E-on ships Vue Infinite 2016 and Vue xStream 2016
E-on software has released Vue Infinite 2016 and Vue xStream 2016, the latest versions of its professional digital nature tools, adding a new GPU renderer, heightfield terrains and a range of new export options.
Vue xStream users also get the option to convert Vue assets into the native format of the host 3D software to which xStream conneects, making it possible to render them with third-party renderers.
The update also adds support for Preset Variations, a new feature of e-on’s PlantFactory plant-generation software, the 2016 edition of which has also just been released.
New GPU render engine for interactive viewport previews
One key addition to the Vue 2016 product line is the new hybrid GPU/CPU-based path tracing renderer.
It’s primarily intended as a fast interactive viewport preview: although the video above notes that it can be used as a final-quality renderer by increasing its sampling setting, at the minute, there is quite a long list of features it doesn’t support, including procedural materials, volumetrics, clouds and multi-pass rendering.
New heightfield terrains: faster rendering and more controllable
The update also introduces a new heightfield terrain system. Like Vue’s existing procedural terrains, heightfield terrains are based on a function graph, but are baked on a fixed-resolution grid.
According to e-on, heightfield terrains make it possible to add effects “that were previously impossible to achieve, such as hydrological and thermal simulations”, and are faster to render.
The new terrains come with their own dedicated set of controls, including nine erosion presets and Slope, Convexity, Blur and Terrace nodes.
All of the parameters are fully animatable, and graph outputs can be used to drive material properties directly from within the Terrain Editor interface.
As well as being manually sculptable, it is possible to design the layout of the terrains using freehand splines or simple 2D shapes like circles, rectangles and rounded rectangles.
Improvements to EcoSystems and instancing
EcoSystems, Vue’s instancing and surface scattering technology, also gets an update, with the option to populate scenes with multiple global EcoSystem layers.
Global EcoSystem populations can also now be saved as EcoPainter brushes, enabling users to paint customisable groups of plants or other objects into scenes, rather than individual models.
The software ships with 12 preset EcoPainter brushes and 20 EcoPainter effector brushes.
To minimise memory use in complex scenes, any object selected in the World Browser can now be converted to an EcoSystem instance, and plant species imported from PlantFactory can be baked out.
Vue also now supports the Preset Variations functionality introduced in PlantFactory 2016, enabling users to generate instances of plants with small variations such as variant flower colours.
More export functionality, particularly for xStream users
Export functionality has also been further extended, mainly in Vue xStream.
As well as exporting individual assets, xStream users now have the option to export entire scenes or EcoSystems as FBX or Alembic files, with the option to include the sky as a cube map in FBX files.
There is also an OpenGL preview for exported assets to give some idea of how they will look in other apps.
In addition, xStream’s new Conversion tool converts exported assets to the native format of the host application. Scenes are baked out, and EcoSystem instances converted to standard objects.
Conversion makes it possible to share assets with artists who don’t have xStream installed; to render them with third-party renderers like V-Ray or Arnold; or to render them on renderfarms that don’t support Vue.
The process is currently available to 3ds Max, Maya and Cinema 4D users, but not in LightWave or Softimage.
Vue Infinite users get a number of smaller updates, including the option to set export quality for assets individually or globally, and to export meshes’ original texture maps along with their UVs.
User interface and workflow improvements
Both versions of the software get a number of workflow and UI improvements.
Key changes include the option to save thumbnail previews of a scene while rendering, and more options to customise Vue’s default interface layout, as shown in the video above.
There are also a number of smaller changes, including better compatibility with HiDPI displays.
Pricing and availability
Vue Infinite 2016 and Vue xStream 2016 are available now for 64-bit Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.6+. Vue xStream integrates Vue with these versions of 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, LightWave, Maya and Softimage.
New licences of Vue Infinite 2016 costs $1,295; new licences of Vue xStream 2016 cost $1,695.