Pixel Planet
May, 1997



     WaveFilter Net+ is an image processing plug-in that gives you a great deal of control over the look of your rendered images. The plug-in is installed and added like any other plug-in in LightWave (someday perhaps this will be automated). The plug-in is accessed by choosing an image filter plug-in from the Image Processing portion of the Effects panel. Clicking the options button will display the WaveFilter Net+ interface. The first column

WF Net+

WaveFilter Net+ Control Panel

controls the Color Filters. There is control of the RGB values, as well as the Brightness, Gamma and Contrast of the image. The filters work on a percentage scale, though like most of the parameters in LightWave, values above 100% can be entered to create all sorts of odd effects.

      The next group are the Digital Filters. The first two are Blur and DOF Blur. As youíve probably figured out, Blur will blur the image. Itís again a percentage value, and thereís toggle to soften the blur. I thought this looked pretty good, and certainly rendered fast. Depth Of Field Blur will let you simulate DOF effects by setting a focal point in your scene. The plug-in will then apply the DOF blur value for each meter past the focal point. The effect looks good, and renders faster than the DOF effect in LightWave.


Sample images of WaveFilter's Net +
DOF and Antialiasing capabilities.

     WaveFilter Net+ also has some image quality improvement tools. Using Enhance will increase
the sharpness between surface colors, while the Antialias function works similarly to the one in
LightWave. The difference between the LightWave and WaveFilter Net+ Antialias function is that
the WaveFilter Net+ one is faster, and it produces similar results. One neat trick is to use both
programís Antialias functions at the same time. Set the LightWave Antialias to Low, and then set
WaveFilter Net+ís Antialias to 100%, so it will act similar to the LightWave setting of Medium.
Outstanding results can be achieved using this combination, and the time savings are significant.

     The next set of filters will let you add some special effects to your images. Noise adds random
luminance values to an image, while Posterize will limit the color range depending on the setting.
Black & White will change your color image into a grayscale one, and the NTSC Limit will make
sure all the colors in your image fall into the NTSC legal range. Using Negative will give you just
what it says, and the Flip Frame function will let you rotate your frame either horizontally or vertically
(it would be cool if there was a degree setting for rotation here). All these filters work the way you would expect them to, and produce good results.

     The final set of filters are used to create images for compositing, whether in LightWave or some other program. Portions of your images can be set to 100% Black or White for matte creation.
The Negative Alpha will flip the color values of an alpha channel image, which can be useful if the
compositing program youíre working with uses the reversed range from a normal LightWave
alpha channel image. The Range Alpha works with images to create clip maps, usually from
Blue/Green screen footage. You would select the color range you would want to mask out, and then WaveFilter Net+ will set those colors to black, with the rest of the image being white. While
these filters will not be used by everyone, those who do a lot of compositing with LightWave images will find them invaluable.

     Of course, many of these filters would be useless if the program only worked with the whole
image. So the filters can be applied to the whole image, just the background, objects only,
shadows only, or a user-definable color range. This gives you lots of control over your images.
Plus, since you can load up to four copies of the WaveFilter Net+ plug-in, you can make multiple
passes over an image, with each plug-in working on different parts of an image and creating
different effects.


Nulls loaded into Layout, ready to be animated.

     But what about animation? If you look at the control panel, you would think that the effects cannot be animated. But you would be wrong. The parameters of the plug-in can be animated through the use of null objects. The program ships with sets of nulls that when loaded and examined from the Top View of Layout, look like sliders on a mixing board (OK, use your imagination). When you
change the Z position of one of the nulls, the value that null controls will increase/decrease, depending on where itís positioned. Changing their values and then key framing them will animate their parameters over time. All of the parameters in the program can be animated, and the program comes with many different sets of nulls to use with your scene. Just use the Load From Scene command to add them to any animation. You can create all sorts of interesting effects like wild color shifts, rack focus effects, bizarre background changes, and much more.

     WaveFilter Net+ is a great package. It offers a lot of different functionality, it works well and gives fast and excellent results, either on a single machine or over ScreamerNet. Itís very easy to use, and the animation capabilities offers effects possibilities that would not be possible without it. I recommend it for all serious LightWave users.