Bryce 7 – What Vue 8 should try to be like…

Bryce 7 – What Vue 8 should try to be like…

Passion is the singlemost word that best describes a Bryce enthusiast, and judging by the comments on this blog and the e-mails that I have received it on part 1 of my latest posting “Vue 8 – What Bryce 7 should have been…” it seems that that passion is still alive and living.

I have been with Bryce since the beginning, when it first was ported over to Windows back in 1997. It was as unstable as a Klingon female with PMS, slow as molasses, but it gave me access to the world of the 3D artist, and it was fun, and it still is fun!

So consider my previous posting as the lecherous fantasies of an old married pensioner: His wife is no longer the attractive, energetic girl he married, but is now a weathered old woman, wrinkled and somewhat slow and saggy in places, but she is a familiar comfort to him. It doesn’t disqualify him from looking at the young, flirtaceous models that pass him by in the streets. They look very pretty and remind him of a time long ago when he was attractive and active himself, but his thoughts always return to the familiar and faithful woman at his side!

Bryce is that faithful old woman – slow and saggy in places but still fun!

The program begs one to play and click and drag and use all manner of key-combos to discover “Easter Eggs” hidden in its musty old code. Take the “new” particle emitter for one. Pretty and exciting and hidden! From what I read up on various forums, the particle emitter has been there for a while but never “activated” – what a shame!

But be that as it may. Bryce still has a lot going for it. Price for one thing! The new version cost me less than $10 for the upgrade – complements of DAZ3D’s generousity, some forgotten vouchers and my Platinum Club.

Now look at Vue 8: Getting a good package like Esprit or Complete and you will get a fair amount of models included in the “Extras Disk”, some Atmospheres, Materials, and some Trees and Plants.  When you scroll through your oodles of Trees, for instance in Vue and choose one, the chances are you will be greeted by a message from Cornucopia3D (e-On ‘s store) saying that the tree you want has to be purchased from the Cornucopia Store.

When I encountered this for the first time (and being a faithful DAZ3D store frequenter) I proceeded to go to the store and see what the cost would be. Shock and horror. $14.95 for one tree!

OK, I thought, if a tree is expensive then perhaps I could create one from scratch using Vue’s tools. Sorry, you can tweak existing trees, but you cannot create one from scratch and what’s more you cannot export that “updated tree” into the SolidGrowth format. There are no tools for creating SolidGrowth pants from scratch inside Vue.

This is where Bryce (I should rather say DAZ3D) leaves Vue choking on its dust. Bryce and its library of extras is cheap enough to be accessible  to the hobbyist, the freelancer, the kid with the computer, the cashstrapped pensioner. The extra libraries are not expensive. I see whole forests (25 different trees) selling for under $7.00. Of course everybody has turn a profit, but e-On is way too expensive for me!

The other niggle I have with Vue is its poor support of OpenGL 2.1-capable video cards. If you have an NVidia graphics card you will have no problem, but if you dare to use a ATI graphics card (anything under a Radeon 4000 series) you are up the creek without a paddle! You will have to deactivate most of the OpenGL hardware settings like “background draw” and “antialiasing”  to prevent the program crashing and fall back to software OpenGL rendering. When I checked on the various Vue forums I see that this issue has been around since Vue 4 Esprit! That is an awfully long time to cut out 25% of the world’s desktop graphic cards.

So my flirting with Vue hasn’t been without its caveats. Vue 8 might be pretty and fast and oh-so-friendly, but she is a high maintenance model and can break your wallet with a wave of her expensively manicured hand!

Bryce 7 – What Vue 8 should try to be like…

Vue 8 – what Bryce 7 should have been…

I feel completely unashamed to say that I have been looking at another 3D package other than my beloved (perhaps that should be in the past tense) Bryce. I have been looking at Vue 8 (formerly Vue Esprit and now available in 11 different versions/packages) and I am impressed with what I see. In a nutshell the title of this posting says it all… “Vue 8 – what Bryce 7 *should* have been”.

Working in my “real” life I run the computer centre for the students of the medical faculty of a big university in South Africa. Medical students have a lot to do with anatomy and detailed data about human physiology. Running a computer centre means that I have access to wonderful programs used in the training of the medical students. Poser is one of them – as an example. The university provides a mechanism for me to look at and *play* with all sorts of toys and that is where I encountered Vue 8.

Vue 8 looks and acts a lot like Bryce. As an example the user interface:

Definitely some simarlarities! I admit, I disliked the Vue interface at first. I have been with Bryce now since Bryce 3D – too long! But now, after a couple of weeks of actually using the program, I have to confess that I enjoy it very, very much. The only way to describe Bryce’s interface is “a kid’s box of toys”. You always have fun with it and play with it, but Vue’s workflow is better and I can get the effect I want far more easily. The visual feedback is far better than the incessant guesswork you are subjected to, with Bryce. Have you ever tried to see what is really going on in the nano-preview and when you finally resign yourself to the “watching paint dry” render time, you are often disappointed by the disparity between the postage stamp preview and the final render…

But what about the plop render of Bryce, I hear you say? Sorry, Vue 8 has it too in the “Render Selected Area” option, and Bryce’s “Spray-can” rendering tool is just a useless gimmick that doesn’t deserve the space in the code it gets!!

What about Poser imports? (my favourite use combining Bryce and Poser.)

Bryce is royal pain when importing Poser .pz3 files, (even with DAZ Studio 3) and the old tried-and-tested .OBJ import is equally traumatic and is responsible for more crashes and “out of memory” errors than any other problem on my computer. Over the years I have developed tricks and tweaks to get me through the process but still, the whole process remains a drag…

I found that Vue imports Poser 4 files directly and doesn’t require any re-texturing. It even recognizes some of Poser’s older  .bum bump maps. Simple and painless! The imported figures appear almost exactly as they appeared in Poser, and you can send the file back and forth between Poser and Vue to tweak poses and setting! This is a real winner for me!

But now after singing Vue’s praises and making my good name in the Bryce community mud, I have to deal a hard knockout blow to Vue – it’s price!

At worst – Bryce 7 Pro  will cost you $99.95 – that is with no sale discount, Platinum Club discount and no upgrade discount, and DAZ3D are going out of their way to make Bryce 7 accessible to anyone, so I don’t know if I am being fair here regarding the price!

Choosing the Vue product that is closest to Bryce 7 Pro is difficult but I would have to settle with Vue 8 Esprit, although this product is sadly lacking in some “essential modules” like Botanica (equivalent in some degree to Bryce 7’s TreeLab) LightVue (equivalent to Bryce’s Light Lab – but on steroids!) and HyperVue (Bryce’s answer is Bryce Lightning)

Vue 8 Esprit goes for $199.00, and if you want the next step up with the TreeLab/LightLab/Bryce Lightning functionality you are looking at a hefty $399.00! This puts this product out of the reach of most gifted amateurs like myself! Very, very expensive! Translate that into South African currency and you are looking at R2900.00, a third of my monthly salary!

So I will have to save and count my pennies very carefully before jumping ship to Vue 8, while at the same time rueing the fact that Bryce 7 Pro should have been what Vue has been since version 4 and earlier!

I just have to pluck up courage and return the Vue install CD to its rightful owner and return to Bryce somehow!