LightWave: Using Collada for Camera Data

LightWave 10 is the first ever release by NewTek that incorporates the “CORE” technology coupled with enhanced “Modeler” and “Layout” features. “CORE”, “Modeler” and “Layout” elements form a trident that enables you to work in a familiar setting, while harnessing the interactive power of the innovative CORE technologies. The latest edition in the LightWave series features COLLADA to provide easy transfer of camera data, lights, object placement and image maps between multiple applications. Here, we will be looking into and learning about a few basics regarding COLLADA and LightWave integration for enhanced camera data handling between multiple software suites and applications.


COLLADA stands for COLLAborative Design Activity. It is a means to create and establish an interchange file format for various interactive 3D applications. COLLADA was created and is managed by a non-profit technology consortium, the “Khronos Group,” with support from Sony Computer Entertainment. Essentially, COLLADA is an XML schema that facilitates exchanging digital assets, multiple 3D and graphic software suites and applications. Most of the software store and manage digital assets in file formats that are incompatible with each other. COLLADA is a way around this problem. COLLADA stores digital assets as XML files that can be easily read and readily manipulated by almost all 3D and graphic software suites and applications.

LightWave 3D and COLLADA Issues

COLLADA was conceptualized and designed to be an intermediate format for data compatibility between multiple software suites. For LightWave 3D, COLLADA was implemented using 3rd party applications and plug-ins. For versions earlier than LightWave 10, COLLADA does not export camera FOV animations, light colors and light spot angle animations. Also, there were several problems with LightWave exporting the wrong COLLADA aspect ratios. Among others, LightWave would default to an “YXZ” rotation whenever it read a COLLADA file. Simply put, LightWave would have problems if the rotation data were provided for only 1 axis.

LightWave 10 and COLLADA

LightWave 10 adds an update in the form of support for industry standard COLLADA format. With LightWave 10, NewTek has announced complete native support for COLLADA across all 3 modules - “CORE”, “Modeler” and “Layout”. The support will primarily enable a 3D artist to easily transfer digital assets like camera data, lights, object placement, and image maps across applications. (For example: from LightWave to Houdini.)

COLLADA for LightWave 10 will allow you to switch and transfer camera data seamlessly between applications like After Effects and POIcamAEpro. This applies to all camera assets like weight maps, FOV animation, light colors and light spot angle animations.

Next Steps

The LightWave 10 is currently in paid-beta testing rounds and it remains to be seen how the COLLADA support turns out when it ships out in Q4 of 2010.