NewTek has releasd LightWave v9.5 for Windows, an update to its 3D application. The Mac version is still in beta.

LightWave v9.5’s new capabilities include FiberFX, a complete hair and fur solution, a new lighting system and many improvements to animation, rendering and workflow. The update is available to registered owners of LightWave v9 for free

One highlight of LightWave v9.5 is FiberFX, a proprietary polygonal fibre modeller for creating realistic hair, fur and feathers. It provides artists with a suite of tools to model and style each fibre, create volumetric shadows, render-in reflection and refraction and more.

NewTek says that LightWave v9.5 also offers improved rendering quality and speed, with major upgrades to the radiosity sampling system and interpolated modes. Also, there are new disk-based caches for radiosity: the Static Cache, for animations where only the camera moves; and the Animated Cache, where any element of the scene can move. Both types allow the user to pre-render the cache and apply the solution when doing the full scene render – either locally or across a render farm.

LightWave radiosity can now be rendered at reduced resolution and applied to the full size final render, providing a higher quality output with faster render times.

LightWave v9.5’s IK and animation system includes numerous improved character animation controls. Adding to LightWave’s z-axis bones, artists now have joint-type bones, which is more familiar for users of other programs with joint-based metaphors. It also adds a 'stretchy bones' capability to LightWave.

The lighting system is now a plug-in API, allowing third parties to create custom lights and lighting plug-ins. IES lights have been added with a thumbnail preview of the luminaire with other information and controls. Also available are new size-selectable spherical lights and dome lights.

LightWave v9.5 allows the import and export of FBX and Collada scenes and objects. This greatly improves compatibility with other 3D applications, as you can now seamlessly transfer meshes, rigs, materials and animation information. The LightWave OBJ I/O plug-in now provides extended import capability for this file type.

The full version of LightWave v9.5 for Windows costs US$895 (around £480).