View Full Version : Lightwave vs Strata 3D

01-09-2008, 04:43 PM
Hi all,

I am a product designer and I design anything from handbags, to luggage to household items and gifts. I need a 3D software for modeling only, I do not need animation. Has anyone worked in both Lightwave and Strata3D? CAn you give me the pros and cons of both?

Thanks so much!

Darek Laszczyk
01-09-2008, 11:44 PM
Simple. Lightwave is better. You can also try Modo (modeling and render).

01-10-2008, 12:41 AM
Other people might like Strata. I tried the demo several years ago, and just thought it was weird, not intuitive. Maybe that's changed.
LightWave Layout, on the other hand, has one of the nicest render engines around, and LightWave Modeler is great for both extreme accuracy in modeling, and ease of use.
If you don't already know, both Layout and Modeler are two separate programs collectively known as LightWave, and packaged together.

01-10-2008, 07:00 AM
Lightwave is 100 times easier to use -- and it does more. Strata has some serious shortcomings, but it does a few things well (it used to have a version of Swift3d built in, but I'm not sure if the latest version does).

I'd go with Lightwave, definitely. You won't be disappointed.

Nicolas Jordan
01-10-2008, 07:18 AM
Lightwave happens to have a huge treasure chest of free plugins for modeling that most programs can not come close to matching! :thumbsup:

01-10-2008, 07:24 AM
Lightwave all the way, if you're comparing only between Strata3D and it. In my opinion LW has one of the easiest and most intuitive modelers (especially for non-organic stuff) that I've ever tried out.

01-10-2008, 08:51 AM
I believe Macromodel gives LW and Strata3d a run for their money. :p Seriously .. haha. I haven't used Strata3d since ... well .err.. the early 90's. Oops I'm dating myself. Simply LW has managed to keep up with the times (somewhat) and Strata3d has more of .. let's say ... a highly selective audience (Spinal Tap refererence)

01-10-2008, 09:07 AM
Actually I think Strata is going more the way of the "Plugin Company", i.e. a company who can't make a good enough standalone application so they resort to plugins for other products (Bryce, Mimic, etc.)

01-10-2008, 09:09 AM
At the same time Lightwave could be considered a "plugin company" One who's modeler is so dated everyone has to rely on 3rd party plugs to get anything done.

01-10-2008, 10:15 AM
they both have strong and weak points... however you do get much more in LW.

to get up and going fast = MODO. it is visually easier to grasp and tools are very good/interactive

but LW has it's great community that will help you any time of day.

I would suggest trying the demos

LW = free
Modo = 25$ eval ( and you get lots of good training vids )
not sure if strata has a trial verison

01-10-2008, 10:21 AM
I chuckle now at the $25 eval for Modo. We get lots of training vids for free :) Thanks Proton.

01-10-2008, 10:45 AM
Hi all,

I am a product designer and I design anything from handbags, to luggage to household items and gifts. I need a 3D software for modeling only, I do not need animation. Has anyone worked in both Lightwave and Strata3D? CAn you give me the pros and cons of both?

Thanks so much!

I've worked heavily in Strata for many years. I eventually moved up to LightWave when I needed higher production throughput. In LightWave I was able to complete much larger projects requiring hundreds of animations using the network rendering that were too cumbersome in Strata. I'm not sure if they have a robust network rendering system now, but at the time LightWave's network rendering was much more capable. In fact I wrote Mastering LightWave ScreamerNet on Mac OSX (http://dreamlight.com/insights/10/welcome.html) when I was moving from Strata to LightWave and setting up the render farm. I had started and pitched a large 3D jewelry animation project (http://dreamlight.com/3d/heartsonfire.html) in Strata. Once we landed the project, I moved to LightWave 3D to be able to push all the animations through LightWave ScreamerNet.

01-10-2008, 11:41 AM
I definitely agree that Strata doesn't really hold a candle to LW in most aspects but there are a few features that it does have that I really wish LW had built in. Example the capability to reflow lathes/extrusions/patch surfaces etc by editing the original object. When you create primitives and certain surfaces (loft, lathe etc) they are solid models which renders smoother. I also like the instancing and inclusion of a library. As a Photoshop plugin it works fantastic! The newest version is really improved from my version (v5). They included 8 way multiprocessing and other features. It really isn't an awful program by any means.

That being said it has nowhere near the depth that LW does, I find the way you apply textures in Strata to be a real pain sometimes, and doing booleans is just horrible (although I do like the anti-matter function). Animation capabilities are extremely lacking and openGL is about the slowest I've ever used (can't even use a quad layout on my Quadro 4600).

I'm just waiting on instancing to be included in layout and I can pretty much eliminate Strata from my work flow (Photoshop integration or not).

01-10-2008, 12:40 PM
In product design, usually designers model using splines, not patches. Lightwave does not allow native spline modeling and adjustments (--unless EasySpline plugin offers this).

Another solution is to use MOI(Moment of Inspiration) modeler that is WONDERFUL for creating splines and has native Lightwave export that works beautifully. *Recommended*

Lightwave will give you the more realistic renders than Strata3D, but at a more "technical" learning curve.

Rhino and Modo are two other highly regarding options, but I haven't had personal experience with either. Best to try out some demos.

01-18-2008, 12:10 PM
As a long time Strata User and only noodeling Lightwave user, my impressions on ease of use and learning curve are that Strata is much easier to grasp and navigate and the renders are excellent. But when it comes time to animate, Lightwave is head and shoulders above it (but still intimidating to use). If you can get over the learning hump and the fact that the user interface is impenetrable for a newbie, and highly editable so you don't know where you might end up accessing something, then you will have a powerful animation package that is highly extensible with lots of Plug-ins.

Strata is not devolving into a Plug-in. It has reached out a tenticle to envelope the newly emerging Photoshop 3D capability, which could be a sizeable market. The Flagship product, Strata CX 5.5 is chugging along, slowly adding more and more features that allow it ot be a hub that can trade work with other apps so the user can find the best product for the task at hand, including the use of inexpensive and innovative 3rd party 3D modelers. Strata has both patch modeling w/SDS for organic objects (with modeling tools that continue to improve and expand) and its traditional vector modeling which is very easy to use for man made shapes.

Lighwave is very powerful, and complex. Strata is less so. Sometimes easier is better, sometime not.


01-18-2008, 11:54 PM
newto3d - I'm actually a current and very long time Strata user. I'm also a featured Strata artist on their website. I use Strata every day at work as well. And... I'm also a pretty new LW user and decided to purchase LW for my more complicated freelance and personal projects.

You say that you want modeling only? or do you mean modeling and rendering as well?

Strata will be one of the easiest 3d packages to pick up and learn. It does very nice rendering as well (as does LW). It would actually be perfect for product illustration. But... one of the areas where it severely lacks is in its modeling. Many people that use Strata for more detailed models will use another modeler (such as Wings3d, Silo, Hexagon) and bring in their models to render in Strata (personally, I used Silo). This is one of the reasons that they partner and sell Silo on their website. Exact texturing is another area in severe need of improvement in Strata.

Without a doubt LW is a much more advanced and robust application. This doesn't mean it will be the best for you, though. I would recommend looking through the gallery at the http://www.stratacafe.com/ which is the official user web forum. If you don't need the most complicated models Strata might be a good solution as you could probably get up to speed much quicker than you could in LW. It would also be good to look over the galleries at SpinQuad http://www.spinquad.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=6 another lightwave forum group, and compare the quality of the pieces to that which is coming out of Strata. Keep in mind that a good artist can do nice work in any application - within limits.

If you are willing to put the time in, and make the effort to learn LW, or if you have some 3d experience already, LW will be able to take you places Strata simply cannot. And that was the reason that I use LW for my personal work now. There are many times now when I am modeling in Strata I cringe as I wish I was working in LW. But I can still do many things in Strata very very quickly and the renders look great.

I would really recommend getting the demos of both Strata and LW and seeing how they feel to you. If you're familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator you'll feel at home in Strata right away. LW may take a bit if you don't have any 3d experience.

If you're new to 3d, my guess is that you'll like Strata better and then after a year or two, you'll be a bit frustrated with some of the limitations and then think about getting a more advanced 3d package or at least a more advanced modeler. Also, whatever application you go with see if you qualify for a competitive upgrade to save a lot of money.

Hope this all helps a bit! Good luck!

ps. one more thing, while the Strata community is very nice and friendly, just like the LW community is, the Strata community is very very small compared to the LW community. There are tons of free tutorials, videos, training, forums for LW. For Strata, there is basically the stratacafe.

01-19-2008, 12:00 AM
pps. Let us know what you decide to do either way. If you go with Strata, I'm "JeffrySG" at the cafe too. ;)

Mike Borjon
01-20-2008, 12:06 PM
Gotta tell you that Modo is really the app you should consider. Aside from modeling which it does quite well, the ability to directly paint and sculpt on you models is a must these days. I am a long time Lightwave user and use it for 100% of my work right now and truly enjoy working in it every day.

But I've become very much interested in Luxologies Modo. Head over to Luxology.com and have a look. Check out the videos and give it a test run (you can download both Lightwave and Modo evaluations off each site).

But as others have said I don't think you can beat Lightwave for modeling and rendering, especially when you get FPrime (realtime rendering app) for Lightwave.