After several years in the developmental wilderness, venerable 3D animation software LightWave 3D is being resurrected by a new owner, LightWave Digital.
News of a new owner for LightWave 3D first emerged at the start of April, when rumours started circulating that owners Vizrt were preparing to sell the software to a new UK-based group headed by former Darkside studio boss, Andrew Bishop. The deal has now completed and the new group is happy to say that LightWave 3D is back up and in business with a new upgrade path mapped out and new features to drop as the year progresses.
Al in all it’s been a bit of a journey for the software which achieved nigh on legendary status back in the first flush of 3D CGI in the 1990s. Following its initial release by NewTek, it became synonymous with a cheaper 3D pipeline than the likes of Maya and Softimage that dominated the industry could manage; but crucially also one that was more than capable of throwing decent vfx polygons round the screen in such landmark shows as Babylon 5.
Its use started declining slowly with the turn of the new century however, and by the time that Vizrt bought NewTek primarily for its NDI technology, it was little more than a curio on the corporate balance sheet, albeit one with a dedicated and loyal following.
Development halted as quickly as a year after that purchase with the release of LightWave 3D 2020, but that dedicated and loyal following persisted and it now seems that with this sale of Lightwave 3D — and what looks to be all the assets that go with it — they have their reward.
“As users for over 25 years, Bishop and his team has a vested interest and commitment to upgrading the software for its tens of thousands of loyal customers around the globe,” runs the official statement.
“Andrew has always been passionate about LightWave and when the opportunity arose to acquire the software, he leveraged his wide-ranging network, to pull together a unique team. They include experienced LightWave specialists, Donetta Colboch, Elmar Moezler and Jack “Deuce” Bennett, together with leading experts in delivering technology solutions, business operations and finance, to build a team that Andrew is confident can achieve LightWave’s full potential.”
Details of the deal have not been publicly released and the exact status of the transition of user groups and assets from old ownership to the new regime is a bit of an unknown as well. But it has been completed (“We picked up the drives and servers an hour or so ago – Deuce is driving them back now. WE OWN LIGHTWAVE 3D!” wrote Bishop on the Welcome to the Future of LightWave Discord server, which is the main method of comms at the moment).
As to the future roadmap, pricing, and a whole lot more, details are still scarce. But Bishop is bullish, writing that the team “will make this great again,” and that the company will transform LightWave back into a state of the art 3D package over the next five years or so.
First fruits of all that will be in an upgrade expected to drop in roughly six months, with another release six months after that. We’ll detail more when we know more ourselves.
Tags: Post & VFX