E-on software has created a series of Vue 5 products for all markets. This review is of Vue 5 Infinite which addresses the higher end 3D graphic's user who wants to create scenery, as well as illustrators, architects, and those who want more technical tools at their disposal. I have reviewed Vue 5 Esprit and the modules that comprise Vue 5 Pro Studio. Since I did not use Vue 4 Professional, I cannot compare Vue 5 Infinite to that program; however; I have used Vue 5 Esprit since its inception and the whole line of Vue 5 software. Thus, this review will show how Vue 5 Infinite compares and supercedes the other Vue 5 products. For this review, I am using a high end AMD with Dual Monitors and a NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT.
For those new to e-on software, before reviewing Vue 5 Infinite, let me describe what comprises the Vue 5 group of software products. These products are 3D scenery generating products starting with the most elementary, which is not really elementary at all, Vue 5 Esprit, then progressing to Vue 5 Pro Studio which has at its base Vue 5 Esprit but has added to it 4 different modules, and culminating with Vue 5 Infinite. These are a lighting module LightTune, a world browser module DeepAccess, a plant propagation module, Botanica, and the Mover 5 module which is an animation module. (I reviewed Mover 4). All the above links refer to reviews of the products that I have done. These modules can be purchased separately and added to Vue 5 Esprit; Vue 5 Pro Studio, which contains all the modules, can be purchased as a unit. From these products can be created still scenes and animations. Vue 5 Infinite follows Vue 4 Professional.
The System requirements area:
An OpenGL accelerated video board is not required, but it is a big plus. Multi-processor rendering is only available on all multi-processor OS X, 2000, and XP Pro systems. For more information on supported video boards, see the e-on website.
It needs to be noted that Vue 5 Infinite is available in English only. The price for a new user is: US$599, € 599, £411, and all others US$599. There are so many varied upgrade prices that one should consult the list on the e-on software site. Vue 5 Infinite comes with an excellent 583 page manual and a Quick Reference Card.
Exciting and awesome are two good words to describe the long anticipated Vue 5 Infinite. This version is especially designed to interface with all the major 3D applications used in film, digital media production, game development, and architecture. Using a plugin provided by e-on software on the Vue 5 Infinite CD, Vue 5 Infinite can synchronize lighting and camera settings with many of the major 3D programs such as: 3D Max, Cinema 4D, Maya, etc.
Vue 5 Infinite can be used to create real world scenery or fantasy scenery. It can output still or animated creations. It can be populated with real looking people (Poser 4 and 5) or imaginary objects. With the new EcoSystem, one rabbit can really multiply. The first time I opened any of the Vue 5 programs, I was struck with the very visually clear interface. I have found that many potentially good programs are ruined by poor interfaces. This one is excellent. It is easy to open menus while commands can be inaugurated from the drop down menus on the top or from symbols on the left. I have rarely been at a loss to find anything that I have needed to find or access. Thus, one can concentrate on being creative. This also lessens the learning curve.
This interface has two very notable improvements. The quadrants are adjustable in size and with both hardware acceleration and software OpenGL all the quadrants are capable of showing many types of displays such as smooth shaded. Below is an example of the display options available from the Main Camera View Section. This section can be moved to any of the four quadrants.
There are many new features and improved features in Vue 5 Infinite. Some are more noticeable than others. I am going to try to highlight a mixture of both and, then at the end of the review, present a list of features different from either Vue5 Esprit or Vue 5 Pro Studio. On e-on software's website there are many places where they describe many facets of this program.
One of the new and exciting features is the EcoSystem. This allows the user to populate a terrain with multiple objects all at the same time. It also allows for populating with a variety of objects. The EcoSystem can be found in the Advanced Material Editor. One can use a standard terrain and turn it into an EcoSystem or one can use one that is already configured. This screen shows that rocks will populate a terrain made of complex materials including other rocks. The "Density" and "Scaling & Orientation" sections have a lot of choices available for the user which will determine how the objects will populate, for example, objects (called foreign objects) adjacent to the hosting terrains.
Below is a preview of an image I created. The terrain in front was used to host the rocks. The terrain is of the same material as are the high mountains.
Rocks also appear in the stream bed. There, however, I used a slightly wavy terrain, colored blue, for the host for the rocks and then laid the water plane over it so that the rocks just peeked through.
When I first started using the EcoSystem, I thought that it wasn't working all the time. I, then, discovered that it is critical whether some of the boxes are or are not checked. Another feature, that relates to EcoSystems, that is useful to check is #3 on the Object Properties Panel.
The Object Properties Panel has four new features. They are listed below:
The Material Editor also has expanded its functions. It uses the brand new "SmartGraph" Function Editor to change terrains, textures, etc. To access it in the Material Editor, right click on the "Color Production Sphere."
This Function Editor is really awesome both in its ability to build and modify materials in animations, textures, and terrains. If you already own the program, see the flame tutorial as an example of using an EcoSystem to create a moving flame. A manual about only the Function Editor would be wonderful because its capability is immeasurable and the learning curve could appear to be daunting for some. My advice to a new user is to just jump in and use it. I did and found that I could manipulate it better than I imagined.
The Atmosphere Editor has added new lighting models; in addition, ultra realistic rendering technologies have been incorporated to complement these models. Notice global ambiance, global illumination, and global radiosity. Each in descending order improves the quality of the image, but it takes the image longer to render.
The "Quality Boost" setting is part of the EasyGI™ technology. This setting, according to the manual (p.195) is meant to be used in conjunction with the Advanced Effects Options in the Render Options Palette. And the manual outlines the parameters for its use.
Another new feature that cannot be forgotten is Illumination Baking. This can be used when using global illumination and global radiosity to reduce render times. I am not listing all the parameters, etc. that govern its use.
As a note, I found it very easy to get technical information from this manual.
Vue 5 Infinite also supports HDRI and imaged based lighting as it did in the former editions of Vue 5 Pro Studio. If you are new to Vue 5 products, you will find that this is easy to do while with some other products it can be very complicated.
The checked items in the above Render Options do not represent what I used to render my various scenes. Many of the items are checked so that they would be visible on the screen.
Although hard to see, if you look closely at the above screen capture, you will see that Vue 5 Infinite supports G-Buffer/Multi-Pass Rendering.
These multi-pass renders can even be exported as a layered PSD file. They are saved in Vue as multi-pass.psd files.
The second edit in the middle row of the Render Options (see above) opens to reveal the Advanced Effects Options which is pictured below.
When I rendered my EcoSystem image, the machine locked up after the anti-aliasing was 66% finished. I had to end the program. Since I figured I had lost the rendering, I started to do something else. When I went to re-render, it rushed through the first part and picked it up where it had left off. There is an option in the File>Options "Generate resume render info" that can be checked. It works very well. It can also be checked under the drop down menu accessed through Picture on the top tool bar.
There are more anti-aliasing features than in previous versions of Vue 5. Each addition toward quality slows down the render, however. In the back of the manual there is a "Hot Tips" and "Trouble Shooting" section with guides to cut rendering times.
For those not familiar with Vue 4 Professional or Vue 5 Pro Studio, there is a section where plants can be generated. I reviewed this SolidGrowth 3 technology in my review of the Botanica module. There are about 50 different plants that come shipped with Vue 5 Infinite. Through this technology, these plants can be expanded, changed, and then saved as another species.
One can work globally using all the trunk/branch subsets as a unit or work separately making the new plant more specific. Some flowers have more than one subset for the leaves/petals also. In addition, I could load new materials into the leaves/petals section or the trunk/branches section and change the colors and textures of the various parts.
Also, one can bring in a picture of a leaf and create a totally new plant.
Billboards are a new feature of the Alpha Plane. Objects>Create>Alpha Plane.
When the Billboard feature is checked, the alpha plane will always face the camera. In both pictures the camera was moved. (The change in size of the shack is not relevant to this discussion.)
Vue 5 Infinite contains primitive shapes which can be used to create Boolean objects.
Then these objects can be baked into polygon meshes.
These same primitives can be used to create Metablobs. Through the Metablob Envelope, one can choose options for creating the Metablob itself.
I took two spheres of equal dimensions and a thinner but longer cylinder and put them together. I, then, created a Boolean union. From a copy of the cylinder and spheres, I created a Metablob. They are seen from the main camera perspective.
Python scripting has been added to Vue5 Infinite. It comes with pre-made scripts to populate EcoSytems, grow plants, etc. Or you can build your own.
Before I start describing animation features, I must state that my main art work is done with still scenes. While I have worked with many of the Vue 5 and Vue 5 Infinite tutorials, I rarely create animations. The manual has tutorials on how to create animations arranged sequentially each dealing with a specific topic with one building on the other. It also has tutorials on some of the new features such as an animation tutorial that deals with Billboards and EcoSystems as well as the Function Editor. There are tutorials on the e-on software website as well. Renderosity and other Graphic Communities also have tutorials and forums.
Working in animation can be as complicated as desired. One can load pre-animated meshes or an animation from Poser 4 or 5, and, maybe, Poser 6. Also, with the synchronization plugin, one can work with both Vue and some of the industry standard 3D packages and then compose them in software such as After Effects.
If you want to make changes in an animation and do not own a post-processing program, one can do it in Vue 5 Infinite. One can also utilize this for work with stills. (To access it, double click on Main Camera in the World Browser.)
I created a small movie just changing the hue and brightness of the scene.
When you use post-processing to create a small animation, the screen will ask whether you want to animate the process or not. Right clicking on the icon highlighted here in red, brings up the following screen.
HyperVue™ was incredibly easy to set up. It worked perfectly the first time. When it was finished, the screen looked like the following:
Vue 5 Infinite has a triple resolution OpenGL engine offering fast and detailed previewing of scenes. As with the other versions of Vue 5, one could use the hardware acceleration or, if the video card was not compatible, the software equivalent. Below are screen shots of the differences taken from the Main Camera View.
Since so many Vue users also use Curious Lab's Poser, I did some testing with Poser figures both from Poser 5 and Poser 6. I used still figures with dynamic hair that I had created. I had imported the Poser 5 figures into Vue 5 Pro Studio and the dynamic hair had been very satisfactory. I did not have any problems importing the Poser 5 and Poser 6 figures into Vue 5 Infinite, however, I could not make any of the dynamic hair presentable. Even the hair that looked good in Vue 5 Pro Studio, did not look good in Vue 5 Infinite.
The following lists are taken from the e-on software website and abstracted to just reflect the different and new features for Vue 5 Infinite.
Lighting and Atmosphere
Fault Tolerance and Degraded Modes
This version of Vue 5 Infinite is full of advanced techniques with python scripting, the function editor, rendering and lighting controls. One can almost bypass building the scenes with graphics and instead create them by function and scripting.
I worked with Vue 5 Infinite daily and endlessly and, for the most part, it worked smoothly and flawlessly. I rendered on one machine and over my network. This is a very versatile software package for building all kinds of scenery and more since it can integrate with other 3D products. It is exciting to use and the possibilities, especially for those versed in scripting and node editing, are endless.