at a Glance
Price: $299 for the full version, $149 upgrade
Trial version available? Yes
Platforms: Macintosh, Mac OS X and Windows
Impression: For new users looking for software
specifically designed for landscape/terrain modeling,
Bryce is an excellent choice. There will be a workflow
learning curve, as with virtually all 3D software,
but once you learn where things are in the program,
the creation of terrestrial features becomes a snap.
For users of earlier versions of Bryce, the upgrade
is definitely worth it for the wealth of new features
Benefits: The benefits of using a dedicated system
for the creation of 3D worlds is pretty self-evident.
Bryce 5 takes the concept to the next level with valuable
new and refined tools for getting the job done. The
Light Lab and Tree Lab are brilliant additions to
the program's features. And other enhancement's to
the program's other workspaces, such as volume lighting
and volume blending for both distance and altitude,
bring Bryce squarely into the realm of professional
3D tools. The Sky Lab is highly customizable and allows
for the creation of sophisticated atmospheric and
astronomical features. And the Terrain Editor allows
for easy modification of terrain features, such as
erosion, spires, height, etc. Finally, network rendering
is a critical and much appreciated addition to this
There are three negatives to Bryce 5, all related
to workflow. First, the interface, while attractive,
can easily get in the way. In many cases, you'll find
that functions can be accessed only through little
dots or icons not really related to the function they
represent. I would like to see a customizable interface
in the next update, including the ability to add nested
functions to the main interface and the ability to
add text labels to icons. Second, when you mouse over
an icon in the main interface, explanatory text appears
in the lower left corner of the screen; however, in
subsections, such as the Motion Lab and Sky Lab, you
get no indication whatsoever as to the function of
a given button. Third, I would like some standard
interface elements added in, such as the ability to
move and resize windows, more functions accessible
via menus, etc.
Strong Buy as both an upgrade and a straight purchase.
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AUGUST 29, 2001
[Page 2 of 5]
New and improved
Version 5.0 adds major new features and minor tweaks that make this
a very worthy upgrade for users of previous versions. It would simply
take too long to cover every feature of this program, but we'll take
a look at some of the major functions and enhancements that appear in
this latest release.
As a whole, rendering has gained several improvements, including
volume lighting, volume objects and volume blending for both altitude
and distance from the camera. Camera features, such as depth of
field, improve the photorealism of the render. And new shadow
and light features, such as self-shadowing and light falloff,
add to the options.
Volume blending and depth of
field add to Bryce's render capabilities.
Click for the full-size image (680 KB).
But by far
the most appreciated new rendering feature is network rendering,
which allows Bryce's rendering clientBryce Lightningto
aid in the rendering of still images or animation files across
a network, including the Internet. All you have to do is run the
client on a networked device (regardless of platform) and enter
the client's IP address in the network rendering setup dialog.
Each client can also be set to render tiles of a single frame
so that even still images can benefit from additional processors.
TO PAGE [ 1,
2, 3, 4,
a message in the Creative Mac World
Wide User Group.
Dave Nagel is
the producer of Creative
Mac and Digital
Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik
Studio Artist, Adobe
Mac and Digital
Media Designer; and executive producer of
Media Net family of publications.