More Lightwave praise… I’m not kidding, this is going to be Good!

I’ve ben praising Newtek and their 3D Suite “Lightwave” on a couple of occasions. This time I want to point the ones in doubt onto a track of future optimism and, hopefully, a shitload of fun.

The upcoming Lightwave Core, scheduled for Q4 2010, will incorporate seamless connectivity against the most promising standards out there, and will eventually include support for components mentioned in this text.

I’ve received questions by artists, or say, budding artists, that is in “serious” doubt about the big changes between the current (open beta) 9.6.1 64-bits Mac/Win release that uses the separation between the Modeler application (modeling) and Layout (everything else). Core will by default merge the different tasks into one application by dividing the UI into “workspaces”, without the need of “The Hub” for synchronizing data layers and plenty of other stuff. No more F12 for switching apps.

BUT, you can if you insist use the same workflow as in LW 9.x, this is a matter of preference settings. So no worries, your training won’t be “outdated” in a year.

The following workspaces will be available:

• Model

• Surface

• Setup

• Animate

• Render

• Composite

In addition to the above, the following items are also presented as aspects of the Animate workspace:

• Creation Tools

• Deformation (Subset)

• Transforms

• Dynamics (Collision Detection, Etc.)

• Constraints

• Scripting

Rendering:

LightWave 3D with CORE technology offers two different flavors of rendering: Viewport Preview Rendering (VPR) and CORE rendering.

VPR

The CORE viewport rendering engine allows for direct interaction with elements in the rendering, from the rendered view. Any viewport can switch to VPR, and even portions of viewports can be specified for viewport rendering.

VPR is essentially the CORE rendering engine operating in an iterative, interactive fashion. Whatever CORE can render, VPR can also render. The results will be virtually identical, with some exceptions, as VPR does prioritize to deliver on speed and interactivity.

As VPR is a complete version of the CORE rendering engine, not a subset, it can render global illumination interactively, however, with less interactivity due to the amount of performance required to produce GI renderings. Fortunately, the CORE rendering engine is fully multithreaded, another benefit leveraged by VPR.

The more processors you have available to you, the faster VPR will render.

Now, to the juicy stuff:

The Composite workspace in CORE is capable of image manipulation and compositing via a selection of internal tools, as well as available third-party plug-ins that support the OpenFX standard (OFX). OFX is an open source plug-in standard for developing 2D digital visual effects.

The Foundry (http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/), Re:Vision Effects (http://revisionfx.com/) and GenArts (http://www.genarts.com/product/sapphire/ofx/fxlist) and several other prolific plug-in vendors offer a variety of image processing and manipulation plug-ins in OFX format.

Core uses the industry standard file format Collada for scenes, as it handles cross pipelines, and the Collada format offers all the structures a combined application needs.

The optional Modifier Stack (Lightwave finally has memory!)

The CORE modifier stack is an attribute of each mesh item. Every CORE mesh item has a modifier stack behind it. The modifier stack is a living record of all of the geometric operations applied to a specific object. Operators in the stack can be rearranged (doing so can produce notably different results), enabled, frozen (so as to be un-editable or “flattened”), muted and deleted on command.

Scripting:
Every expression in Core are Python based.

Industry-standard Python forms the basis of the scripting in CORE (currently version 2.6). The Python implementation is layered into CORE via SWIG. SWIG is a language-interfacing layer that allows the CORE SDK to be accessed through languages other than the factory Python language that ships with CORE.

Now to the really Juicy stuff:

CORE integrates the popular Bullet Physics Library (http://bulletphysics.org/wordpress/)

into the CORE unified dynamics solver. Bullet supports both rigid body and soft body collisions. Bullet plans to offer OpenCL support in the future, which fits with the development of CORE.

The Bullet Physics Library offers the following benefits:

Open source C++ code under Zlib license and free for any commercial use on all platforms including PLAYSTATION 3, XBox 360, Wii, PC, Linux, Mac OSX and iPhone.

• Discrete and continuous collision detection, including ray and convex sweep test. Collision shapes include concave and convex meshes and all basic primitives.

• Fast and stable rigid body dynamics constraint solver, vehicle dynamics, character controller and slider, hinge, generic six degrees of freedom and cone-twist constraint for rag dolls.

• Soft Body dynamics for cloth, rope and deformable volumes with two-way interaction with rigid bodies, including constraint support.

In CORE, you can use dynamics for simulation, modeling, or interaction with scene items. Animation created in CORE can be exported into LightWave Layout (and other applications) via the MDD file format.

Modeling with dynamics example: Consider an alley scene with crates. You can choose to place the crates (and other debris) by hand, or you can choose to use the dynamics tools to help streamline the process.

TRUE MULTI PLATFORM SUPPORT

CORE is written in C++, and designed as an object-oriented application. CORE uses several different technologies and libraries to deliver state-of-the-art performance. For the user interface, CORE uses the Qt libraries from Nokia. The Qt environment is fast becoming a standard throughout the software development industry. It is available on all platforms, allowing for a single codebase development process, which is very important when you have more than one host operating system to support. By using Qt, Newtek can offer LightWave CORE for Linux as well as Windows X and Mac OS.

Lightwave is capable of every stage of production, from modeling to physics and animation. It’s priced at a fragment of other products that can deliver the same feature set. This makes it a perfect mach for wallets, individuals and small to medium studios.

Did I mention the 999 free network render nodes?

Need I need to say more?

Go get it!


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Lightwave 3D 64-bit for Mac! (And why the others suck)

I’ve always been impressed by the folks at Newtek.
Listen. They’ve given out every god damned updates to their major releases for free, for as long as I can remember. Point release? 9.x to 9.5, no problem!
Download and be happy.

Lightwave has been (and still is) a choice for several 3D studios, in all sizes.
Reason? There are plenty, but the thing I’m focusing on now is:
The pricing is REASONABLE.

The product ships with batteries included.
Sure, it isn’t as intuitive as many other apps out there when you’re starting out, but most people usually hide as much of the UI elements when they get comfortable with any application. Screen real-estate and minimal distraction, right?

There is one thing that caught me by surprise the other day. This might be old news for many, but that’s irrelevant for this post anyway.
I was looking for a plugin at Flay, when I saw some forum post about the 9.6.1 beta. What? More 9.x. whatever releases? 9 was released in, like, I don’t remember. Years ago.
Yep. There it was. The Universal Binary RE-WRITTEN for the 64 BIT MAC COCOA framework.
Why do I shout? Autodesk is a big company, wouldn’t you say?

Maya is a pretty old lady, a workhorse, a friend, whatever, but not a 64-bit old woman.

Why? Because the thing is written in Carbon, and Apple has decided not to introduce 64 bit native applications using Carbon. Applications such as Photoshop, Maya and whatever needs to get a major overhaul to run as a native Cocoa application. Not a one week investment.

Now try placing Newtek and Autodesk in a side by side setup.
What’s that tiny thing doing in line?! Hey, they did it! They took the time, and listened to customers wish-lists, while at the same time working with the new Core foundation for the Next-Gen Newtek 3D application, named / codenamed “Core”.

Autodesk is too busy buying up companies these days, so maybe it just slipped.

Lightwave has Batteries included?
Yep. You get one of the best polygonal modeler apps around, see this extremity, if you have not done so: http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/store/product/339/

You also get:
Really good texturing tools, a superb node-based material editor, great animation tools, easy and effective rigging tools, good “hair and fur” support, good dynamics (hard/soft body etc), motion graphs, particles, gravity, smoke, fire, hell, the whole enchilada!

So, I should be employed in NT Sales dep, but I’m not.
You don’t see all that much of this “propaganda”.
Wise people spend money on their products, then, in turn, the satisfied customers will act out all the commericumulus they need. (I know that word does not exist)

I surfed by Maxon’s Cinema 4D web shop the other day.

Price: Module based, from base module up to XL and Studio.
Base: about $1000,- (This is only the basic stuff, and BodyPaint)

Oh, you want hair and fur with that? $500 extra.

What? Dynamics? Really? $500 more, please.

It goes on like this.
Oh you want it ALL??? Particles, render-nodes, toon rendering, and the works?? You must be crazy, but ok, that’ll be $4.500,- please!

About the same price as Maya, and other packages.

So… What does Lightwave cost? I mean it has all those things as well, so maybe $3500,-?

Nope. Full package, years of updates for: $995,- Boxed with printed manuals.
Oh, why did I start this post. I’m getting emotional here.

I’ll stop right now.
Autodesk: Get a grip. The bigger you get, the harder you fall.

Newtek: This is business strategy.

Some wise words to end it all:

“Fortune favors the Prepared Mind”
L. Pasteur