LightWave 9.5 Aims To Make 3D Graphics More Realistic

By Andrew Lippe
NewTek’s LightWave v9.5 3D software will make graphics on stadium scoreboards and in live Webcasts more realistic then ever. It features an all-new hair and fur solution, a new lighting system, and improvements to animation, rendering, and workflow.
“One of our goals with LightWave is to allow you to be more of a creator and less of a technician,” says Philip Nelson, Newtek senior VP, strategic development.
LightWave, which debuted in 1990, is 3D software that can be run on almost any laptop. It comprises two modules, Modeler and Layout. “Modeler is where is you create your elements, and Layout is where you bring them to life,” Nelson adds.
The new FiberFX provides artists with a full suite of tools to model and style each fiber, creating realistic hair, fur, and feathers.
A lot of stadiums are beginning to animate their mascots in 3D. In some programs, the hair would just stick out. In this version, designers can actually comb the hair. “It is freaky to watch,” says Nelson.
NewTek works frequently with Daktronics and its Keyframe division, which does the animations for the stadiums. LightWave software helps create scoreboard noise elements and animated intros.
Florida
State
University
, for example, uses LightWave for broadcast and in-stadium elements; in fact, students do the animations.
Available now priced at $895, LightWave v9.5 offers improved rendering quality and speed to the radiosity sampling system and interpolated modes. It has new disk-based caches for radiosity. Among them are Static Cache for animations where only the camera moves, and Animated Cache, where any element of the scene can move.
LightWave also has enhanced inverse kinematics (IK). “It allows your 3D character to operate like a puppet in the virtual world,” says Nelson. “It allows you to have handles like a puppet.”
Last year, the NHL launched live streaming on its site. Each team has a NewTek TriCaster for streaming, and all the virtual sets are created using LightWave, which enables each team to customize its set.
ESPN uses a TriCaster and LightWave 3D software for Webcasts of such shows as Monday Night Football, Mike and Mike in the Morning,
The Mike Tirico Show,
The Herd With Colin Cowherd, and College GameDay.
NewTek will also do a Webcast for the Aug. 30 preseason game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.
“We are doing a pregame Webcast on the field and then a postgame Webcast from the locker room,” says Nelson.
LightWave also helped created the animations in NASCAR on Fox’s “Who Will Flinch?” campaign and is used by the NBA D-League.