You gotta think outside the box with Vue, I actually love the road/spline tool, helps me tons. As for huge forests, a little bit of work goes a long ways. Per say if you're populating a huge forest deep into the shot, not every tree needs bump and any of features but diffuse. Go into the plant species and change it to a solid color same with the leaves, turn off some shadow effects and watch how well things run vs trying to use them as is. Make sure to save them as a new species though. If they are mid/background populations chances are you won't notice any differences at all. Don't fall into the facade you can use Vue trees for foreground units either. Xfrog or better yet Speedtree is a much better solution but will take a bit more to render but will bring the shot more realism at the same time.
My point is there are many tricks to using Vue to its full potential, and again it all comes with how much are you willing to do? When I first got my version of Vue 8.5 Infinite a few years ago, first thing I did was take each tree I either owned or came with it and and made a replica without any bump, disp or shadow effects. A whole new library just from background/deeper mid stuff, renders were cut in almost half. Not to mention half the shadow work you can tweak in clouds as well.
>>I actually love the road/spline tool, helps me tons<<
Well it was better than nothing and actually "drawing" or creating a road was very easy and cool.
It's the "shape" of the road object that kind of turned me off, with no way to actually adjust it. Specifically how it basically it was raised up above the surface underneath by seemingly 3 or 4 feet. And there's nothing that I could find anywhere that could adjust this "road height" setting. The only way I sort of found was to bake the road and terrain, but even then trying to skootch the road down a bit to normal levels caused weird artifacts to appear or the road to disappear in some places.
Yes, you could plant rocks and small plants next to the road (by manually painting them in - more on this in a moment) to hide this bizarre height issue.
But the other issue was the programmers didn't finish the toolset which would have allowed populating along the "edges" or outside edges (curbs) of the roads. This should have been a no-brainer because if you can adjust the width of the road, and you can tell the road to 'de-populate' ecosystems along the width of the road... well... doh! why not allow POPULATING outwards from the width of the road edges.
Inotherwords, the Vue knows the road is 10 feet or 12 feet or 30 feet wide or whatever you set it as. It can obviously "carve" out the terrain to this width and you can tweak that to allow it to carve out a slightly bigger width than the road.
So all the math logic is there to allow populating along the edges of the road, to in effect, create mirror splines that follow not just the middle of the road (which already exists), but then 2 more "virtual" splines on each side (the curbs) where populations of ecosystems could be placed. The road is 10 feet wide? Place a virtual spline 5 feet to one side and 5 feet to the other. And while this sounds like something you could in theory do a copy/paste, ...it's not really because the inside curve of a road would have less of a turn radius than the outside or middle.
I dunno. Maybe I'm assuming things are so obvious that I'm baffled when a feature like this is missing. You have a road. You carve out terrain. You determine the width of the road and the width of the carving. But there's like such an obvious missing piece in the toolbox: what happens at the edges of the road? Or edge of a river... or anything. You need some sort of control adjustment there too.
The filters they DID implement to control ecosystems along a road seem nonsensical... they control the density from one end of the road to another. Huh???? Why would my first thought be to place trees more heavily on the "start" of a road and less dense at the "end"?
That's an interesting "extra' thing to have perhaps someday, but it's not really the first thing most people would be wanting to control the density along the road would be thinking of. They would be thinking "Along the EDGE... of the road".
I really can't figure out how that meeting of the developer team could have gone in that direction. Someone obviously was napping and misinterpreted the goal of adding a "filter to control ecosystem along the road". They built it. But got it totally sideways.
Yeah it's nice baby step for making roads. I made the upgrade plunge from 8.4 infinite to 10 complete, almost entirely because of the roads.
And I backgraded back to 8.4 almost entirely because of the roads. (and some other semi major flaws introduced into 10, not present in 8.4)
Part of it is a bit misleading because they are using a totally flat terrain and thus the "carving" routine doesn't actually need to push away the terrain/hills to make room for a road.
So in the video case, all they needed to do was carve out JUST enough room for the road to squeeze into.
That is not realistically possible on an actual bumpy/hilly terrain. You need to cut a wide swath out because otherwise you'd have a cliff jutting right up against the side of the road (like a train tunnel) with no "Shoulder" area.
So again, the example is fine for a flat terrain. Anything else that trick doesn't work.
This is an example of what I was trying to create: a nice road snaking through the countryside. The road is carving out the landscape but because the landscape is not completely flat, it has to be carving it out a little differently.
Ok now notice the height of this road:
There's no way to raise this up or down (if you try it cause parts of the road to render or not render in splotches). And you cannot adjust the tallness of the road object created.
I probably spend upwards of 60 hours trying to get a road to "fit" into a terrain as it carved out a path. The Road object always sits a given height above the terrain.
Ok now the other issue I ran into that the video deals with is populating along the edge of this road.
This image and the above, there's was no built in way except to manually paint in stuff along the edge with the ecopainter. A workable solution but it's also a pain in the neck because... lets say you want to adjust the road... you're basically stuck repainting all over again.
The tutorial mentions duplicating the road spline to act as a mask.
Come on, that's really lame. Seriously. For a $1500 software package, the programmers really should spend a couple days and do it right, built this function right into the road tool.
This is not like some strange occurrence in real life where "tricks" should be required for a special situation... This as simple as having a control to populate along the edge of a road.
So the tutorial video is nice, but it doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know.
Like I said, I spent many hours a day for about 2 weeks and I came away unsatisfied. This is not a $150 el cheapo software package where EVERYthing is a trick and you deal with it... this is supposedly the "premier" landscape software package in the world.
One thing I want to add, the first image, I fell in love with and really really wanted to keep it going.
But then things started to fall apart. I could not adjust the height of that road so it didn't look like it was 5 feet above the terrain.
The landscape was waaaay too big to be sitting there manually painting in the shoulder ecosystems.
The ecosystems started to go dark on me, in the render and in the preview. Lose their materials. This was somehow stored in the scene file and nothing would overcome it.
I was told directly from Tech that it was no longer possible to populate based on specific altitudes and have a "fuzzy" zone falloff. So I would get hard edge ecosystem populations which looked awful.
This was about 1.5 weeks in to upgrading to 10.
I probably annoyed the heck out of Lee in support with all my back and forth, should I keep, should i return... but I finally shook my head and said, "I cannot justify all these things I cannot do."
The last straw was that note from development that fuzzy zones and real altitudes would not work together anymore and probably wouldn't be fixed until another VERSION. Not revision. Version. More money. To get a fix.
They worked in 8.4. And The roads, in my mind, didn't work in 10. I could also no longer see my final high res render within vue which ticked me off to no end..
What did I just pay for? To have less ability?
So it was not just the roads it was a bunch of things.
Had the roads worked better I would have stuck it out.
had the roads been as they are but ecosystems didn't suddenly flake out and lose their materials... I would have stuck it out.
Had I been able to view my final high res image in Vue... probably I would have forgiven the other things, the roads, the ecosystems.
Had the populating based on altitude or sea level worked with falloff zones... maybe I would have forgiven the other things..
But all these things? I had to pay for all this mess? And be told they wouldn't be fixed without paying more for the next version?
Eric, my head is spinning, lol!
Yes, we could add settings for this, and more settings for that... But then we would end up with a horribly convoluted interface.
With Vue, we've always striven to keep things as simple as possible. We try to provide the fundamental building blocks that can be used and combined to achieve what the user is after.
I just pointed out the tutorial because it seemed like what you were after :-S
Hopefully it can help others who might have missed it.