View Full Version : Lightwave, here I come.

Oedo 808
04-14-2008, 12:49 AM
Hello there,

I've dabbled in a few 3D packages over the past few years but I've never really sat down to learn one properly. The time I've spent on 3ds Max and Maya is only a few hours for each, but I just cannot warm to Max, and Maya makes smoke spout from both my ears, not to mention that I can't see myself ever finding myself with that sort of cash to spare.

Lightwave on the other hand feels just right for me, and I felt that now was a good time to go for it, and of course Lightwave has one major advantage over Max and the other 3D packages, it's users! :D So, I've signed up here and hope to make a go of it.

It's been a while though since I've upgraded my system and I will really need to do this before I can get into doing 3D properly, I've read many topics about the merits and drawbacks of various GPUs both for general use and for use in Lightwave.

It seems fairly unanimous that the 8800GT is the best value card around, indeed I see someone else has been enquiring about how best to spend on their new system, they have my sympathy because it can be bloody confusing. One thing I've found conflicting reports on is whether or not the extra RAM and memory bandwidth of the GTX provides any real benefit for Lightwave users, anyone out there have any ideas? Because recent price drops have made the GTX a more attractive card, well, if there's a benefit that is.

On the subject of GPUs, I wondered is there now, or is there likely to be any benefit for running an SLI setup with Lightwave? I know that this setup supposedly has a great impact on the real-time rendering for games, but does any of it translate to the viewports of Lightwave? I think I've also read about concerns over rendering with such setups, the use of SLI with Lightwave will affect which motherboard I go for, not that I'd be sticking two cards in straight from the off, but it would be good to have the option in future should there be any advantage.

Who knows what might happen, but I do intend to stick with this 3D stuff, I have the opportunity to get a discount on my next system purchase through a friend of mine, but it is unlikely that he will be able to extend this offer to me much in the future, so I thought it best to make any foreseeable hardware purchases now. So something else I need help with, is to know from you guys whether you think that a graphics tablet is a necessity for anyone serious about Lightwave? I know the ideal situation is to wait and see, but that will mean having to pay through the nose if in six months down the line I find that everywhere I turn to take the next step is highly recommending the use of a tablet, and taking in to account the discount, I should be able to get a good portion of the money back from the classifieds or ebay should it all go boobs arriba.

Right, too much blabbering, so in short:

A)Is there an advantage in to be had from the 8800GTX over the GT?

B)Is there now, or are there any muttering about any SLI benefits to come?

C)Is a graphics tablet a must for anyone serious about Lightwave?

Any help on any of the above queries would be greatly appreciated, a couple of months ago I had no idea about what PC components were out there, and having surfed my way through my 2GB download allowance (something I didn't think possible) I am now completely exasperated!

Looking forward to the future shaming of myself in the WIP section!


04-14-2008, 01:11 AM
Hi Oedo, welcome to our little part of the universe!
I look forward to your involvement in the community. Lots of fun things going on here.

To answer your questions, and thi is just my perspective... first a bit of background so you know where I come from...
I've been using Lw since version 5, about 10 years or so. I can pretty much make everything my heart desires in it, despite some of its short comings. The community indeed is a great asset. I do Arch viz almost exclusively.

I've built about 15 computer systems specific for LW.

I have found a nice speedy graphics card to be useful for LightWave but it really doesn't use many of the advanced features on the card. SLI will do next to nothing for you, and I don't know what kind of hefty scenes you're going to make, but modeler's geometrical core speed is going to be a bigger bottleneck than your video card nowadays, and layout is very adept at speeding things up through smart bounding-boxing and so on. I usually just boy a middle range graphics card (I have a lowly 7600 GS and it works fine) and put all the money towards CPU first, memory second, monitor third and a tablet fourth. A tablet, for modeling, for me is vital. I really can't work as fast or accurate with a mouse. Get a 6x8 one, and you'll do fine, don't go smaller.
A LARGE monitor is really really useful. Make sure you get a 8-bit one not a 6-bit panel, since the color banding will disturb you.

Get a Nvidia card. Ati can be flaky in terms of drivers, some will disagree but that's my experience.
You also want a stable system first and foremost. Don't skimp on the motherboard and memeory. Make sure they work well together. Lw will crash all over the place if something isn't perfect, while other programs may run fine.

Spend the money you save on the graphics card on the CPU and a good power supply, and perhaps some plugins. I don't know what your area of application will be... is it character animation, product vis, architectural, fantasy stuff... that matters. Architecture is for instance usually low poly but demanding in terms of trees and such, so then invest in HD instance. Also LWCAD would be a good asset, and some of pictrix plugins are great for modeling. Kray is an awesome extension as a render engine and Fprime a great previewer for your work.

Oedo 808
04-14-2008, 03:43 PM
Thanks for the advice Exception, and thank you for the welcome.

Let me first say where I am headed in Lightwave, I should have put it above, but it I guess it was already getting a bit on the long side. For the past year I have been interested in modding for games, at first it was just an interest in building maps for AvP2 (Aliens Vs Predator 2) as my current PC won't allow me to run anything newer, but I got more and more interested in adding models, I've only done a few, most are rubbish, but having taken a step back I'm quite pleased with a scope mount I made, though it clips itself due to the forced method of it's in game attachment, I'll post an image it up soon.

For the AI Predator in the game I added in the Wristblades as a weapon that for some reason was left out originally, in doing so I had to create a new set of animation trackers to avoid replacing another weapon, and I thought "This is great! Everything I need to integrate new characters." Except for the fact that Max, Maya and Softimage had plugins included in the SDK, but guess who got left out. Which is a shame as it would have been a great drive for me to learn animating.

In recent weeks I was asked by a friend of mine if I would do some graphics for a science course, he showed me a 2D illustration and I thought 'no problem'... famous last words, because what he'd asked for was a graphic of a micelle:


Except on his illustration it was what is referred to in wiki as an inverse micelle, so no getting away with just having a couple of layers of polymers at the front of the cross-section, not only that but his polymers were to be shaped like coiled springs, yup, well it didn't sound like that many polies in my head. I know it was mostly because my PC is crap, but working with an object that will barely render in the viewports is not something I want to have to contend with again.

Though I'm still focused on making game models, I also really want to get into organic modelling and photo-realistic rendering, partly as an interest, and partly because I am looking to make texture images for games, for which the detail allowed seems to be increasing all the time.

I have to say I'm not entirely confident about Lightwave's suitability as platform for game modding, which is a shame as seems like a great package. I know that lead programmer Oles Shyshkovtsov mentioned Lightwave as being supported in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. SDK, and I guess I will find out soon enough how that turned out.

I am also interested in coding plugins for Lightwave, I am only a C++ novice, but I think trying to cross over into Lightwave plugins would be ideal in focusing and maintaining my interest in the subject. Though I'm under no illusions that this will be anything other than a long haul.

I guess I won't need a 'killer' setup, but I've most likely been using this machine for half your time as a Lightwaver, so I am probably over anxious in my eagerness to avoid jerky viewports and long render times, because my experience so far has been tortuous to say the least.

You're not alone in your experience of ATI drivers, that's why I am indeed looking at Nvidia cards.

For the processor I was looking at a Q6600, but I was aiming to overclock it, will Lightwave behave itself if I do this or should I look toward the Xeon range of processors?

And with a graphics tablet do you think an airbrush will be needed? They're certainly not cheap, but then I guess the value of any technology comes in the use found by a given user.

I'm sure I'll come back to asking about which plugins would be a worthwhile investment, but I'm going to have to find my feet and get my bearings with what is possible in Lightwave.

Thanks again for the feedback, Exception. It's much appreciated.


04-14-2008, 03:55 PM
I use mostly the modeller with a few things rendered in Lightwave and I havent noticed much if any difference with a better video card. I went from Nvidia geforce 4 mx on motherboard to a 6200 card. Opengl is much better in that applications recognise Opengl 2 ability rather than 1.

My machine is a amd athlon 2800 (2.08ghz) processor with 512 meg memory.

Its proof that you dont need a very powerful system to run Lightwave successfully. My old system was a 450 mhz processor with 256 meg memory and LW ran on that :)

The video with sli will handle direct x for games very well and should display hidef video without problems but isnt helpful for rendering in Lightwave as far as I know.

04-14-2008, 04:14 PM
Hopefully not getting ahead where you're at but on the topic of plug-ins...

Fprime from Worley Labs is extremely useful for setting up lighting and previewing your scene and as a previewer, it is worth it's weight in gold. On a modern system, you should be able to scrub through your timeline and see your scenes, even with radiosity, previewed in near real-time. It also works as a renderer, just so long as you are aware there are limitations on what it can render and not render. It does not show shaders, post-process effects such as lens flares and pixel filters, and it does not preview volumetrics (but it will render them in render mode). Also some of the newest nodes do not share their info with Fprime. But overall, I think you'll find most people swear by it. Cost: $399.

HDInstance from Happy Digital. As Exception mentioned, Lightwave can have a real bottleneck when it comes to handling large numbers of polygons. But with HDInstance, you can render millions upon millions of polygons by instancing copies of existing geometry. Cost: $149 for 1.8 Version 2 which has some great new features including animation offsets: double that price.

3Dcoat from Andrew Shpagin. For an alternative to zbrush is a new fast growing plug-in. The rate at which this program is being developed is pretty phenomenal. While not as complex (in both good and bad ways) as zbrush, this program is fast growing, much less expensive, and the developer has made it to work with lightwave files and is much more compatible with the exchange of information to and from Lightwave. You can peruse a long thread about it here and see all the improvements that have been made: http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75262 Current cost: $120 and slowly rising as it's developed.

Those are just a few of my favorites.

04-14-2008, 04:31 PM
I'd like to add a plug for Maestro 2. I bought this plugin recently ($150) and it's not an exaggeration to say that it revolutionizes animation and rigging in Lightwave.

This might be very important to you since you're modding games...for adding characters I'd say it would be near essential. It comes with some various rigs, the simpler "pre-viz" ones might very well be all you need for a game character rig.


04-14-2008, 05:40 PM
Well, I think Exception was right about the LWCad. Soon v3 will come out and it looks very promising. I use v2.5 all the time and only for the snapping in modeler I would buy it. The other extra tools like walls and roofs are very interesting too. Not to mention the 'boolean' operators it can do on the fly...

04-14-2008, 06:20 PM
Welcome on board! Definitely go Nvidia, see if you can borrow a tablet to see how you get on with it - I really can't model with one personally. If you're building environments for games then LWCAD would be useful for its snapping tools. For general illustration, as people have said, FPrime is a useful previewer/renderer, but perhaps see how you get on with LW's own renderer - I find myself using it about 80% of the time in these 9.x days.

Good luck!

Oedo 808
04-14-2008, 10:36 PM
IRT markschum:

It's good too hear that Lightwave is usable with low spec systems, I have heard that it is less resource hungry than many of it's peers.

Because I am interested in game modding, and therefore will want a system that will keep up with newer games, it makes SLI a more attractive prospect, because the performance (for games at least) of two cards in SLI, can show a vast improvement, especially in intensive ones, and I'd much prefer to buy a GT/GTX a few months down the line, than have to shell out for a brand new card which I doubt will provide a boost equal to the cost/performance balance of having even two GTs in SLI.

But perhaps this new architecture from Nvidia will be something special, it's about time they stopped rehashing the existing technology and brought out something that really is new.

And yes, from what I've read (here mostly), the GPUs have little effect on rendering. I'd be surprised if it were really the case that the GPUs couldn't be put to use, but that's life I guess.

IRT hrgiger:

Hmm, it's hard even for me to say where I'm at, but for me it's never too early to consider a good plug-in. Fprime sounds great, I think I may have read up on it, but I'll have to see what spare cash I've got left after I build my new rig. I've found that Lightwave can be used to good effect to enhance existing game textures that are showing there age, Fprime sounds like it will allow me to view a much more accurate preview of the changes I'm making to textures, it might not sound very enthralling for those using it for viewing complex scenes, but the more I think about it, the more the cost doesn't seem so bad.

HDInstance is one that I've not heard about, it also sounds great and even better, it's a lot more affordable. At first it would be easy for me to dismiss the need for millions of polies, but one micelle object comprised of about 140,000 polies, and that was about as optimized as I could get it. So I guess it would be entirely possible to find myself bogged down all of a sudden when doing something not related to games.

I've never used zbrush, my texture creation ability is really quite thin, but nonetheless I am willing to build my plug-in library based on recommendations, and they are all welcome. The compatibility of 3Dcoat with Lightwave is a big plus, I'll check out that thread, and keep note of these for when I get my system together and have my head straight.

IRT inigo07:

I'm quite rusty on the animation front, as I can't export them to AvP2 from Lightwave I've not bothered much with that area. All things being intertwined, upgrading to a system that will competently handle Lightwave goes hand in hand with moving on to a new game to work on (as yet I'm not too sure which I'll go for). Of course this means I'll have to work on animating, and I'd rather start with Maestro 2 if I'm going to use it at all, so I'll check it out.


I've used a grid snap system in DEdit, the map builder used for earlier Lithtech games. Is this what the snapping you refer to is? It'd be great to have this feature in modeler. These boolean operators sound like something I'd go for, I've not had much luck with boolean in the past, something always glitches on me.

IRT kopperdrake:

Thanks for the welcome, it's good to be here. I may be able to borrow a tablet, I think I know someone who may not be using theirs much these days. I actually thought that I might need a tablet more for texture creation than for modelling, in fact I hadn't really thought at all about using it for that, but I have heard people say that they've been working on one texture or another that would be almost impossible to create using only a mouse.

I haven't seen Lightwave 9x running yet, I'm on Lightwave 8 at the moment, an upgrade from 7 I believe. I'm not the original licensee and I'm having trouble with the person I'm (supposed to be) buying the license from, if it happens that I have to buy one from new I'm really going to feel the strain on top of a new system, but there's not much point in getting one without the other. Hopefully it will be resolved and I'll be able to get the upgrade to 9x, which would work out a lot cheaper for me.

Right then, thanks for the responses everyone, once normal service resumes and I get a new system together and am happily Lightwaving away, there isn't a chance that I'm going to be making every post this long. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

Thanks again.

jin choung
04-14-2008, 10:53 PM

ummmm, you should check benchmark sites and stuff but i'm pretty sure that the GTX will be overkill for lw. like WAAAAAAaaaaaaaay overkill.

lw's opengl is nowhere near optimized to the degree that a modern game is (not to mention there being other factors involved) and lw's implementation probably tops out waaaaaay before the card even breaks a sweat.

i'm seeing 8800gt cards for $130 at some places and with the same 512mb of memory as the gtx... imo, and if it were my money, i wouldn't spend a dollar more.

but again, check around to see if you can get vidcard benchies for Digital Content Creation apps. likely won't find a lw bench but equivalent apps will be informative. and also, if you've got money to burn and/or you plan on playing a crysis and fallout3 with all details maxed out on at 1920x1080, hey, you might want to get the gtx (oh, if you don't spring for new 9800s that are just "dropping" that is).



p.s. is your pic a 2000 ad thing? looks familiar....

04-14-2008, 11:36 PM

04-15-2008, 05:26 AM
Nice to see another UK LW user on here :thumbsup: As you are in London, you might want to monitor this thread for the chance to get along to one of the regular LW User meetings being held there about once a month:


Forums like this are great but it's hard to beat talking to real people from time to time :D

04-15-2008, 06:01 AM
Regarding OGL usage, this siggraph video (http://www.newtek.com/shows/siggraph/2007/index.php) shows quite well what some have achieved within the viewport, look for Johnny Palchetti.

Oedo 808
04-15-2008, 11:06 AM
Thanks Jin, I think I am going to go for the GT, I'd love to think that I'll have nice new 42" to connect to sometime soon, but it's not gonna happen, and I don't need that kind of resolution otherwise.

I've checked out a million and one graphs, and you're right, there was a gap for graphs listing 3D apps on gaming cards. As far as I know all GTX cards have 768MB of memory, but if the bandwidth issue doesn't make that much of a difference I'll save my money.

And my Avatar is Gogl from Cyber City Oedo 808, I haven't seen it in ten or fifteen years, but I always liked that character. I was going to put his name beneath, but I can't edit the 'Registered User' bit.

Ever seen it?:


Hey Qexit, I'll check out that thread thanks, though I think I may wait a while until I get a bit more LW experience before heading out, otherwise I might as well be going to a Hungarian language group meeting. :stumped: ... :D

archijam, thanks for the link, I'll check it out soon, I've maxed out my transfer allowance for this month, so I'm going to upgrade, because I'll probably be watching a lot of things like this and tutorial vids etc.

Thanks guys.

04-15-2008, 11:46 AM
Hey Qexit, I'll check out that thread thanks, though I think I may wait a while until I get a bit more LW experience before heading out, otherwise I might as well be going to a Hungarian language group meeting. :stumped: ... :DI wouldn't worry about that if I were you. You have an interest in computer games, 3D stuff and animation. You clearly have a grasp of basic 'Geek' (you know what an SDK is for a start), combine that with the fact most of the meetings are held in Pubs and I think you'll find that you will get along just fine straight away :thumbsup:

04-15-2008, 12:17 PM
C)Is a graphics tablet a must for anyone serious about Lightwave?

No, people get by on mice use only.

But my advice on tablets: Lightwave is one of the better apps that are tablet friendly. (Few dependencies on middle or right mouse clicks either)

After about 3 days of clicking and pushing vertexes around, the index finger will get sore. When that happens, a tablet can remedy the pain because the click is actually replaced with a pencil tap. Your wrist is also straightened from tablet use.

Mouse is OK for occasional 3D use. Tablet is a must for professional, but more for ergonomical reasons.

Oedo 808
04-16-2008, 12:27 AM
Qexit, I'm not a geek, I'll go to the user meetings so long as they don't clash with Star Trek...


adamredwoods, thanks for the advice, I'll bear it in mind. the problem in deciding is that I'll be getting about 20% off my next system, so if I will need one and can sneak it on the the components list, now is the time to buy. But ergonomics is a high priority for me, so I'll see if I can add one on if I have the cash to spare, I guess I can always sell it on if I find I don't need it. The discount should make the second-hand depreciation more bearable.


I just want to clear up that before when I said that all GTX cards had 768MB, I meant all 8800GTX cards had at least 768, not the 9800GTX which only has 512. Didn't want to confuse anyone.

Card: 9800GTX / 8800GTX

Core Clock (MHz): 675 / 575

Shader Clock (MHz): 1688 / 1350

Memory Clock (MHz): 1100 / 900

Memory Amount: 512MB / 768MB

Memory Interface: 256-bit / 384-bit

Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec): 70.4 / 86.4

Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec): 43.2 / 36.8

Specs on Nvidia's site, 8xxx and 9xxx linked respectively:


jin choung
04-16-2008, 01:40 AM
oh good lord,

gtx is 768mb? i just assumed everything topped out at 512... didn't look that close cuz i wasn't ever thinking of buying one. : )

well, more ram is more ram and may help on larger scenes but your choice of the gt will definitely be more than fine.

don't think i saw the anime... do you know any other stuff the art director did? looks familiar....


04-17-2008, 03:20 PM
Hi Oedo, welcome to the forum and good move choosing LightWave :thumbsup:

Just wanted to say that if you're gonna be using LightWave for games stuff, you might want to pick-up the free DirectX exporter from D-STORM. I've not actually used it myself yet, but it's maker is know for making great stuff.

04-17-2008, 03:39 PM

And Welcome Aboard...


Oedo 808
04-17-2008, 09:49 PM
Jin, yup, there are so many card configurations out there it blows the mind! But I doubt I'll be doing any very heavy scenes for a long time. I got in quite a bit of modelling practise on my friend's workstation, but I know very little about rendering.

It looks like I won't be buying his Lightwave license now, so that means the extra expense of a GTX is definitely out the door anyway. But I didn't choose Lightwave simply because I thought I'd be getting a cheap license. It's not too much of a problem right now as obviously I don't have my own system together yet so I couldn't use it anyway, but once I do I'll be chomping at the bit to get on with some proper Lightwaving. Any ideas (anyone) on how well licenses transfer internationally, I guess coming into the UK they're subject to VAT? Anyone know of any other charges?

I do need some help on purchasing one second hand, brand new it's just too steep, especially with a system to build. I'm just not sure of the second hand value of this and other programs, as it would be good to get things like LWCAD and any of the others that were recommended also. And I also want to avoid being conned/ripped off.

But I'm flying blind on this one so any advice would be appreciated.

Pumeco, thanks for the tip, it rings a bell that's for sure, anyway I'll be sure to get hold of it. I reckon Lightwave will be the right choice, though I was tempted by Maya's basic package now that I've lost out on that license, but A) I'll never be able to afford a proper license for it, and B) It just sounds too restrictive. So I'll keep my faith in Lightwave. And thank you for the welcome.

You too zapper1998, a welcome is appreciated.

jin choung
04-17-2008, 10:54 PM
hey oedo,

keep your eyeballs peeled on this forum and on ebay. lately there have been several folks selling their lw licenses and i've seen a few for <$200.

luck with lw and the build.


04-17-2008, 11:02 PM
Oedo, a good monitor and a tablet where the best investments I ever made. Computers come and go but those generally tent to stick for years. Don't skimp on them, you'll be sorry.
If I don't have a tablet I don't work in LightWave. It's gotten to that state of dependency :) I can't imagine using the lasso tool with a mouse... ooh the inaccuracy alone would hurt me. :)
In Photoshop I just feel unhanded without one. I won't even try.

jin choung
04-17-2008, 11:34 PM
oh, re: tablets,

actually, i know a few animators who like to use tablets at the office in maya but i just think that's weird as heck....

i CAN'T use a tablet unless it's in zbrush or 2d apps... lw and maya is mouse all the way.

besides, how else can you create that really cool cracking sounds in your wrists? if it doesn't scare and repulse women, you're just a cg amateur. : )


04-18-2008, 01:24 AM
One just went yesterday on ebay in the states for 400 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160226761194).

Although vue 5 was included in this case, I would always check the upgrade costs, from what I remember it would be another 400 to upgrade to vue 6.

A deal that cost a little more, yet included the latest version of Fprime, would be ideal for what you are looking at (IMHO) ..


Oedo 808
04-18-2008, 11:51 PM
Thanks Jin, I'll keep an eye out here, I'd like to get this sorted as soon as possible, my bank balance certainly likes the sound of a <$200 price tag.

Hi Exception, A good monitor comes at a heavy cost, rather than waste my money on going for something that isn't really good enough to enjoy a real benefit from use with Lightwave, I may get a basic one for starters and then splash out on a decent one once I've learnt a bit more.. and saved a bit more. Is there a size of monitor that is generally aimed for by the folk here?

I see we have two camps regarding the use of a tablet, I guess I'll have to see how my build goes, if I have enough I'll go for it as it sounds like something I might like to use, but equally it's good to know that many can handle LW quite compentently with just a mouse.

And don't worry Jin, I take my health quite seriously these days, and as such I give my wrist a daily workout, just to keep it supple you understand.

archijam, I'll try and hang on for someone selling Fprime as well, I'm sure it will be much cheaper this way, despite being eager to get it, I can wait for a while if it means getting a better deal. Thanks for the input.

Hmm there is one up for sale in the classifieds now, but it looks like they have abandoned ship. I'll post anyway.