As sort of the oddball in the 3D industry, LightWave 3D comes as two separate programs: Modeler and Layout. Each began as one application created by one person in the late 80s, and it’s been updated and refined over the past few decades as one of the most respected program packages in the 3D industry. Over the years it’s been used in Jurassic Park, Titanic, Lost, Finding Nemo, 300, and plenty of other highly acclaimed pieces of art. Aside from being a great piece of software, LightWave 10 also has an amazing community for both beginners and veterans.
LightWave Modeler and LightWave Layout
LightWave is a bit odd when compared to most 3D software packages; it’s actually composed of two separate programs: Modeler and Layout. When both are running at the same time, a third process called Hub can be used to synchronize the work between both programs, but to keep things from getting confusing, here’s what you need to know. Layout is used mostly for making or editing animations, as well as rendering 3D scenes. Modeler is mainly just for modeling a 3D scene.
LightWave 10 Features
Like any other 3D software that’s been updated over several decades, there’s almost nothing LightWave 3D isn’t capable of accomplishing. That being said, here are the new feature benefits that NewTek is most proud of in their newest version of LightWave:
- Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) enhancements
- New Skin Shader node
- New Off-Axis Camera rig option
- Linear workflow
- MDD with powerful new enhancements including support for integrated Autodesk Geometry Cache
- FBX & COLLADA
- Improved ZBrush interchange
- Improved OBJ UV support
- Support for the InterSense VCam virtual camera system used in feature film Virtual Art Departments (VAD)
- Support for 3Dconnexion line of 3D mouse
More details for any of these features can be found in this LightWave 10 PDF file.
LightWave 3D System Requirements
Windows users who wish to use LightWave 10 will need a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7. An Intel core 2 or AMD Athlon II (or better) processor is also a must, as well as 2 GB of RAM for 32-bit users or 4 GB minimum for 64-bit users. As for Mac users, they’ll need an Intel processor and Snow Leopard Mac OS X 10.6 or better.
Both Windows and Mac users will need a USB port and a graphics card that’s as good as a NVIDIA GeForce 8400 series or ATI X1600 card.
NewTek has a spectacular community with a multitude of great options for LightWave 3D owners. The NewTek forums have thriving community sections for all NewTek products, with LightWave 3D alone responsible for over 20,000 threads containing over 300,000 total posts. Even better, once you’re a member you get the awesome perk of gaining access to the member freebies, which contains many free textures.
NewTek is also helpful when it comes to providing information on which schools teach their software. Their training centers page contains contact info for schools on every coast of America and even places in Mexico and Latin America. At least one of those schools should have online courses if relocating is an issue, but if you don’t have the time or money to get an entire degree then NewTek also has information on classes and training seminars. On top of all of this, they even have a full-time Customer Service center and a LightWave 3D Links section that points you in the direction of other online 3D communities and tutorials. Oh, one more thing! They also have over 24 hours of free training videos that are open to the public to check out. Awesome!
I’ve written about dozens of 2D and 3D software packages and when it comes to community support, LightWave or Blender might be the best!