Tuesday, December 4th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

e-on software shakes up Vue and PlantFactory

e-on software has revamped its product line-up, making its digital nature tools, Vue and PlantFactory, available as rental-only product bundles rather than individual purchases.

New features in the software include support for PBR shading, Allegorithmic’s Substance material format, and the UDIM UV layout system; plus some interesting changes to the way Vue generates and exports clouds.

The firm has also rolled out a new corporate logo and a new sales website.

The first major update to the software since last year’s cyber-attack
The changes are the biggest to e-on software’s product line-up and online presence since a cyber-attack took its old website offline last year.

Its new website, launched alongside the product updates, makes it possible to buy the software online once more: on the previous temporary site, you had to fill in a contact form, then have e-on call you back.

Now available as bundles, not individual products
The shake-up also makes e-on’s remaining digital nature products, environment creation tool Vue and plant creation tool PlantFactory, available as bundles, rather than individual applications.

This greatly simplifies product versioning, since previously, Vue was available in six separate editions, from the free Vue Pioneer to the $1,695 Vue xStream.

PlantFactory came in four editions, from the $199 Artist edition to the $1,995 PlantFactory Producer.

Creator Professional Enterprise
Software included Vue Creator
PlantFactory Creator
Other content 25 render nodes
Plant library
Licence type Node-locked Node-locked Node-locked

That has now been collapsed into three product bundles: Creator, Professional and Enterprise.

The Professional and Enterprise bundles give you the full versions of both products, plus the integration plugins for other DCC applications, which previously only came with Vue xStream.

In the Professional offering, you just get node-locked licences; with Enterprise, you get the option of floating licences – albeit at extra cost – and 25 render nodes.

The Professional bundle also features a new plant library, comprising 20 readymade procedural plant species, each supplied at ‘HD’ and ‘LD’ resolutions for offline and real-time work.

New Creator editions of Vue and PlantFactory: more tools, but export-disabled
The Creator bundle is interesting, since it effectively replaces all of e-on’s old hobbyist editions.

Instead of the old tiered system, in which the feature set was progressively cut down for the cheaper versions, users now get all of the tools from the full versions of the software.

However, there are still significant limitations to the new Creator editions: you can’t export a scene, you can’t render at resolutions above 4K, and there’s no Python scripting or compositing.

Now rental-only rather than available as perpetual licences
Another big change is product licensing: whereas Vue and PlantFactory were previously available as perpetual licences, the new bundles are rental-only.

The change of versioning makes an exact price comparison impossible, but a Professional plan comes in at $750/year, roughly 20% of the cost of the old perpetual licences of Vue xStream and PlantFactory Producer.

e-on plans to give subscribers access to new features “with every quarterly release”, which would be an increase in update frequency: its previous 2016 product cycle saw six releases in two years.

New features in Vue and PlantFactory: PBR shading, support for Substance materials
As well as new pricing and licence conditions, both Vue and PlantFactory get new features.

Each product now supports a standard metalness/roughness PBR shading workflow, shown in the video above, and comes with a built-in converter for older non-PBR materials.

Both also support Allegorithmic’s Substance procedural material format.

In addition, the UV mapping algorithm for vegetation models has been updated, and now supports the UDIM UV layout format used in tools like Mari.

New in Vue: neat MetaClouds system, VDB export
There are also some interesting changes when it comes to clouds.

Vue’s new MetaClouds system converts any arbitrary 3D mesh into a volumetric cloud, making it possible to control the shape via conventional 3D modelling, as in software like Elementacular.

Users can also export standalone clouds and cloud layers in VDB format, making it possible to reuse them in other applications.

UI and workflow changes
Other changes include a “totally redesigned” user interface in both apps, including more consistent icon design, and a “major makeover” of the dialogs within the Material Editor.

Gamma handling has also been “vastly improved” in Vue to ensure compliance with linear workflows.

At the time of posting, we can’t find more detailed changelogs for either application online, but we’ve contacted e-on and will update if we hear back.

Updated: There aren’t any, but e-on says that it will resume full changelogs “starting with the first update for the new solutions”.

Pricing and availability
The latest versions of Vue and PlantFactory are available for 64-bit Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.10+ as rental-only product bundles.

A Professional subscription costs $75/month or $750/year, while an Enterprise plan costs $99/month or $990/year for node-locked software licences; $149/month or $1,490/year for floating licences.

Both include integration plugins for Maya 2015+, 3ds Max 2015+, Cinema 4D R15-R19, and LightWave 11.6+.

A Creator subscription costs $19.95/month or $199/year.

Read more about e-on software’s latest updates to Vue and PlantFactory on its blog
(Includes a summary of the new features and comparison tables for the subscription plans)