By Michael Burns | on January 29, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 577 . 771
Pros: New attributes for EcoSystem generation technology; enhancements to Spectral Engine II clouds, Water and import options; improved xStream integration.
Cons: More expensive; powerful system required; some features of xStream not consistent across all applications and platforms; steep learning curve for some workflows.
The latest version of E-on’s Vue line of landscape-generation applications doesn’t add any new types of elements to its collection of tools for creating landscapes, skies, trees, plants and volumetric clouds – so the new version’s features are largely refinements and enhancements.
Like most other CG landscape tools, Vue’s building blocks are the terrains that form mountains, valleys, plains and other geological structures. As well as Standard terrains defined by a grid, or heightmap, Vue offers procedural terrains created from fractal-based mathematical functions. This creates terrain dynamically, according to the distance and position of the camera or viewer, and always looks massively detailed, even when you zoom in.
Vue 7 now offers two groups of presets: Ordinary Procedural Terrains are typically the same size as Standard terrains. The Infinite Terrain presets create procedural terrains that are so large that they can be considered infinite in the space you’re working. In fact, you’re offered the option of completely replacing the ground plane. The only drawback is that they require a lot of computing power.
The terrain editor has been revamped to make it as easy to touch up Procedural Terrains as Standard ones. A Procedural Altitudes tab has been added, and is used to control the output of the altitude function in this type of terrain. Furthermore, you are now able to control procedural terrain altitudes based on their relationships with other objects.
Other procedurally generated elements in Vue 7 include rocks, MetaClouds – basically standalone clouds that can be moved around, rotated and resized just like any other object – and SolidGrowth plants.
As before, SolidGrowth 4 offers a plant editor for creating the initial plant example, before it is procedurally generated to be different each time. It’s possible to animate any parameter in the editor, allowing the creation of effects such as plant growth and decay. You can also apply global wind and breeze effects, as well as individual wind and wind generators. New algorithms have also been added to reduce the flickering effect of plant animations when viewed ‘in
Vue 7 ships with a greatly expanded SolidGrowth library, now offering over 70 plant species, as well as a new library of MetaCloud presets. Atmospheres and materials have had a boost too, now offering 160 and 530 presets respectively.