LightWave Goes PBR With 2016

lightwave voulmetric logoLightWave is my go-to modeler. Since taking up studies I’ve acquired a number of student licenses for various programs, but I keep coming back to LW. This is at least equal parts, “easier to do in LightWave”, and “creature of habit”. Be this as it may, I’ve been thinking that a move to MODO (sometimes known as new LightWave) is inevitable.

While LW 10 and 11 have both been positive releases, the core program infrastructure is ancient and there are lots of modelling tools I’d love to see added. MODO has many of the modelling features I want, with an interface easy for LW users to adapt to. Adding to this there seems to be a long culture of impending doom on the LW forum, and indeed, there is a good deal of anecdotal evidence suggesting that some LWers have jumped ship.For this reason I’ve been on the fence about upgrading to 2015, but recent teasers from the LightWave3D Group are giving pause (and a whole big pile of speculation).

lightwave 2016 volumetric effect

Physically Based Rendering, Unified Geometry Engine And More

It seems big things are happening with LightWave 2016. A recent post on the LW forum by Rob Powers (President of the LightWave Group), showed off some very pretty physically based volumetric renders, with the promise that more news and a blog would be fourth coming. Since then we have seen an initial blog post with hints at something referred to as the “unified geometry engine”, which will be implemented in the next version of Layout (LW’s animation and rendering component).

Just what this new geometry engine does has not yet been revealed, but it could be a step in the direction of unifying Modeler and Layout (pretty high on the LWer wish list), or bringing new modelling tools to layout. Of course, it could be something else entirely. Rob indicates that there are more new features for 2016 yet to be announced.

A native LightWave PBR render engine is very cool, and given LW’s positioning as a budget generalist program, with a historical popularity with indie and lower budget studios and productions, this makes good business sense. While biased renderers have remained king (LW packing one of the best natively incorporated engines), PBR engines are set to take over. With LW’s included 999 free render nodes, this could well entice some studios to adopt or move back to the program.

LightWave New PBR Three volumes

A post in the previously mentioned thread on the LightWave forums (by an individual presumably in the know) suggests that the new physically based engine is pure CPU. This seems strange when PBR seems to be moving to GPGPU with CUDA and OpenCL, but apparently this new engine is fast as it is. I suspect GPU options are still on the table for future iterations.

So, sounds good so far, but I’m more interested to see what, if any, modeller enhancements are coming. In the mean time I have to decide to update to 2015 and save on 2016, or if it’s better to wait and see. For me, a new render engine, given the wide variety of choice out there, just isn’t enough. Updated GPU dynamics would be welcome, but for me, it is all about modelling tools.

Discount on upgrades and crossgrades

Right now you can crossgrade to LightWave 2015 from everything from Adobe Photoshop to Maya for $695. Those with existing LW licenses can upgrade for $395. Given that upgrading to LW 2016 from versions prior to 2015 will cost $795 there is a saving to be had by upgrading now (offer ends 15th October).

e-on Acquired by Bentley Systems

LumenRT_ALDOTAccording to a fresh press release, a big company that does something has acquires e-on. It seems that Bentley Systems REALLY likes LumenRT, so much so they decided to buy the whole house. So far, it seems everything will be business as usual from the perspective of the average user of e-on products. e-on will continue to exist as a subsidiary of Bentley.

Sales and support of all e-on software, except the higher tier versions of LumenRT, will still be available through the e-on website. Those higher tier versions of LumenRT will be sold and serviced directly by Bentley. So, Bentley get LumenRT and a well known brand, and it seems that e-on’s software will see greater investment, both from Bentley directly, and through exposure to some big clients.

It’s nice to think that this will lead to better Vue, Plant Factory etc for all, and given the wide CG industry usage of e-on products there is no reason to think the e-on name is going away any time soon.


Reality 4.1 Set For Release 21st September

Faster Physically Based Rendering For All!

Exciting times coming up for Reality users. The recent release of LuxRender 1.5 is everything many LR users have been waiting for, and a huge step towards what others are nervously scratching themselves raw for – full featured LuxRender GPU rendering. Taking advantage of the recent release, Reality 4.1 is a grand update for both DS and Poser users. Both Reality and LuxRender have had an extraordinary impact on the community over the years, bringing many artists (hobbyist or otherwise) their first taste of physically based (and accurate) rendering.

For much of that time users have struggled to balance render times with quality, but now with LuxRender 1.5 we are seeing large speed gains on CPU – up to 21 times faster according to the latest YouTube post by Paolo Ciccone. This is the big draw for current Reality users, and will likely be an equally big draw for those considering their PBR options. On top of the gains in CPU rendering, LR 1.5 also includes updates to their OpenCL GPU based renderer.

It would be hard to argue that the inclusion of Iray in DAZ Studio, and to a lesser extent, since the development of Poser, DS and Carrara plugins for Octane, there hasn’t been a diminished interest in LuxRender. I’m one of them. I’ve always stuck with the budget mid level AMD cards, but with Iray effectively halving the “get PBR quickly” entry point, it was too good to pass up. So seeing these latest developments with LR and Reality (not to mention the tantalising future LuxusCore hints at) is a very welcome development. It feels as if balance is returning to the force. Artists wanting in on the PBR racket now have more choice. It’s no longer a matter of go CUDA or wait for the glacial beauty of LuxRender. AMD or Nvidia, CPU or GPU; all DS and Poser users can look forward to faster PBR on a budget that suits them.

It’s Not All About Speed With Reality 4.1

For me, the Reality interface has always been a weak point of the product, particularly when it comes to editing materials. In versions prior to 4, like many other users, I found configuring materials, especially in larger scenes with many surfaces (sometimes with obscure naming conventions), a frustratingly laborious task. Even with updates in this area included in Reality 4, I still often found the messy but natively integrated Luxus much quicker to use. Now it looks like Reality 4.1 is set to squash even more UI nitpicks with the ability to easily bulk edit materials within and across objects.

There are many more very welcome upgrades and additions in Reality 4.1, but I won’t go into them here. Some can be seen in Paolo’s YouTube presentation.

4.1 will be a free update for all current Reality 4 users. Users still on older versions can buy an upgrade direct from Preta 3D – currently $9.95. Reality 4, for those that don’t own it or a previous version, can also pick up DAZ Studio and Poser versions from the previously mentioned Preta 3D, from DAZ 3D, or just about every conceivable DAZ/Poser community store around.

Stuffing a Desktop Into a Tablet

CG on the bus, CG in the park, CG in the mall CG everywhere!

This is just a quick post about two competing beauties I want. I don’t know what it is like for normal people, but as a dude interested in cg I’ve often found myself in places and thought, “I really want to model this place”. Some times I’ll snap a few reference shots, but ever since the launch of the first generation the Cintiq Companion the idea of being able to sit there (where ever that may be) and model an intriguing item or the environment that surrounds me, has been pretty high up there on the “Things I Think About List”.

Of course, most of the people who want these cool things for the intention they were made for can’t afford them. i know I can’t, but it hasn’t stopped me fantasising about one materialsing at the most inspired moment.

So, what exactly am I getting so excited about? There have been pretty nifty tablet computers for a long time now. Yes, true, but having an i7, gigs of RAM, a dedicated graphics card, a precision stylus – all on a Windows based system is SO much more than a nifty tablet you can doodle and play Angry Birds 2 on. You can Z-Brush on these things! You can put together massive PSDs on these things without crashing out on insufficient RAM. You can do hardcore rendering on these things (though doing that a lot probably isn’t advisable).

Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

The number 1 such tablet is the Cintiq Companion 2 (i7) variants. I want one, like serious-burning-NEED type of want. Wacom are the bee’s knees when it comes to graphics tablets, and their extraordinarily accurate stylus is the number one reason the Cintiq Companion 2 is king of the pro grade tablets.

Cintiqu Companion 2 @ Amazon (feel free to buy me one while you’re there)

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Number 2 is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 (i7 variants). When talking processing power the Companion and the Surface are fairly equal. The one shortcoming of the SP3 is it’s stylus, but at around half the price of Wacom’s tablet computers this is a pretty minor issue. The Surface Pro 3’s stylus might not be as accurate as the Cintiq Companion’s but it is still far superior to just about any tablet out there, so yes, you still get a relatively frustration free sculpt or drawing/painting experience. Another big difference between the two tablets is that the Cintiq boasts a 13.3 inch screen vs the Surface’s 12 inch.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 @ Amazon

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 @ Newegg