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Thread: Does anyone use xstream in conjunction with Lightwave?

  1. #1

    Does anyone use xstream in conjunction with Lightwave?

    When you import Vue terrain objects or plants,etc, which renderer is used? Vue or LW and if special considerations are there what are they?

    Thanks in advance
    Ron

  2. #2
    Heffalump
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    I use xStream. The xStream objects don't truly exist in the scene - they are served by a gamut of plugins that provide in-viewport representations. The contributions are inserted through the volumetric system as LW renders. You can convert into native (host application) entities, if needed.
    Inactive.

  3. #3
    SciEngArtist PabloMack's Avatar
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    I was just about to start a thread with your same question that is in this thread's title.

    Quote Originally Posted by millsron View Post
    When you import Vue terrain objects or plants,etc, which renderer is used?
    I have been reading e-on's website about Vue 11 and somewhere I remember reading that both renderers are used. As I understand it, the Vue renderer uses the host application's lights but the atmosheric effects and possibly other aspects require the Vue renderer since algorithms that are not implemented in the host are needed to keep the results consistent with the Vue Infinite standalone product. I also recall that you can selectively turn off the Vue renderer but such things as sky and clouds may disappear.

    If many LW users start using Vue xStream then it seems that Newtek should add a category in this forum for those people. I am considering purchasing Vue 11 xStream for Lightwave myself but I am concerned about E-on's licensing practices. It seems I could purchase a node-locked license and I shouldn't have to spend a penny more if I didn't want to. Even if they locked me out of their forum then I would still have a place to go for help. This forum is great and I think there would be plenty of expertise here even without having access to E-on's forums. What do you think?

    An additional question I have is, that if you use Screamernet and you have Lightwave render nodes doing rendering, you would need to purchase Vue render node licenses for your Lightwave rendering servers. I guess this is where the "software rental" problem creeps in?
    Last edited by PabloMack; 02-16-2013 at 11:04 AM. Reason: add more

  4. #4
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Yes, both renderers are used with xStream. One advantage we found with rendering within LightWave was that we could use LightWave's AA instead of Vue's--this took a little longer but the quality was better. That said, many of our Vue elements were rendered using Vue's renderer unless there was a compelling reason to integrate it directly in Lightwave (direct character interaction, for example.)

    In general, our workflow was to output a beauty pass in Lightwave (or Vue) to EXR with all the useful buffer goodies you can embed in the format (depth, motion vectors, etc.,) and then render the scene again in Vue with all lighting options disabled, and outputting to RPF to get the coverage channel, which can be used to anti-alias the Material ID, Object ID and Depth buffers. After rendering was completed, we used Fusion to merge the RPF data with the EXR--the reduces the file size overhead significantly because you can use lossless compression for all the channels within an EXR, and speeding up your comps (especially over a network.)

    G.

  5. #5
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    BTW, in our home studio, we use Vue Infinite instead of xStream. It's a little more work to integrate Infinite with LightWave because you need to set up your scenes specifically for compositing, but in general you can get the same output as above. The nice thing is that since Vue's RPF option (available in xStream or Infinite) offers a Coverage buffer option, so you won't need to render a bunch of control masks--just use the Material ID and Object ID buffers the way they are meant to be used. In Fusion, for example, the mere presence of Coverage will automatically anti-alias your arbitrary selections using a standard eyedropper tool. You must render all your Vue elements/layers in Vue of course but Infinite includes 5 Rendercows in the package, so you can still network render with it.

    And if you're on a small budget, Infinite is a bit cheaper than xStream.

    G.

  6. #6
    Often Banned Megalodon2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    In general, our workflow was to output a beauty pass in Lightwave (or Vue) to EXR with all the useful buffer goodies you can embed in the format (depth, motion vectors, etc.,) and then render the scene again in Vue with all lighting options disabled, and outputting to RPF to get the coverage channel, which can be used to anti-alias the Material ID, Object ID and Depth buffers. After rendering was completed, we used Fusion to merge the RPF data with the EXR--the reduces the file size overhead significantly because you can use lossless compression for all the channels within an EXR, and speeding up your comps (especially over a network.)
    Thanks for this info. I was wondering how this could be done using the G buffer but I preferred using EXR as opposed to RPF - but you've answered that obstacle.

    I've been wrestling with purchasing Vue again - we stopped at Vue6sStream - but Vue11 seems to be working better with better flicker controls and integration. I'm still debating on whether to save a little cash and go the Infinite route or go all the way with xStream. Decisions, decisions.

    Thanks Again!

  7. #7
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Yes, for us, version 8 was where it really took off for full 3D environments. Prior to that, we mainly used Vue for matte paintings. Since version 8, Vue just kept getting better and better.

    This was probably my favorite use of Vue on a Box job:



    I think we were using version 9 for this one. I set up some of the Vue environments on this job but most of the real heavy lifting is Ken Wilder's work.

    G.

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    Often Banned Megalodon2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    Yes, for us, version 8 was where it really took off for full 3D environments. Prior to that, we mainly used Vue for matte paintings. Since version 8, Vue just kept getting better and better.

    This was probably my favorite use of Vue on a Box job:

    I think we were using version 9 for this one. I set up some of the Vue environments on this job but most of the real heavy lifting is Ken Wilder's work.
    The forest looks great. Since you've used it in production, I assume (uh-oh) that it's pretty much production-proven.

    Now the only decision I've got is to go with either Infinite or xStream.

    Thanks Again!

  9. #9
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Yes, the Box used Vue on a handful of jobs in the Box. the 'Rancor in the Wild' from Star Wars Kinect is another notable.



    (We did the opening sequence in Vue and LW--most of the rest of this clip was done in engine. A couple of other shots in the 'documentary' were pulled from other pre-rendered LW footage we did for the game but no Vue there.)

    G.

  10. #10
    Often Banned Megalodon2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    Yes, the Box used Vue on a handful of jobs in the Box. the 'Rancor in the Wild' from Star Wars Kinect is another notable.

    (We did the opening sequence in Vue and LW--most of the rest of this clip was done in engine. A couple of other shots in the 'documentary' were pulled from other pre-rendered LW footage we did for the game but no Vue there.)

    G.
    The vegetation here really looks good.

    I'm definitely sold.

  11. #11
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Just to be clear, the very first tree you see in that segment was modeled using Onyx Tree and LightWave Modeler. Onyx is an ancient tree modeling program and the interface really suffers for it, but I still use it from time to time when I need to create a good 'physically correct' tree model quickly. The fruit was modeled and shaded in Lightwave and I think I used Random Cloner to populate it on the twigs of the tree. That was pretty much the end of my contribution to that segment.

    From there, I believe Ken Wilder used xStream to merge the tree, plus the critters (which was animated by other artists in Maya,) which were all textured, shaded and lit in Layout, with the the rest of the environment with its vegetation that he created in Vue.

    That might sound complicated but we actually had a good workflow in place for this.

    G.

  12. #12
    Often Banned Megalodon2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    Just to be clear, the very first tree you see in that segment was modeled using Onyx Tree and LightWave Modeler. Onyx is an ancient tree modeling program and the interface really suffers for it, but I still use it from time to time when I need to create a good 'physically correct' tree model quickly. The fruit was modeled and shaded in Lightwave and I think I used Random Cloner to populate it on the twigs of the tree. That was pretty much the end of my contribution to that segment.
    Yeah, we've got Onyx TreePro - bough it (I think) in 2000. I've been asking them to have animation export - simple object export like they have for their Bamboo module - but they've never implemented it. I know they've got something like it for Max using TreeStorm, but they can't bring themselves to do it for the standalone modules. Object export for a sequence would be clunky, but still better than what they've got.

    Regardless, I think the entire sequence - as well as the first animation - were great.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megalodon2.0 View Post
    Thanks for this info. I was wondering how this could be done using the G buffer but I preferred using EXR as opposed to RPF - but you've answered that obstacle.

    I've been wrestling with purchasing Vue again - we stopped at Vue6sStream - but Vue11 seems to be working better with better flicker controls and integration. I'm still debating on whether to save a little cash and go the Infinite route or go all the way with xStream. Decisions, decisions.

    Thanks Again!
    I've been generally very impressed with e-on software right up to version 11 when they decided to bait and switch with the licensing. It's really, really aggravating that you now effectively rent any network nodes (anything that gets a floating license, it seems). The license server now has a fixed one-year license that is only maintained if you keep up with maintenance (339 USD) or pay them an annual renewal fee (199 USD). Without that, you'll be dead in the water. It's reprehensible, and adds risk if e-on close up shop - you'll be dead in the water with no way to keep running. Also, even under maintenenace you'll need to pay to upgrade each and every render node install as well (it used to be that maintenance would cover everything and you'd have perpetual licenses - now it's the maintenance fee of 339 USD plus n * 30 USD or so for 'n' render nodes to keep everything up to date). That 30 USD per node doesn't sound much until you realise that only the node-locked host application is able to avoid the time-bombed annual expiration; you're renting everything else based on the lifespan of the license server.

    I'm so pissed off by this, that I'm struggling to recommend Vue unless you can make serious money of it (to the point where the doubling or more of the maintenance or upgrade costs are a minimal concern) or that you can do everything on a single node-locked machine that isn't subject to the license expiration.
    Last edited by Phil; 02-26-2013 at 01:22 PM.
    Inactive.

  14. #14
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Ugh...sorry, to hear that. I have a standalone license so I completely forgot about the floating license controversy. Yes, that's an issue users considering the floating license should be made aware of. FWIW, if I was in your position, I think I would be upset too.

    Regarding the standalone license, E-on does allow users to install Vue on two computers (presumably a desktop and a laptop,) provided you run it on only one computer at any time.

    G.

  15. #15
    Often Banned Megalodon2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
    I've been generally very impressed with e-on software right up to version 11 when they decided to bait and switch with the licensing. It's really, really aggravating that you now effectively rent any network nodes (anything that gets a floating license, it seems). The license server now has a fixed one-year license that is only maintained if you keep up with maintenance (339 USD) or pay them an annual renewal fee (199 USD). Without that, you'll be dead in the water. It's reprehensible, and adds risk if e-on close up shop - you'll be dead in the water with no way to keep running. Also, even under maintenenace you'll need to pay to upgrade each and every render node install as well (it used to be that maintenance would cover everything and you'd have perpetual licenses - now it's the maintenance fee of 339 USD plus n * 30 USD or so for 'n' render nodes to keep everything up to date). That 30 USD per node doesn't sound much until you realise that only the node-locked host application is able to avoid the time-bombed annual expiration; you're renting everything else based on the lifespan of the license server.

    I'm so pissed off by this, that I'm struggling to recommend Vue unless you can make serious money of it (to the point where the doubling or more of the maintenance or upgrade costs are a minimal concern) or that you can do everything on a single node-locked machine that isn't subject to the license expiration.
    Yeah, I remember the previous thread about this. It IS reprehensible!

    For me, I have no intention of purchasing render nodes. I just intend to use it one machine. I think e-on is just another greedy software company that happens to put out useful software. If there was a decent alternative, I would certainly be checking it out. I've kept an eye on Terragen, ut IMO it's slow to develop and doesn't have anywhere near the capabilities of Vue. I've been using Vue since version3 d'esprit back in 2000, and it's improved quite a bit since then - but then the price has gone up quite a bit as well. It's gone up just the last version as well. I hope someone else comes up with a competitor - SOON!

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