Create Realistic Digital Environments: a Vue 9 Infinite Review

Product Review: E-on Software's Vue 9 Infinite

I'm so impressed with how much work E-on Software puts into developing their peerless digital environment creation program, Vue. While other computer graphics programs try to combine as many creation tools as they can (think animation, modeling, rendering, dynamics, etc.), E-on focuses on doing one thing: create totally realistic digital environments & eco-systems. This focus allows them to develop with single-mindedness, and with Vue 9 Infinite, they have made an already brilliant program that much better.


Digital Environment created in Vue 9 (c) Daniel Respaud

From E-on's excellent website, it's easy to see that they have designed several different versions of the Vue software to appeal to a wide variety of users. From the free Vue 9 PLE and Vue 9 Pioneer for enthusiasts, all the way to the high-end Vue 9 Infinite/xStream for graphics professionals, E-on makes it easy to choose the Vue version that fits with your needs. Support and documentation is great and the prices are reasonable. All in all, I don't think there is another company that provides such fine digital environment tools as E-on. And Vue 9 is their best version yet.


New Vue 9 Interface

In my Renderosity review of Vue 8.5 xStream (the plug in version), I listed almost a dozen new additions to the software, many of which were important updates. Well, it looks like the E-on developers have been working overtime, because they've added even more new functions to Vue 9 Infinite and to the whole product line. I can't cover them all here, but I will list some of the most important new additions. Those looking for a complete list can go to the E-on site. There's also a good FAQ that will answer most questions you might have beyond this review.

New in Vue 9

  • Ecosystem Generation 4 - The heart of the Vue program is the Ecosystem generator, and this new version is amazing. New Flicker Reduction algorithms allow for great improvements at rendering for large solid ecosystems. Much improved memory usage in Vue 9 will enable you to create huge scenes with less strain on your rendering system. And now you can smoothly animate ecosystems over time with new animation tools.
  • Relighting Technology - In the past, you'd have to adjust the lighting and then re-render the entire scene. Now with Vue 9, you can adjust the color and intensity in real-time after the render. And what's very cool is that relighting is compatible with all Vue lighting options, including sub-surface scattering, lens glare and more.
  • Improved Terrain Editor - There are new terrain brushes and sculpting/painting masks for Vue 9. Plus, the new Terrain Retopology feature automatically re-organizes the underlying mesh of areas like sheer cliffs on mountains so they look more realistic. There is also a new fractal generator called the Rocky Mountain Fractal that makes creating terrains from the tertiary geologic period much, much easier.
  • New Interface Design and Improved Performance - The Vue 9 interface has been redesigned to streamline its features and to integrate the program better into existing pipelines. One of the new features of the design is a new infinite adaptive grid that displays in the Top/Main viewports. It shows any level of zoom, camera altitude and panning position. Vue 9 also comes with the ability to create custom interfaces. Performance improvements include "Auto Saving" and "Scene Snapshots." The Snapshots feature is particularly nice in that you can save a moment in your scene creation and go back to that moment at any time.
  • Other excellent additions to Vue 9 include Catmull-Clark and Loop subdivisions, Hyberblob technology for creation of detailed rock shapes, and a complete re-write of the Mac version of Vue so that the 64-bit OS X system can be utilized for faster performance and rendering.


Custom Terrain Brushes in Vue 9

Performance

The basic workflow of Vue 9 is simple. You either start with a pre-set landscape / atmosphere and then proceed to modify the scene to your hearts content, or you can start from scratch and build up the scene piece by piece. Vue 9 Infinite is so intuitive that it takes only a short time to get up and running with the program. In fact, I'd say ease of use is one of Vue's best assets.

Vue 9 is quicker and more stable than previous versions. In hours of usage, I had zero crashes on my mid-level system. The new updates make Vue 9 easier to use and gives you the ability to create larger, more realistic scenes in less time than previous versions. It's important that a software tool not get in the way of your creative ideas, and Vue 9 makes it so much fun to create forests, deserts, space settings and just about anything you can imagine. The trick is to learn the specific tools so you can fine-tune your work.


Planet Earth vol. 10
by Geographics
Made with Vue 9 xStream

Documentation for Vue 9 Infinite is outstanding. A nice "kick-start" tutorial gets a new user pointed in the right direction. The 600+ page reference manual takes you down to the micro level in using Vue and is very well written. Excellent tutorials and information can be found at the attractive E-on website. I'd also recommend our own Renderosity Vue Forum.

I highly recommend Vue 9 Infinite. At $995 for the full program and $295 upgrade from Vue 8 on, it's well worth the money for the program's ease-of-use, excellent tools, and the amazing results you achieve. Studios all over the world use this program and will upgrade for sure. Hobbyists and small studios should consider perhaps one of the other versions of Vue, where you can pick one that fits your needs. And if you are completely new to Vue, the Vue 9 Personal Learning Edition (PLE) is completely free and well worth the time to explore.

A full list of requirements for Vue 9 can be found here. Be sure to examine the list of supported video cards, as it's important your video card plays well with Vue. Vue 9 is available for Windows and Mac.

Notes: My sincere thanks to E-on software for providing Vue 9 Infinite for review. Special thanks to Matt Riveccie, communications manager, for his help and enthusiasm.

For more information, please visit:


Editor's Note
Be sure to check out the following Renderosity related links:


Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.
March 14, 2011

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Member Opinions:
By: argel1200 on 3/16/11
I started playing with Vue 9 Infinite PLE, but I still cannot get past the user interface. And they advertise that it's customizable in Infinite (one reason I decided to try that version), but changing the color scheme and hotkeys is not my idea of customizable. I was hoping I could make major changes to the layout, change icons, etc. After that letdown and crashing Vue with an ecosystem (probably pushed it to hard) and I haven't touched it in over a month. I know it's a great product, but the user interface.... For $1000 I expect "customizable" to mean more than changing hotkeys and the color scheme!! Heck, that should be in the free version!

By: g_purvis on 3/16/11
I used to love Vue until I hit version 8. This more or less put the kibosh on my love affair with this bit of software as every so often it wouldn't load a scene that I had been working on loosing me hours of work in the process.

My only other real gripe would be a lack of, an even basic, particle system (how can you generate realistic digital environments with out weather? i.e. rain or snow).

I [i]might[/i] upgrade when it hits the 9.5 version, we'll have to see.

By: PhilW on 3/16/11
The "Relighting" facilty sounds like a great tool that I hope gets adopted by other 3D packages. But overall it sounds to me to be a number of incremental changes rather than anything really radical.

By: infocyp on 3/16/11
I totally agree: even with Vue 9 Esprit, one can have a lot of fun.
I can import Poser's characters correctly, with their skin and clothes, and setup my own environment in Vue.
Just one condition: have a 64-bits platform with enough memory, even if Vue runs correctly in 32-bits.


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