Glow work on the Mesh?


Since the (Refl) and (Glow) are pretty much the bane of my existence, I'm sure I'll have more questions regarding this, but I'll stop here for now.

Offline El1jahSnowFan

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2014, 07:40:52 PM »
Wow -- this thread is amazing

I've been around for years and I can do a couple of things in Nifskope, but wow, I hope this thing keeps going

Offline hoss20

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2014, 02:35:36 AM »
The NiTextureEffect and corresponding Lightmap file are found within/underneath the Omni node. Since Reflection and Glow are essentially lighting effects, I imagine that is why the the NiTextureEffect is there. Being that the NiTextureEffect and Lightmap are necessary to "activate" effects, I would say that the Omni node is necessary. Now, this is coming from a skoper, so maybe a mesher could confirm whether the NiTextureEffect can be placed elsewhere.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 02:37:08 AM by hoss20 »

Offline SickAlice

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2014, 05:54:33 AM »
Not 100% sure on required but on my end I had to 1.) Have an Omni to have reflections and 2.) Direct any piece that wasn't to it (add Effects>#NiTextureEffect of Omni). I've been going through nifs actually correcting parts I remembered didn't have said assignment. May be a scenario where you can get away with it but I haven't run into it here.

Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2014, 08:21:00 PM »
Quote
I've noticed that some Meshes contain more than one "Omni" Node, such as Tommyboy's "TvLite_Fingers_Basic", which contains an "Omni01" through an "Omni05". Are all 5 needed? Does this change the way the Reflect and Glow work on the Mesh?

Yes you can use multiple Omni lights for multiple effects and reflections.  I did the same thing with the Silver surfer mesh at the request of Courtnall6.  At the time, I didn't understand why, but when the mesh was completed, it made sense.  He wanted me to make a different reflection effect for the board so that the silver surfer would reflect off the surface of the board.   So how does it work?

The male basic mesh would use the first Omni light and the board would use the second.   
The surfer and board would have their own lightmap, glow and refl files.

As a mesher,  I would use the include and exclude feature in the Omni light parameters to control what objects are affected by what Omni light.

Hope that helps.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 08:24:32 PM by grenadier »
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Offline SickAlice

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2014, 12:52:19 AM »
Ah, duh. I've seen that before in the numerous times I visited some of the GL nifs (speaking for the separate aura lightmaps used in later versions). I like that though, made a note in my work file as it sounds like that effect could be really useful for something down the road.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 05:10:14 PM by SickAlice »

Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2014, 02:14:33 AM »
Ok, I "Think" I'm starting to understand this. The "Omni" essentially dictates where the lighting is coming from? So for the "Male_Basic_Effects" Mesh pictured previously, the "Omni" Node is above the Mesh's Head, so that is where the light would come from, and how the reflection would respond, is that correct?

So for Tommyboy's Mesh, with the multiple "Omni" Nodes, light would approach the Mesh from all of those "Omni" Nodes?




Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2014, 06:54:57 AM »
The Omni light isn't like a spotlight.  It doesn't work that way.  The Omni light can be positioned anywhere like the sun and cover the entire scene.  Looking at the screen shot, I don't understand the redundancy of the multi lighting scheme.  I understand the basic three way lighting system when doing scene rendering for photorealism, but this isn't that either.  As to the reasoning behind it, I can't and won't answer for what another mesher does because everyone has there own methods to their madness. 
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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2014, 04:03:39 AM »
Ok, that helps, and I understand that each Mesher does things differently. That's actually part of the reason why I started this thread. I was hoping that since things are often placed in different spots by different Meshers, that maybe it would be beneficial to have a base understanding of what each piece does, and how it works in the overall Mesh.

As an example, the "Silver_Surfer_Gren" Mesh:



Both the "Male_Basic" part of the Mesh, and the "Board" part of the Mesh have a "NiTextureEffect". This is what I'm used to seeing when I look at Meshes in NifSkope. However, I have noticed that some Meshes don't do that, but still have the effects working. For example, Ink's "Black_Knight" Mesh:



The effects work on the entire Mesh, but I only see the one "NiTextureEffect". Now, to be honest, this kind of throws me off a bit when I'm Skoping. I don't quite understand what makes this work.

Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2014, 09:51:36 AM »
Hmm...  I don't see the other Omni light on the silver surfer mesh.  There should be Omni02 as well.  Is that the first mesh?
If so that won't won't have the the omni lights.
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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2014, 03:48:18 PM »
Going by what SickAlice said about the different Lightmaps for the GL Meshes, I understood what was being referred to, and I thought there was another Surfer Mesh out there, but I went through everything I had, and couldn't find it. I had thought about using either Ren's GL Meshes, or his Captain America/USAgent Meshes for this example, but I'm trying to keep everything FF1 based.

Offline grenadier

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2014, 05:41:49 PM »
Okay.  Just to put us back on the same page.  I've uploaded the mesh I've been talking about in the following Yahoo Group:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Grenadiermeshes16/files

You'll notice the reflective effects I was talking about.
At some point I'll update him  even more, just not right now as I'm fiddling with some blender stuff.

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Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2014, 06:55:24 PM »


Yup. This definitely puts us back on the same page. Thanks for uploading this Gren.

The two different "Omni" Nodes allow for different Lightmaps to be used, which in turn, allows for the Reflections on the different Mesh pieces to appear different. Now this I do understand.

But again, this is where I'm getting confused as well. Looking at both versions of the "Silver_Surfer" Mesh, both the "Male_Basic" part of the Mesh, and the "Board" part of the Mesh have a "NiTextureEffect", which, if I understand correctly, is needed for the Reflection and Glow to work.

This brings me back to Ink's "Black_Knight" Mesh. There's only one "NiTextureEffect", which is located in the "Scene Root", similar to the "Male_Basic_Effects" Mesh. I think where I'm stuck at, is how does that one "NiTextureEffect" affect every piece of the Mesh? What should I be looking for that tells me that the effects of the Mesh are activated?

Offline hoss20

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2014, 08:29:52 PM »
I would say that most meshes with Effects turned on have just one NiTextureEffect node/file. As Gren pointed out, having two or more Omni nodes allows the mesher to use different NiTextureEffects (and, therefore, lightmap files) for different parts of the mesh. You'll notice on the Surfer mesh that the two different Omni nodes contain two different NiTextureEffects and thus, two different lightmap files (board_lightmap and male_basic_lightmap). If you open these up in Photoshop or whatever art application you have, you'll see that the images/textures for the two lightmap files are different and show the reflection differently on the mesh. This is the purpose of having two or more Omni nodes, so that you can assign additional/different lightmap textures.

You must have an Omni->NiTextureEffect->lightmap in order for effects to work, but having more than one is merely to enable reflections to show differently for different parts of the mesh. The need for multiple Omni nodes if you want effects to show differently is that each piece that has effects turned on with a child NiTextureEffect references the original NiTextureEffect underneath its corresponding Omni. So, if you want a different lightmap file or NiTextureEffect, then you need to create an additional Omni as a parent for the additional NiTextureEffect for the mesh piece that you want to use the additional NiTextureEffect.

Yeah, that last paragraph got a lot a little wonky, but I hope it makes sense.

Offline SickAlice

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2014, 10:03:54 PM »
The Omni bit has a property called NiTextureEffect as you noticed. For the individual part to be effected their Nodes need to have an Effect in place to cover it.

If you click on any node and look at the Block Details at or near the bottom there's a branch for Effects. Open that and some will have the same number as the NiTextureEffect for the Omni typed in. This means that piece shares that lighting quality.

Then you'll find some that don't have that or maybe nothing at all. This means they do not share the lighting effect. If you look at a nif in CTool you'll notice those parts won't have any defined gloss even if the texture has been set-up to give them it and they have a "_refl.tga/dds " assigned. Like how I mentioned to recently the female_basic_green_lantern mesh didn't and I corrected it. Sometimes you miss a beat when your making a nif and in some cases early meshes predate these concepts.

Anyway, to give them gloss properly you click on the node, scan down to it's Effects. If the same number as the Omni's Effects node isn't present:
1. Change the Num Effects to 1, or add 1 more where needed
2. Right click on the Effects branch and select Array>Update
3. Click the + sign under Effects. In the empty slot type the same number for the Omni's NiTextureEffect in the empty space. All done, it's lighting qualities are now enabled.

Likewise if you want a piece to point to a different Omni and lightmap than it currently is you would just change that Effects number from one to the other.

Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2014, 10:40:17 PM »
I've spent the last 2 days going through different Meshes by different Meshers trying to get a better understanding of how the "Omni" and the "NiTextureEffect" work together. I think, for the most part, I have a somewhat decent understanding (Which will be put to the test with one of the Skopes that I'm working on). Grenadier, Renegade, Valandar, Bobby69/Vertex, Syn, Etc...While I can see the differences in how they each have created their Meshes, I can see the correlation between the "Omni", "NiTextureEffect", and the various Mesh pieces. The Meshes that I still can't figure out, belong to Ink.

Which brings me back to the "Black_Knight" Mesh:

In the "Block List", I see the "Omni" Node. Below that, under the "Scene Root", I see a "NiTextureEffect" Node. But, if I click on the "Male_Basic" portion of the Mesh, and open that up, there is no "NiTextureEffect" Node. The same goes for the "X_Chest", the "X_Loincloth", and every other piece on the Mesh.



Now, if I click on the "Male_Basic" node, and go to the "Block Details", if I look at "Num Effects", I see a "0". Looking under that, at the "Effects", there is nothing there.



However, looking at the Mesh in CTool, I can see that the Effects of the Mesh have been activated.



In trying to figure out "How" this works, the most logical reason that I can supply, is that the "NiTextureEffect" is attached to the "Scene Root", therefore affecting all the pieces of the Mesh, thus negating the need for there to be a "NiTextureEffect" on each Mesh piece. But this theory is coming from a Skoper, not a Mesher. If anyone can help with clarifying this, personally, I would really appreciate it.


Please don't think I'm picking on Ink, I have a lot of respect for him, as I do with all of the Community's Content Creators. I'm only using this as an example because it was the first one like this that I found. My objective here is only to understand "How" this works, not to question "Why" someone did something different than anyone else. I am very OCD, and when I start something, my OCD seriously takes control.

Offline Vertex

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2014, 03:23:17 PM »
   As someone who helped Ink repair a few of his meshes... Let me just say that his goal in making things was TOTALLY about looks. He kind of routinely broke all the rules of how to make a mesh normally and did whatever it took to get the look he wanted. In looking at many of the wigs he did for instance you'll notice often that vertices are pulled from the back through the front polygons and so on. He would resize objects in very odd ways to me to save time I think. I don't say any of this to diss the guy he pulled off some great looks often that I couldn't do. I'm just saying that when you look at Ink work, just bear in mind he got what he wanted in the end.
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Offline SickAlice

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2014, 04:05:11 PM »
That seems logical. The Scene Root (looking right now) has that effect accounted for and everything else is a child of it.

Offline Cyber Burn

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Re: Dissecting A Character.Nif
« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2014, 09:23:40 PM »
   As someone who helped Ink repair a few of his meshes... Let me just say that his goal in making things was TOTALLY about looks. He kind of routinely broke all the rules of how to make a mesh normally and did whatever it took to get the look he wanted. In looking at many of the wigs he did for instance you'll notice often that vertices are pulled from the back through the front polygons and so on. He would resize objects in very odd ways to me to save time I think. I don't say any of this to diss the guy he pulled off some great looks often that I couldn't do. I'm just saying that when you look at Ink work, just bear in mind he got what he wanted in the end.

Thank you for stepping in Vertex, I will say that this has been bugging me because I couldn't figure it out.

That seems logical. The Scene Root (looking right now) has that effect accounted for and everything else is a child of it.

Thanks SA, that was the only thing I could think of here, so it helps that someone with a better understanding of the Character.Nif is having the same thought process.



I think on that note, I'll let go of the "Omni" and such unless anyone else has something they would like to bring up.

Unless anyone else has something that they would like brought up, I'm thinking about trying to dissect the Irrational Meshes next (FFvt3R).