New features in both applications include improved displacement, and CPU and GPU render denoising.
Vue R5 also adds the option to import satellite maps to texture terrains directly inside Vue, while PlantFactory R5 gets a new viewport with support for PBR materials and indirect lighting.
The updates are the first to either application this year, and come a couple of months later than expected.
Since e-on dropped perpetual licences in favour of combined subscriptions, back in 2018, the firm had been putting out updates every four months.
Both applications: improved displacement
Major changes common to both Vue R5 and PlantFactory R5 include three new subdivision modes when displaying and rendering materials with displacement maps.
Dynamic mode is intended for use on terrain and Uniform subdivision for low-to-mid-resolution geometry. There is also an option to apply no additional subdivision when working with high-res geometry.
According to e-on, displacement mapping preparation is 4.5x faster when using no subdivision. Its mesh smoothing algorithm is also now “up to 4x faster … which also benefits displacement mapping”.
Related changes in Vue R5 include a new Mesh Baking Options dialog, which can be used to set mesh baking quality independently of the object export settings.
Both applications: CPU and GPU render denoising
Both apps also now support denoising when using the Path Tracer render engine, both for interactive and offline renders.
Both applications: better Substance support, Python update, new stock content
Other changes common to both applications include the option to flip or rotate texture output when working with materials in Substance format; and an update from Python 2.7 to Python 3.7 for scripting.
Both updates also ship with new stock assets: over 350 in the case of Vue R5, including 29 new atmospheres and “hundreds” of 3D models; 15 new plant species in the case of PlantFactory.
Vue R5 only: satellite texture suport, better cloud morphing
Vue users also get updates to a couple of the main features added in last year’s Vue R4.
The update also introduces new co-ordinate types for terrain data, and the option to import terrain maps at resolutions up to 32K, although heightfields larger than 8K are not editable in Vue’s terrain editor.
In addition, the new cloud morphing system can now morph cloud materials as well as cloud geometry.
Rendering improvements when using the path tracer include support for albedo and material ID channels when generating multi-pass renders, and better handling of PBR materials.
Both the ray tracer and path tracer render engines also now use shadow terminator softening, resulting in smoother transitions between illuminated and shadow areas of a rendered image.
PlantFactory R5 only: new PBR viewport
Both applications get a number of updates designed to improve workflow when using PBR materials, but the changes are most visible in PlantFactory, which gets an entire new PBR viewport.
As well as being able to preview PBR materials correctly, the new viewport also features a customisable sky model, enabling users to preview plants with indirect lighting as well as direct sunlight.
Users can switch between new and old viewports via the context menu.
e-on has also extended the new 3ds Max and Maya integration plugins available as tech previews to users with Professional or Enterprise subscriptions to support Arnold and V-Ray Next materials.
Pricing and availability
The latest versions of Vue and PlantFactory are available for 64-bit Windows 7+ and macOS 10.13+ as rental-only product bundles. You can see a comparison chart here.
A Professional subscription costs $75/month or $750/year, while an Enterprise plan costs $99/month or $990/year for node-locked software licences; $1,490/year for floating licences.
Both include Vue plugins for Maya 2015+, 3ds Max 2016+, Cinema 4D R16+, and LightWave 11.6+.
A Creator subscription, which includes the software’s core tools, but lacks any export options or Python scripting, costs $19.95/month or $199/year.
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