View Full Version : jobs using lightwave

orion 77
10 October 2004, 09:26 PM
just wondered if there is anybody on the forum using lightwave at work, this was a rare occurence maybe its chnaged and lw is gaining more acceptance. what particular jobs are you doing ? animator, modeller or vfx etc.

Aegis Prime
10 October 2004, 09:52 PM
Actually, the opposite is true - there used to be many more LightWave jobs but as Maya (and now XSI) has fallen in price and LightWave's feature set has fallen behind in comparision with the industry big-hitters it's becoming harder and harder to find studios using LightWave as their main 3D application - of course, independent freelancers can often use the software of their choice and there still seems to be a healthy number of 'Wavers making a pretty good living for themselves.

I guess education also has a factor - when I started on LightWave (3.5 for the Amiga) there were no colleges or schools teaching 3D graphics - these days, the software taught is based on available jobs and industry presence as much as it the discounts offered by companies such as Avid and Alias - NewTek has had (and will continue to have) a tough time making any inroads here - the result? Scores of CG people leaving school with experience in Max, Maya and Softimage but very little that have come into contact with LightWave.

10 October 2004, 10:59 PM
Last year was kinda dry for me; I worked two months as a LightWave artist on Last Samurai and that was it.

I've had better luck this year at finding LightWave work. I did three months' worth of LightWave animatics on Spider-Man 2 at Sony Pictures Entertainment; three weeks' LightWave animatics for UPN's I'm Still Alive and four months of LightWave stuff at Warner Bros.

My dear husband's had an interesting year, too -- about three months of LightWavin' at Stan Winston, followed by LightWave freelance work for Warner Bros.

Most of the seasoned LW artists we know have also had good luck this year at landing LightWave work. That said, I'm no fool, and I know this industry goes up and down. Maybe I'll have the same good luck at landing work next year; maybe not. We'll see.

10 October 2004, 11:50 PM
Apart from numerous television commercials this year, I also used LightWave for work I did on The Aviator (although I cannot give any specific details on that).

As a freelance artist, I have a number of tools under my belt, with LightWave being only one of them. I think it's important for artists to have a basic-to-fair knowledge of a couple of different applications once they become competitive in the game.

I use whatever will work best for any particular project, although sometimes a studio will need you to work with a specific application.

orion 77
10 October 2004, 10:15 AM
ok thanks for the replies anyway, just thought id ask since im considering doing some 3d work now i've finished uni as work in whatever field you do is becoming scacre these days it seems and a bit of reelance can help to keep the wolves from the door.

cellshader: you say you did some animation work, now i was under the impression most lw artists get modelling and texturing work over animation since there are bettr choices for animating.

10 October 2004, 01:12 PM
Freelance artist
I do afair bit of multimedia educational stuff rigging here and there
& I'm just finishing off a TVC at the moment

I Got XSI and i think it's just super but it has made me like LW "K,I,S,S" method alittle more then I did. the simple things in life are often the best but it great to have it all there when you need it:thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 04:44 PM
I use lightwave in my parttime job, as i'm still in college. I got this job because i did my inernship at the same company so i could stay for some parttime work.

What i do there is modelling, for an bathroom design aplication.
But i hope when i finish my school i could go into commercials or even movies (this won't be easy here in holland)

10 October 2004, 04:51 PM
I use Lightwave everyday for my multimedia guy day job, and recently I've been hitting Digital Fusion for post production work with the Raven Tales project (I wrote half of the article in this months keyframe but I didn't get credited, bummer). For some software I got for free it's opened up so many new oportunities for me, so I agree with everyone else. Use all the tools you have because they all have strengths and weaknesses.

10 October 2004, 05:41 PM
I dont know very many artists who dont do freelance or contract work these days. Permanent studio jobs are becoming more and more rare. Studios tend to ramp up for a job then lay people off. Ive spoken to some people who have told me that they cant find enough good LW artists.

I tend to see a couple of things that work against many artists:
1. Lots of bad or inappropriate demo reels
2. Most artists are not very good at marketing themselves.

I rarely ever recommened that students show student work. The first thing I would do when finishing school is work on creating a very good demo reel, short film etc.

10 October 2004, 07:31 PM
Don't know about other school. But the one I go to has a course on creating a demo reel. That's all you do the whole semester. I'm told it's very free form and you get to concentrate it on what you feel your best skill are.


orion 77
10 October 2004, 07:58 PM
splinegod: since you have experience in the industry i always respect your viewpoints and take what you have to say on board.
its true what you have said about bad or inapropriate showreels, i have seen a few and they seem to be a mish mash of the animations the person has done in school.
i did one when i finished that was exactly like that it and it stank.
im not sure whether 3d has enough mileage as a career as far as paying the bills etc is concerned, it seems to high stress and insecure. freelance is especially difficult as people are more inclined to take on too much work in the busy periods for fear of the quiet periods having too much damage on finances - there are only 16 workable hours in a day (sleep is essential).

despite my fears i am considering taking it up again and the way i see it a decent showreel should be based on one theme. if its animation then the person should do a kick ass 2 minute animation that includes all the essentials such as character animation with a co-herent story.
whereas a modeller/texture artist could do a reel of stuff for a particular theme such as a game including characters, environments and maybe some graphics.

not sure what others think but thats my outlook anyway, feel free to argue anything you disagree with.

10 October 2004, 09:57 PM
We absolutely use Lightwave at "work". Our whole studio (Aerodrome Pictures) uses Lightwave as the main 3d app. We'll sometimes switch over to another if it's got a feature we need, but 98% of the time, LW is the main 3d app. Over the years we developed the FOX on-air look with it (spinning cubes and graphic effects), as well as a huge number of shows like American Idol (promo packaging), The Complex (logo animations), Emmy work, Spike TV (launch promos for Stripperella, Gary The Rat, and Ren & Stimpy). More recently we re-branded the Universal Channel (Latin America), and National Geographic Channel (International) using Lightwave heavily. All in all there are too many projects to list. Currently we are using it on two other projects in the pipeline that we are excited about.

I agree, the toolkit has fallen behind in many areas, and I get jealous when I see other packages getting cool new tools. But new tools like fprime make LW fast and responsive in the render, which is invaluable. We also stick to it out of loyalty. Everyone likes to see thier chosen app run with the best, and LW still does that in almost every way we need it to.

here's some samples of the National Geographic work. Everything except the live-action people in these spots is Lightwave, and 90% of the renders are fprime.
If possible, please don't spread the link around, I don't want to exceed our bandwith and cost my company a bunch of money.


Steve F.

10 October 2004, 10:56 PM
We use Lightwave everyday for architectural, exhibit, aviation and medical illustrations and animations. There are four of us using it as our primary 3d program. ( for examples.

We intentionally stayed out of the entertainment industry. I would love to see a lot of improvements related to architectural needs. Hopefully the next release will be a big help.

By the way, we've been using Lightwave since 1993 - back in the Amiga days!

10 October 2004, 06:05 AM
cellshader: you say you did some animation work, now i was under the impression most lw artists get modelling and texturing work over animation since there are bettr choices for animating.

I have done keyframed character animation work with LightWave, but what I wrote in my post was that I did LightWave "animatics" -- pre-viz work for Spidey and forensics shots for UPN. Nothing Pixar-level, but more than adequate for what the shows needed.

If the software can do the job, it can do the job. Heck, the earliest Spider-Man 2 pre-viz animatics were done with Blender ( -- a freeware program.


If you can make a living outside of 3D, though, consider keeping 3D as a hobby. As you have suspected, there's no financial security and absolutely no guarantee of health insurance. Some years you might make a lot of money; other years you'll be scraping together what's left of your spare change to make rent. The rent out here in Los Angeles is insane, too. I strongly recommend against getting into 3D for the money, because it can get scarce. You don't need FX to make a great film, and whenever Hollywood doesn't feel like paying for FX, the jobs go away.

I also strongly recommend against getting into 3D for the coolness factor, because the coolness factor can get scarce, too. I've never had control over the content of my professional jobs beyond a "Yes, I'll take the job" or "No, I'm busy with another project." Maybe you'll get to model an awesome dragon or animate a Pixar character...or maybe you'll model telegraph wires.

On the one hand, not knowing what you'll be working on two months from now does keep life interesting. In the past year I've worked on final FX, pre-viz, forensics, celshader modeling and cloth dynamics at four different studios. I definitely wasn't bored. On the other hand, if you have a dream project in your heart, your best shot at working on it is at home, on your own time, with your own money. Otherwise it'll be a complete grab bag of studio projects for you. Maybe you'll work on something cool; maybe you'll work on something that no one notices or cares about.

If you want to get into 3D for money or coolness...again, consider keeping it a hobby. You don't need to work at a studio to make money or to create something cool. In the past five-and-a-half years of working professionally with LightWave, I think the coolest thing I ever did in 3D was this ( I modeled him at home, on my own time, with my own copy of LightWave.

10 October 2004, 07:22 AM
...You don't need to work at a studio to make money or to create something cool...
:D haha, so what IS the point in working for a studio then?

10 October 2004, 07:37 AM
As you have suspected, there's no financial security

Why do people always say this? Plenty of artists are employed full time at studios and are at no greater financial risk than anyone else with a full time job in any other industry.

Unless you are referring to freelancing, or short term contracts (e.g. for film work)?

10 October 2004, 07:41 AM
I sneak in some Lightwave stuff from time to time, for simple modeling and rendering help. I concider it a great tool. I spend 97.5% of my time inPhotoshop however.

Just like Jen, I do lots of cool LW work at home.

BTW the point of working at a studio, besides to help with the bills?
Maybe to work in a team environment and work on something that is greater than yourself. Personally I love working for a studio. I am surrounded by people who have the same interests and goals that I do and I am a much better artist for that experience.

orion 77
10 October 2004, 12:01 PM
from those people whom i have met (not a huge number though) and from experience as someone who has worked freelance and applied for jobs in the industry the security even in the short term never seemed to be there.
although that may be down to my own skill level.
leigh: your very talented so you can expect some degree of security whereas some may never or havent yet reached your level of expertise.
if i asked the same question on the maya board the thread may likely be over three pages long.

10 October 2004, 12:54 PM
You have to consider that entertainment makes up maybe 20-25% of the full 3D "pie".
Most 3D jobs are in areas like medical, architectural, product visualization and so forth.
The 3D industry in general isnt huge especially the entertainment related side.

Most studios work on very thin margins. It doesnt take much to make a studio go out of business. Most studios do work for other bigger studios or smaller clients. Many survive by doing TV commercials or other smaller or quicker turnaround projects in between the big ones. Many places simply cannot afford to keep people on full time especially when there might not be any work. There are exceptions where you have studios that create and produce their own content but even they are stll at the mercy of market forces.
Many places keep a small core staff and then fill in the rest with contractors/freelancers. Most of the time a contractor will make more money then a person on staff.

The way the industry is now you almost have to do freelance work and become a bit more entrepenuerial then in other industries. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Years ago I worked for the 3rd largest weapons laboratory (at the time) in the USA (Sandia National Labs). Everyone thought that place was the cush job because after all the soviet union was considered a threat and defense spending was at an all time high. Who would have thought that the soviet union would ever collapse and the berlin wall would come down.
LOTS of people I knew who were engineers, chemists and so on lost their jobs. I remember one guy who was a chemist with a PHD was driving a Cab. You can do freelance work in this business but Ive never run into very many freelance chemists or engineers though Ive seen a trend towards that more and more as well. In many industries I see more contractors filling in the gaps.

There are no guarentees in any business. The best security you have is to just be good at what you do. Keep developing that skillset. Always keep networking with other professionals. Learn how to market yourself. :)

orion 77
10 October 2004, 05:55 PM
quote: keep developing that skillset.

lol the essence of life full stop really. get too cocky or comfortable and that big hand comes down and slaps you in the face (ornage tango man for all uk people).
thats one of the things they never clarify and emphasise in the universities or colleges (3d should not be taught uni anyway) is the fact that one needs to be highly driven to succeed and be able to work freelance.

well thanx to everyone who replied and those who have experience in the 'game'.
dont stop movin.

10 October 2004, 06:20 PM
Why do people always say this? Plenty of artists are employed full time at studios and are at no greater financial risk than anyone else with a full time job in any other industry.

Unless you are referring to freelancing, or short term contracts (e.g. for film work)?I hope I'm wrong, but I know of only one 3D artist out here in Southern California who's employed "full-time." Only one. He doesn't work for the entertainment industry, though. He works for a company that handles unmanned space exploration. He does excellent work, so they've kept him around for over 13 years.

Everyone else I know jumps from project to project to project. A two-week freelance gig here; a three-week stint at Digital Domain there; a year's worth of work on a film. The end of each gig is always the same -- if the client or studio has no more work after the project ends, all of the 3D folks let go. If the client or studio nabs more work, they might call the 3D artists back. Or not.


The difference between 3D and "any other industry" is that no one truly needs 3D artists. People need mechanics, carpenters and plumbers, but not 3D artists. People don't need us to solve problems with food, clothing or shelter. They don't even need us to create a successful film, TV show or commercial -- look at My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Survivor and the catchy Budweiser "Whazzzzzap?!" commercials.

In the entertainment industry, 3D artists are a frivolous expense, a luxury. Productions can die without editors, but they'll survive without 3D artists. If no one feels like paying for our services, we're out of work.


HowardM asked a good question. To paraphrase: "What's the advantage of working at a studio?"

My joke answer is: "The clothes." I like some of the free caps ( I've gotten over the years.

My heart's answer would be: "The people." I've met some truly wonderful folks in this industry.

The true answer is this, though: working at a studio makes you use LightWave 8+ hours a day, 5+ days a week. If one musician practiced the flute 4 hours a week, while another musician practiced for 40+ hours a week...I think the musician who practiced more hours a week would show the greater amount of improvement after two weeks.

The more you use LightWave, the better you get at it. A studio job gives you more time to practice.

That's the #1 advantage of studio work.

10 October 2004, 06:45 PM
Wow, only one person?! That's crazy!

I suspect it's only that way in the States and London though... In mainland Europe, people seem to be very stable in their careers, although maybe that is because a lot of that stuff is TV work, unlike film which does tend to have more of a short-term set up. And here in this country, we have a lot of 3D studios but all the artists are fulltime permanent employees (not many people are aware of this, but South Africa, and particularly Cape Town where I live, has a raging commercial filming industry, and hence a lot of post production work - in this city alone we have about 5 or 6 VFX/post production studios). So I guess my point of view has just been formed from my own experiences so far... which evidently have been rather lucky.

It's kinda funny to be speaking about this right now... since in the last few months I've been offered fulltime positions at two California studios. So it comes as a real surprise to hear people saying that they know hardly anyone who is employed full time! Personally, I know a couple of people who have full time jobs in the area (granted, not many, but a few), but then again... I do know a lot of people :)

I do hear what you're saying about not being needed though. But I guess we just need to make the most of that :)

As for working in studios... I think my favourite part of that is simply being surrounded by loads of talented people who are passionate about what they do just as much as you are. It's very inspiring and having lots of brains to pick and knock together to solve problems is loads of fun.

Oh and by the way... My Big Fat Greek Wedding is awesome! :D

10 October 2004, 07:41 PM
The difference between 3D and "any other industry" is that no one truly needs 3D artists. People need mechanics, carpenters and plumbers, but not 3D artists. People don't need us to solve problems with food, clothing or shelter. They don't even need us to create a successful film, TV show or commercial -- look at My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Survivor and the catchy Budweiser "Whazzzzzap?!" commercials.

That's a very good point! I was thinking about this before and pretty much decided I cannot rely only on 3D jobs to make a living out of it. I am just about to finish college with a degree in architecture. I do architectural visualisations to make a bit of money... I chose LW because it simply gave me the most bang for the buck and I felt the most comfortable with. I can't afford many different apps (yet) since I'm just a one man bend for now. But as you said it's a luxury also in arch. viz department. So I think 3D visualizations will probably becom a side job to doing proper architectural stuff for me.

Though I belive there are always going to be jobs for the best of you 3D artists out there, the rest of us will just have to find our way around...

10 October 2004, 08:07 PM
The only time I use LW is when i'm at work.....I've just updated to eight at work and i'm happy with it....still lots of stuff i'd improve. I use a couple others at home. Do I think it's a problem for people to use more than one program? HELL NO.

10 October 2004, 09:57 PM
Speaking of freelancing. I'm interested in freelancing. I have a full-time job. But, I'm expecting to work for myself trading stock & commodities within 1-2 years. As this will not require me to work full-time doing that, I want to use the extra time to work on creating my CG film. In the meantime, my goal has been to convert this from a hobby to a "paid" hobby where I can make enough money to pay for all the goodies I will need to produce my CG film. I'm thinking about doing more stills in this case as opposed to animation. Any ideas on getting freelance work. It doesn't need to be glamorous, just so that it makes my hobby a self supporting one. After all, I think I will need to make about 15k to buy my extra goodies to start producing CG films.

Also, now that I think about it, I will be interested in improving my skills for producing my CG film. Should I consider working for a studio to learn production techniques for CG production? Afterall, I want my film to be cool enopugh for people to want to spend their money on it.<g> Thanks in advance. You guys are great.

orion 77
10 October 2004, 10:41 PM
cellshader: spot on, nobody needs 3d artists or most artists for that matter. i used to have an art teacher who would say "this isnt therapy you know" when we were slacking off.
being able to do art for a career is sheer luck, i mean its just too good to be true.

hmm maybe i'll just do a 'normal' job and freelance when i have the time.

10 October 2004, 10:56 PM
I own a studio in the sticks.. we only use Lightwave for 3D stuff, but it is rather unusual in the UK. I only know of two other studios in our field that use Lightwave as their main package, and that's Passion pictures and Axis animation.. (it would be great to hear of others)
Its been incredibly hard trying to find any artists to recruit, as nearly all job applicants use Maya or Softimage. (and even then, a good reel is very rare indeed)
We ended up figuring the best way is usually taking good artists who may not have used ANY package and training them from scratch

this is us (

orion 77
10 October 2004, 11:54 PM
oooooh maybe i'll send you a demo reel in the next few months for some freelance work.
if you need a modeller/artist/texture artist that is.

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