LightWave 10 Review: A New Beginning
One of the most groundbreaking and user favorite features introduced in LightWave 10 is the Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR). This feature allows you to turn any of your Layout viewports into a real-time interactive renderer. VPR gives you real-time feedback as you adjust items in your scene and is a massive time saver. One of the biggest "Holy Cow" moments I've experienced using LightWave 10 was when I loaded a scene that had several particle emitters with HyperVoxels applied to them, and they were displayed real-time within the VPR viewport. I immediately gave Volumetric Lights and FiberFX a go and was equally as impressed when they were displayed. These were features I thought would be a couple of years away from being displayed in real-time.
I experienced some additional surprises with VPR as well. For instance, it allows me to generate accurate animation previews extremely fast, and the OpenGL Overlay viewport option lets me display OpenGL controls, bones and more right on top of the real-time render. This has proven invaluable for posing characters for the high resolution images I've been creating recently.
After about a week of using LightWave 10, I found myself always having at least one viewport set to VPR with no real performance hit. It completely changes Lighting and Surfacing in LightWave, and I can only imagine the impact it will have on newer users who are experiencing lighting and surfacing attributes for the first time.
With 3D Stereoscopic being the hot item these days, LightWave 10's new Anaglyph Stereoscopic Preview option is sure to be a production pleaser. LightWave has had the ability to produce stereoscopic rendering for years, but with this real-time interocular, red-blue anaglyphic separation, it now delivers the ability to view changes as they happen in the Camera viewport. The days of test renders have become a distant memory.
Industry veteran Rob Powers (Tintin, Avatar), recently joined NewTek as VP of 3D Development, and I'm sure his experience working in the Virtual Art Department (VAD) for Avatar played a major role in the development of LightWave 10's Virtual Studio Tools. This toolset allows you to gain a true "on location" experience through interaction with massive 3D scenes in real time with control of light placement and camera directly in your 3D application. LightWave now supports InterSense Virtual Camera Tracking System and 3Dconnexion 3D mouse, allowing interaction with models and scenes in real time.
LightWave has been used in mixed pipelines at studios around the globe for years, and that's never been easier than now with LightWave 10's data interchange enhancements. LightWave's MDD file format has been a favorite for transferring animation data across multiple software pipelines, and in LightWave 10 the format has been enhanced to include support for Autodesk Geometry Cache, FBX, COLLADA, ZBrush interchange and improved OBJ UV support allowing LightWave to fit easily into any mixed pipeline.