Vue 8 Infinite / xStream review

Price when reviewed

Since it first appeared 12 years ago, the Vue platform has come to dominate the entire field of naturalistic 3D world creation. For 3D enthusiasts and artists, e-on software provides a wide range of options – most notably Vue Esprit, Studio and Complete – all building up from the foundation of the free Vue Pioneer. However, for CG professionals it’s a straight choice between the standalone Vue 8 Infinite and the add-on-based Vue 8 xStream.

Whichever level you’re working at, creating naturalistic 3D scenes is an inherently demanding task (high resolution output can involve processing billions of polygons), but Vue makes the whole process simple. Essentially it’s a case of setting up your atmosphere and terrain, managing materials to control overall appearance and then bringing your landscape to life with plants and models.

Vue 8’s first major advance in this regard is its new handling of atmospheres. The Spectral engine is Vue’s most accurate atmospheric model for mimicking the interaction between air, dust and water particles and, by radically improving the quality of its internal shadowing, the realism of clouds is now greatly enhanced – an essential element of most scenes.

Vue 8 Infinite

The changes to terrain handling are even more significant. Here the major advance is the inclusion of new 3D sculpting tools in the Terrain Editor. Previously you were limited to interactively raising and lowering terrain altitude, but now you can sculpt, inflate and carve your terrain in all directions to produce effects such as caves and overhangs. You can even toggle the display of other scene elements so that you can interactively sculpt your terrain around objects such as trees and buildings.

Hands-on 3D sculpting works well in the context of Vue’s grid-based heightfield terrains, but becomes more complex with procedurally-generated terrains. Here, Vue 8 Infinite lets you break up your scene into zones to optimize performance and to get the best of both worlds, say adding an area of sculpted foreground detail to an infinite terrain. Even better, Vue 8’s 3D sculpting uses smart subdivision technology that adds polygons intelligently, depending on the level of detail required, so optimizing the resulting mesh density and overall performance. Zoom out and you’re sculpting millions of polygons in real time.

Once you’ve added your terrain, to make it look realistic you can simply apply one of Vue’s dedicated landscape materials. Here, a new TerrainScape library offers materials based on new capabilities such as accurately stratified rocks built on recursive fractals and easily-adjustable sand, grass and soil mixes. Most striking of all are the materials based on Vue 8’s new displacement handling, which uses texture maps to actively deform the underlying object’s geometry.


Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

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