The Full Circle Motivation Design Team Reviews The Latest Software Release From Lightwave Alongside 3DS Max

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The latest release of software from Lightwave – 11.5 – includes many new features that are already present in the competitive 3DS MAX. Full Circle Motivation makes a comparison between these two products.

3DS Max

3D animation and rendering just got that bit smarter

As a leader in the use of 3D animation and rendering software, the Full Circle Motivation design team likes to keep abreast of the most promising new developments in this field, and the latest software released for purchase in February 2013 from LightWave 3D® Group – LightWave 11.5 – would certainly seem to fall into this category.

So what’s new? The LightWave software includes some great features, such as predator-prey flocking. This lets artists animate grouped objects (fish, dinosaurs, birds, aircraft or even spaceships) realistically via a motion modifier that uses intuitive crowd avoidance to prevent collisions with neighbouring objects.

Also included is an instancing feature, which not only duplicates a large number of objects in any scene without burning up memory capacity but also enables scaling, positioning, surfacing and rotation of randomly replicated objects. The fracture feature does exactly what it says – it lets the animator pre-fracture any object predestined for obliteration using a modeller tool. Closely related is the “Bullet Dynamics” feature – a boy’s favourite that collapses buildings, simulates explosions or creates deformations as if a structure were transformed from bricks and mortar to, say, rubber, jelly or cloth.

LightWave 11.5 also features a character rigging system called Genoma, which enables highly streamlined character animation: realistic looking giant spiders can be conjured effortlessly with this capability. Data related to texture and model can be imported or exported to Pixolologic ZBrush and depth-of-field stereoscopic motion can be rendered with the software’s Viewport Preview renderer.

So how does it compare? Tardieu’s 3D designers at Full Circle Motivation have looked at LightWave versus 3DS MAX and make the following observations.

Relatively Inexpensive
Large following in TV Industry
Super-fast modelling tools
Included Renderer produces great GI results
v10 has a cool real-time preview feature (VPR)

Modifier Stack
Object Instances
UV Mapping Tools
Mental Ray Included
Single Application for Modelling and Layout
Large User Base
Frequently Updated

The difference in cost between the two should speak for itself – 3DS MAX is around three times the price. However, it also seems that many of the new features within Lightwave are already in 3DS MAX, so Lightwave appears to have caught up (at a lower price).

Full Circle should know. Their 3D solutions include modelling, sculpting and poly-painting. From a single room to a large scale project, they can model and render from client plans to give a photo real look and feel. Their work makes it possible to make design related decisions well before the project is actually completed.

“It seems that 3D animation and rendering just got that bit smarter but quite frankly, our clients don’t care one way or the other, says Tardieu. All they want is creative input into a perfect animation or render, on time and to budget – no pressure then.

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Victor Tardieu
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