August 12, 2008

NewTek Releases LightWave 3D 9.5 for Windows

NewTek Inc., manufacturer of 3D animation and video products, has released LightWave Version 9.5 for Windows, an update to its 3D application, LightWave 3D. LightWave 9.5’s new capabilities include FiberFX, a hair and fur solutionl a new lighting system; and many improvements to animation, rendering, and workflow. The update is available to registered owners of the LightWave 9 series at no charge. SIGGRAPH attendees can see LightWave 9.5 demonstrations at NewTek booth #159.
A highlight of LightWave 9.5 is FiberFX, a proprietary polygonal fiber modeler for creating realistic hair, fur, and feathers. It provides artists with a full suite of tools to model and style each fiber, create volumetric shadows, render-in reflection and refraction and more.

LightWave v9.5 also offers improved rendering quality and speed, with upgrades to the radiosity sampling system and interpolated modes. Also, there are new disk-based caches for radiosity: the Static Cache, for animations where only the camera moves; and the Animated Cache, where any element of the scene can move. Both types allow the user to pre-render the cache and apply the solution when doing the full scene render--either locally or across a render farm. LightWave radiosity can now be rendered at reduced resolution and applied to the full-size final render, providing a higher-quality output with even faster render times, a huge benefit for today's time-pressured production environment.

LightWave 9.5’s IK and animation system includes improved character animation controls. Adding to LightWave’s z-axis bones, artists now have joint-type bones, which is more familiar for users of other programs with joint-based metaphors. It also adds a "stretchy bones" capability to LightWave.

The lighting system is now a plug-in API, allowing third parties to create custom lights and lighting plug-ins. IES lights have been added with a thumbnail preview of the luminaire with other information and controls. Also available are new size-selectable spherical lights and dome lights.

LightWave v9.5 allows the import and export of FBX and Collada scenes and objects. This greatly improves compatibility with other 3D applications.

NewTek will be providing a free trial edition of LightWave v9.5 on disc and by download. Artists should note that there are now more than 24 hours of free LightWave training at, in addition to an extensive library of printable tutorials.

LightWave 9.5 for Windows is available now as a free update to registered LightWave 9 owners. The LightWave 9.5 Mac open beta program is currently available until upcoming final release. LightWave 9 owners can participate by registering at: LightWave 9 is available now at the suggested retail price of $895. Registered owners of LightWave 8 or earlier can upgrade to LightWave 9 for $395.