View Full Version : making a living using lightwave

11-17-2011, 09:42 AM
Hi all,

I have been using lightwave professionally for about 7 years, primarily working in a design team creating visuals for exhibitions and interiors (retail/museum) However times are a changing and I see my current company struggling. Therefore I am having to consider other options for next year.

My questions are:

What do you guys use lightwave for in your professional capacity?

What industries still use Lightwave? (I am in the UK)

Are there sectors where there is more work (either freelance or full employment) where I should take a look?

I am pretty much a lightwave generalist and can use most of it (except perhaps rigging, which isnt my bag!)



11-17-2011, 10:25 AM
Currently I'm using it to...

Create an architectural visual of an apartment/commercial complex for a planning application

An animation of a specialist welding habitat being flown to a gas platform and assembled

An animation of the inner workings of a tide mill

Product visuals for a cosmetics company

...and some TV stage set concepts

My clients couldn't care less about what software I'm using, they'll come to me with a brief, sometimes with a budget, and I provide pretty pictures. I could use Max, Maya, Modo, truespace, bryce...it's fairly irrelevant.

If I was looking for employment I honestly wouldn't expect to find a job using Lightwave in the UK but you might be lucky. Freelance is definitely your best bet.

11-17-2011, 10:35 AM
I work for a medical animation company in the US, Connecticut and have been since 1996. (2 different companies)

Basically, I'm a jack of all trades. Edit, composite, lighting, rigging, rendering, animating, modeling. You name it.


stiff paper
11-17-2011, 10:48 AM
The last place I knew of in the UK that you could call a "full studio" (i.e. more than two people) that was using LightWave was Absolute Studios in Glasgow, but they've closed and gone now (and from what I know, only the TD was earning worthwhile money there anyway).

Hopefully somebody's going to chime in here and tell us about all the places I've never heard of. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

Other than that I think it's a lot of people who're working as single person companies or freelancing.

A useful link:- http://www.cgstudiomap.com/

11-17-2011, 10:59 AM
I work in advertising, TV, and a tiny bit of visualization. Having a handle on 3d is definitely key to be able to do it for a living. 3d is a bit of commodity though so be careful not just hang your hat on knowing how to push the buttons. The real value (and money) is in being able to come up with good ideas and turn them into visuals.

11-17-2011, 12:03 PM
Also, the nice thing is that if you work for yourself or a small shop you can choose to use whatever 3d software you'd like. And a few of my clients don't use LW but I still do modeling work for them - just export the models in a format they can use.

11-17-2011, 02:00 PM
Darkside Animation in London, who have used LightWave since it was created, are looking for generalists right now. Contact them on ++44 203056 4741. They don't necessarily need locals either, remote work is a possibility.


11-17-2011, 03:56 PM
ArchViz is a stedy income I think.

11-17-2011, 05:07 PM
Do Cityscape in London still use LightWave?

We're a small studio, and as Bilious says, our clients really don't care what we use, as long as the job gets done, on time, in budget and to the standard they expect.

If you're thinking of plugging into local ad agencies as a freelance 3D guy then they won't care what you use - but something you can make changes quickly in is a must - one reason we stick with LightWave.

If you're thinking of plugging into the local TV/video companies as a freelance 3D guy then they may have a software package they prefer or use inhouse which you need to communicate with.

11-17-2011, 05:39 PM
We're also a small studio (motion graphics/animation mainly) and our clients generally don't mind what we use. Occasionally a tv job will need to fit into a client's pipeline for ongoing revisions or we'll need to repurpose an in-house project, and those will invariably want/need Cinema4d.

11-17-2011, 07:35 PM
Most of my work is in TV commercials, corporate videos, and medical animation. Though I have a feature film starting early next year using LW. I was actually supposed to be on it now but it got pushed back.

11-17-2011, 10:59 PM
Feature film and television visual effects in Los Angeles. Still used here in LA at various places.

11-18-2011, 03:05 AM
thanks everyone who has replied...very, very interesting...

My follow up question then is...

How do you guys find the work? Where do you advertise?


11-18-2011, 03:16 AM
I like LW, but I really only do pretty basic architectural stuff. LWCad has been the best thing for LW.

11-18-2011, 05:35 AM
How do you guys find the work? Where do you advertise?


At the start? Lots and lots of cold calling, following up with samples, generally just getting known to be available. I'm a great believer that if you fling enough then some will stick. But you need to have the right stuff to fling in the first place. I approached local ad agencies and marketing agencies - still shots mainly - more flexible than photography and often cheaper. Once you do a few of those then it's not hard to educate them in the ways of animation, though with the internets there are more art directors aware of the possibilities of viral campaigns using youtube, vimeo and flash.

Once you get a few good clients, who you never let down, meet their budget and leave them with a happy feeling, then word passes around. They might move on and take your services with them to their new place. They might talk to a colleague in the office next door who then might need you. We're in our seventh year, though I've more experience prior to this in a design studio partnership, so the business side of things was easier this time around. The main, main, main thing is to focus on what you're offering. And, if an offering comes along that you weren't expecting, jump at it if you think you can do it, and don't hold back. Once a business develops a life of its own it becomes fun and you'll end up having to steer it. The beauty of being small is that you can adapt oh so much quicker than a large entity, and in a recession, to lose 20% of your income isn't as bad as a large outfit losing 20% and having to lay off staff, move premises etc.

Personally, with today's communication technology, I'm a firm believer in the new small creative industry - a more nebulous approach to projects.

11-18-2011, 05:51 AM
I started with a few favours on forums which led to paid work, got a few clients from cold calling and now get most new clients through looking at the website and calling. If you can get into doing work through design/advertising agencies it seems to snowball nicely. You might work with a particular person at the agency who moves to a new job and takes your details with them whilst still having your foot in the door at the original place...they seem to change jobs with the seasons, design folks.

11-18-2011, 05:56 AM
thanks everyone who has replied...very, very interesting...

My follow up question then is...

How do you guys find the work? Where do you advertise?


Never advertised. For us, we went from two of us freelancing (after a few years) to setting up a small studio. Over those freelancing years we built up contacts and like kopperdrake said, if you keep doing a good job for people they recommend you to others, and work keeps coming in.

11-18-2011, 06:38 AM
Unfortunately if you want to work at most places you use what they use, if you are freelance, you can get away with using Lightwave, I don't tell people what I'm using if they don't need to know. I've just made the decision to get skilled in Maya based purely on the good integration promised for LW 11, that way I can work with or at other houses and slip LW into the workflow. In this country it's all Maya Maya Maya, and then the list goes from there (you can guess the other 2). LW isn't on that list, anyone I've met using LW is freelance. My hope is that because LW 11 is looking so good and able to plug into existing Maye pipelines, that we as a community will start to bring it with us into those workplaces.
I'm sure you'll will find work, but you will probably have to learn some aspect of another app just as a way in.
In Australia we have a thing called the DLF, which is the Digital Laborers Federation, it's not a union but a kind of job posting newsletter internet sign-up group. Every day my in box receives a list of job ads and if any seem to fit my skills I send off a reply and cross my fingers I'll get a call back. This was something started off by a couple of industry people, you might have something similar in the UK. It certainly is helpful for monitoring the trends of jobs in this ever changing industry.

11-18-2011, 07:39 AM
Small studio in Spain where we make realtime 3d spaces for Unity and Director, And also arch-viz like renders. Lightwave makes sense for us for it's affordability, it's ease of use, it's multy format export options and the fast and great looking render engine.

11-18-2011, 09:03 AM
At the start? Lots and lots of cold calling, following up with samples, generally just getting known to be available. I'm a great believer that if you fling enough then some will stick.
:agree: I did the same thing. I put together a reel of some paid work I had done plus a few personal works that looked like they were paid work. Do research on all the design, marketing, and/or VFX companies near you and mass-mail (spam) them. Then approach the few that get back with you. Those few will be the start of your network and through them you'll grow.

I agree, if you're small you can get away with just using LW. But out in LA and larger cities, especially if you're going to work somewhere on-site, it's good to know some other packages like Maya.

11-18-2011, 10:39 AM
How do you guys find the work? Where do you advertise?

Honestly, most of my clients have found me via forums like this one, one of my biggest found me on SpinQuad (the one with the film I mentioned) Twitter is also pretty good, I have a ton of artist friends there and have picked up a few jobs when some of them need to outsource a project.

11-19-2011, 08:04 AM
Thanks guys,

It's encouraging to see that you guys are doing well freelancing. I think its been very interesting seeing what kind if projects you are working on. Looks like digital marketing and networking seems to be the key. Considering learning Maya and cinema 4d, know a little 3d max but hate it!
Thanks again all that have responded. I appreciate it.


11-19-2011, 08:14 AM
I am a freelancer and my main app is LW plus ZB and now Maya, because I realised I will need the evil app if I want to survive. I do commercials, vfx and everything else which moves on the screen.

11-21-2011, 06:57 AM
not making an living yet... but am starting to use turbosquid a bit. I have done thousands of texture photos on there for a long time, but really am just starting to use it to sell 3d models.