Darris Dobbs reviews the book, Inside Lightwave 3D, a comprehensive guide to this powerful computer animation program.
Inside Lightwave 3D is another entry in the familiar "Inside" series from New Riders. Dan Ablan was an excellent choice to write a comprehensive book covering the powerful Lightwave program. With seven years of experience animating with and writing about Lightwave, his familiarity with it is immediately obvious to the reader. The other contributors are as equally talented. Patrik Beck, Mike DeSantis, Bill Fleming, Bob Hood and Prem Subrahmanyam are all talented Lightwave artists who are respected in the Lightwave community. Together they have created a text that explores the program from a variety of angles. The Right Ingredients The book is laid out in a logical and sensible format. The author begins with the basics and then proceeds to cover modeling, layout and animation, MetaNURBS, texturing, lighting and cameras. It then proceeds to more advanced topics, such as using Bones for character animation, facial animation using Morph Gizmo, compositing, post-effects and the Super Cel Shader plug-in. The final chapter of the book addresses scripting with LScript. The chapters are well-written in clear language that should be understandable to all readers. The various features are covered adequately, but not all are covered in great depth. This is understandable, given that this is a comprehensive book and comes in at 717 pages as is. Each lesson is accompanied by a tutorial which makes it far easier for the reader to grasp the lesson. More importantly, the tutorials are interesting and useful. The language is lively and the book avoids the usual dry, sterile writing so common to computer graphics books. Of particular value are the inside tips and tricks. Beginners will find this book a welcome introduction to Lightwave. More advanced users will also find plenty of valuable material. Especially useful are the chapters covering textures and materials, lighting and atmosphere, and facial animation. The chapters on texturing alone are worth the price of the book. A valuable CD accompanies the book containing numerous demos, models, exercise files and sample textures. Inside Lightwave 3D is a valuable resource for anyone interested in getting the most out of one of the best 3D programs around. Inside Lightwave 3D by Dan Ablan. New York, New York: New Riders Publishing, 1997. 743 pages. ISBN: 1562057995 (U.S.$55 softcover) Darris Dobbs is the director of HieroglyFX Design and co-author of TrueSpace 3&4 Creature Creations and Animating Facial Features and Gestures.