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2019.0.3 / March 13, 2019
|Operating system||AmigaOS, Windows, macOS|
|Type||3D computer graphics|
LightWave 3D is a 3D computer graphics software developed by NewTek. It has been used in film, television, motion graphics, digital matte painting, visual effects, video games development, product design, architectural visualizations, virtual production, music videos, pre-visualizations and advertising.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Modeler and Layout
- 4 Features
- 5 Media releases that used Lightwave
- 6 Licensing
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
LightWave is a software package used for rendering 3D images, both animated and static. It includes a fast rendering engine that supports such advanced features as realistic reflection, radiosity, caustics, and 999 render nodes. The 3D modeling component supports both polygon modeling and subdivision surfaces. The animation component has features such as inverse and forward kinematics for character animation, particle systems and dynamics. Programmers can expand LightWave's capabilities using an included SDK which offers Python, LScript (a proprietary scripting language) scripting and C language interfaces.
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In 1988, Allen Hastings created a rendering and animation program called VideoScape 3D, and his friend Stuart Ferguson created a complementary 3D modeling program called Modeler, both sold by Aegis Software. NewTek planned to incorporate VideoScape and Modeler into its video editing suite, Video Toaster. Originally intended to be called "NewTek 3D Animation System for the Amiga", Hastings later came up with the name "LightWave 3D", inspired by two contemporary high-end 3D packages: Intelligent Light and Wavefront. In 1990, the Video Toaster suite was released, incorporating LightWave 3D, and running on the Commodore Amiga computer.
LightWave 3D has been available as a standalone application since 1994, and version 9.3 runs on both Mac OS X and Windows platforms. Starting with the release of version 9.3, the Mac OS X version has been updated to be a Universal Binary.
The last known standalone revision for the Amiga was LightWave 5.0, released in 1995. Shortly after the release of the first PC version, NewTek discontinued the Amiga version, citing the platform's uncertain future. Versions were soon released for the DEC Alpha, Silicon Graphics (SGI), and Macintosh platforms.
LightWave was used to create special effects for the Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager, Space: Above and Beyond, seaQuest DSV, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica television series. The program was also utilized in the production of Titanic as well as Avatar, Sin City, and 300. The short film 405 was produced by two artists from their homes using LightWave. In the Finnish Star Trek parody Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, most of the visual effects were done in LightWave by Finnish filmmaker Samuli Torssonen, who produced the VFX work for the feature film Iron Sky. The film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was made entirely in LightWave 6 and messiah:Studio.
In 2007, the first feature film to be 3D animated completely by one person without the typical legion of animators made its debut, Flatland the Film by Ladd Ehlinger Jr. It was animated entirely in LightWave 3D 7.5 and 8.0.
In its ninth version, the market for LightWave ranges from hobbyists to high-end deployment in video games, television and cinema. NewTek shipped a 64-bit version of LightWave 3D as part of the fifth free update of LightWave 3D 8, and was featured in a keynote speech by Bill Gates at WinHEC 2005.
On February 4, 2009, NewTek announced "LightWave CORE" its next-generation 3D application via a streamed live presentation to 3D artists around the world. It featured a highly customizable and modernized user interface, Python scripting integration that offered realtime code and view previews, an updated file format based on the industry standard Collada format, substantial revisions to its modeling technologies and a realtime iterative viewport renderer. It was planned to be the first LightWave product to be available on the Linux operating system. However, on June 23, 2011, CORE was cancelled as a standalone product and NewTek announced that the CORE advancements would become part of the ongoing LightWave platform, starting with LightWave 10 (which was originally LightWave HC, intended to be a transitional software system comprising the classical Layout and Modeler applications during the initial stages of CORE, in order to supply compatibility with the existing toolset for LightWave).
On December 30, 2010, NewTek shipped LightWave 10. It added an interactive viewport renderer (VPR), interactive stereoscopic camera rigs, linear color-space workflow, real time interactive physical teleoperation input (Virtual Studio Tools), and data interchange upgrades.
On February 20, 2012, NewTek began shipping LightWave 11 Software, the latest version of its professional 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software. LightWave 11 incorporates many new features, such as instancing, flocking and fracturing tools, flexible Bullet Dynamics, Pixologic Zbrush support, and more. LightWave 11 is used for all genres of 3D content creation-from film and broadcast visual effects production, to architectural visualization, and game design.
On January 31, 2013, NewTek shipped LightWave 11.5 which debuted a new modular rigging system called Genoma. The flocking system was reworked, gaining predator and prey behaviors. The bullet dynamics system was improved to include soft body dynamics, wind forces and to react to bone deformations. Interlinks to After Effects and ZBrush (via GoZ) were added as well. New tools, based on a new experimental subsystem were added to Modeler. It was originally thought that this subsystem would allow further enhancements to Modeler, but disclosures by a developer in the main user forums (since removed by moderators) indicated that this approach had been too problematic and another avenue was being considered to enable Modeler to evolve. FiberFX, the hair/fur system in LightWave, also saw improvements with the 11.5 release, to work with soft bodies and to also directly support curves from Modeler for guiding hair. Additionally, braid and twist support was added, to ease creation of complex hairstyles.
On November 1, 2013, NewTek shipped LightWave 11.6. This release brought a new animation tool, spline control, along with improvements to ray casting (to enable items in the scene to be precisely positioned on a surface, with optional offset. nVidia's CgFX was also implemented, albeit via the legacy shader system. STL support was added to enable output suitable for 3D printers. The virtual studio system was also enhanced to support a LightWave 3D group-authored add-on called NevronMotion, enabling direct motion capture (full body and facial) using consumer devices such as the Kinect (on Windows only) and re-targeting via a simplified user interface. A simplified Python system was made available for the Modeler environment and for common functions. The timeline for Layout support via this simplified system has not been disclosed. Alembic support was also introduced. Since the release of 11.6, two minor patches have been released to resolve software issues (11.6.1 and 11.6.2). In early May 2014, 11.6.3 was released to address a licensing system limitation.
On November 24, 2014, NewTek released Lightwave 2015. The release upgraded Bullet physics integration (constraints, motors, dynamics affecting bones), Genoma rigging automation plug-in with scripting, edge rendering, and the dynamic object parenting workflow. It also added a plate perspective matching tool, and Importance sampling to Global illumination. The retail price was lowered by a third.
On January 1, 2018, NewTek released Lightwave 2018. Features include: Physically Based Rendering System, Render & Light Buffers, New Volumetric Engine, OpenVDB Support, New Lighting Architecture, Surface Editor - Material Nodes & Surface Preview, Virtual Reality Camera, Modifier Stack & Nodal Modifiers, New Cel Shader & Enhanced Edge Rendering, More Integrated FiberFX, Layout-based Parametric Shapes, Physically Based OpenGL, & a Noise Reduction Filter. New Modeler Features include: "A ‘Layout View’ viewport shows the current camera view from Layout. In addition, LightWave 2018 Modeler provides new fully interactive tools including Lattice, Smoothing, Array and Spline Bridge to speed up your modeling."
In January 2019, LightWave 2019 introduced new integration tools with Unreal Engine, animatable mesh sculpting and painting in Layout, new UV mapping and UDIM tools (as well as support for smoothing groups) in Modeler, improved FBX interchange, shading model customization tools, new shape primitives, OpenVDB creation, shading/rendering enhancements, and workflow/UI improvements.
Modeler and Layout
LightWave is composed of separate programs, primarily Modeler and Layout. Each program provides a dedicated workspace for specific tasks. When these two programs are running simultaneously, a program called Hub is used to synchronize data between the two.
Modeler, as the name implies, includes all of the modeling features used to create the 3D models, while Layout includes features to arrange the 3D models, animate, and render them. Layout offers ray tracing, global illumination, and render output parameters.
This separation is unique among 3D computer graphics packages which commonly integrate their modeler and renderer. NewTek asserts dedicating workspaces for specific tasks creates an arguably more efficient 3D production workflow. A long-standing debate in the LightWave user community has consisted of whether or not to integrate Modeler and Layout into a single program. In response to this, NewTek has begun an integration process by including several basic modeling tools with Layout.
There is also a command line-based network rendering engine named Screamernet which can be used to distribute rendering tasks across a large number of networked computers. This is used to reduce the overall time that it takes to render a single project by having the computers each rendering a part of the whole project in parallel. Screamernet includes all the features of the rendering engine that is integrated in Layout but without an interactive user interface. LightWave supports 999 render nodes natively.
LightWave provides dynamics physics systems supporting hard and soft body motion, deformation, constraint, motorization, environments, and particles. It interacts with 3D object models, bones, and hair (FiberFX). LightWave includes both Bullet and legacy proprietary (comprising ClothFX, SoftFX, HardFX, ParticleFX emitter, wind, collision, and gravity) dynamics engines.
Hypervoxels are a means to render different particle animation effects. Different modes of operation have the ability to generate appearances that mimic:
- Metaballs for objects like water or mercury, including reflection or refraction surface settings
- Sprites which are able to reproduce effects like fire or flocking birds
- Volume shading for simulating clouds or fog type effects.
LightWave comes with a nodal texture editor that comes with a collection of special-purpose material shaders. Some of the types of surface for which these shaders have been optimized include:
- general-purpose subsurface scattering materials for materials like wax or plastics
- realistic skin, including subsurface scattering and multiple skin layers
- metallic, reflective, materials using energy conservation algorithms
- transparent, refractive materials including accurate total internal reflection algorithms
- dielectric shading to render the behavior of light rays passing through materials with differing refractive indices
NewTek expanded LightWave's parameter setting capabilities with a node graph architecture (Node Editor) for LightWave 9. This Editor enabled broad hierarchical parameter setting on top of its fixed and stack-based parameter setting support. Example node types include mathematical, script, gradient, sample, instance, group, and shader. Nodes are usable within the Surface Editor, Mesh Displacement, and Virtual Studio features. A node plug-in API was released for third party developers to add their own nodes.
A notable example of third-party node development is Denis Pontonnier's Additional Nodes. These free nodes enable modifying images, renders, procedural textures, Hypervoxels, object motions, animation channels, and volumetric lights. Also they enable particles and other meshes to drive node parameters.
LScript is one of LightWave's scripting languages. It provides a comprehensive set of prebuilt functions you can use when scripting how LightWave behaves.
LightWave Plug-In SDK
Media releases that used Lightwave
Per the LightWave website.
- 007 GoldenEye (1995) - The World Is Not Enough (1999) - Die Another Day (2002) - Skyfall (2012)
- 300 (2007)
- A Thousand Words (2012)
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
- After Earth (2013)
- Alice in Wonderland (2010)
- Angels & Demons (2009)
- Armageddon (1998)
- Avatar (2010 Visual Effects and Art Direction Academy Awards)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- Black Hawk Down (2001)
- Blade (1998) - Blade II (2002) - Blade: Trinity (2004)
- Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
- Deep Impact (1998)
- Eagle Eye (2008)
- Elysium (2013)
- Fantastic Four (2005)
- Ghost Rider (2007)
- Hancock (2008)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
- Hellboy (2004)
- His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (2007)
- Hotel for Dogs (2009)
- I, Robot (2004)
- Iron Man (2008)
- Jumper (2008)
- Jurassic Park (1993 Visual Effects Academy Award) - Jurassic Park III (2001)
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) - Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
- Looper (2012)
- Men in Black (1997)
- Mortal Kombat (1995) - Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
- Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
- Nanny McPhee (2005)
- Nim's Island (2008)
- Old Dogs (2009)
- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
- Panic Room (2002)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
- Pitch Black (2000)
- Poseidon (2006)
- Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
- Red Planet (2000)
- Repo Men (2010)
- Scary Movie (2000) - Scary Movie 2 (2001) - Scary Movie 4 (2006)
- Scooby-Doo (2002)
- Serenity (2005)
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
- Sin City (2005)
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
- Spider-Man (2002) - Spider-Man 2 (2004) - The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
- Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) - Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
- Superman Returns (2006)
- Teeth (2007)
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
- The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
- The Aviator (2004)
- The Cell (2000)
- The Conjuring (2013)
- The Dark Knight (2008)
- The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
- The Fifth Element (1997)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 film) (2011)
- The Hunger Games (2012)
- The Italian Job (2003 film) (2003)
- The Last Samurai (2003)
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
- The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
- The One (2001)
- The Pianist (2002)
- The Road (2009)
- The Ruins (2008)
- Titanic (1997 Visual Effects Academy Award)
- Tropic Thunder (2008)
- Vampires Suck (2010)
- Van Helsing (2004)
- Wind River (2017)
- X-Men (2000) - X2 (2003) - X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006)
TV films and independent movies
- Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (2012)
- Café (2011)
- Dante 01 (2008)
- Iron Sky (2012)
- Sharknado (2013)
- Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
- Space Station 76 (2014)
TV series and miniseries
- 24 (2001–2010)
- Babylon 5 (1993 Visual Effects Emmy Award)
- Battlestar Galactica (2007, 2008 Visual Effects Emmy Award)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
- CSI: Miami
- CSI: NY
- Dark Angel
- Do No Harm (2013)
- FlashForward (2009-2010)
- Frank Herbert's Dune (2001 Visual Effects Emmy Award)
- Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (2003 Visual Effects Emmy Award)
- Grey's Anatomy
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- Lost (2005 Visual Effects Emmy Award; 2004–2010)
- Miami Medical
- Mike & Molly
- Mob City
- NCIS: Los Angeles
- Once Upon a Time
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
- RoboCop: The Series
- seaQuest DSV (1993–1996)
- Sleepy Hollow
- Space: Above and Beyond
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)
- Star Trek: Enterprise (Emmy Award nominee) (2001–2005)
- Star Trek: Voyager (1999, 2001 Visual Effects Emmy Award)
- Stargate SG-1 (Emmy Award nominee; 1997–2007)
- Teen Wolf
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
- Terra Nova
- The 4400
- The Big Bang Theory
- The Cape
- The Orville
- The Outer Limits (1995–2002)
- The Walking Dead (2010–present)
- The Visitor
- The X-Files (2000 Visual Effects Emmy Award)
- Time After Time (2017)
- V (2009–2011)
- Xena: Warrior Princess
- Alien Investigations A Channel 4 TV documentary examining four alien sightings from 2007 to 2012.
- Aliens of the Deep A James Cameron's 3D documentary film (2005)
- Animal Armageddon (2009 documentary TV series created 100% in LightWave 3D)
- Batman & Bill Documentary about the uncredited co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger. (2017)
- Ghosts of the Abyss James Cameron's 3D documentary about the wreck of Titanic (2003)
- The Great Alone tells the inspiring comeback story of Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey. (2015)
- Tim's Vermeer (2013)
Animated CG films and cel shaded cartoon series
- A Bug's Life
- Anastasia (1997 film)
- A Troll in Central Park (1994)
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Battle for Terra (2007)
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins
- Cars (2006)
- Cats Don't Dance
- Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future
- Danny Phantom
- Dexter's Laboratory
- Doki Adventures
- Dora the Explorer
- Family Guy
- Fanboy & Chum Chum
- Finding Nemo (2003)
- For the Birds (film)
- Geri's Game
- Invader Zim (2001)
- Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
- Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness
- Little Einsteins
- Littlest Pet Shop
- Max Steel
- Monsters, Inc.
- Ni Hao, Kai-Lan (2008)
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- T.U.F.F. Puppy
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (spinoff TV series of the film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, 2002–2006)
- The Ant Bully (2006)
- The Fairly OddParents
- The King and I
- The Lion of Judah
- The Penguins of Madagascar
- The Powerpuff Girls
- The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
- The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat
- The X's
- Thumbelina (1994 film)
- The ZhuZhus
- Toy Story (1995)
- Toy Story 2 (1999)
- Xyber 9: New Dawn
Anime and Japanese OVA series
- Appleseed (2004)
- Armored Trooperoid Votoms Finder
- Batman Ninja (2018)
- Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)
- Blue Submarine No. 6 a 2000 anime OVA adaptation of a post-apocalyptic manga series.
- Coicent (a 2011 Japanese original video animation)
- Celebi: Voice of the Forest (Celebi: A Timeless Encounter is a 2001 Japanese original film animation)
- Fragile Machine (a 2005 indie cyberpunk short film created by a team of artists) .
- Freedom Project
- Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
- Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro is a 2004 Japanese original film animation)
- Kakurenbo (Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek is a 2004 Japanese cel-shaded anime short film).
- Mary and the Witch's Flower (2017)
- Napping Princess (A.K.A. "Hirune Hime", a 2017 fantasy adventure film, nominated for Annie Award)
- Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime is a 1997 Japanese original film animation)
- Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (Guardian Gods of the City of Water: Latias and Latios is a 2002 Japanese original film animation)
- Sakura Wars: The Movie (2001)
- Short Peace mainly in the Oscar nominated short film Possessions (Tsukumo).
- Sleep tight my baby, cradled in the sky (2014)
- Space Battleship Yamato 2202: Warriors of Love (2017)
- Miyazaki's Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi is a 2001 Japanese original film animation)
- Steamboy (2004)
- The Ancient Magus' Bride
- The Animatrix
- The Secret World of Arrietty (Kari-gurashi no Arietti is a 2010 Japanese original film animation)
- The End of Evangelion (a 1997 Japanese animated science fiction film)
- Tokyo Ghoul (2014 Anime)
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
- Alien vs Predator
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
- Blood Omen 2
- Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon
- Brute Force (video game)
- Burnout 3: Takedown
- Burnout Legends
- Burnout Revenge
- Civilization III
- Cold War (video game)
- Crash Nitro Kart
- Dark Sector
- Deus Ex
- Deus Ex: Invisible War
- Doom 3
- Driver: Parallel Lines
- Duke Nukem 3D
- Escape from Monkey Island
- Fallout 2
- Ground Control II: Operation Exodus
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Heroes of Might and Magic III
- Icewind Dale
- Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos
- Killzone 2
- Kingdom Hearts
- Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child
- MechWarrior 4: Vengeance
- Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness
- Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven
- Ninja Gaiden II
- Omikron: The Nomad Soul
- Planescape: Torment
- Quake 4
- Resident Evil Code: Veronica
- Ridge Racer
- Ridge Racer 6
- RollerCoaster Tycoon
- Serious Sam
- Serious Sam II
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Sonic Adventure 2
- Sonic Heroes
- Super Mario Sunshine
- Spyro: A Hero's Tail
- Star Trek: Klingon Academy
- Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force
- The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
- The Last Guardian
- Ultima Online
- Unreal Championship
- Unreal Tournament
- V-Rally 2
- Virtual Pool 3
Prior to being made available as a stand-alone product in 1994, LightWave required the presence of a Video Toaster in an Amiga to run. Until version 11.0.3, LightWave licenses were bound to a hardware dongle (e.g. Safenet USB or legacy parallel port models). Without a dongle LightWave would operate in "Discovery Mode" which severely restricts functionality. One copy of LightWave supports distributed rendering of up to 999 nodes.
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