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Inside LightWave 7

A look at Dan Ablan?s latest By Stephen Schleicher
Inside LightWave 7 by Dan AblanAs fast as animation software gets updated, one would think that finding up to date books on the latest release would be hard to find. Dan Ablans Inside LightWave 7 manages to keep up with a great mix of solid information, tutorials and reference material that would take quite a while to find in manuals.

This book was released around the first of the year, just a few months after NewTek released 7.0 and the 7.0b patch, which gave users plenty of time to play with the new features, discover changes and, for some, learn an all new animation package. While the manuals for LightWave 7 are good, they sometimes leave questions unanswered, and really dont tell the user how to work with the new tools in a real-world project. Thats where Inside LightWave 7 comes in.

Not a manual rehash
The first portion of Inside LightWave 7 expands on the information found in the manuals and specifically focuses on the new and enhanced features found in the latest release. Ablan does a great job of explaining the differences between the various Modeling Modes, and when one mode might be used over another. He also clearly explains how the HUB fits into the LightWave universe, something many people mistake as a waste of memory and resources on their computers. An entire chapter (roughly 50 pages) is devoted to explaining the Surface Editor and how to use it to the animators advantage for creating very realistic textures, and the remainder of the first section covers Layout, the proper use of the Graph Editor and dealing with the LightWave 7 Camera. I particularly like the fact that Dan not only takes the time to explain the technical side of the software package, but also spends time discussing how to apply these new tools aesthetically.

The best thing about this first section is that not only does it clarify and explain new features and improvements, but there are specific tutorials the reader can work through to further their understanding. For someone brand new to LightWave, the first section of Inside LightWave 7 is invaluable. For the intermediate LightWave user, this section will probably be a very quick read, but one that should be done, as often little hints or tricks are dropped in that one may not have known previously.

While I really like the first section of Inside LightWave 7, the book really shines after that. Like his previous work, Inside LightWave 6, the remainder of the Inside LightWave 7 takes a project-based approach to learning. In this method, the reader takes a real-world project and walks through it step by step with the author as the guide. Other how-to books usually explain how to create a single object (a sign, a mountain, a building), and that is where they end. Inside LightWave 7 goes a step beyond by not only showing you how to create a building, for example, but also the sky, ground and proper lighting to tie it all together. In order for someone to fully understand an entire process, they need to follow it all the way through, and this book does an excellent job of that.

Another nice thing about these project-based tutorials is that they are very diverse. In one lesson, you may learn how to create a broadcast-quality network logo, and in another you are adding a skeletal structure to a bat.

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Related Keywords:Lightwave, newtek, dan ablan, inside lightwave 7, tutorial, training, book, review, animation, digital animators, stephen schleicher, modeling, reference


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