Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

NewTek ships LightWave 2015: price cut to $995

NewTek has released LightWave 2015, the latest update to its flagship 3D software, adding a Match Perspective tool, new Bullet physics constraint types, and updating the Genoma rigging system and GI rendering.

The release, which would otherwise have been LightWave 12, is the first update to the software in over a year, and marks a shift to Autodesk-style version numbering.

It also marks a price cut: LightWave 2015 sells for $995, down from $1,495.

New physics constraints and camera-matching tools
Top of LightWave 2015’s feature list are six new constraint types for the Bullet physics system added in the 11.x releases, including options for both mechanical and rag doll rigs, and a general-purpose 6DoF constraint.

There’s also a new Match Perspective tool, which automates the process of matching the position and rotation of a LightWave camera to a photographic backplate, along the lines of Cinema 4D’s Camera Calibrator.

Updates to existing toolsets
Several of the existing toolsets also receive updates. The one that will probably affect the most users is importance sampling, which promises “cleaner, more accurate” GI renders.

The Genoma modular rigging system, introduced in LightWave 11.5, also gets an update, although the website doesn’t go into detail, beyond “new and improved Human, Feline and Arthropod preset rigs”.

The workflow for parenting objects has also been overhauled. Parent-child relationships can now be assigned using “inutitive on-screen gizmos, rapidly speeding up the animation process”.

And there are several new options for edge rendering, including the option to render sub-patch borders or edges where geometry intersects, providing more control over cel-shaded and wireframe imagery.

There are also a number of smaller enhancements, including the option to use images to control geometry falloffs in Modeler; support for Alembic 1.5, FBX 2015; and a new rendering API for the FiberFX toolset.

Smaller, more regular updates in future?
When he reviewed the 11.x series of releases for CG Channel last year, Darkside Studios’ Andy Bishop identified what he felt were the key priorities for LightWave 12, included overhauling the HyperVoxels and particles toolsets, and things that he felt would be useful bonus features, like 3D painting and fluid simulation.

Although it does check some of the boxes on Andy’s wish list – like full QuickTime support for 64-bit users – by and large, LightWave 2015 isn’t that release.

Instead, rather than being a single, massive overhaul, it hints at smaller, more regular updates: the new version numbering suggests annual releases in future, in contrast to the three-year 11.x release cycle.

The software also comes at a new, more lightweight price: $995 for a licence, instead of $1,495.

Early reactions on the user forum are generally positive, although they focus more on continued improvement rather than any specific killer tool: a solid update, if not a spectacular one, seems to be the general view.

Read a full list of new features in LightWave 2015 on the NewTek website

See full pricing options for LightWave 2015 (Includes upgrades and educational pricing)