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Software Review: Vue 7 Infinite from E-on Software

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Vue 7 Infinite is one of the professional versions of E-on Software’s Vue 3D product line. Vue is the software product line which is used to create realistic 3D environments. In total, there are seven versions of Vue. Pioneer is the entry-level version for newcomers to 3D graphics. Esprit is designed for artists and illustrators. Pro Studio is geared for the advanced artist, and Complete is for the small studio. Vue Infinite is designed for the professional 3D animator and production studio. Finally, xStream is the integrated solution; this is a version of Infinite that can integrate directly into other 3D applications such as Maya, 3DS, Lightwave, and Cinema 4D. There is also a product called Ozone 3.0 which is an atmospheric plug-in that is used to create skies and atmospheres in a variety of 3D product. To see all of the differences, you can check out the comparative matrix from E-on Software.

Vue 7 InfiniteVue Infinite contains all of the features that the other product lines contain; the main difference between Vue 7 Infinite and xStream is that Vue 7 Infinite is meant to run as a standalone product and xStream is built to run in other products.  Other than that difference, the features are the same.

Vue 7 Infinite runs on Windows (2000 or greater), or Mac (OS X 10.4 or later) with 2 GHz or faster processor recommended, 1 GB RAM (2 GB or more recommended), an OpenGL enabled graphics card is not required but highly recommended with 1024×768 in 65K colors/16 bits (24+ bits recommended), and 200 MB free hard-disk space. Multi-processor rendering is only available on all multi-processor OS X, 2000, XP Pro and Vista systems.

E-on Software was founded in 1997 with the release of Vue d'Esprit 2. Embraced initially by artists and animators, it has now become a staple in Hollywood and has been used to create scenes in such movies as Pirates of the Caribbean II and The Spiderwick Chronicles as well as for television shows produced by the Discovery Channel. It is also finding its way into advertising and the fine art industry.

So, what's new with Vue 7 Infinite?

Vue 7 Infinite• EcoSystem Generation III is the third generation of E-on's technology for creating landscape images. The creation of real world natural environments is extremely complex. With this latest incarnation of EcoSystem, Vue has made it even easier to populate your scenes with millions of plants, trees and other objects to achieve a new level of natural complexity and detail. With automated Smart Scattering and Dynamic Population, you get better detail along with a more natural look. The EcoSystem painter lets you paint over your objects with four different kinds of painting tools. What's more is that you can save your creations and build a whole library that can be used for other scenes and objects.

• The Scene Graph approach lets you manipulate the elements of your scene in the standard way, but you now have a new way to handle your scene that lets you focus on the interactions between elements of the scene. The Scene Graph lets you define custom relationships that let you create elaborate scripts to control terrain, material, or animation properties based on the other items in the scene.

• MetaNodes will give you the ability to group several nodes or links into a single node. These MetaNodes will greatly simplify the readability of your graphs by letting you organize your graph into functional modules. Vue 7 ships with a library of preset MetaNodes to help you build your own graphs. You can continue this library by saving your own MetaNodes for future use.

• Spectral II Cloud Technology is the next generation of the Spectral atmosphere engine and is capable of even more realistic volumetric clouds. There is a new set of algorithms that are capable of rendering much more detailed volume clouds at a much faster rendering time. It is also capable of creating stand-alone "MetaClouds" that can be moved around, scaled, and rotated.

• Indoor and outdoor radiosity is now capable of handling with much more ease the generation of indoor and outdoor renderings with greater realism. In addition, it can do it four to six times faster than the prior version

• Natural Algorithms is a new set of algorithms that are designed to produce more natural-looking terrain geometry and materials. By combining dedicated terrain-production fractal algorithms with specific natural color production nodes, you can create more elaborate and natural-looking scenery.

• Lifelike animations are easier to create because of new technology that adds to the Dynamic Motion Reaction functionalities in Vue. Many times motion can look unnatural and jerky, but now Vue 7 can simulate a more natural movement by introducing loose tracking and linking algorithms. You can even introduce hesitation and approximation in to your animation scripts.
Vue 7 Infinite• Improved SolidGrowth 4 and new plant species give you more complex and detailed foliage. Vue 7 ships with over 160 editable SolidGrowth plant species among which includes almost 100 you could have only acquired via, and another 20 that are brand new. AThe plant generation technology in SolidGrowth has been enhanced as well.

• Water editor now lets you easily create and adjust infinite bodies of water. Switch from still water to stormy weather with a single slider, control the amount of foam at the peak of waves, switch to a more realistic "displaced" water surface, etc

• Faster rendering will have you creating your renders four to six times faster and, on top of that, you will have cleaner images as well.

• New OpenGL preview engine of Vue 7 has been entirely redesigned. Built around a new, robust multi-threaded architecture, it maximizes efficiency on high-end GPUs as well as multi-core systems.

• Macro automation will have you automating repetitive tasks in Vue without having to delve into the intricacies of Python scripting. Vue 7's Macro recording is as easy as pressing the Record Macro button to start recording a set of operations, and save it to disk as a macro. Then you just press the Play Macro button to playback any pre-recorded macros.

• Procedural terrain style presets will let you pick a style of terrain and Vue will create an each-time-different terrain of the corresponding style, complete with all associated materials. This includes both regular and pseudo-infinite procedural terrains.

• Collada file import now gives you the ability to use this new open-source standard for 3D file exchanges in Vue 7. Collada support includes the ability to import fully textured and animated objects.

• Redesigned architecture now takes advantage of the best of multi-core/multi-CPU systems as well as improving overall performance, memory management, and OpenGL stability.

• Bucket rendering is a new way of organizing the rendering process that maximizes spacial correlation of scene geometry. This provides significant improvements when handling billion-polygon scenes, and results in a better optimization of memory resources as well as improved rendering speed.

• Redesigned network services has enhanced the entire handling of network related services and was entirely redesigned in order to provide better performance and improved tolerance to network collisions or faults.

• New license server on top of being able to run as a service, the new License Server offers improved usability features such as automatic detection by Vue seats, easy management of installed licenses via a remotely accessible Web interface as well as hardened network operations.

Vue 7 InfiniteAs with the prior version, Vue 7 Infinite is nothing short of incredible! At first blush, one might look at this product and say that this is really only useful for animation and film production, but that would not be taking into account all of the other industries that could benefit from its use.

For example, if you are a builder, architect, landscape designer, or other professional that needs to simulate an environment, Vue 7 is the perfect application to model your design and/or prototype as a proof of concept design. If you are in advertising, what better way to provide backgrounds and other layout art without having to go on location or pay a high-dollar firm to do equivalent work. The uses are endless.

With seven different version of Vue 7 ranging from $49.95 to $1495 USD, there truly is a version for everyone, and considering what this product can do, each are well worth the price.

I think that while there may not be a "blow me away" single feature in this version, there are so many upgrades that make it a much more improved program. The enhanced render speeds, the multi-processor/multi-core abilities, the painting features and everything else really make it worth the upgrade.

If you want to see what some have done with Vue 7 Infinite, you can check out the gallery that is located on the E-on Software Web site. There is also a pretty active community forum available as well.

If you are still not sure, there are a couple of things that may tip the scale. First is that right now, you can get a public beta version of Pioneer for no money down. It is a free public beta that you should try. Second is that you can get a Personal Learning Edition (PLE) of either Vue 7 Infinite or xStream that are full versions that never expire. The only restrictions are 1) that it is not to be used in commercial products, and 2) that the renders will contain a logo and a watermark for sizes over 800×600 after 30 days. However, if you want to learn the software, everything else works.

From a personal point of (pardon the pun) view, this is a fun product. Really, very easy to use, and if you are fearful of how hard it is to learn, just Google "Vue Tutorial" and you will find all sorts of cool things that you can do with it. I very highly recommend the Vue 7 product line, and especially Vue 7 Infinite.

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About T. Michael Testi

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