Vue 8 Infinite / xStream review

Price when reviewed

Previously, Vue largely limited itself to simulating the shadowing effect of deformation via the bump channel. Now Vue 8 adds support for full normal mapping in the bump channel but, more importantly, also offers far more powerful dedicated displacement handling. With support for procedural functions, displacement in any direction and for in-built smoothing, the results can be extraordinary. For example, by mixing layers of large and small rocks created via displacement, Vue 8 can automatically create the effect of a boulder-strewn surface without having to resort to Ecosystem handling.

Of course, deforming geometry on the fly like this has a major performance impact of its own. However, e-on has reworked Vue 8’s rendering of displacement effects to make it between 50% and 150% faster. Throw in Vue 8’s rendering improvement of around 20% and it means that the enhanced end results that Vue 8 Infinite enables are realistically achievable in a practical production environment.

Vue 8 xStream

Vue’s main job is to tackle the creation of naturalistic scenes, but to bring the resulting landscape to life it needs to be populated. Vue’s existing, and excellent, handling of plants and ecosystems has been left largely unchanged, but Vue 8 Infinite does enhance its handling of imported models. In particular Poser 8 figures are now supported and you can re-pose and animate other objects directly in Vue, if you first convert them to Vue’s dedicated Rigged Mesh format.

Bringing external elements into Vue is one option to bring a scene alive, but working away from your main application’s modelling and animation tools is clearly not ideal. The apparently obvious alternative is to export your scene and bring it into your favourite modeller as a backdrop. However, that’s not ideal either, as you end up losing all the advantages that Vue brings – efficient mesh handling, spectral atmospheres, displacement materials, ecosystem painting and so on.

It looks like compromise is inevitable; but this is where Vue xStream comes in. Vue 8 xStream provides just one feature over-and-above the functionality in Vue 8 Infinite: it provides access to all of Vue 8 Infinite’s power from directly within your favourite high-end modeller – 3ds Max, Maya, LightWave, Cinema 4D and Softimage.

This latest version of xStream adds little new functionality of its own. There’s new support for V-Ray rendering in 3ds Max and Maya, easier light matching including shadow density support and new icon-based access to functionality, but that’s about it. Except of course for Vue 8 xStream’s one must-have feature: access to the enhanced functionality and end results of Vue 8 Infinite.


Software subcategory Graphics/design software

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