Vue 5 Esprit is the next generation of Vue d'Esprit 4. It
is not the follow up to Vue 4 Professional. Vue 5 professional
is expected hopefully at the end of 2004. Vue 5 Esprit (Vue
5) is "especially designed for casual and advanced digital
artists." I will review this from the perspective of
a new user or one who has used Vue 4 but not extensively.
When I review a product, I look at the whole package, namely:
the program, manual, tutorials, etc. I look at how the program
functions as well as how easy it is for a novice to learn.
Since my reviews tend to be long, I'll say up front that
I definately recommend Vue 5 Esprit. Once said, I hope you
will read on..............
*The requirements are:System Requirements:
Mac OS X v10.2+,
1.25GHz G4+ processor or faster,
256 MB of free RAM (512MB recommended),
100 MB of free Hard Disk space,
1024x768 in 65K colors/16 bits (24+ bits recommended).
Windows 2000/XP (Pro and Family),
1GHz Pentium III or better processor,
256 MB of free RAM (512MB recommended),
100 MB of free Hard Disk space,
1024x768 in 65K colors/16 bits (24+ bits recommended).
An OpenGL accelerated video board is not required, but is
a big plus.
Multi-processor rendering is only available on all multiprocessor
OS X, 2000 and XP Pro systems.
Supported Video Boards
Windows 2000/XP (Professional & Family):
All boards with NVidia Quadro and GeForce chips.
All boards with ATI Radeon 9x00 chips.
All boards with NVidia GeForce chips.
All boards with ATI Radeon 9x00 and Rage 128 chips.
Boards that are not on this list may still work with Vue,
but they haven't been tested.
*Availability and Pricing
Vue 5 Esprit is available in English. German, French and Japanese
versions will be available soon.
Vue 5 Esprit - Complete Product US$249
Upgrade from Vue d'Esprit 4 to Vue 5 Esprit US$149
Sidegrade from Vue 4 Professional to Vue 5 Esprit US$99
Upgrade from Vue d'Esprit 4 (Late Buyer) US$129
(* The starred sections above are from the e-on software
I have noted the requirements at the front of this review
because Vue 5 has added a special Fault Protection and
Compatibility Check each time you open the program. (It
can be turned off.) I will discuss this later. First I want
to describe Vue 5 Esprit for those not familiar with any of
the proceeding Vue's.
Vue is an inexpensive, but very powerful 3D environmental
building and animation program. Vue 5 comes with many new
features as well as many optimized features. I have used the
lists from e-on software's website to point out some of the
major features of the program. When using these lists, I have
referenced them as coming from the website. Primarily, however,
I have used Vue 5 and commented on those areas that I felt
were important and informative to new users and novice-intermediate
users of the Vue series.
Vue 5 comes with a new and improved Atmosphere Creation
For those familiar with Vue 4, one can see the additions
and changes made to Vue 5. For those not familiar, as can
be seen, there are many approaches in Vue 5 to create a scene.
The complexity and realism is up to the artist. All the tools
are there. The following is a list from e-on software's website
of Lighting and Atmosphere Creation tools:
|"Ultra-Realistic Volumetric Atmosphere Model
100 predefined atmospheres
70 predefined shapes of clouds, unlimited layers of clouds
Volumetric clouds; volumetric lights (visible rays, with
optional dust). Point light, Quadratic point light, Spotlight,
Quadratic spotlight, Directional light
Complete lens flare system with global/local settings.
Light gels with realistic projection modes.
Stars, rainbows and ice rings.
Caustics in the shadows of transparent materials. Caustics
realistically depend on the Index of Refraction.
Adjustable light shadow density, negative lights.
Soft shadows, blurred reflections and transparencies,
depth of field.
New! Shadow and volumetric light optimization for
dramatic increase in rendering speed.
New! Image based lighting
New! HDRI (high dynamic range image)
New! Global Illumination
New! EasyGI global illumination adjustment.
New! Global Radiosity
New! Adjustment of global light intensity"
Vue 5 introduces Imaged Based lighting using HDRI
images. These can be found in Vue 5 as well as imported from
other sources found on the web such as from Light Works.
Above is an example of how to use an HDRI image
map. There is a tutorial on page 293 of the Vue 5 manual that
gives a brief introduction to Image Based Lighting.
Another aspect of lighting is using outside
(non atmosphere generic) lights. These can be found in Vue
5 by accessing Object>Add Lights. These are the
same steps as used in Vue 4.
To demonstrate how one scene can be changed with lighting,
I created a simple scene and lit it in a straight forward
manner using Standard lighting. Then, I took the same
scene, and keeping the parameters somewhat similar, I lit
it using the Environmental Lighting choice and the
HDRI for the sky that is included with Vue 5 even though I
know that HDRI is not normally used to its best advantage
on outdoor scenes. For the last picture, I added a directional
light toward the pine trees. I liked best the effect with
the directional light added.
One Directional Light
The following is a list of different features pertaining
to Materials from e-on's website:
|"Luminous and glowing materials.
Anti-aliasing can be disabled for given materials.
Receive shadows material option.
Backlight option (for one-sided materials only) for realistic
backlighting of opaque materials.
New! Previewing of materials can be limited to
the active window.
Optimized! Direct access to all materials inside
Optimized! Basic material editor
New! Advanced material editors, New SmartGraph
function editor, Advanced procedural texturing engine
Optimized! 2 Material mapping modes (world and
objects) with 4 parameters each: standard, cylindrical,
spherical and parametric (New!)
Summary of materials to quickly get access to all materials
in the scene"
The Material Editor was easy to use in Vue 4 and it
is also easy to use in Vue 5. However, it has also been augmented
in Vue 5. It has expanded since Vue 4 with an Advanced
Material Editor and a SmartGraph Function Editor.
The function editor in Vue 5 allows for incredible refinements.
|Basic Material Editor Vue 4
|Basic Material Editor Vue 5
|Advanced Editor Vue 5
|Function Editor Vue 4
|Function Editor Vue 5
The following images show how a changes using the Function
Editor can create changes in an image. The changes below were
made in the noise node: from Perlin Noise/Gradient
to Math Pattern/Water Wave. Notice the different pattern
in the water. While the graph might look intimidating, with
practice it can be used very creatively and without difficulty.
I found I relied on it a lot.
|Image and Corresponding Water Function
||Image and Corresponding Water Function
Environmental Modeling has also been empowered as well as
new functions added such as true Metablobs, Background
and Environmental Mapping, and the ability to weld together
several Meshes into one Mesh.
The following is a list of Environmental Modeling
features from e-on's website:
|"8 preset terrain styles,
4 types of erosion and 12 geological algorithms
Real-Time Terrain Modeling Technology
New! Skin terrains.
New! Procedural Terrains with the ability to switch
from one form of terrain to another easily
New! Pressure sensitive tablet terrain editing.
Random rock generator.
Planets (Moon and other planets of the solar system).
Primitive and Boolean modeling with OpenGL previewing
Complete set of import filters that import fully textured
models from other 3D applications.
Textured terrain exports.
Static Poser 4 & 5 scene import
Import fully textured models from other 3D applications.
New! 50+ Ultra-Realistic SolidGrowth 3 Plant
Species (compatible with Vue Professional plant Editor)
Optimized! Instantly create variations of existing
New! Several meshes can be welded together into
a single, more complex one.
New! True Metablob objects from all Vue Boolean
primitives (cube, cone, torus, cylinder, sphere...)
New! Text edition tool with Bevel, Extrusion...
New! Background and environment mapping "
In addiction, the Plants shipped with Vue 5 are from
the Ultra-Realistic SolidGrowth 3 Plant Species. These
are compatible with Vue 4 professional plant Editor. However,
they cannot be changed by adding leaves, Etc. Plants can be
grown at random with no two even of the same species alike.
Randomly Generated Plants of the
Vue 5 has added Terrain Creation to include Skin
Terrains and Procedural Terrains. Skin Only
Terrains don't have edges or flat bottoms. Procedural
Terrains can adapt their level of detail dynamically although
they are slower to render than Standard Terrains.
Vue 5 has added to its primitives the ability to create true
Another new addition to Vue 5 is the Text Tool. This
tool can be used for creating 3 Dimensional text. There is
a fairly long section in the manual illustrating how to use
the text tool.
The following is a brief listing of the features of the
User Interface and Preview:
"Optimized! Efficient, Uncluttered Interface
Optimized! Fast Multi-Threaded Interface for
World Browser for efficient management of complex projects
Objects can be organized in 8 layers
Possibility of doing everything using the main view
Objects can be locked/hidden independently.
Object resizing relative to opposite corner (toggle).
Pivot position in object coordinates (toggle). Pivot
position can be reset.
Replication tool with given position/size/orientation
Render area can be temporarily disabled.
Mapped pictures can be blended with a solid color (bitmapped
New! Automatic detection and creation of new
Panoramic rendering with adjustable rotation angle.
Optimized! Dual-processor rendering.
New! Pictures larger than screen resolution can
be rendered to screen.
New! Navigation inside the rendered picture using
New! Linear and angular snapping grids when moving
and rotating objects
Drop button to easely set your object on the terrain
Optimized! Scatter/Replicate tool can automatically
generate variations of the replicated objects
Optimized! Rendering Technologies
Render pictures up to 4096 pixels wide!
New! Automatic software updating (can be disabled)
New! Optimized for G5 & P4 HT.
New! Non-modal terrain editor
Real-time thumbnail render preview
All preview displays are fully anti-aliased
Wireframe preview option
Optimized! Ultra-fast OpenGL preview with instant
and detailed feedback.
New! Automatic checking of OpenGL driver compatibility.
Optimized! Realistic plant and planet previews.
New! Texture map preview.
Optimized! Lens flare and atmosphere previews.
New! Automatic selection of preview color based
on procedural material color.
New! Automatic mesh decimation to speed-up instant
Axis preview displayed in viewports
Fully customizable OpenGL previewing options.
Non-OpenGL previewing option"
Many of these options can be controlled from inside Vue 5
by accessing File>Options:
While Vue 5 is easy to work with, I found Vue 5 Esprit, initially,
hard to review for a few reasons. There is no doubt that the
program is powerful, however, it seems to be more hardware
and setup sensitive than many other programs. While much more
powerful than Vue d'Esprit 4, the latter was not as hardware
sensitive. However, as the patches matured, so did Vue 5 until
I almost decided to leave out this statement in my final proofing
of the review. I did let it remain for the reason of validity,
though. If some of you have followed some of the forums, you
will know that people had problems with Vue 5. I do believe
the serious problems are a thing of the past.
As you will notice above, Vue 5 was tested with certain types
of Video cards. This does not mean that others will not work;
what it means is that they might not work with all of the
Vue 5 features-mainly background features found in general
preferences and display options such as background
draw. I do not mean that metablobs or Environmental lighting
or such will not work. The lack of compatibility is most pertinent
to hardware OpenGL for the previews of scenes. If the card
is not on Vue 5's list, a screen suggests that one uses the
Program's OpenGL software. While there are visual differences
between the two, I found that once I got used to the second
option, it was very acceptable. These colors do not represent
their skins anyway. The renders of both, of course, look the
|OpenGL Hardware Accelerated
||OpenGL Vue Software Option
Also, there is no mention of how Vue 5 works with dual monitors
nor are specific cards on a list that are definitely compatible
with Vue 5. I have followed threads in various forums to see
if I could pick up any patterns as to video cards. Basically,
even in the types listed as compatible, some people have had
trouble with while others have not.
For this review, I used a Parhelia 128 video card with dual
monitors because that is how I always work. I, also, used
hardware OpenGL, initially. I did have a few problems, but
they didn't form a pattern. I cannot tell whether I would
have had them or not had I used another video card and a single
monitor; for example, mixing colors in the Terrain Editor
suddenly stopped working after many days of use. To correct
the problem, I had to reinstall Vue 5. This happened with
the first release of Vue 5. I, then, switched to the program's
software setting for OpenGL and didn't have any problems.
This is basically what the program suggests if one does not
have a card on the compatible list.
Vue 5 has a built in monitoring system which tells the user
if the program is out of memory. This never came on no matter
how long I worked in Vue 5 time wise. However, I did not create
any massive scenes. I have a Dual Athlon with 2 GIG of ram.
Also, Vue 5 has options that can be turned off should the
program behave in an unstable manner.
I like to think of Vue as having two parts, one to create
still images which I described above, and one to create animations
which I will describe below. Vue 5 also interacts with Poser
4 and 5, dynamically with Poser 5, to produce animations using
Poser scenes and figures. For this operation Mover 5 is needed.
Also, to use the HyperVue Rendering Manager and the Cow,
one must have the appropriate version of Mover installed.
The Cow allow rendering of frames over a network.
As some of you might know from my other reviews, I often
add how-to's in my reviews. This is a quick How-To set up
the HyperVue Rendering Agent. For it to work, one must have
at least patch 5.0.2 on the machine.
The sequence is as follows: Install
Vue 5, Install Mover 5 from the Vue 5 disk. This is very important.
It must be from the Vue 5 disk. For it to work, one needs
the serial number of a previous edition of Mover. One can
also purchase Mover 5 if you are a new Vue user and do not
have a previous version of Vue. Install the RenderCow from
the Vue 5 disk. Install the RenderCow, again from the disk,
onto the other machines that you will use to render animations.
Then upgrade. Your RenderCow will change builds after the
first time it renders.
Open Vue 5 and select an animation
to Render. Access Display>TimeLine from the top
Notice the circled icon. Click on it to open
the Animation Rendering menu.
Click on Use HyperVue Network Rendering.
The HyperVue Manager will pop up. Add the Cows
to the manager. For my second machine, I needed to remember
the name of my machine and type the name in the appropriate
space. That's all there is to it!
The following is a list of Animation and Camera Control
features, once again, from the eon software website.
|Trackball-type camera operations and advanced camera
management grouped into a Camera Control Center.
Direct editing of filter key points and tangents.
Animate objects, materials, atmospheres, clouds, waves...
Dynamic Motion Reaction and Animation Wizard for
easy animation setup.
New! Separate animation channel for camera exposure.
New! Each camera possesses a target object for
easier aiming and setting of focus point.
New! Camera targets can be linked to other objects
in the scene (e.g. to automatically keep that object in
Broadcast Quality Animations.
Advanced Animation Controls (Keyframing, Timesplines,
Forward Dynamics, Spin, Vibration, Motion Blur...).
New! Cameras post processing filters to adjust
color, contrast, saturation, gamma...
New! Animatable post processing filters
New! Camera switcher lets you switch cameras during
render (ideal for storyboarding).
Compatible with Mover 5 to import animated Poser4 &
Easy setup of cloud movement using direction and speed
of movement controls.
New! Blurred reflections and refractions for each
New! Rendering in unlimited color depth
Alpha and Z depth directly calculated during the render
New! Pre-animated Mesh support
The manual could have been better. I would have liked a more
detailed index. Also, I found that some of the tutorials should
have had more illustrations.Also some of the objects needed
were missing from theVue 5 CD. For example, the first animation
tutorial called for an object that was on the Vue 4 CD, but
it was not on the Vue 5 CD. The tutorials could have been
completed by a beginner in half the time had there been more
illustrations of the various steps instead of one or two per
tutorial. More tutorials, however, can be found at: http://www.e-onsoftware.com/Support/Tutorials.php.
Perhaps being a former teacher, I am big on learning tools
The tech support at e-on software seems to follow through
and create beta versions of patches often to fix bugs that
users have observed in Vue 5. They do not wait to compile
one large inclusive patch, but try to fix problems as they
occur. Unfortunately, some betas have fixed bugs while creating
others. However, the technicians seem to be working overtime
to fix them as quickly as possible and to even, on the User
Forum, explain how to best use some of the settings in Vue
5. A final 5.02 patch was created in November. As I just mentioned,
there is a Registered User forum on the e-on website that
I think is excellent. As of this writing, a new 5.03 beta
upgrade has been created. It seems to have fixed a number
of the problems. As far as I am aware, it has fixed the major
ones. But you can see for yourself by downloading the demo
of Vue 5 and trying it out with the latest updates.
To round out the review, I spent one evening creating two
pictures with Poser 5 figures in them. They imported very
easily and I didn't have to play with the lights any more
than I did in Poser when trying to get the look I envisioned.
I have written a mini tutorial on working with Poser 5's dynamic
hair in Vue 5. I found I could get the look I wanted.
At the present time, December of 2004, e-on software has
some fabulous discounts on various products. To see them,
go to: http://www.e-onsoftware.com.
To sum up my overall impression of Vue 5. I really love its
features and enjoy using it. It has a lot more to offer than
did Vue d'Esprit 4. It is a powerful 3D program and yet inexpensive.
At present, Vue 5 has some bugs which are becoming more and
more minor as each patch is being created by e-on software.
While these may affect some users, others don't have problems
with them. I have tried to create as many variable scenes
as I can and have really enjoyed working with Vue 5 and the
last two latest patches. I definately recommend Vue 5.
Now there is an extremely good buy on Vue 4. I'd suggest,
if one does not have Vue at all, you purchase it now, and
then upgrade to Vue 5. This, at this time, will save you money.
In addition, as of december 13, 2004, e-on software announced
an addition of new modules for Vue 5 Esprit and a new name
for Vue 5 Pro of Vue 5 infinite. The latter should be out
in the first part of 2005 according to their press release.
More information can be found at: