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SRG Sites > NewTechReview > Reviews > Caligari trueSpace 7.5 3D Design Software

Caligari trueSpace 7.5 3D Design Software

Manufacturer: Caligari
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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When I reviewed trueSpace 6, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the upgrade with features like full color coded layers support, NURBS Trim Curve extrusion, Capping and Curve projection, Chamfers and Fillets, Radial, Grid, and Spline array tools, as well as Bend, Taper, and Skew deform tools. I especially enjoyed the Shelling and Mirrored Modeling functions. With trueSpace 7.5, however, my reaction goes way beyond pleasantly surprised. I can easily say this is the best version of trueSpace yet.

Interface Enhancements
To newcomers, the icon-based interface of trueSpace can still be daunting, but you can switch to a menu-based interface if you'd like. And the 900-plus, printed Artist Guide that ships with the software is extremely helpful. But all users will welcome the new ability to customize the workspace. The trueSpace 6 workspace is still here (via a quick mouse click, if that's what you want to use) but the new trueSpace 7.5 workspace is much cleaner and provides more advanced tools as well as realistic real-time render preview. With a single click you can also access the integrated Animation Editor and Link Editor, along with libraries and panels. The workflow is cleaner, simpler and overall a much more productive experience. With the Panel Editor you can customize any of the control panels to show only the parameters you need, thus eliminating any clutter, but you still have access to all original controls. This is a big leap forward for trueSpace as past versions have been much more difficult to work with.

Modeling Enhancements
As I mentioned earlier, trueSpace 7.5 now provides a very detailed real-time preview as you work. This makes getting results much easier because you can see very closely what your model will look like when finished. Human modeling has also been enhanced with a new character design system including a hair and fur editor. Combined with the custom head features from trueSpace 6, you can create some very realistic representations. It's not quite as powerful as e-frontier's Poser though, so I won't be throwing that software out any time soon. 2D and 3D primitives now come with a full set of adjustable parameters, but by far the most powerful addition is Procedural Modeling. With this new type of modeling, you can create very complex objects and even add interactivity. This is done by either using the Link Editor to link multiple objects or you can write your own scripts using familiar languages like Javascript or VB Script. Very nice indeed.

Added Realism
The new surfacing tools allow you to apply realistic touches to your models including such things as skin texture. Working with materials is also more advanced with real-time metal and glass shaders that show environment reflections and more. The Material Editor allows multi-layered and animated materials with a real-time preview. Most exciting, however, is the ability to use the Link Editor to create shader trees. This allows you to alter the structure of a material and create new materials through the combination of existing ones.

As with earlier versions, trueSpace 7.5 ships with DirectX9, Lightworks and Virtualight render engines. The DX9 engine has been ramped up to provide near-photorealistic quality while still providing real-time editing. Virtualight is now completely integrated and supports caustics as well as global illumination. Lightworks has also been upgraded to provide faster rendering and HDRI support. A nice surprise is the inclusion of Multipass Rendering with Lightworks, which was previously a separate product purchase. Of course, V-Ray provides the most realistic renders, but it is unfortunately a separate purchase and costs almost half as much as the price of trueSpace 7.5 itself. Still, if you're doing professional work, it's worth the extra cost with support for Sub-surface Scattering, Global Illumination, HDRI, Caustics, Glossy Reflection/Refraction, and Fresnel Effects.

Character Creation and Animation
By far the new character and animation features in trueSpace 7.5 are my favorites. You can now rig any character (no matter what its shape) very easily. You can draw bones (including joints) inside the skin mesh, set joint limits, add skin weights for natural skin deformation, and attach locks or IK control handles. The process is very intuitive and also just plain fun because it's very easy to do even for beginners.

Animation in trueSpace is now extremely powerful with no less than five different editors giving you complete control over your 3D productions. The Dope Sheet gives you precise control over the timeline and your recorded keyframes. The Function Curve Editor also gives you precise control but for editing motion interpolation. You can use the Link Editor to create procedural behaviors and clips by simply connecting existing components or you can use the Script Editor instead if you prefer to work with code. Finally, the Story Editor lets you combine keyframe animations with physical simulations and procedural animations into a final production.

Powerful 3D Graphics
Last but not least, trueSpace 7.5 allows live authoring and online collaboration. This means you can work on the same project in real-time with multiple artists around the globe by simply connecting over the Internet through Caligari's truePlace. Even if another user doesn't have trueSpace 7.5, you can send them the free trueSpace player so they can at least see what you're doing as you do it. Very nice for working with long-distance clients.

It's features like this (and the many others I've mentioned) that make trueSpace 7.5 such a powerful product. If you need the ability to create, animate, and render professional-quality 3D graphics, trueSpace 7.5 will give you the power to do it.
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