Vue 7.5 InfiniteVue 7.5 Infinite from e-on software is a standalone product used for creating natural 3D environments from the ground up. It was released with Vue 7.5 xStream, which is a more integrated solution for use in Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya and XSI, MAXON CINEMA 4D, and Newtek LightWave (and it costs a bit more as well). They offer several versions, so there’s sure to be one for every price and level of designer, from beginner to advanced.

If you’re not familiar with Vue Infinite, it’s an advanced application used for creating, animating, and rendering 3D environments. It’s been used by many studios for matte painting and special effects, and has been featured in movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So you can see this is a pretty amazing program that allows you create some great work with a level of detail that you’ll be very pleased with.

Vue 7.5 Infinite enables you to create scenes from scratch, beginning with the terrain, then clouds, water, plants, etc., until you have the landscape that you want. The amazing thing about how the terrain is created is that the scene is always very detailed, even when you zoom in. The overall quality and handling of the procedural terrains have been dramatically improved over the previous versions. Improvements began with version 7, which allowed you to choose from two groups of presets: ordinary procedural terrains and infinite terrains (which creates procedural terrains so large that they offer the option of using it to replace the ground plane). This carries over in 7.5, along with the new features of material mapping on terrains, planetary rendering, improved cloud technology, and animated EcoSystem population.

Not to be overlooked, Vue’s ability to create realistic 3D plants and trees is truly impressive. To create these, all you have to do is click on the Plant tool icon. Vue 7.5 has a more robust selection of species (more than 160) and includes categories such as grass, shrubs, trees, and more. But that’s not all. It’s not too often that you just want to put one tree or shrub into a scene, so that’s where Vue’s amazing EcoSystem technology comes in. This allows you to load a mixture of plants, rocks, and terrain to create a visually pleasing landscape. To top that off, the new animated EcoSystem populations feature enables you to create populations of elements that evolve over time to create effects that evolve, such as the growth of a forest.

This review only barely scratches the surface of what this program has to offer. I think this is definitely a program that you’ll want to check out if you’re creating landscapes of any kind for the digital world. I use Vue as one of the tools in my creative workflow because it works great with my other 3D applications and it’s my favorite tool to compose and render scenes.—Bruce Bicknell

Company: e-on software, inc.
Price: Download $895; Boxed $935
Rating: 4.5

Hot: EcoSystem technology; clouds, water, and import options; rendering
Not: Expensive; powerful system required; steep learning curve