For what has seemed an absolute eternity Newtek have sat in silence, seemingly leaving Lightwave to die. Today finally there is news that Lightwave isn’t dead. Not only that, but it seems quite a lot has changed.
Although the renderer in Lightwave was actually always a strong point, it’s been re-written. A physically based rendering engine with improved realism, lighting, and ease of use. The full major pints rundown is:
- Physically Based Rendering System: Completely rewritten rendering, shading and lighting architecture for greater realism, accuracy and ease-of-use
- Render and Light Buffers: Expanded workflow for render and light buffers that simplifies compositing and offers more flexibility, including real-time preview of new buffers in any viewport using VPR, as well as custom buffers using the node editor
- Volumetric Engine and Open VDB Support: Using the new volumetric render primitives, artists can specify physically based properties, Scattering, Absorption and Emission parameters, along with powerful node networks
- Light Capabilities: New lighting architecture brings physical lights that can be optionally visible to the camera, and improved loading of IES web files to better match the intensity of real manufactured lights
- Surface Editor, Material Nodes and Surface Preview: The Surface Editor has been overhauled for the new shading system with powerful node-based materials that are presented with a familiar interface
- Virtual Reality Camera: Includes both cylindrical and spherical modes for creating stereo 360-degree renders and animations for VR applications
- Modifier Stack with New Deformation Nodes: Unlocks and simplifies the previously fixed order of operations for Bones, Morphs, Subdivision and Displacements with the ability to drag and drop to re-order mesh deformations interactively
- Cel Shader and Enhanced Edge Rendering: Offers flexible non photoreal render control over material shading and allows gradient-based cel shading, while Edge Rendering uses any material available in the Surface Editor to shade any line
- More Integrated FiberFX: Expanded to integrated closely with the new lighting and shading system and can use any material on the fibers. Fibers are now generated using the new primitive object architecture
- Layout-based Parametric Shapes: Parametric shapes allow for creation of virtual primitive shapes in Layout that can be displaced, surfaced and rendered without needing any geometry
- Noise Reduction Filter: Speeds up render times by using less Global Illumination rays and samples, while allowing for clean up of the resulting noise using filters instead of increased render settings
- New Modeler Features: Layout View viewport shows the current camera view from Layout. Also new are fully interactive tools including Lattice, Smoothing, Array and Spline Bridge
Additionally, LightWave 2018 includes new enhancements to the Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) and introduces many additional new features and improvements such UDIM texture support, more supported presets, FiberFX, Unity 5 support, and more.
I really do hope this give some resurgence to Lightwave, as it sure sounds promising.
I’m too well set in Modo now to go back, but for those who have stuck by Lightwave and waited it’s fun times in 2018!