New Trees Thursday – 3 New UE4 Models on Our Store

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We’re always adding new Unreal Engine 4 tree models to the SpeedTree Library, allowing UE4.3 or higher users to create even more varied environments.  See our three new models on sale at 33% off – for a limited time.

Amur Cork SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

Amur Cork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pondweed SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

pondweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elderberry SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

Elderberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an Onsite SpeedTree Trainer

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Least Used/Understood Modeling Features

sonia-piasecki

Sonia Piasecki, SpeedTree trainer

As we have added features and capabilities to the SpeedTree Modeler through the years, an increasing number of customers have asked for help in getting the most out of our software.

Some users want to create that one perfect tree from concept art. Others want to reduce polys, make initial tree design more efficient, or move assets through the pipeline more quickly.

For whatever reason, demand for onsite SpeedTree training and consultation is on the rise, and in just the last few months I’ve been to Europe and across the United States providing guidance, tips & tricks, and a sounding board to artists working with SpeedTree. As I’ve visited game and animation studios, a number of common themes have emerged:

Curves. Many users have a general understanding of how to use curves in the modeler, for example, to make the radius of a trunk/branch thinner or branches and leaves shorter in specific areas. However, as many will notice when using the program, curve functions are implemented on almost every property. The profile (blue) and parent (green) curves can control leaf collision, segment count, LOD, the amount of branches or leaves, etc. Also, the curves can be set to affect different levels of the generators, for example, to control pruning from not only the branch’s base to tip but also from the trunk’s base to tip.

The combination of ‘Leaf Collision’ with ‘Cull’ curves under ‘Segments.’ By using the green curve and adjusting which level to apply to the curve, you can control how much of the cull value to apply. ‘Leaf Collision’ can affect not only the leaves on the branch it’s growing from, but on the parent of that branch and so on. By setting these levels, the user can control the amount of leaf collision applied on the base of the trunk to the top of the tree.

Generation Styles. It’s easy to get caught up with using the original ‘Classic’ mode, but tree creation can be more effective, faster and a lot easier by using the generation modes added as of version 7.0.  The new modes (Proportional, Proportional Steps, Absolute, and Absolute Steps) often provide a simpler interface and easier control over node placement.  You can access them by editing the “Mode” property in the “Generation” group.

Fantasy vs. Reality. SpeedTree is usually used to generate realistic vegetation, but the modeler can be used to create unique and beautifully stylized trees as well. One approach is using geometric or organic shapes to get either a cartoon-ish or out-of-this-world look. Users can also bring their own textures and meshes into the Modeler.

Interested in customized onsite training and consultation for your SpeedTree Modeler team? Contact sales@speedtree.com about scheduling a visit.

New Trees Tuesday – 3 New Unity Models on Our Store

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We’re always adding new Unity tree models to the SpeedTree Library, allowing Unity 5 Beta users to create even more varied environments. See our three new models on sale at 33% off – for a limited time.

Elderberry for SpeedTree for Unity 5 Beta users has been added to our store, on sale now at 33% off!

Elderberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pondweed for SpeedTree for Unity 5 Beta users has been added to our store, on sale now at 33% off!

pondweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amur Cork for SpeedTree for Unity 5 Beta users has been added to our store, on sale now at 33% off!

Amur Cork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SpeedTree® Use Confirmed in 13 2014 Movies, including Two VFX Nominees

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We know of 13 movies released in 2014 where SpeedTree played a role, including two films nominated for Visual Effects Academy Awards® by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

captain-americaCaptain America: The Winter Soldier (VFX Nominee)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (VFX Nominee)
The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Giver
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Pompeii
Noah
Maleficent
Lucy
The Nut Job
Into the Storm
Hercules
Godzilla

Did you use SpeedTree in a 2014 movie not listed here? Got a great 2015 project using SpeedTree in the works? Email us at sales@speedtree.com and let us know.

 

SpeedTree® Receives a Scientific and Technical Academy Award®

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored three of our own with a Scientific and Technical Academy Award!

Read the official announcement from the Academy.

Watch the demo reel presented to the Academy when making the case for SpeedTree in September:

The actual award will be presented at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, CA on February 7, 2015, to the three developers of SpeedTree®: IDV co-founders Michael Sechrest and Chris King, and Senior Software Architect Greg Croft. The Scientific and Technical awards ceremony will be followed on February 22 by the globally-televised Oscars® presentation.

Upon learning the great news, Michael had this to say . . .

The list of people who made this possible is literally in the thousands. For more than a decade, we’ve received support, encouragement and invaluable insights from the best artists and engineers in the visual effects and game development industries. These customers, along with the rest of the SpeedTree team, deserve tremendous credit.

Chris also shared his thoughts . . .

SpeedTree is one of countless technologies and innovations that have enriched the cinematic experience for more than a century. We are incredibly humbled by the Academy’s recognition of our work. We’re in amazing company.

Greg had this comment . . .

We are extremely honored to be considered, let alone receive an award. Our efforts have always been to provide our customers with the tools they want and need. They helped to make SpeedTree what it is, and they’re the ones doing amazing things with it.

This isn’t our first brush with the Oscars. SpeedTree was featured prominently in 2009’s Avatar, which received nine Oscar nominations and three Oscar Awards. Since then, dozens more movies have added SpeedTree to their special effects, including Oscar-winning and -nominated films like The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as blockbusters like The Avengers, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Iron Man 3, and Maleficent.

SpeedTree® Plays Major Role in GameDev.net’s Image of the Day – Twice!

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Congrats to Adam Goodrich for making excellent use of SpeedTree for Unity in the December 31, 2014 Image of the Day at GameDev.net.

The winning image was selected by a vote among members of the GameDev.net community:
adam_goodrich_image_sm

Watch the scene that Adam created in this video . . .

Adam, a SpeedTree for Unity 5 Beta user based in Sydney, Australia, maintains websites at https://twitter.com/AdamGoodrich and http://about.me/adamgoodrich.  We asked Adam for a few words about his experiences with SpeedTree. He replied . . .

As a tech guy, Unity hobbyist and avid nature lover I have always had a fascination with creating interesting and rich natural environments. I just love the gorgeous environments in today’s AAA games but never considered myself talented enough to create them myself. I did wonder if maybe I could create some software to do this for me…

Fast forward a few years and here are some of the results. This scene is part of a 2km x 2km world and was created from start to finish in about four hours. It could have been done faster but most of that was spent having fun tweaking and playing. In fact I did two scenes on the same base to explore how radically different you could make the same place feel just by the way you dressed it up.

In this scene the terrain was generated procedurally, and then the environment created on top of this – it’s a fusion of fractal maths and art. The ground consists of just two textures, and all but one tree are SpeedTrees.

One of the key ingredients to bringing an environment to life is the vegetation. I have done a lot of research in the space and have long looked enviously at SpeedTree for UE4, and wished it was available for Unity.

It was a very pleasant surprise when it was announced with Unity 5, and was the kicker for me to invest in Unity 5. Literally the first thing I did was to get the free SpeedTree Model Bundle and create a test scene and video of it. I was immediately hooked.

SpeedTree is as easy to use as the standard Unity tree system, but more interesting in its behavior, richer to look at, and simple to extend and customize via the modeler. It is far and away the most gorgeous vegetation for Unity IMHO.

My intention is to bring my Procedural Worlds generation tools to the Unity Asset store and community in the next few months. It will enable even novices to create gorgeous environments like this – and it will be SpeedTree ready out of the box.

- Adam Goodrich

SpeedTree® in ‘The Witcher 3′ Next-Gen Title

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Wow. We’ve been working with CD Projekt on The Witcher 3 for a while now, but every time they release new screenshots, we’re stunned. Our compliments to CD Projekt on their absolutely brilliant work with SpeedTree and the entire title!

SpeedTree has come a long way since the days of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the very first title to prove that SpeedTree could be run on a console. We’ve continued to hone our product line and have integrated feedback from the best developers around the world. Plus, with our entry into the cinematic visual effects industry in 2009, SpeedTree now scales extremely well, from mobile games to feature films.

Take a look at the screenshots below (each is 3147×1080). Simply amazing.

panorama__winter

panorama_kaer_morhen

panorama_novigrad

panorama_skellige

And although it’s been out a while, their Sword of Destiny trailer made from in-game footage is still one of our favorites:

 

New Trees Tuesday – Free Christmas Tree & 5 New Unity Models on Our Store

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We’re always adding new Unity tree models to the SpeedTree Library, allowing Unity 5 Beta users to create even more varied environments. See our FREE Christmas tree and five new models on sale at 33% off – for a limited time.

FREE Christmas Tree SpeedTree package for Unity 5 Beta users – Merry Christmas!

Christmas Tree model for Unity users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Maple SpeedTree package for Unity 5 Beta users added to our store.

Japanese maple tree model for Unity users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Lily SpeedTree package for Unity 5 Beta users added to our store.

Water lily for Unity users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Magnolia SpeedTree package for Unity 5 Beta users added to our store.

Southern Magnolia for Unity users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Birch SpeedTree package for Unity 5 Beta users added to our store.

River birch for Unity users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Rose SpeedTree package for Unity 5 Beta users added to our store.

Dog Rose for Unity users

New Trees Thursday – Free Christmas Tree & 5 New UE4 Models on Our Store

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We’re always adding new Unreal Engine 4 tree models to the SpeedTree Library, allowing UE4.3 or higher users to create even more varied environments.  See our FREE Christmas tree and five new models on sale at 33% off – for a limited time.

FREE Christmas Tree SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users – Merry Christmas!

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Japanese Maple SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

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Water Lily SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

WaterLily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Magnolia SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

SouthernMagnolia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Birch SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

RiverBirch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Rose SpeedTree package for Unreal Engine 4.3 or higher users added to our store.

DogRose

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can SpeedTrees Be Destroyed?

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Flaming Trees in Far Cry® 4

When people are considering using SpeedTree in a game, they often ask us questions like these:  Can SpeedTree destroy trees?  Knock them over?  Burn them?  The answer: “Well, no.  But it can help.”

Destruction requires a high level of interaction between the SpeedTree asset and other parts of the engine, and can’t really be handled by SpeedTree by itself.  Consider a car colliding with a tree.  There are so many things to consider (does it knock the tree down? Just shake it a little?  What happens to the car?  Does it catch on fire?  Does the tree catch on fire if it does?) that it becomes much more of a “world” simulation problem than simply a tree problem.  Many systems have to come together to pull that off.  Collision detection, physics, fire simulation, vegetation rendering, particle rendering, and others have to work in concert to create a believable environment.

We try to help by providing data beyond just meshes and materials that can be accessed either at run-time via the SDK or in the tools pipeline via the Modeler and Compiler.  Examples include collision volumes for fast hit detection, rigged skeletons for more detailed physical simulations, and user data fields on materials that can store custom fields like a “flammability” value.  We also provide a custom exporter pipeline via the Modeler and/or Compiler that provides access to both mesh data and internal data not accessible via common mesh formats (e.g., node hierarchy, wind data, etc.).  Our goal is to give your team enough data to implement features you feel are critical to your game.

As an example, take a look at the video below.  I captured this shot of burning vegetation from the PlayStation® 4 version of Far Cry 4.  The developers and artists at Ubisoft have created a fantastic environment once again and we’re proud that SpeedTree was at least a small part of it.  I don’t know any details on how they pulled this off, but it does show that SpeedTree can be part of an interactive world.

 

And, just because the game is beautiful, here are a few more Far Cry 4 shots:

FarCry4_Backlit FarCry4_Hillside FarCry4_Path