Lightwave 7.5 is the latest release of the acclaimed 3D-animation system, and best of all it’s free to current 7.0 users. Due to the upheaval in the high-end 3D market lately, Newtek publishes Lightwave only, while a new company called Luxology headed by ex-Newtek CEO Brad Peebler is in controlof development. This doesn’t seem to have harmed Lightwave at all. In fact, it’s safe to say that 7.5 is the best upgrade yet.
Helped by 3D guru Meni (www.menithings.com), Lightwave 7.5 has a stack of new and extremely worthwhile features. Top of the list are: on-screen virtual sliders, which control any animatable parameter; the Expression Builder, to guide you through the process of creating expressions and OpenGL motion blur; and depth-of-field previews.
Other improved areas include the motion mixer, Radiosity rendering – now with multiple bounces – and shadow map lights, which have coloured shadows. Luxigons are a new addition that allow you to attach lights to polygons in Modeller.
Lightwave 7.5 is very responsive on Mac OS X, and renders blazingly fast. Crashes seem to have been minimized too, though there are still the odd one or two now and then. One of the most interesting features in 7.5 is the Virtual Darkroom render filter, a previously impenetrable panel of numeric fields that can be used to match virtually any photographic film stock. Presets in version 7.5 allows anyone to enhance their renders with realistic film grain and colour balance. Lightwave 7.5 is a great upgrade to a package that keep on getting better and better.