Price: 299 . 100 . 150
Pros: pros: efficient tools for rapid editing and object creation; hair/fur and geometry deforming tools; sophisticated character and physics-based animation; runs on Vista.
Cons: Initially confusing workflow and fairly steep ‘unlearning’ curve for users of other 3D applications; no Mac support; optional V-Ray renderer costs about half the price of the full package
Beneath trueSpace’s strange-looking interface lies an efficient 3D tool offering a range of dedicated views for modelling and assembling scenes, a large library of materials, textures and objects, HDRI environments, normal map support, hair/fur and character animation, and context sensitive help.
It includes the impressive ability to work in the same 3D space on the same object at the same time as other users on a network – there’s even a VoIP panel for collaborative communication.
As well as working in the basic Model and rendered Workspace views, alternative workflows are offered by the useful Link Editor and Script Editor panels. And as it is comparatively cheap, you can forgive the initial strangeness.
trueSpace also offers some rather quirky tools. One of these is the Magic Ring (above) – a multi-coloured gizmo that controls parameters for any object selected for editing in the Model view. Once created, the object becomes the template to generate other primitive shapes, enabling an infinite number of new shapes to be created, without ever going back to the object toolbar.
The Selector Cage, another major tool, initially acts as scaling and translation controls for each main object, but is also able to manipulate individual faces, edges and vertices, as well for adjusting UV projections for materials and texture positioning in the UV editor. New in version 7.5 are the Soft Paint and Displacement Paint tools for applying geometry using brush strokes on existing surfaces. It also offers new material and UV editors, as well as hair/fur modelling tools.
The new hair generation tools (above), that can be used to create a wide variety of hair and fur effects, while the soft paint and displacement paint tools let users paint new geometry onto existing surfaces
While there’s nothing groundbreaking here compared to the leading 3D apps, the tools function quite smoothly within the trueSpace environment. In fact, we found these newer Workspace tools much easier to get a hang of than the more arcane set found in Model view.
New animation features let you apply physics simulations, procedural scripts, keyframed animation, imported motion capture via BVH or a mix of them all. One animation workflow is similar to the likes of MotionBuilder in that you have the ability to assign IK/FK skeletons and additive animation sequences to characters, as well as motion retargeting. A form of Rag Doll physics is possible through the use of a new simulation engine and characters can be skinned using weight envelopes or vertex weight painting. The new animation features are straightforward to use and rapid to deploy.
As well as integrated LightWorks and VirtuaLight renderers, the optional V-Ray render engine is now native to the real-time Workspace, offering several new features including animation support, depth of field and improved handling of non-metallic reflections.
This is a complex but innovative and highly scalable application. We tested on Windows XP and Vista with no real problems, but given its graphic-driven nature it would definitely be welcomed by Mac users too.