LightWave 3D

Version2020(as of 11/1/2023)
PlatformsWindows, Mac
Go to Website
Rating:3.6  |  42 Votes

Main Features

  • Easy to learn, intuitive interface
  • Fast rendering engine supporting realistic reflections and refractions
  • Ability to create a virtual model of a physical location using cameras and other input
  • Imports and exports various formats, including DAE and FBX
  • Support for a wide range of inputs including mice, tablets, game controllers, and sensor arrays

Software Overview

LightWave 3D is a computer graphics application artists and animators use to create professional-looking 3D graphics and animations. It provides many tools for creating and manipulating graphics and animations. Various industries, including TV, film, architecture, advertising, and video game development, have utilized the software. LightWave Digital (formerly NewTek) develops LightWave 3D.

LightWave can render both animated and static 3D images utilizing a large pallet of tools for creating and manipulating images. You can surface your 3D elements using a quick layer-based system, a more involved but powerful nodal system, or both. LightWave also includes effective procedural, nodal, and keyframe animation tools to help bring your 3D creations to life.

There are many features that LightWave provides that make it easy to add CGI effects during the movie-making process. With Virtual Studio Tools, a movie crew can walk a set with cameras and other input devices, and LightWave will create a virtual replica of the set. It can even reproduce the lighting that is on the set.


LightWave is an excellent 3D animation solution for smaller companies that don't have large budgets for programs like Maya. However, while it is a lot less expensive than similar products from Autodesk, LightWave is still quite costly and probably not ideal for those who are simply looking to dip their toes into 3D graphics.

Primary File Type

lws icon.LWSLightWave 3D Scene

Supported File Types

ExtensionFile Type
.LWSLightWave 3D Scene
.LSLightWave LScript Source Code
.LWOLightWave 3D Object
.MD5ANIMid Tech 4 Model Animation File
.MD5MESHid Tech 4 3D Mesh File
.MDDPoint Oven Deformation Data File
.MOTLightWave Motion File
.OBJWavefront 3D Object File
.RPFRich Pixel Format File
.SRFLightWave Surface File

Additional Related File Types

ExtensionFile Type
.CFGLightWave Configuration File
.PLightWave Plug-in
Updated 11/1/2023