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Book Review: Vue 7: From The Ground Up By Ami Chopine And Vladimir Chopine

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Vue 7 is the 3D software package that gives you the ability to create stunning 3D scenery, environments, and even whole new worlds. Vue 7 is a professional grade Software product that has been used to create everything from digital artwork to creating digital backgrounds for such blockbuster movies like Pirates of the Caribbean II, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Australia.

Vue 7: From The Ground Up is the newest offering from GeekAtPlay Studio founders Ami and Vladimir Chopine. Its goal, as is the goal of GeekAtPlay.com, is to get you started learning how to create stunning 3D scenery and environments in Vue. The book is 317 pages in length and is divided into 20 chapters that contain 19 stand-alone tutorials. It also features some of the work of five different Vue artists.

Chapter 1, "The Interface" begins by giving an overview of how the Vue interface is laid out and to give you a basic understanding of what tools are available and how they can work for you. It also goes over some of the terms that are used in the rest of the book.

Chapter 2, "The World" describes to you the world of Vue. There are four views to your world, but you must keep in mind that even though the world is truly infinite, this can come at a price, since at some point that 3D world must be rendered into a 2D space and that can take time. Here you will see how you can use the four views to optimally create your world.

Chapter 3, "Terrains" is the starting point for most worlds. You need to create a foundation for your creation. It is in this chapter where you will gain a basic grasp of geology to create lands that are authentic. You will also learn how to work with the terrain editor.

Chapter 4, "Waterscapes" always add to the landscape scenery. In this chapter you will learn how to work with the new Water Surface Options in Vue 7.

Chapter 5, "Plants" are the product of soil and water. This is no different in Vue. In this chapter you will learn how to use the powerful technology called SolidGrowth to generate unique individual elements of a selected species of plant, learn to work with the Plant editor, as well as how to make your own plants.

Chapter 6, "Objects" introduces the three types of basic objects available in Vue to build your scene; infinite planes, which although they are infinite in length and width, they have no height and thus no volume, alpha planes, which are finite, and primitive objects which are simple shapes like cubes, spheres, and cylinders that you can use to makeup more complex objects.

Chapter 7, "Importing and Exporting Models" describes how to work with external 3D objects that can be purchased, or created in other products, and added to your 3D scene. You will see also how to take objects such as clouds and terrain and export them for use in other settings. You will also learn of Poser integration.

Chapter 8, "Creating Your Own Materials" is another one of the features that makes Vue such a great product – its unlimited ability to create what you don't have. With Vue's Material Editor, you can create any texture you can imagine from skin and car paint to cookies and milk.

Chapter 9, "Fun with Functions and Filters" is what you will have if you start creating your own materials. It is through using functions and filters that you see how to create an infinite variety of materials. Here you will see how they can interact to generate the colors and textures that make up your scene.

Chapter 10, "Populating Your World" can be time consuming if you had to place each rock, tree, or plant one by one. Through the use of the EcoSystem you have the ability to automatically add selected objects randomly or — using the Paint tool — paint them in as single items or several instances over an area.

Chapter 11, "Atmospheres" is what gives a feel to a scene. Perhaps it is dark and cloudy, or maybe bright and sunny. Vue's Atmosphere Editor gives you the ability to create some of the most realistic scenes of any product on the market. In this chapter you see how best to emulate what happens in the atmosphere and create it in your scene.

Chapter 12, "Clouds" can be added two ways in Vue. The first is through the Atmosphere Editor, or second by using MetaClouds. In this chapter you will learn how to work with both methods.

Chapter 13, "Planets" are created using alpha planes. That means they always face the camera. In this chapter you will see how best to work with these celestial bodies and give them a realistic appearance.

Chapter 14, "Let the Wind Blow" examines that which you cannot see directly in a scene – the wind. The effects are scattered throughout the software and it is important to keep the wind direction and speed consistent through your scene.

Chapter 15, "Lighting" is just as important as any other feature in a scene. This chapter begins with looking at what light is and how it can affect a scene. Then you will look at the Light Editor to see how best to light a situation.

Chapter 16, "Cameras" are always part of a scene. Like with lighting, the use of cameras can demand a lot of fluency and experience. In this chapter you will learn the basics of creating and managing cameras.

Chapter 17, "Animation" can make your scene come alive. The skills needed here are the understanding of how things move and how objects interact. The understanding of some basic physics such as how gravity works is useful as well. Here you will look at the basics of the Animation Properties tab, Animation Toolbox, and the Animation Wizard.

Chapter 18, "Rendering" is all about getting your image outside of Vue. In this chapter you will learn how to set the rendering settings to get the best possible image from your scene.

Chapter 19, "Python Scripts" gives you the ability to create, manipulate, and modify objects, as well as do post processing work from within Vue. This chapter highlights what Python is and shows you how to run a script.

Chapter 20, "Integration" describes how to use Vue with other product such as 3DSMax, Cinema 4D, Lightwave, Maya, and XSI. Keep in mind that this integration is only available from within Vue xStream.

Vue 7: From The Ground Up is really a very good overview Vue 7. It provides a website for the book that contains all of the examples used in the book, as well as many reference materials. Add to that the GeekAtPlay website which contains a large amount of free tutorials and materials as well as other "pay-for" support items.

If I had one complaint about Vue 7: From The Ground Up it would be that it tries to cover too much in one book. The upside is that because of all the online resources, you do have options to dig deeper into the individual topics. What I really like about this book is that it does not sugarcoat the fact that to create realistic scenes you will need to go out and learn more about terrain, atmospheres, cinematography, and other topics if you want to use this product to its best advantage.

Each chapter of Vue 7: From The Ground Up is easy to read and understand. It is geared for the beginning user as well as the intermediate user who has learned Vue on their own and now wants to get a better understanding of the product or wants a good reference book. If you want to get up to speed fast, then I highly recommend Vue 7: From The Ground Up.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.