View Full Version : LW how does it compare to MAX, XSI, MODO?

02-10-2007, 05:42 PM

Im new here and have been looking at lightwave to complete my tool setup.

I currently have Zbrush 2.0, Hexagon 2.1 and Poser 7. I saw some renders done in lightwave and was amazed at its quality.

Now my question is, Lightwave seems very cheap or is it missing somthink in its base package? Is it like C4D where you have to perchase expensive moduals to get all the features?

Iv been looking and trying out the demos of both XSI and 3ds Max and realy like max alot but the price is way too much for me. Does anyone know how LW compares in terms of learining curve, Render times and quality and are there any preset materials that comes with LW.

Sorry for all these questions at once but am excited that I may have found a soloution to getting rendering quailty at a affordable price.

Things im missing at the moment is a high end renderer, quality SSS shader, Hair, cloth and fast rigging system all in one peice of software.

Thanks for any info.

02-10-2007, 07:34 PM
:question: sniff sniff :question:

Just in case,

LW will smack them all like a red headed stepchild if your not looking for a 'do everything in 1 click and make it perfect' button.

LW is easiest to learn, has the best user group to get help from, but it also has it's ..........querks....hmmm yea, querks.

Try the demo.

:question: sniff sniff :question:

02-10-2007, 10:50 PM
I've been a Max user for some time, but v.8 is what I'm stuck using since the most recent release (v9) broke the mold, code wise, and therefore very, very few plugins work with it at this point....probably for some time to come.
Let me tell you from experience...Max 8 is the buggiest, most crash-happy version yet....3 service packs and it still crashes daily, sometimes as many as a dozen times or more. O.K. you want 9 then...like I said, you won't be able to use most Max plugins with it, and the massive plugin community has been its strength.

Cinema 4D has REALLY made some strides lately, and its recent version (10) offers some nice new rendering features like "Render Region" (select just a portion of the viewport that you want to test render/focus on), and an interactive render very similar to LW's FPrime (however, not as robust nor as fast as FPrime).
Having said that, I don't currently relish spending $3500 just to find a replacement for Max (already invested enough there). So, I chose LW because it not only was affordable, but could do anything I needed.

The two major factors was the availablity of REAL tech support...when finding a solution on forums doesn't cut it (like I was experiencing with Max), I don't have to spend $450 for a year of Tech Support (like with Max).
You have a number to call here on Newtek's website...not so with Max.

Believe me...when you run into a brick wall regarding your software, and don't have time to wrestle with persistent technical issues, it's a nice feeling knowing that you can talk to a real human being at the other end of a phone, to help get you back in the saddle, TODAY...not waiting God-knows-how-long for a reply on some forum.
When you have a tight deadline, that's really important.

Secondly, FPrime (a $395 plugin exclusively for LW)...Max has N-O-T-H-I-N-G like it....nor does Maya or XSI. Do a search for it on this website, and you'll see what I mean. This tool ALONE can shave hours off your daily work routine...it's amazing, simply put!

Character Animation is something that's a relative weakness of LW at the moment, but from the newsletters released by Newtek, regarding LW 9, we know that they are working hard at it. Perhaps we will see a totally new solution with LW 10. Until then...if that's any kind of issue for you, then PMG's "Messiah" is more than a competent animation solution for LW... and it's relatively inexpensive...especially compared to 3rd Party solutions for other 3D programs.

Hair, is the same. The maker of FPrime (Worley Labs.... www.worley.com ) makes a product called Sasquatch that currently is the main answer for hair in LW. LW comes with SASLite, which is a limited version of Sasquatch. There are a few others that have recently cropped up, but SAS is the most commonly used at the moment. I'm hoping that LW will create their own and incorporate it with the next version. They've acknowledged here in these forums that it's an important issue with users...what that means, I don't know, but I'm hoping that they are working on it.

In summary; when price is an issue LW is the answer...period.

02-11-2007, 12:03 AM
I agree to what AbnRanger said. If you aren't in need of great CA-tools right now, LW will serve you well.

02-11-2007, 03:47 AM
Hey , thanks for your replys. I had sent emails to Softimage and Autodesk but received no reply from either of them. Product support is a must for me which is one reason I perchased Zbrush as the user base is very good.

I brought poser 7 as a alternitive to expensive apps like max or XSI and teh rendersI have to say are prety good if used correctly, but its no where up the the standards of what iv seen of LW renderes.

IM going to try out LW today and see what I can do purly from intuition, logic with out going to the manual every 10 seconds. Il watched a few video tuts then see how things go.

Another thing that is a major concern is riging. Poser is awfull for rigging I hope lightwave is a bit faster than poser. Again Poser 7 renders are good but **** they take forever and will ofen crash during rendering, Max takes 2 min to do a render that poser would take 1 hour.

I also see that there is a companion sale where by f you own other software you get a discount on LW 9.

02-11-2007, 04:25 AM
I second what others have said.
IF you don't need C.A. right now then LW is great, the renderer is really nice, it can do a heck of a lot "out of the box".
It also has a huge community of folks who code *FREE* plugins for it to add functionality, as well as a group of extremely helpful users who are more than willing to share their knowledge.

Take a look at these forums and you also find, not just marketing people, but developers AND even the CEO of Newtek making posts and replying to some things. That level of interaction with the Newtek team can sometimes be overlooked.

When it comes to using LW, it is so much easier than many other packages because you can actually READ what the button will do.
Add to this flay.com for plugin news and many many tutorial sites out there, including free videos, and really, as I say, unless you want to get into heavy C.A. it's a great deal.

As to rigging etc, it can be done quite easily in LW, though there are 3rd party tools to make it more flexible, (Maestro for one).

I do want to add, though C.A. isn't as easy in LW as say motionbuilder, that is NOT to say it can't be done, there are many pros here who do it for a living quite well. Also, if you get LW9 now, you get the chance to get onboard the Beta program and Newtek have stated that C.A. tools are indeed coming during this 9.X cycle.

02-11-2007, 04:44 AM
Right I got LW demo and cant for the **** of me work out how to render from my current camera im looking through?

I like layout so far so thats a good sign.

Drogon PCKann
02-11-2007, 04:51 AM
I’m agree with the orders guys, 2 ago I had the same as you have now, I new 3dmax because I work with Auto Cad and 3dM is very useful and I new that was the best Program ever until I ready on my Flash (site animation and games from Macromedia) boot over the LW7, I got a demo of and try up, it was the best thing ever.
I have LW9 and I very happy with. If there is a bug, doesn’t matter what will be happy with LW and also be on this community.

02-11-2007, 04:59 AM
F9-Render F10-Render Scene, F11-render selected object. :)
Make sure your view is "camera" (6 on keys above keyboard), not perspective.

02-11-2007, 05:06 AM
It always renders from the front and at a distance regardless of what what camera im in? I want to render from the perspective camera im looking through.

02-11-2007, 05:30 AM
Do You mean the perspective view? You can't render from perspective view, You have to use a camera.

02-11-2007, 05:53 AM
there's a plugin for that i believe...


02-11-2007, 05:58 AM
Even If I can look through my camera and rotate it about as if I was looking through perspective camrea?

When I view through the camera thats rendering I cant freely rotate and move. It would apear I have to keep pressing the T and Y key to position the camera. Cant I cant set the camrea to point at a target spot and then just rotate freely?

02-11-2007, 06:14 AM
You can select the camera, bring up the movement properties (press "m") of the camera and select a target object. This way, the camera will rotate towards the target object if You move the camera (or if You move the object).

You can also clone the camera and set different cameras to different positions / rotations / targets).

Since the cameras will point towards the pivot point of the target object, it's sometimes helpful to add a null object as the target for the camera.

02-11-2007, 06:50 AM
Ok thanks got the camera into position, but it was a bit akward being every single other application just renders from yourt sellected view?

My job here just to render a model I made. This will put the program through some basic needs so any help would be most welcom and apreciated.

Step 1 is done (position camera for rendering)

Step 2 is to add light.

I added a point light, it apears tinny. The model dissopears while moving the light so I cant see real time what the light is doing untill I let go. I asume there is a setting to enable real time tracking?

Step 3 is to view is smoothed and render it sub devided which at the moment dont work. Display sub patch level dose not show sub D smoothness real time as shown in video tutorial.

Render sub patch again does not sub D or smooth the model when rendering?

02-11-2007, 08:05 AM
I'd seriously advise you grab the manual and have a read through. Also, go grab the "introduction to LW" video tutorial downloads, it'll clear a lot up for you.

I'd also recommend:

'[' and ']' adjust the grid/light/camera size so you can see what is going on.
Also, unless you have keyed your camera, it will shift to try and "fit in" the last object loaded. So, if you load a 1mtr cube, then a 5km landscape, it will try to compensate.

Captain Obvious
02-11-2007, 08:09 AM
FPrime is the best thing since sliced bread. Nothing else compares.

modo is my primary application these days, but it is fairly limited in what it does (no animation, for one thing). What it does, it generally does really well, but there are lots of things it simply does not do.

02-11-2007, 08:09 AM

I have watched a fair few vides from that link and so far cant find directly whats holding me back....

The render and preview is not smoothing out the lower polygon model.
Aside from tha the render is coming out realy bad, I have everythink turned on in the render settings that indicate quality?

Captain Obvious
02-11-2007, 08:13 AM
You may need to adjust the smoothing threshold. It's in the Material properties.

02-11-2007, 08:51 AM
Make sure you hit 'TAB" button in modeler before sending model to layout or it will never smooth out.

02-11-2007, 09:16 AM
Make sure you hit 'TAB" button in modeler before sending model to layout or it will never smooth out.

My model didnt even start in the modler, I just loaded my model into layout to render it.

Can I send my model from modler to layout as I cant save the file out being its a demo?

02-11-2007, 10:43 AM
Ahh, not sure he can in the demo, pretty sure it's hub disabled.
Open the surface editor, is "smoothing" ticked?
If so, are you trying to smooth an object which is not a Sub-D model?
in demo mode, I thought you could save if under 400 points?

02-11-2007, 10:46 AM
Smoothing is ticked yes. My model has alot more than 400 points.

02-11-2007, 11:07 AM
Wrong smoothin was not ticked on that object, it is now looking smooth.
Im getting a checkered like texture across the render, is that because of it being a demo?

02-11-2007, 11:10 AM
Wrong smoothin was not ticked on that object, it is now looking smooth.
Im getting a checkered like texture across the render, is that because of it being a demo?


02-11-2007, 11:45 AM
Wasn't NewTek proposing that their demo should be fully functional for a 30-day period? The checkerboard output, and alot more limitations only kicks in after the 30-day trial ended?

Maybe I just dreamt that? *lol* :)

02-11-2007, 06:35 PM
Yes, that's right. It's a new approach by Newtek. Just like Max...full 30 days...no limitations. After that, it will probably run in Discovery mode.

Plus, go on over to www.vtc.com
They have tutorials on Lightwave (currently 7.5 and an Advanced Lightwave Modeling set...but LW 9 is on their "in production" list. Should be there soon). They have a list of free to watch videos....and if you like what you see, it's $30/mo unlimited access, and they have 3ds max tutorials as well as hundreds of other CG related stuff

02-11-2007, 07:33 PM
By the way, www.Kurvstudios.com has a number of free videos...especially on rigging. They have a host of video tutorials that are very reasonably priced.
Coming over from Max and trying to get better acclamated to LW myself, I bought Dan Ablan's signature courseware for LW 9 at www.3DGarage.com
It may seem a bit high for a new user, but considering that it's a fairly thorough course, it seems well worth it to me.
These are just a few among many, but seeing that you are just demo'ing LW, then vtc.com would seem the best way to learn not only LW, but other applications you are considering as well.

Another thing is that bringing in Poser models is not a preferable method. If I remember correctly, it exports with a heavy amount of geometry, and ideally you want a rather low-poly model that you can switch on and off Subpatching/Subdivisions. Poser may be good when you want to quickly add in some background characters, and you are short on time...but otherwise, I'd avoid using it.
Settle on a package that meets your needs (not necessarily one that has all the bells and whistles...because those will run you about 3.5 -7 G's) and learn to model the content you want. That way YOU control the meshflow, look and quality of the models. After all, there isn't ANY market demand for Poser artists! There's a good reason for that. Just ask Oddity (search his username on this forum) what he thinks about it....you'll get an ear full.

LW and a few "Must Have" plugins will give you as much capability and versatility as those costing several times as much. I'd go as far as saying that with LW along with FPrime, you'd have an advantage over your competition (since you don't have to spend hours and hours doing preview renders, and it has very fast Radiosity..which is normally a very slow rendering option with most renderers).
I can think of a number of times, using Max and the fastest renderer available for it....finalRender Stage 1...trying to use it's Distributed Render feature to speed up test renders (for scenes using GI), and still having to wait up to 30-45 min per test...wishing all along that I had something like FPrime for Max.
Now that I've got LW 9 and a copy of FPrime, I don't have that problem any longer. Woo Hoo! :lightwave

02-12-2007, 02:28 AM
I purchased Poser purely for a cheap alternative to rig, pose and render my own models. Although the free models are fun to play with I don’t need them as I always make my own stuff although im still learning to redefine my own modeling skills.

I started modeling in Zbrush but the meshes it produces where not that clean and was far for animatable. I then went on the quest to find a cheap application to model in and hexagon 2 was the one, never regretted getting that application, there’s nothing I cant model in that app.

Of course by this time I had no good renderer and no rigging.

I jumped in the top end demoing Max and Xsi. I didn’t like xsi but was at home with Max and had my first scene rendered within the first hour. Every other program iv looked at since has had a short fall against max, poor interface, over complicated long winded setup for rigging e.c.t.

I didn’t take much notice of the prices of max and XSI at the time but when the demo ran out I had a look, and my jaw dropped in disappointment, il never be able to afford that kind of pricing. I started looking closer at XSI foundation as this had Mental Ray and had a very good rigging system. I hated the interface of XSI but it was affordable.

Then I hit a big hurdle, XSI had no hair! I couldn’t have my models with no hair. The XSI version with hair cost more than 3DS max, lol.

Then I started looking at poser, It had rigging, Hair, cloth decent node system but its render engine, firefly wasn’t up to par with the likes or Mental Ray but then it was very very cheap application. I purchased a pre order of poser 7 in hope that the rendering and speed was improved but all im getting is crashes and very long render times. Poser has some very powerful features within its toy like interface but it lacks that professional edge that im after, this is where im at now. Again on the hunt for a stable well featured program at a reasonable price that can render out high end stills. Im still learning the node system in poser but having some presets help me learn what the node functions do in their combinations.

The problem im having with the demo of Lightwave is that there don’t seem to be any useful presets that I can just learn and view in a render. Shaders like chrome, brush alloy, glass, refracted glass, SSS skin, plastics and car paint surfaces. I can’t see the logic in splitting up LW into two applications? Direct rendering for any chosen camera would have made better sense rather than having a dedicated camera from which is harder to position than say a perspective camera. Im going to dig a bit deeper into LW this week and hope to get some results. Although LW does more than rendering this is my aim for now. Scene setup and render. Il then look into the hair system.

02-12-2007, 03:12 AM
In layout, with your object loaded...hit f8, then click on the drop down button, and select among the category of presets that you want...such as metals. You should then be able to see thumbnail images of the available presets.

02-12-2007, 04:58 AM
On the noe about free LW-training, http://www.simplylightwave.com/ has some free stuff as well.

02-12-2007, 08:03 AM
Wasn't NewTek proposing that their demo should be fully functional for a 30-day period? The checkerboard output, and alot more limitations only kicks in after the 30-day trial ended?

Maybe I just dreamt that? *lol* :)

They way it is suppose to work is that once the license number is in it works for 30 days unlimited. The way the demo work (for me) was a hit a miss with the number not being found on start up with a constant shutting down of lightwave, start lightwave up, shut it down until it would find the license. It is real buggy and a turn off at times. There were times when lightwave would not find the license so I just say "screw it" and not used the program.

I can say that I didn't get the whole 30 days out of it because of the buggy license problem.