LightWave 3D combines a state-of-the-art renderer with powerful,
intuitive modeling, and animation tools. Tools that may cost extra in other
professional 3D applications are part of the product package, including 999
free cross-platform render nodes, support for Windows and Mac UB 64 and 32-bit
operating systems, free technical support and more. LightWave is enjoyed
worldwide, as a complete 3D production solution for feature film and television
visual effects, broadcast design, print graphics, visualization, game
development, and Web. LightWave is responsible for more artists winning Emmy
Awards than any other 3D application.
Major Studios and Post-Production Houses spend years assembling their
custom pipelines, often at great expense and requiring large numbers of
technical staff to maintain. Those complex pipelines are perfect for companies
with hundreds of employees, but can be overkill for the majority of studios
around the world with 40 employees or less.
LightWave fits seamlessly into large multi-software pipelines - with
its powerful interchange tools including FBX, ZBrush GoZ, Collada, Unity Game
Engine Support, and Autodesk Geometry Cache. Unlike other software packages,
LightWave offers artists and studios a complete end-to-end solution right out
of the box. Robust polygonal and subdivision surface modeling, unique.
Interchangeable layered and nodal texturing, along with powerful dedicated node
material shaders. Powerful animation and rigging tools.
Eye-popping volumetric and dynamic effects systems. A production
proven, award-winning Global Illumination render engine - built in. You decide
what workflow or pipeline suits you best and LightWave puts all of the tools in
LightWave has been the choice of countless studios and artists for over
20 years. Chances are LightWave was used to create many of your favorite films,
television programs, and games. Download the
LightWave 3D trial
today and see why so many artists depend on
LightWave to get their work done, on time, on budget, and with amazing render
quality - it's all in the box!
LightWave set the standard for polygonal, subdivision surface modeling
a decade before many of the other 3D software packages included even basic
polygonal modeling tools. While others were basing their pipelines on clunky
spline-patching workflows, LightWave artists were quickly and efficiently
modeling with smooth subdivision surfaces interactively. LightWave continues to
offer powerful, rock-solid modeling tools and the latest versions of LightWave
raise the bar with increased interactivity and ease of use.
LightWave offers two surfacing systems to the artist. A fast, simple to
use layer-based system, and a very flexible and powerful nodal system. Each
offer different workflows to suit the artist - for quick results, the layered
system is perfect for fast visualization and concept design. For those who like
to dig deep, the nodal system offers ultimate creative freedom.
These systems can be used independently of each other, but unique to
LightWave is the ability to mix them together. You can use the layered
surfacing to achieve results quickly, then choose any of the surface properties
to use in a nodal context. This allows you to create extremely complex results
very quickly. The node system also includes easy to use physically accurate
material shaders for glass, metal, skin and carpaint, allowing you to achieve
photoreal results quickly.
The rigging tools in LightWave are fast and flexible and again offer
artists choices in workflow. LightWave pioneered a very powerful and easy to
set up automatic joint influence falloff system. This means that you can either
choose to setup industry standard weight maps for your characters and rigged
geometry or you can elect to bypass that often time-consuming weight mapping
process for quick visualization and concept design animation workflows by using
the automatic joint falloff that is built in to LightWave's animation system.
This allows you to quickly and easily swap out geometry in rigs with zero
weight map hassles. But you always have the choice to work with weight maps for
that added control when your project requires it.
LightWave includes powerful procedural, nodal, and keyframe animation
tools. An easy to use and customizable keyframe graph editor allows you to
quickly place and edit keys, time scale, filter, and even manipulate your
animations with expressions. Bake your animations per keyframe or with frame
stepping and create motion clips to blend together within the non-linear motion
mixer. You can even bake animations to Autodesk geometry cache or industry
standard MDD files to simplify the scene for rendering or for export to other
For facial animation LightWave includes an efficient blend-shape system
called Endomorphs which includes all of your morph targets within your base
object. Endomorphs can even be sculpted in ZBrush using the new ZBrush GoZ interchange
tools included in LightWave.
Virtual Studio Tools
LightWave’s development team is bridging the gap between real and
virtual worlds, by bringing together the broadest array in any application of
new devices with which to interact with the set and characters inside
LightWave's virtual stage and model shop. Device support ranges from economical
mice, tablets and game system controllers to the sensor arrays and custom
cameras and devices used let directors, lighting grips and camera operators
walk a real set and fully capture their data into the virtual set modeled in
LightWave. Applications range from propelling your camera on an architectural
flythrough using a 6DoF mouse to puppeteering your characters live on stage
using Playstation Move controllers, to recording every camera move shot for
shot for a major motion picture, a technique pioneered on the film Avatar.
Instancing allows vast duplication of objects in a scene with very
little overhead. With instancing huge ‘virtual’ polygon counts can be achieved
allowing the artist to populate their scenes with incredible detail, yet retain
reasonable render times and memory usage.
While instances can be thought of as clones of the original source
objects, they do not need to look identical. They can be randomly scaled,
positioned, rotated and even surfaced entirely differently from the source,
allowing for a huge variety of uses.
Bullet is a fast, production-proven, open source physics engine that is
used in many high profile, effects-driven films and real-time game engines.
Bullet features 3D rigid body dynamics originally created by Erwin Coumans.
LightWave 11 features the Bullet dynamics engine directly in Layout so
that it can be used with the new Fracture tool in Modeler to create compelling
physics-based animation. Things like collapsing buildings, explosions, and even
natural placement of items in a random pattern, would otherwise be difficult to
do by hand.
Hypervoxels allows you to create beautiful smoke, flame, liquids,
explosions, nebulas, clouds or any other volumetric effect that you can
imagine. With real-time interactive support within LightWave's VPR, you can
experiment and adjust volumetric effects to your heart's content. All
calculated at beautiful, final render quality directly within the LightWave
Is a robust, fully-featured particle engine within LightWave. The
flexibility of ParticleFX allows a wide variety of looks; from explosive
effects to slow moving smoke-like behaviors. Particle emitters can be
stand-alone, or attached to objects to emit particles from their vertices,
polygon normals or surfaces.
ParticleFX works seamlessly with HyperVoxels to allow the rendering of
particles in any way imaginable.
If you need hair, fur, feathers, or scales then the FiberFX tools
included with LightWave are just what you are looking for. Styling and guide
creation tools are included so that you can get your fibers looking just as you
envision. FiberFX is known for its visual quality and its consistent look in
various different lighting environments. FiberFX includes a beautiful and
speedy pixel shader mode and for complex scenes where you need fibers to be ray
traced in reflections or refractions you have the option of a more detailed
LightWave’s flocking system is based on 3D computer models of
coordinated animal motion, things like flocks of birds, herds of animals or
schools of fish. It can be used with LightWave’s instancing system or
Use the Flock controller, which calculates crowd avoidance of
neighbors, target alignment, and cohesive attractions, to create realistic
natural motions, with ease.
Classic examples of flocking motion are:
- Flocks of Birds
- Schools of Fish
- Swarms of Insects
- Animal Herd Behaviors
- Craft Maneuvers (planes, alien ships, etc)
Network Software Renderer
LightWave includes one of the world's most amazing render engines at no
extra cost. Everything comes down to the final rendered image and with
LightWave you don't have to buy extra rendering software to setup a complex
render and shading pipeline. LightWave has everything you need to achieve the
most amazing results at the highest quality. You will quickly see why LightWave
is the Emmy Award-Winning Software used on so many top Hollywood films,
television shows, commercials, music videos, and games.
VPR (Viewport Preview
LightWave's VPR (Viewport Preview Renderer) is an interactive renderer
that enables artists to experiment with lighting, textures, volumetrics, and
shading right in the LightWave viewport. VPR produces results which are similar
to a final rendered image and often at a fraction of the time. VPR also has the
advantage of being able to render in any viewport and with any view type, which
demonstrates the versatility of the renderer.
VPR provides you with instant results and a shockingly fast interactive
rendered view of scenes and objects with interactive lighting, nodal shading
and full support for instancing, fibers, and volumetrics. The VPR has to be
seen to be believed... users of previous LightWave versions refuse to go back
after experiencing the LightWave interactive VPR rendering system right in
their viewport window.
Linear Colorspace Workflow
Linear Colorspace Workflow is the process of ensuring all scene assets
that are fed to the renderer are in the same colorspace as the render engine.
The resulting rendered image also needs profiling for the target display it
will be viewed on in order to look correct.
This process can be quite complex in other software. In LightWave, it's
as simple as turning it on, and choosing the output profile. LWF in LightWave
supports standard sRGB as well as ICC Color Profiles. You have complete control
over which assets are profiled, along with pre-defined presets to make setup a
LightWave offers all three major stereo camera rigs including parallel,
toe-in, and off-axis rig types. Artists have the ability to dynamically correct
for toe-in distortion in the animation pipeline and preview the stereoscopic
effect interactively in OpenGL with a simple click-and-drag convergence point
adjustment in the viewport. The interocular and convergence points can be
dynamically animated over time to track stereo changes within a shot and the
rig included in LightWave is the same exact rig used by several top Hollywood
production companies on full stereoscopic IMAX 60mm feature film effects
sequences on projects including 'Aliens of the Deep' and 'Ghosts of the Abyss'
both by James Cameron.
Python is an industry standard programming language prevalent in most
CG pipelines. The inclusion of Python in LightWave 11 allows even further
integration of LightWave into studio pipelines, as those familiar with Python
can quickly begin writing tools for LightWave.
LightWave has extremely robust interchange tools tested and
production-proven by top Hollywood studios. This allows easy dataflow back and
forth between LightWave and the other major 3D animation and effects software packages.
LightWave offers a complete pipeline from model to render but the sky is the
limit with your pipeline setup. LightWave can solve problems and offer unique
solutions for any mixed software pipeline.
For example, rig and animate in Maya and then export your geometry
cache files directly into LightWave where you can build your environments, add
effects, and then render the entire project in LightWave. Or simply model and
texture your geometry in LightWave and export via FBX to any major package. Another
example would be quickly rigging in LightWave and exporting the rig to
Motionbuilder where you can apply motion capture files and then import the
final character performance into Maya or Max. It's your pipeline with your
unique needs. LightWave can be a powerful tool to solve a large number of
production problems and help streamline your project.
FBX is one of the standards for 3D file interchange. FBX files can be
imported and exported with a few button clicks with support for bones, weights,
geometry, textures, UV’s, Camera, and Lights. Our FBX support makes it even
easier to integrate LightWave content into a variety of pipelines including
motion capture and games.
OBJ Geometry Export
OBJ import and export has been further improved in LightWave 11. Large
OBJs are now saved much faster than before. OBJs textured with image maps or
numeric values in other packages will come in textured but Nodal or procedural
textures will not translate in either direction. Autodesk’s Maya™ reverses
diffuse and ambient, so make sure you save OBJ files for Maya using the switch
provided on the OBJ tab of Options to ensure that your textures are transported
MDD Geometry Cache
MDD is a proprietary format developed by NewTek and was the first
commercially available geometry and deformation caching file format. MDD is
widely used in many 3D packages and provides an easy way to move animated
characters, dynamic simulations, and geometry deformations between packages.
The MDD Multi Baker allows users to select multiple objects at once to bake and
allows the user to export the geometry to .OBJ in one step.
Autodesk™ Geometry Cache™
LightWave also includes integrated support for Autodesk Geometry Cache
files as an alternative for geometry and deformation baking. This makes it
extremely simple to transfer files to and from Autodesk Maya™ or any other 3D
software that support these formats. This allows LightWave’s efficient
production proven workflow and exceptional renderer to be integrated easily
within any pipeline setup to help studios meet demanding budgets and schedules.
ZBrush GoZ™ Support
GoZ™ is an interchange technology from Pixologic® that allows
applications to send model and texture data to and from ZBrush™ for sculpting
detail on a base mesh. It has proven incredibly popular among many 3D artists.
The GoZ implementation in LightWave Layout and Modeler is robust and
fully featured. It allows you to exchange model data, along with all the
associated texture maps. The Modeler implementation even lets you use ZBrush
for sculpting Endomorphs for things like facial morphs.
GoZ now allows LightWave to be even more integrated within studio
pipelines, making it a great addition to the LightWave toolset.
Unity Game Engine Support
LightWave can now save scenes for Unity to enable a seamless transfer
between the two programs with an automated FBX file export system which is
updated every time your LightWave scene changes.
ASCII Text-Based Scene
Files and Object Referencing
The LightWave architecture is well thought out. LightWave has had a
very efficient and robust ASCII based scene file format from the very
beginning. This production-proven text-based scene file format set the standard
which other professional software packages have eventually followed. Because of
this simple, well thought out ASCII scene file format and the way that
LightWave references separate object files you never run the risk of a large
all inclusive binary scene file corrupting your assets. Additionally, LightWave's
text-based scene file format allows for amazing flexibility and customization
within complex pipelines when coupled with the powerful Python scripting
The way that LightWave references separate object files is also
extremely powerful and flexible in a pipeline. This means that the modeling
team can be updating the object files as the design progresses and those
objects are instantly updated across all scenes in the production. Or you can
try different looks on your character rigs with a simple object replace with
none of hassles that you might encounter in other software packages.