Vue is one of the best-known 3D landscape rendering packages on the market. It’s available in several different versions, ranging from Vue Easel (£48) right up to Vue xStream (£532), with the differences mainly in the editing of objects, animation and rendering quality and resolution.
Vue 6 introduces a raft of new features, but most significant is its EcoSystems painter. This is simply the quickest, easiest and most controllable way of adding multiple objects (trees, plants, rocks, buildings) to your scene. It beats the forest creation tools of its competitors hands down. Creating a jungle is a matter of choosing one or more plant species, then painting them on to your landscape. Adding or removing groups of objects is intuitive, and painting is responsive even when dealing with thousands of trees. Rendering is fast too, considering the amount of work the processor has to do in rendering every leaf in a forest.
A group of new tools are available
in version 6 including Spectral Atmospherics. These simulate more effectively than before natural light and its interaction with dust and clouds. There are also Volumetric Clouds (3D models of clouds that you can move around realistically) and the ability to use materials directly from Poser. In addition there are enhancements to radiosity, sub-surface scattering and ambient occlusion making rendering faster and more accurate.
Vue xStream enables you to work with Vue files directly within max, Maya or Lightwave, combining the packages.
Out of the Vue product range, Vue Esprit (£127) probably represents the best value to the stills artist with a good balance of price and control, although it’s worth looking at Vue Pro Studio if your budget will stretch.