Bryce vs Vue

I have used Bryce for a long time before switching - somewhat reluctantly - to Vue. My first tests in Vue were no more than a cautious exploration, but I quickly realized that it had lots of features I had been wanting in Bryce for years. This article is an attempt to summarize my findings in this respect.

Bryce and Vue from the start 

Bryce and Vue are 3d landscape programs that can actually be used to make almost any kind of image. They are centered around scene building and rendering. Their modelling capacities are limited, but they are both able to import a wide range of 3d model formats, including Poser files.

In fact, Bryce and Vue have a lot in common. They probably share more features that any other 3d application has. Here are a few:

  • Scene navigation buttons
  • Small scene preview render (nano preview)
  • Infinite planes object (ground, water, clouds)
  • Stone generator
  • Terrain editor
  • Sky editor
  • Procedural texture engine
Interestingly, many of these appeared first in Bryce and then appeared in Vue versions, sometimes in a disturbingly similar way. Most of the time, they were later improved in Vue.

The main difference: Bryce product history

While Vue had a more or less linear development, with significant features being added with every version, the evolution of Bryce has slowed down considerably since Metacreations dropped it in December 1999. Bryce was then sold to Corel, which merely added a tree editor and other goodies to it. It was then sold to DAZ. Its new owner had to revamp its outdated code and added a few interesting features in version 6 (mainly IBL lighting).

The evolution of these programs explains the fact that they now have quite different feature sets. The other big difference is the pricing and product range. Bryce is still one product while Vue is split in a whole range of different products.

Pricing comparison

Bryce 6 Vue 7
$ 69.97

Pioneer: Free
Esprit: $199
Pro Studio: $399
Complete: $599
Infinite: $895 (download)
XStream: $1195 (download) 

Historically, Bryce was more expensive than it is now. I remember paying more than $300 for Bryce 2.
E-On Software raised the prices of Vue 7 (compared to Vue 6) but does occasional promotions.

This price difference has to be kept in mind when comparing the features. 

Feature comparison 

This chart compares the features of Vue 7 Infinite and Bryce 6.1. I have chosen to compare the versions I use, rather than extrapolate on others.

The chart only lists the unique features of each application. Shared features do not appear. Important features appear in red.
I did not detail the animation features, as I do not know them thouroughly.

  Bryce features Vue features
 Scene preview Efficient adaptative degradation
Customizable level of detail
No flickering in scene preview
Quick switch between last render and scene preview
Wireframe shadows
Wireframe depth preview
Flyaround preview
4 views or 1 viewport modes
Frame object in viewports
Zooming in viewports
Polygon highlighting in texture shaded mode
Atmosphere elements preview
Accurate element color preview
Adaptative level of details with procedural terrains
View through spot lights
Safe frame previews
 Scene handling Quick select by object type
Quickly isolate current object
Organize objects by layers
Layer or individual object visibility
Object listing in side panel
Material listing

Texture maps listing
Object gizmos (move, rotate, resize)
Any number of cameras
Cameras field of view in mm
Fixed camera height (relative to terrain)
Smart object drop
 Lights and shadows
Preview light effect in scene
Round parallel light
Light panels
Light emitting objects
Lens flares
Shadow maps
 Terrains 27 terrain styles (some quite elaborate)
Fine terrain previews
Accurate filter power adjustements
Accurate terrain edge edition
Efficient terrain filters (subcontours, sawtooth, etc.)
8 terrain styles (fairly basic)
Function driven procedural terrains
Detailed edition of terrain functions
Additional terrain effects (pebbles, stones, craters)
"Infinite" terrains
Materials Material preview with actual atmosphere
Material preview on actual object
Rotate around material in preview
Mix any number of materials
Use any number of material layers

Very detailed function editor affecting every aspect of a material
Subsurface scattering
Displacement mapping
Displacements can be baked to object
Fade out colors
Blurred reflections adjustement in material panel
Glowing materials
Memorize colors
Vegetation About 75 plant presets, some of them not very realistic
Trees with roots and realistic joints
160 SolidGrowth plant models (60 plants only in Vue Complete)
Generate ground plants and trees from preset models
Detailed edition of plant parts
Detailed materials for every plant part
Automatic variations between individual plants
Ecosystem feature enabling to cover areas with plants (and other models)
Dynamic plant population
Paint object ecosystems on terrains or objects, from any view
Plant export
Atmosphere Two types of atmospheres (standard, IBL)
Preview atmosphere in scene
4 types of atmospheric models (Standard, Volumetric, Spectral, IBL)
Very realistic spectral atmosphere model
Detailed volumetric clouds

God rays
Sun / moon visible in viewports. Handled like objects.
Add more than one sun
Background planets
Adjustable light balance (ambient / sky)
Any number of cloud layers
Wind and breeze
Ventilator objects (local wind)
Modelling tools   3d text
Dynamic subdivision on rocks
Decimate objects
Bake primitives to polygons
Complete objects export
Rendering Very good antialiasing
Good default render quality
Easy render quality adjustment
Easy to use plop render
Spray rendering
Ambient occlusion
Global illumination

Post render options: natural film response, auto exposure
Industry standard image aspect ratios

You can see from the list above that Vue clearly has the edge in terms of number of features. Some of the features are very significant improvements over what Bryce can propose. But to me, Bryce still has advantages in terms of ergonomy and a nicer interface and scene preview. Vue improved its scene preview significantly in V7, adding antialiased lines for instances, but it is still not on par with Bryce in that respect.