Siggraph is over for this year, and as always there’s been plenty of announcements and releases within our industry this week. Vue 7 and ZBrush 3.5 was announced and I’m looking forward to further information about these releases, especially the new ZBrush release, which I suspect will be awesome, once again! The new Mudbox version looked interesting, but didn’t convince me enough to try it out instead of ZBrush. Also Luxology showed an interesting tech preview of the next Modo version, and the new BodyPaint version from Maxon looks interesting as well. And not to forget XSI 7, which is awesome, but comes with a hefty price tag, but I’ll keep my eyes on it in the future and might add it to my pipeline if I can justify the cost down the road. Lot’s of goodies in a short time.
But for me, the major event at Siggraph 2008 was the release of NewTek’s LightWave 3D version 9.5. A massive update to the core package of my pipeline!
LightWave 9.5 has been in beta since February this year, so I have had around six months of time to play with this baby until now. The 9.5 beta cycle has been the most interesting yet, the developers have been very responsive to input and suggestions for each beta release and the progress has been amazing through the months to the cool release it finally became.
This is without a doubt the best .x release of LightWave ever (and could just as easily been labeled a x.0 instead) with all the new major additions and fixes.
I won’t go through every new addition to 9.5 as the complete list is available in NewTek’s pressrelease. But my personal favorite additions that has kept me drooling through these months are:
- FiberFX, the brand new integrated Hair and Fur system. Based on Jon’s FFIV plugin, but since they brought Jon on board, it has evolved to a completely new beast, integrated into LightWave. For a first release I think it’s amazing, and with Jon on board developing this continously I believe it will have a bright future.
- Amazing GI improvements, with the once again updated radiosity engine, LightWave now calculates GI with an incredible rendering speed and image quality leaving most other render engines far behind. And one bonus word; Flicker free GI animation. LightWave is definitely again the state of the art rendering application, top of the line.
- Light API, the new light class, with lot’s of new native and 3rd party light types.
- Native FBX Import/Export/Merge. Finally, I can get rid of the AutoDesk FBX plugin for LightWave which was for 32 bit only. As a MotionBuilder user I rely heavily on FBX and are very happy to see this go native in LightWave.
- And so much more, the list can go on and on and on…
And did I mention that 9.5 is the coolest release of LightWave 3D to this date? And it’s a FREE update once again. Very cool of NewTek, an amazing release and value. LightWave might not be back at the top of the line where it once where, but they are definitely heading in the right direction with this release, and if they keep this progress going, I’m very excited to see what LightWave 10 might bring to the table, but in the meantime, congratulations to NewTek and the entire development team for the excellent 9.5 release!
I am a happy camper!