I'm going to say this as constructively as I can. After trying to work
with Solidworks management on PW2 for over 2 years, I have had to
abandon it to get my work done at IDEO. In my opinion there is a
fundamental flaw in the management of this product inside the company.
I'm sorry to have to say this for those of you SW people listening
(please dont' be offended, I still consider you my friends) but you
just haven't listened to Ed and I and many others, and too many months
have passed to say silent about this publicly. It is also 180 degrees
from the way I feel about the core product.
Hew! Now that that is off my chest, I'm currently using Lightwave 7.5
and building all my models in SWX. I use BaronBoym's 3D file converter
to get them over to LW natively. I works pretty well. Rendering and
animation are awesome. I also have 50 of our machines in Palo Alto
setup on a render farm. For those of you who saw the "Kill another
CAD" movie at SolidWorld, all of these models, including the Vanquish
were built in SWX and ported to Lightwave and then rendered and
animated on the "Farm". If I didn't have the farm, you would have not
seen the movie when you did. I saved me hundreds of hours, literally.
In 2004, there is the added benefit of refined faceting under
tools/option/performance/"optomize edge length" which prior to 2004,
was a problem especially on cylinder like shapes.
Anyway, I'm really happy with LW, although for ease-of-use, I'm
leading an effort to get a group of our designers on 3Dmax for
Lightwave meets all of my needs, but the interface is not the best and
I still have to take the time to convert to polygonal-mesh. I also
have to do some polygon management and fixing in Lightwave on
everything I bring in but it doesn't take too much time.
The things that are really important to me, LW can do, like burred
metal, accurate placement of textures and decals, keyframe spline
interpolated animation, area lighting and radiosity, render farm etc,
Of all of these the materials are the most important. In my line of
work, I can't simply apply almost any PW material and show it rendered
against corkboard and a gridplate floor and say that's okay. If that
works for engineers and designers, that's wonderful and the product
works really well, but as soon as you start trying to customize your
own materials and scene, it get really hairy! I still can not get my
most prolific material, texture plastic (which was really good in PW1)
to look right because of the procedural texture is to awful.
What is really tragic, is that PW1 was useable, but the quality of
shadows and lighting wasn't the best. Dumping Lightworks and switching
to Mental Images was a great move and my hope was to "do it right" and
not just copy PW1, but for reasons I won't go into, that didn't happen
and it turned out that some changes were made but it was NOT a
comprehensive evolution which it needed to be.
With PW2, the shadows (especially with indirect illum.) is super, but
the rest of the product is almost unuseable because of the unresolved
bugs. Now you don't get a choice.
I can't speak for other users and there corporation's use of the
product, but it might suprise you that many of our engineers in IDEO
are trying to use the PW product and are failing. It's not just a
product for ID's.