LightWave 3D, a name that resonates with nostalgia for many in the 3D community (including many of our own colleagues), is making a remarkable comeback. After a hiatus that left many wondering about its future, LightWave Digital has breathed new life into this classic software. The release of LightWave 2023 marked the beginning of a new era, and as we look towards 2024, the excitement within the 3D community is palpable. Here’s a detailed look at what this means for LightWave 3D, its users, and LightWave render farms.
After three years without updates, LightWave Digital's acquisition of LightWave 3D from Vizrt was a pivotal moment. The newly formed team, consisting of former NewTek staff and key community members, focused on reviving and modernizing the software. The release of LightWave 2023 was their first major step, bringing several groundbreaking features and improvements:
This innovative system revolutionizes 3D modeling in LightWave. It allows users to generate and manipulate geometry using a procedural approach, making the process more dynamic and flexible. The system is packed with over 25 nodes, including Boolean CSG, Extrude Geometry, and Scatter Points, offering users unprecedented control and creativity in 3D modeling.
The Instancer Brush is a standout addition to LightWave 2023. It enables users to 'paint' instances such as rocks or vegetation over surfaces in 3D scenes. This feature not only enhances control over instance distribution but also adds a layer of intuitiveness to the scene-building and layout process.
A welcome addition, this feature allows for the creation and animation of 3D text directly in the Layout application. It supports various text styling options, such as beveling and alignment, opening new avenues for designers in text-related animations and effects.
LightWave 2023 also introduced a series of quality-of-life improvements, especially in the Node Editor. These changes streamline the workflow, making the software more user-friendly and efficient.
The inclusion of valuable add-ons like TurbulenceFD for fluid simulations, OD Tools (now LightWave Pro Tools) for workflow enhancements, and ChronoSculpt for sculpting and editing animations, significantly elevates the value of LightWave 2023.
An exciting development is the upcoming support for Unreal Engine 5.x, which will enable real-time communication between LightWave Layout and Unreal Engine, enhancing LightWave's capabilities in real-time rendering.
Initially launched as a Windows-exclusive, a macOS version compatible with Apple Silicon is in the works, expanding LightWave’s accessibility to a broader user base.
While full details of LightWave 2024 are yet to be revealed, the advancements in LightWave 2023 set a promising tone for its future iterations. We speculate that users can look forward to enhanced procedural modeling, improved instancing capabilities, and better integration with platforms like Unreal Engine 5.x. The focus on user experience and efficiency improvements is expected to continue, making the software even more robust and user-friendly.
The revival of LightWave 3D is more than just a software update; it's a significant development in the 3D software landscape. LightWave's comeback introduces a seasoned player back into the 3D software market, prompting other software developers to innovate and improve. LightWave's updates are designed to appeal not only to its loyal users but also to attract new users seeking a balance of power and usability.
Adaptation Across Industries: With features geared towards procedural geometry and real-time rendering, LightWave is becoming more adaptable to various industries, from VFX to architectural visualization. LightWave Digital's development approach, heavily involving the community, is a testament to a user-centric model in software development.
The revival of LightWave 3D under LightWave Digital's stewardship is a testament to the enduring value of this software. The enhancements introduced in LightWave 2023 and the anticipation for future releases have reestablished LightWave as a formidable tool in the 3D modeling and animation realm. Its blend of powerful features, coupled with community-driven development, ensures that LightWave 3D will continue to be an essential tool for creatives in the 3D world. As we look forward to what 2024 holds for LightWave 3D, one thing is clear: its journey is one of innovation, adaptation, and renewed relevance in the ever-evolving world of 3D graphics.