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We speak to an industrial designer who uses LightWave for all his visualisation work. He also created the LightWave vX project that got a lot of people talking, but, all things considered, he would rather be playing Dragon's Lair.

How old are you?

I've just hit the big three-O!

Tell us a bit about yourself and who you work for.

I'm a Northern lad at heart! I was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, which is where I studied 3D design at Jacob Kramer College of Art & Design. From there I enrolled on the product design course at Coventry University. After graduating in 1996 I started work for Creactive Design based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, which is where I now live.

Creactive are a product design and engineering company, we design and help manufacture products for all sorts of market sectors. It's an interesting job, each project is always different, plus it offers me many opportunities to render the stuff we design!

When did you see LightWave for the first time?

At a friend's house a long time ago! He'd bought it after it was first separated from the Video Toaster. He showed me some animations he'd done on his Amiga 2000. They were of a drop ship entering earth's atmosphere, I remember it looking very real and I asked how he'd done it, from what I remember it was a disc morphed around the ship in the shape of the heat flare, the metamorph amount was increased as it entered the atmosphere, fractal noise was used with falloff to create the flames, it was very good!

It left a lasting impression on me, I remember being fascinated with LightWave after that! I used to watch Babylon 5 and seaQuest DSV just for the LightWave sequences, pointing out they were done on the Amiga to almost anyone who'd care to listen! Which was quite sad looking back! :)

When did you first start using it?

I started using LightWave properly after we decided to bring rendering and animation in-house at Creactive, about 4-5 years ago. We were looking at other packages but I insisted we used LightWave, I knew it was capable of producing the kind of images we were after.

We started off with v5 on the Mac, but things got a lot better when we upgraded to v6.5. Eventually we were forced to move over to Windows because I needed to be using SolidWorks (mechanical design software) which unfortunately I doubt will ever be available for the Mac.

In the process we updated LightWave to v7.0, the move was made much easier with NewTek's decision to go multi-platform with the dongle, a wise move on their part I thought. Version 7 has been rock solid, and has easily paid for itself many times over.

What do you like about the package?

When you know where things are in LightWave it's pretty easy to create fantastic-looking images with little effort, you can rough out a scene very quickly before you start to sit and tweak lighting/textures etc. The render engine still creates some of the best-looking images I've seen, especially since radiosity was introduced in v7. 'Backdrop radiosity', which I use the most, has made it very easy to create stunningly realistic images which are essential for product visualisations.

The fact LightWave can handle large numbers of polygons is also essential in our line of work, most of our objects are imported from other modelling packages, as a result the poly count is usually un-necessarily high, LightWave just eats them up!

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