Vue d’Esprit 2
By Lisa Casler

 

When I received Vue d’Esprit 2™ to review I was ready for another Metacreations Bryce knock off. I was pleasantly surprised from the moment I installed Vue d’Esprit 2™, a natural scenery rendering program from France. A classic rendering interface with four wireframe views with detail levels, selected objects properties panel, selected materials, world browser, and multi-threaded. Add USGS DEM importing, DXF mesh support, drag and drop, multiple layer organization, a SolidGrowth™ vegetation generator and you have a well rounded, full featured rendering program.

The User Guide is well laid out and easy to understand. I highly recommend reading the User Guide from cover to cover because of the wealth of information you will find on the program. A number of tutorials are also included for such things as a Boolean house, rain, underwater scenery and a Kick Start tutorial to get you started. The program installed easily, without any glitches and I was working on a scene in record time.

The four wireframe view windows make designing your scene a snap. A simple double click on the window bar of one of the four views opens the window into full screen view. Double click again and you're back to the four window view.

The Material Editor has a vast amount of settings; you can mix your materials and add transparency, ambiance and store your new material creations.

Creating an atmosphere for your scene is taken to a new level with complete control over Sun and Light, Sky and Clouds, and Fog and Haze. You can adjust the position and size of the sun and also determine whether the sun is masked by clouds and how much masking is done. Lighting is also varied with ambiance, balance, global exposure and you can apply the settings to all light sources, or only the sun. For the Sky and Clouds, you set the sky color map, the color map position, distortion by the sun and the fog in the sky. You can also add multiple cloud layers and edit the characteristics of each layer. Fog and haze settings include color, altitude, and thickness.

The Terrain editor has a number of effects you can use, from painting altitudes to adding gravel and a fir tree look. You can copy your terrain and edit it in a paint program and paste it back in the terrain editor. Another nice feature is the option to export your terrain in dxf , picture or as a script for use in the PoV program, along with the color and bump maps.

The Solid Growth™ vegetation generator is what is lacking in other landscape rendering programs. Included in the program are 8 different vegetation species. The species include; Dry Brush, Fern, Tropic, Dead Tree, Fir Tree, Plum Tree, Umbrella Acacia and a Coconut Tree. All are nicely detailed and have a full description with polygon count. You can download others at the e-on Software web site, a couple of free ones and some for a fee. The for a fee ones are worth the price for these good quality vegetation.

Camera settings for creating soft shadows, blurred transparencies and depth of field for more realistic scenes are easy in Vue d’Esprit. However, unless you render in "Superior anti-aliasing mode" you will have pixel scattering around the edge of the images.

This is a scene I made in Vue d'Esprit 2™.The boat is a 3D mesh object that comes with Vue d'Esprit, the dead trees and brush in the water are created with The Solid Growth™vegetation generator.

a: Selecting the atmosphere

Vue d'Esprit comes with atmospheres already to go. There are many to choose from and you can tweak them all to suit your needs. If there isn't one that fits the scene your working on, make your own. Here is a screen shot of the Sky and Clouds Editor. A nice function is the cloud layers, you can add up to three with separate settings for each layer.

b: Adding ground, clouds and terrain

The mountains and trees in the background were created by using a terrain and adding fir trees in the Terrain Editor. You can add as much or as little as you need to get the effect of distant trees.

c: Adding vegetation

The Solid Growth™ vegetation generator was used to add the dead trees and the brush to the scene. When you click on the Tree icon in the left toolbar, if it's the first time used in the scene you will get a random species. Succesive selections will be of the same species, but it will grow randomly so will not be a duplicate of the first. Or, you can go into the Objects/Create menu and choose Vegetaion and make your choice from the plants.

d: Adding other objects

The boat I added from the included library in the Add Objects, where you can also import and add your own to the library. I left the material on the boat as it came, however you can change the material in the Object Properties panel. You can also smooth the object by clicking on the Edit Object in the same panel. You also have the choice to add a sphere, cube, pyramid, cone, cylinder and plane.

e: Layout of the scene

Your scene objects can be moved easily and you also have controls that rotate the object around the view axis and rotate inside view. You can move the camera to almost any place you want, change the focal, blur and focus.

In this scene I have the camera set at; Focal: 35mm, Blur: 0% and Focus: 100. You can get some really unique looking scenes by changing the blur and focal settings, as you can see here. I changed the focal, blur and focus to: Focal- 27mm, Blur- 30%, Focus- 70. Same scene, different look.

f: Preview render

The preview renders in the main window as long as you have it set to do that in the rendering options.

g: Rendering options

Here is a screen shot of the rendering options. As you can see, you get full control over how it renders. What is lacking is mask, distance and altitude rendering, which is important to many people.

 

The Plus: A classic interface. The Solid Growth™ vegetation generator. A great material editor. Nicely done tutorials and a Kick Start. The number of included atmospheres, objects and materials. The price is right and Vue d’Esprit 2™ is fun to use.

The Minus: Vue d’Esprit 2™ is reasonably fast, unless you turn up the anti-aliasing to Superior, then it slows quite a bit. The only problems I encountered were a crash when I tried to save an atmosphere I created, and a crash when doing a drag and drop in the World Browser. Pixel scattering in with the soft shadows unless in superior mode.

Vue d'Esprit 2 is a high quality program that has a bright future as a top landscape generator.

System Requirements:
PentiumŪ 120 MHz or greater
Windows 95/98 or NT 4
16 MB Ram & 50 MB HD space
16- or 24-bit video recommended

Lisa T. Casler
http://www.mochamadness.com/lisa/bryce/