Vue 11.5 Infinite review

Vue continues to be at the forefront of natural environment design. Conrad Allan says it’s ideal for both pros and amateurs

PRICE: $1,295. Free upgrade from Vue 11. Upgrade from Vue 10: $459

OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows / Mac OS X

MAIN FEATURES:

  • Real-time terrain modelling
  • Environmental and atmosphere effects
  • EcoSystem technology for easy scene population
  • Over 550 material presets
  • Updated user interface

WEBSITE: e-on Software

For a while now, e-on Software has been releasing Vue on a cycle. Whole version numbers get new features and the half version numbers add refinements to the previous release features, performance improvements and bug fixes. These updates come every six months, so there’s always a fresh addition of new features or improvements to enjoy.

There were some great new features added for the Vue 11, with particle systems being the headline addition. With this e-on kept up its good form by providing a few pre-packaged elements to kick-start artists in using particles. The presets that come with Vue by default are one of the huge benefits the software offers. All of a sudden, it had become possible to create an environment in an incredibly small amount of time.

PARTICLE SYSTEMS

From a studio environment, however, particle systems weren’t as exciting as those that were usually added to the half version number editions. What makes these versions exciting, is the workflow improvements. Terrain, material and EcoSystem editing features have been improved along with adding Global Illumination Caching and material layer sharing. This is one example where many small improvements add up to make one huge improvement.

The release of Vue 11.5 brings in refinements made to new features and continues to provide improvements in various others. For the particle lovers, EcoParticle Collision has been included so any particle system added can have the option of reacting with static EcoSystem elements in a scene and not just terrains. e-on released Vue 11 with the option to add rain and snow with a single click – just like adding the infinite ground plane and ocean. These can then be modified in the Atmosphere Editor. If you have a specific way of setting up your atmospheres you may find this plays havoc when turned on – nothing a seasoned user can’t get around with a bit of tweaking. A new user probably won’t notice any problems, as the rain and snow presets are designed to play nice with the atmosphere presets.

The rest of the updates are all quite similar. They’re all updates and upgrades to existing features that help with workflow, editing and general ease-of-use for the pro user.

BIG IMPROVEMENTS

The Material Summary page is one that has needed an update for some time. It displays every material in the scene which, when working on large projects, can be a huge amount. Up until now we were restricted to a single line, making it cumbersome and slow to use. While the World Browser is still the best way to select and edit materials, the Material Summary window is starting to develop into a more useful function.

Improvements have been made to the Render Stack in Vue, and from all the 3D programs I’ve used, I think it is now one of the best. It is an absolute godsend to be able to flick back and see different versions and see the scene as it has progressed.

The improvements we get this release are fabulous. Each render in the stack now contains all the data for the camera; that is, focus, field of view, position, rotation – the list goes on. From a workflow perspective this is fantastic. I often hear clients ask for multiple angles which used to result in the scene having a list of cameras just so I didn’t lose the one they liked. Now I just go back to the render they select and set the camera to that! And for personal projects where I want to test out a few different angles, if I lose the exact settings of my favourite camera position it can be really frustrating.

Another added feature to the Render Stack is the ability to combine an area render with the full version and then merge the two into a third, combined, image in the stack. This new feature improves working time-flow no end. In the same spirit of post-render improvements, e-on has provided a new post-processing feature which is essentially a Curves module for colour and contrast. It’s similar to the rest of the filter graphs in Vue so is a little tricky to use but it is a nice addition and enables you to stay immersed in Vue during the draft stages, saving time and money.

e-on has recognised, with the changes to the Render Stack and post-processing options, that its users have been looking for a way to do basic edits to renders easily, so it wasn’t necessary to export to a third-party program just for a simple image tweak. These changes are really welcome. Last in the list of updates worth noting are the World Browser and camera management improvements. Vue 11.5 brings camera attribute locking – this includes animation key frames – and optimisations to the World Browser for large scenes. This includes the ability to filter the materials seen. These updates will most likely only be of interest to the experienced Vue user, but are no less appreciated for that.

When I first picked up the update, I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it would simply be a list of tweaks and fixes that wouldn’t be worth the time. I was wrong. Vue 11.5 is a very welcome update and it appeases all crowds. As far as value for money goes, if you’re a hobbyist, you may still want to wait for Vue 12 for the new features; but if you’re in a professional studio environment or plan to use Vue on a weekly basis, Vue 11.5 is a worthy upgrade. I also recommend purchasing the e-on maintenance package, as this will get you all the way through to 12.5.

PROS

  • Solid workflow improvements
  • Tweaks to features added in Vue11
  • Value for money, if used regularly

CONS

  • No major new features added
  • Particles, while easy to use, is not a useful feature for large production pipelines

This is a great new version due to the streamlining updates. Now’s the time to use Vue, it’s easy, forgiving and clear

RATING 4

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