3D and video software maker NewTek has detailed its new version of its flagship 3D application LightWave at the SIGGRAPH event in Los Angeles. LightWave 9.0 will feature a major rewrite and restructure of LightWave's core, says NewTek, plus the addition of mesh-editing capabilities to Layout, faster raytracing, and enhanced modelling tools.

"The new development team has executed a very careful step-by-step first-phase redesign of the application leading toward version 9," said Jay Roth, president of the 3D technology division for NewTek. "The intent during most of our previous cycle was to restructure the core... for rapid development without breaking things for the users, so that we could continue to deliver new features and regular maintenance enhancements. With 9.0, we have reached the point where we can implement major changes at a radical pace, as the new availability of mesh editing functions within the Layout module, added in just the last couple of months, demonstrates. The new structure will allow us to keep pace with the most advanced technologies, and to bring innovation to LightWave users faster than ever before."

NewTek says its decision to extract the mesh-editing core from Modeler, means it can be moved to a common location that can be accessed by both Layout and Modeler -- effectively adding mesh-editing to Layout. The move by NewTek could see users stick to Layout as a single workspace for all model and scene creation, admits NewTek -- with Layout also able to run existing plug-ins created for Modeler in version 9.0.

The company says version 9.0 will see faster OpenGL performance and additional OpenGL hardware shader support. NewTek says this means many scenes "will provide a very accurate preview of the look of the final image or animation in real-time, without the need to create test renders," it said in a statement.

NewTek is pledging greater customisation of the user interface, allowing for more flexible working.

Other, new additions slated for version 9.0 include:

- Modeling Tool Subset in Layout
- Faster OpenGL Performance
- Enhanced OpenGL Hardware Shader Support for accurate preview in real time
for textures and lighting
- Faster Raytrace Rendering -- up to 2.5X or better
- Adaptive Mesh subdivision based on visibility and distance to camera
- Faster Subdivision Surfaces
- Subdivision Surface modeling with n-gons
- True edge support in modeling, including edge weighting
- Enhanced MultiShift Modeling tool with reusable histories
- More flexibility and more user controls for the GUI
- Dynamics rewritten for improved precision, performance and capabilities
- Dynamics UI redesigned for easy and intuitive workflow
- Consolidation of tools for a streamlined workflow in Modeler
- Node-based procedural shading system
- Relativity 2 Expressions System
- Particle surface shading system
- Environment instancing on surfaces
- Camera time warper for effects such as bullet time, etc.
- Hypervoxel particle surface deformer
- Surface deformation-based texture map and color controller
- Camera lens shader system.

NewTek says LightWave 9.0 will ship in Q4 2005, and will cost $795 (around £450) for a single user license. Upgrade pricing will start from $395 (£225) according to the company, although UK pricing is to be confirmed.