Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 07/13/06 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

LightWave 9.0 First Look Part 1

Modeling and Rendering improvements score big By Stephen Schleicher

In April, I got a behind the scenes look at NewTeks latest release of LightWave v9, and was impressed by the improvements made  in the then early beta version of the software. Now several months later, more improvements and features have been added that make this a rock solid animation program for film, video, games, websites, and more.

Before I get into my review, you should note this is a first look at some of the more striking features I like.  There are so many improvements to this release, that it would be a prohibitively long review to include them all.

When you first launch LightWave v9 (Layout or Modeler) you might expect to see some major interface changes or design, similar to what happened with the transition from 7.0 to 8.0.  Not so this time.  The interface looks exactly the same.  But it is what is under the hood and what appears in the various panels that make you sit up and take notice.

Many Modeler tools and improvements have been made to make building your objects much easier.  The biggest is the inclusion of Catmull-Clark subpatches that allow you to create SubDs with more than four sides (also called N-gons).  A really easy way to demonstrate this is the classic cylinder.  While all of the side polygons are quads, the ends of the cylinder have multiple edges.  With Catmull-Clark subpatches you still get the SubD you are looking for.  This allows those of us who hate modeling on quads or tri polygons to still have smooth surfaces.

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In addition, you can refine your models thanks to Edge Selection.  In the past whenever I wanted to refine a shape I had to either select a bunch of points and move them, or several polygons and move them, when all I really needed was to select the edge between the polygons.  Now you know what Edge Selection is all about. 

And because Edge Selection works with many Modeler tools, you can use it in conjunction with select loop, selected connected and more.  For those building human models this is a time saver when adding details (like wrinkles) to the object.

Speed Booleans allow you to do Boolean actions in a single layer.  This speeds up model creation as you dont have to move the cutting tool to one layer and keep the object in another.

The biggest complaint Ive heard from those ?other 3D application users for years has been, ?Why do I need two different applications to model and animate?  Id rather do it all in the same window.  Well those misguided users can feel comfortable migrating to LightWave v9 as NewTek have implemented Mesh Editing in Layout.  This means you can use many of the Modeler Plug-ins that work on the entire model directly inside Layout. 

This is a new direction for NewTek, and while it is a bit of a kludge to get it to work the way you want in LightWave v9, it will improve over time to the point where a rough model can be moved to Layout early with all the further refining and improvements done there.  Im hopeful NewTek is not dropping Modeler altogether as old-school LightWavers like me love the workflow used between the two apps.

List Manager
When you have a scene with thousands (maybe millions) of objects, it can be difficult to find just the object you want from the drop down list.  Heck, you may not even have thousands, but a long list is a long list.  For example, if you have a spaceship made of four different objects, and it is in a scene with 15 other space ships and a sub-station, then selecting those four objects are a hassle.  With List Manager you can group those four objects together for easy access again in the future.

HV Deformer
Ive been in love with HyperVoxels since they were first introduced way back in the day, but have been disappointed by the lack of deformations available to them.  The new HV Deformer stretches and squashes the Voxels based on the distance, and particle interaction.  Another improvement to HyperVoxels is they now require 40 times less memory than before, meaning HVs are going to render fast!

Dynamic Motion Paths
Im really keen on the new dynamic motion paths that can be created with null objects.  Instead of dealing with multiple wind effectors to get your particles to flow in the direction you want, you simply drop null objects in a path and the particles will flow.

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Even better, you can rotate and resize the nulls for dramatic effect.


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Related Keywords:lightwave, animation, 3d, newtek, modeling, lw, sub surface scattering, displacement,


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