End Of Summer Asset Sale!

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Summer sale

SpeedTree End Of Summer Sale

Summer may be winding down, but we’ve got big plans for SpeedTree this fall.  To kick things off,  we’re celebrating the imminent change of seasons with a store-wide sale on our Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 assets.  All our packages and models have been cut by 40% until September 4th, so if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to try our Desktop Ground Cover package or need some extra variations of grass or trees, now is the time to jump in!

Our drop-in assets are ready to carry you through multiple seasons as each species comes with several models to encompass different tree ages, seasons, and quality.  From trees ready for MMO’s like Shroud of the Avatar, or sci-fi thrillers such as P.A.M.E.L.A, to stunning arch-viz renders, our assets provide individuals and studios alike with the highest quality vegetation assets on the market.

Other benefits of using SpeedTree assets include:

  • Leaf-map makers
  • Seasonal variations
  • Helper SPM models
  • Preset collision objects
  • Fully editable with modeler subscription
  • Artist-tuned LOD
  • Branch seam reduction
  • Quality textures
  • Three resolutions
  • Artist-tuned wind effects
  • Preset ambient occlusion

More information on what makes a SpeedTree Special: UE4  Unity 5

These trees can also act as starting points for endless variations, new species, or custom hero models with our Subscription Modeler for UE4 and Unity 5.  At only $19 a month for the subscription, you can use it for as long or as short as you need and all your models that you create will be yours to continue using once your subscription ends.  Stay tuned for more announcements coming up in the next week!

Unity 5 Store                               Unreal Engine 4 Store

The Watery World of Submerged and SpeedTree

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Uppercut Games is no stranger to creating compelling environments. From their past experience working on AAA titles such as Bioshock to their mobile game hits Epoch and Epoch 2, they bring all their experience and passion to bear on their latest title, Submerged. Eschewing combat and violence for storytelling, Submerged focuses on telling a story through exploration of a rich environment. The game takes place in a city that has been destroyed by an unknown watery cataclysm, towering skyscrapers are now overgrown with palm trees, grass, and brush. Working with a small team of six, the studio made use of the powerful tools in UE4 and existing content wherever it was practical, including creative use of the blueprint system and SpeedTree for the trees.

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Miku, the games protagonist, arrives to a desolate city on a small boat with her brother who has suffered a grievous wound.  The goal of the game is to explore the environment to find packages containing medical supplies, all the while an ominous threat watches from the shadows.  The story follows in the footsteps of games like Ico, Shadows of the Colossus, the environment becomes a subtle storytelling element rather than just an arena for combat.  Andrew James of Uppercut games talked to us about choosing SpeedTree to build that environment:

We were using Static mesh for trees when we first started developing Submerged. We were on the pre-release beta for Unreal Engine 4, so were very happy when SpeedTree announced it would be integrated. We knew we wanted a living, windy, sun-swept environment, and the “out of the box” wind animation on the tall palm trees was a big draw card: it just looks so realistic and brings the world to life.

 

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One of the innovative ways that Uppercut Games used UE4 is the creation of a unique system for placing foliage on rooftops. While trees used to create paths, block areas, and aid in navigation were placed by hand, the task of painting the trees across the tops of the buildings became a daunting task. The team used the UE4 blueprint system to create a procedural tool for placing trees on all of the buildings.

…with hundreds of buildings in the city, and every time we changed a building we would have to re-paint the trees. Instead we created a system that worked with Unreal’s Blueprint system, so whenever we placed a blueprint of a building it would automatically generate the trees on that building. We came to call these “Tree Hats”, and this allowed us to regenerate or delete the foliage with the press of a button.  We could even regenerate all the foliage for the entire  level with a single console command! This saved us days, if not weeks of busy work.

Submerged is available now on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One and is a must play for anyone who is a fan of thoughtful storytelling and immersive experiences.

SpeedTree is an award-winning tool used by AAA studios and indie studios alike through our UE4 and Unity Subscriptions and drop in ready assets.

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Blockbusters, Indies, & TV: SpeedTree On Screen

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If you think our Academy Award winning software is only used in summer blockbuster movies, think again. Since first appearing on the big screen with James Cameron’s Avatar, SpeedTree is being used for digital forests not just for VFX in mega-blockbuster hits, but also in indie productions and television (Including Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No).  As the demand for higher production spectacles on both cable and network television increase in this “golden age of television”, VFX is used to meet the quick turnaround and to make epic environments.  SpeedTree offers an incredibly efficient workflow to help meet deadlines and quick visualizations.  Next time you tune-in to a medieval fantasy epic, a superhero caper, or are an indie flick in your local theater, keep an eye out,  you might catch some SpeedTrees in action.

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Developed by Sundance Institute Creative Producing Lab, this sci-fi film  is the first feature by Andrew Droz Palermo and stars Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar) and Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) as gifted siblings.  One & Two takes begins on a farm that is could be mistaken for being an Amish homestead if not for the high wall surrounding the entire property, and the ability of the young siblings to teleport themselves at will.  While it may seem idyllic, conflict soon arises.

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A retro spy thriller from the master of high-octane period pieces, Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch), The Man From U.N.C.L.E is a reboot of the classic spy tv series. Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill star as the odd couple spies forced to come together to stop a greater threat. Guy Ritchie is one of the most stylish directors in Hollywood that makes him a perfect match to bring classy 60’s action to the modern screen.

For more information on the products that SpeedTree offers for VFX, check our website or try an evaluation of our Academy Award winning software today!

SpeedTree at SIGGRAPH 2015

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Exclusives at SIGGRAPH…

SpeedTree is at SIGGRAPH this year in booth #304 in the South Hall of the LA Convention Center.  After the great year we’ve had we’re excited to be able to catch up with our customers face to face in sunny LA. SpeedTree has been in some of the biggest games and movies of 2015 as well as receiving a Sci/Tech Academy Award and a Develop Award for SpeedTree’s impact on the industry.

This year we’ve got some exciting new features to show off to Siggraph attendees, and we can’t wait to talk about them. Stop by booth #304 to get an exclusive look at the thrilling places SpeedTree is heading towards and as always keep on eye on our Twitter for upcoming announcements!

 

Iestyn Lloyd Turns It Up To Eleven with SpeedTree

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Iestyn Lloyd took the stage at Unite Europe 2015 to break down how he utilizes all that Unity has to offer to crank up creativity when using Unity 5. Emphasizing the treasure trove that is the Unity asset store, he explains how he uses a variety of assets (Including SpeedTree)  and post-process effects to quickly create and execute scenes. Using drop-in assets like SpeedTree’s allows programmers and artists alike to visualize new ideas quickly while post-process tricks like color grading and depth of field help to create a well-polished final product.

Iestyn Lloyd is a BAFTA winning freelance Unity consultant who specializes in virtual reality, augmented reality, new technology and technical art. Be sure to follow his work at Lloyd Digital.

Some of Iestyn’s creations featuring SpeedTree:

 

Underwater SpeedTrees with New Desktop Marine Package

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New Desktop Marine Package Available!

Whether you are assembling an underwater exploration game or need some assets to add some life to the rivers, lakes, and seas of your project; our new aquatic assets have you covered.header 2

Like all of the assets in our store, these models come with tuned wind and LOD effects that allow you to add a wind effect to achieve pulsing Starfish or gently swaying underwater Hydrilla plants.  If you need more variation, be sure to check out our modeler where you can import any of these models to create unlimited variations.

This package is on sale for a limited time for $79!

SpeedTree Marine Package for Unity

SpeedTree Marine Package for Unreal

Each individual asset includes at least two models per version or species for a total of 24 models.

  • Tuned lightmap UVs, and all LODs
  • Collision objects
  • Tuned LOD transitions
  • Tuned wind effects
  • Preset ambient occlusion
  • Branch seam blending used

The Marine life package includes

Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)

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This invasive species is viewed as a bothersome aquatic weed. Hydrilla can quickly and completely invade bodies of water, creating surface mats.

 

Tube Sponge (Aplysina fistulari)

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The tube sponge, an invertebrate, is one of the most common sponges found along the coral reef. The tube shape is used to filter water for food, and can add colorful detail to your underwater scenes.

 

Sword Plant (Echinodorus osiris)

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This variety of Echinodorus or ‘Burhead’ is native to southern Brazil. Sword Plants are found naturally at the bottom of running rivers.

 

Fan Coral (Leptogorgia sarmentosa)

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Also called a ‘Sea Fan’ or Gorgonian, this soft coral is found in tropical seawater. Fan coral anchors itself to sand or mud, unlike most coral. The fan shape maximizes the amount of water that flows through the specimen, increasing food supply.

 

Lance Spearhead (Anubias lanceolata)

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Often referred to as Anubias, this aquatic plant is commonly used in aquariums. Lance Spearheads can produce flowers underwater and occur naturally in rivers and streams.

 

Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

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The purple sea urchin is a non-vertebrate animal native to the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean, ranging from Mexico to British Columbia. It grows to approximately 4″ (10 cm) in diameter.

 

Starfish (Asteroidea)

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Starfish or ‘Sea Stars’ are marine invertebrates which exhibit radial symmetry. There are approximately 1,500 species of Starfish that populate the world’s ocean floors, from the intertidal zone to abyssal trenches.

 

Lotus Flower (Nelumbo nucifera)

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The lotus is an aquatic flower native to tropical Asia and Queensland, Australia. It is commonly grown in aquatic gardens.

 

Seaweed

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Our take on the ubiquitous underwater foliage.

 

Be sure to check out all our assets on our online store!

SpeedTree Marine Package for Unity

SpeedTree Marine Package for Unreal

200+ Varieties of Plant-life in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

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In case you haven’t heard, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is a massive game.  Spanning multiple continents, the team at CD Projekt Red managed to create a world that  seethes with life and danger.  Utilizing the deepest integration of SpeedTree for Games that we’ve seen, the team managed to create 200+ (a rough estimate) varieties of plant life to match the different biomes and seasons that Geralt encounters.  The design of these forests deftly pulls the player into the game, serving the overall design aesthetic. We spoke with Michał Buczkowski, senior environment artist at CD Projekt Red about how they used SpeedTree to create this vibrant world

On the Diversity of Foliage and Landscapes:

We’ve used around 20 species of large trees and bushes, and from a handful up to over a dozen different models for each species. Apart from that we’ve used 40 grass varieties and upwards of a dozen different types of subaqueous plants. All of that is supplemented with a range of other types of vegetation, including blooming plants, creepers and vines, organic debris, and vegetables – a handful of different models for each. Lootable herbs are a separate subset, numbering around 50 varieties.

In terms of biomes, we’ve depicted low and highland temperate landscapes in their open and half-forested terrain varieties and in two different versions – winter and non-winter. There are also temperate zone forests, swampland, temperate zone mountainous landscapes, subaqueous environments, cultivated gardens and urban biomes, and last but not least, singular landscapes like deformed forests and other-worldly terrain.

So as you can see, believable variety was a goal we set for ourselves as much as it was a story requirement. I believe we succeeded in fulfilling both.

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On managing economy and art direction for their trees:

Based on what we did years ago to create the trees and other vegetation for The Witcher and The Witcher 2, I could estimate the sheer “volumes” involved, that is to say, the number of polygons required for the desired LOD and stipulated overdraw burden. The models were then executed to fulfill these requirements while providing the best possible final in-game quality. But the latter step only became possible once we gained a thorough understanding of SpeedTree, its mechanisms, (and) how it works.

On their approach to using the SpeedTree Modeler:

In our incessant search for improvements, we used the SpeedTree modeler somewhat unusually: namely, to create hi-poly models of tree limbs, and then to render textures onto them. We could then take these hi-poly models and control and adjust parameters like branch thickness or leaf density before re-rendering.

Production times to model each individual tree species varied. For medium-sized and large trees, it took 3-4 days to produce the hi-poly model and any textures it required (leaves, flowers, and the like), the texture of the trunk as a normal-map was another 2 days, then we spent an additional 2-3 days adjusting the model for export into a game asset.

The process was not without its hurdles or difficulties. In the preparation of hi-poly scenes, they included the manner in which we had to distribute elements across the rendered area, the fact that there was no way to save the camera position in the plane, non-perspectival view, and others. Needless to say it required a bit of trickery on our part, which added to the time commitment. But all’s well that ends well, right?

…we used procedural generation for small and mid-sized trees and shrubs. More often than not, we opt for hand-drawing and editing large, landmark trees like oaks and, of course, whenever a hi-poly model was required.

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On creating natural feeling worlds:

My assumption from the start was to create a world filled with vegetation that seemed real. The species we selected to accomplish that, when assembled and composed, were to generate the impression of real, believable environments.

That was the crux, that was our focus. And with that in mind, each and every randomly added element stood the chance of destroying that impression of naturalness. This is where the artists who distributed the models across the levels and locations did an absolutely masterful job. Our own in-house concept art and more general reference material (including painted works of art) provided a framework and informed our choices in terms of the type of vegetation (assets) we set out to produce. It was then up to location designers, with their skills and talent, to assemble those into the landscapes you see.

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Unreal 4.8 Adds New Foliage Features

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The latest iteration of Unreal Engine includes the addition of some new powerful tools for foliage with open world games in mind.  Populating the landscape with trees requires more than just randomly dropping your assets on a map. It’s about crafting and controlling the world your players inhabit.  Placing your foliage using UE 4.8 procedural tools will allow you to create a very natural looking landscape without sacrificing control.

With games like Ark: Survival Evolved being built in a matter of months in Unreal Engine 4, we’re starting to see more large scale games coming out of the indie developer realm.

Procedural Foliage Generator

The new procedural foliage generator uses the expanded properties of foliage type assets to intelligently populate and area with multiple species of trees.  Simply create a new foliage type asset and add the foliage of your choice.  The free sample SpeedTrees work great as do any of the assets from our store or one that you’ve made yourself.  Once you’ve created the new foliage type it can be added to the procedural foliage generator.  The parameters for how the foliage is generated are located in the foliage type allowing you to adjust how multiple plants spawn in one generator.

Landscape Grass Tools

Grass can now be added to a material allowing you automatically spawn grass over certain textures.  For instance, if your material included gravel and grass textures you can set grass assets to automatically spawn on any areas painted with the grass texture.  This can allow you to quickly create large grassy areas without having to paint foliage or placing them by hand.

Landscape Grass Renderer

This new system dynamically renders grass and ground clutter meshes around the player based on the density map created using the new grass tools.  According to the release notes:

  • As the player moves through the world, new instances are added, and instances no longer in range are removed.
  • Artists author grass density through the landscape material, by outputting density to a Landscape Grass Output node. This allows the grass placement to match the terrain texturing!
  • Grass instances are procedurally generated by a background task according to the grass density map.
  • Grass is efficiently rendered using a hierarchical instancing system that implements culling while keeping draw calls to a minimum. LOD transitions are per-pixel and fairly seamless due to Temporal AA.

Check out the full 4.8 release notes

To learn more about how the new tools work check out these brief tutorials on the UE4 forums and be sure to catch the two-part breakdown of how the team at Unreal Engine made the Kite Demo, including using SpeedTree for their trees.

 

SpeedTree in Batman: Arkham Knight

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batman-arkham-knight-screenshot-04-ps4-us-04jun14Batman: Arkham Knight is the fourth entry in the critically acclaimed Arkham series and continues the story Rocksteady began in 2009 with Arkham Asylum.  As with their previous two games,  SpeedTree was used to add foliage to the dark streets of Gotham.

Beginning inside the walls of the infamous Arkham Asylum, each game has expanded the range of Batman’s patrol.  Arkham Asylum locked you into the twisted grounds of the famous prison for the criminally insane. After the catastrophic events of that game the whole island of Arkham became “Arkham City”, a dystopia on the outskirts of Gotham that you had to bring to order. Arkham Knight goes even further, letting you loose in the whole of Gotham complete with a batmobile/bat-tank to assist you in bringing the city to order/blowing up lots of stuff.  With towering gothic buildings and wide city streets, Rocksteady has done an amazing job giving the city a sense of scale.  If Arkham Asylum gave you a brief taste of being Batman, Arkham Knight will have you whispering to yourself, “I am Batman”.

Even though it takes place completely within the urban-noir confines of Gotham, the city is still populated with patches of trees and grass.  These small touches on the peripheral of the game experience act as an extra landmark lending a distinct personality to certain subareas of the game.

SpeedTree has been the tool of choice for AAA and indie studios alike to create immersive landscapes and cities due to its balance of artistic control and efficiency, allowing artists to create quickly and implement foliage into their game.

Check out the trailer below and be sure to check out our products for game studios, architects, and vfx artists.

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SpeedTree and Shroud of The Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

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Shroud of The Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is a forthcoming game from the creator of the Ultima series Richard Garriott, Starr Long, the director of Ultima Online, and Tracy Hickman, the author of Dragonlance.  Now, fair warning, there are some people in this office who cut their gaming teeth on the Ultima series starting with Ultima II. To say that we’re excited that to be working with this talented studio is an understatement.

The game has moved into Unity 5,  where it will use the power of the new engine to feature deep character building, single player offline play, player driven economy and more.  They were kind enough to share some of the latest screenshots from environments where they’ve begun replacing trees with SpeedTrees (See below).

You can jump in the world they are building now by pledging $45 and gaining early access.  Be sure to follow their blog as well for updates and announcements as development continues. We’re looking forward to seeing this game grow as one more example of great games being made with Unity 5!

Also, be sure to check out what’s so exciting about SpeedTree in Unity

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