In 1992 the French student Nicholas Phelps started the creation of Vue d’Esprit, an outdoor scenery generator. Version 1 saw the light in 1994, and after an intermediate version 1.2 (1995) version 2 was released in 1997.
At those days it had a very strong competitor: Bryce, which
- was based on the fractal algorithms by Ken Musgrave – who was a student of Benoît Mandelbrot, and later founded mojoWorld,
- was extended by geologist Eric Wrenger – who wanted to create believable rock textures in software, and
- got its user interface from Kai Krause – who made numerous contributions to the appearance and behaviour of nowadays software like Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, Photoshop and Poser.
Bryce released version 1 in 1994 (Mac only), got available for PC with version 2 (1996) which included lights, atmospherics and Boolean object combination, and introduced animation in version 3 (1997). Vue lagged far behind all that.
While Bryce suffered from departing experts and developers, commercially driven company takeovers and reduced priorities in development programs, Nicholas Phelps moved to the US, founded e-onsoftware and continued the development of his product.
So Vue migrated towards photo-realism, towards the ability to create advanced plant structures, got the ability to cover complete landscapes with eventually complex vegetation patterns (and to handle those in high end rendering results) , started real integration with high end tools (the xStream versions) and finally established a solid position in the big screen industry.
This ranges from animations like Kung Fu Panda to life action scenes in Indiana Jones (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Man’s Chest), and the user base addresses about all major studios around.
In the meantime, the enthusiast’s and hobbyist’s / artist’s user base is far from forgotten. Next to a basic (and free!) Vue Pioneer version, Vue is presented in a modular way: Vue Esprit brings 2 modules, Vue Studio brings 5 while Vue Complete brings all 12 of them to the Vue Pioneer base version, while each module can be purchased separately as well.
As can be expected, the professional versions (xStream and Infinite) add functions that are of main interest to the collaboration and workflows in larger studios while also adding some functions that make the extra mile to the big screen. In addition to that, e-onsoftware has issued some products which makes specific Vue technologies available to other software, like Ozone (atmospherics), Carbon Scatter (Eco-systems) and LumenRT (mixing static rendering with camera animation for Arch-viz works).
The whole range make up a great toolset for Virtual Landscape Photography.