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.
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Water has been enhanced too, with the Water Surface Editor offering new settings for foam. The Global Wave Control offers an overall agitation setting, running from calm to storm, while the setting for surface altitude converts the normally flat-water plane into something closer to an infinite procedural plane, complete with an altitude slider to create waves.
There are also more import options, including textured model imports from most of the major 3D file formats, as well as textured and animated Collada file import.
Enhancements to the Vue’s support for OpenGL and multithreading have noticeably boosted performance. However, Vue Infinite 7 was sluggish on our test PowerMac, a dual-processor G5. On a relatively new MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.5, though, we had a much better response from Infinite.
XStream is an integrated plug-in to open Vue files directly within a host 3D application such as Maya or Softimage|XSI, then manipulate the elements and add objects and attributes with that applications tools. XStream ran smoothly in Maya 2009 on 32-bit Vista on our quad-core Intel PC. Certain Maya elements were used as Proxy objects, such as cameras and lights in the scene, but most Vue elements were applied as normal.
You can paint EcoSystems directly in the viewports of 3DS Max and Cinema 4D, but painting isn’t yet supported in Maya, LightWave and XSI. Proxy objects can also be freely animated using the animation tools in the target application, but you must use the Export Animation To Vue Scene command to use the keyframe data in Vue. It’s still a big improvement on the previous version of XStream. You can also open XStream as a standalone Vue application.
One nice touch for Vue 7 is the automatic support ticket that is created whenever you have a crash.
It uses the email address you supply during activation, so if you’re having problems you’ll receive an individual response. The application is fairly stable, however, and apart from the price hike, this is a decent upgrade.
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