NewTek has released the first details about its LightWave Core 3D suite. Following a viral campaign, the company has revealed that LightWave Core is a complete new 3D modelling, animation and rendering environment -- and a development environment for creating it and other tools -- that supercedes the current version of LightWave.

LightWave Core is designed to offer a flexible user interface design with general access to most of the UI components available via CSS, including fonts, placement of controls and widgets, down to pixel-level accuracy. Users can also take advantage of snapping palettes to rearrange their screen at will and use the desktop management system to store their preferred layout in a per context fashion: settings for modelling, surface, rigging, animating, rendering and so on, all set and stored separately.

The SDK for Core is C++-based and is the same for internal development as it is for external development. The architecture enforces full access to C++ SDK and scripting languages, featuring Python as the primary language, while remaining open to connection with a wide range of others through SWIG compliance.

NewTek says that Core is completely multi-threaded spawning as many threads as it needs. The system is both 64- and 32-bit compliant, and is capable of leveraging GPU power where applicable. It will be available on Windows, Macintosh OS X and Linux.

LightWave CORE is scheduled for release towards the end of this year. LightWave Core can be purchased the traditional way at the time of each final product release or by taking advantage of NewTek's new HardCore membership program. HardCore members receive exclusive access to ongoing software builds, special pricing, a copy of the shipping version of the software, a private forum for discussions with the LightWave development team, exclusive information updates, training videos, VIP invitations to special events, personalized membership card and of course, their own custom t-shirt.

LightWave v9 owners gain access to LightWave Core with their HardCore membership for US$395 (around £275) through March 31, 2009. Beginning April 1, HardCore annual memberships for LightWave v9 owners will increase to $495 (£340). New LightWave v9 purchases through March 31 2009 are available for $895 (£615) and come with a one year membership to HardCore. LightWave Core will cost $1,495 (£1,030) when it ships, with upgrades costing $695 (£480) at that time.