Price: 340 . 230
Pros: A lot of impressive technology is built into trueSpace 7. The modelling is good and the interface puts related tools at your fingertips.
Cons: The interface can be erratic in its attempt to be helpful. Takes a long time to learn.
Arguably the most impressive new feature in trueSpace 7 is the DirectX-based real-time rendering system. TrueSpace 7 has a dedicated view panel – called the DirectX 9 Player – that shows ‘photorealistic’ versions of how a 3D scene will look in real-time.
By ‘photorealistic’, Caligari means that you have access to a huge range of output effects – including standard shadows, transparent shadows, accurate lighting, textures, reflections, glows, anti-aliasing and more. The quality is impressive for a real-time engine, though it’s more than a step away from what you’d expect from a final render.
Even so, the DirectX 9 Player is a great way to gain an overview of scene lighting and rendering effects without having to regularly stop to re-render scenes. For the preliminary stages of modelling and animation a conventional commercial-grade scene, the Player offers excellent assistance in setting up scene lighting and texturing surfaces – and the quality is good enough to be useful until you come to the fine-tuning stage of the creative process.
However, in the creation of the high-quality stills and animations that commercial 3D production usually requires, it’s that fine-tuning that’s the most difficult to nail down, and which tends to suck time and resources. In this part of the process, most 3D artists would be better off using an interactive rendering engine (which is on offer in high-end suites such as Softimage|XSI and Autodesk Maya) – or the old practice of iterative final rendering tests and a lot of patience/tea-breaks.