Update Available for UE4 Subscribers as of July 22, 2014

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SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription v7.0.7, released July 22, 2014, includes our first version for Mac OSX.

The new release also improves lightmap UV generation in the Modeler, permitting you to tune for a small texture and see the results immediately on a larger texture without disrupting the layout.  This technique allows you to tune for very small lightmap resolutions (e.g., for use with painted instances) but still preview the lightmap density at higher resolutions.

7.0.7 also addresses a number of issues related to the creation of specular atlases. With this update, specular atlases are included with all models in the SpeedTree Store, as well as the three free sample trees. Also, the SpeedTree for UE4 Modeler and Compiler will now create correct specular atlases.

If you subscribed to SpeedTree for UE4, purchased any trees or downloaded the three sample trees prior to July 22,  please log back into your account and download the updated materials.

UE4 Tree Store Open – All Models 33% Off!

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ue4_tree_store_openThe official Unreal Engine 4.3 release is out! We’re proud to finally introduce our small library of tree models just for UE 4.3 users. It’s small because we’ve packed a lot into each species — drop-in UE 4.3 ready, very efficient lightmap-ready UVs, tuned LOD & wind, multiple resolutions, and much more. Plus, we’re opening with a one-third-off sale for the first 10 days! List price for models varies between $39 and $21 USD, but pay between $26 and $14 USD until July 26th.

Take a look at what makes our UE4 models special.

Visit our tree model store or kick the tires on the SpeedTree Modeler for UE4 Subscription for just $19/month.

 

SpeedTree® Now Available for UE4.3 Subscription

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With the release of Unreal Engine 4.3 from Epic Games, we are thrilled that the SpeedTree® run-time is now integrated into this new version so that any UE4 subscriber can add dynamic, animated models from our new SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription Tree Model Library. For a $19 a month subscription (this is a separate charge from the UE4 subscription fee), UE4 subscribers can also create and edit tree models with our SpeedTree for UE4 Modeler.

We’ve been fortunate to work with folks at Epic Games for several months on this integration, continuing the collaboration we’ve had with Epic since 2004.  As Epic founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney recently put it…

“We’ve been relying on SpeedTree for our own game development since 2007 and are using it for numerous projects today. We are very pleased to provide these outstanding vegetation tools to the wide range of developers using UE4, and encourage folks to grab the free sample trees and try out the Modeler.”
 

Developers who upgrade to UE4.3 can go to the new “SpeedTree for UE4” store where…

  • You can download 3 free sample trees that can immediately drop into a 4.3 project. These are high-end, beautiful trees that come fully-enabled with lightmap-ready UVs, dynamic LOD, and wind effects.
  • Browse our initial library of trees and plants (including the UE4 subscription exclusive, “Haunted Tree”) with seasonal variations, a full range of effects, and various triangle counts. List prices are between $39 USD and $21 USD, depending on the model, but are being promoted for the first 10 days of launch with a special one-third off price.
  • For $19 USD per month, you can subscribe to the SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription Modeler. No royalties, per title or per platform fees apply. Also, the SpeedTree Modeler license renews automatically, unless cancelled prior to the renewal date, and all models created and edited with the SpeedTree Modeler will continue to operate in UE4 after the Modeler expires

For those of you who haven’t seen our demo of just how SpeedTree can be seamlessly integrated into your UE4 projects, take a minute and watch the video below…

There’s a lot of exciting new possibilities with UE4.3 and SpeedTree. You can get more details about SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription, or you can get your 3 free trees, browse the SpeedTree Model Library, and subscribe to the UE4 Modeler over at UE4Trees.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Infinity Blade, Unreal, Unreal Engine and UE4 and are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All rights reserved.

SpeedTree® Modeler for Unity 5 Pricing

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When we announced SpeedTree® support for Unity 5 at GDC, there were three major points we wanted to make:

  • The SpeedTree run-time will be free to all Unity 5 customers, free and pro. This means that Unity will load and render SpeedTree files right out of the box, complete with smooth LOD and our wind algorithm.
  • AAA SpeedTree models will be available on the Unity Asset Store when Unity 5 launches.
  • Unity 5 users may purchase a license of SpeedTree Modeler for Unity 5 at $495/seat for creating their own trees or editing those they purchase from the asset store.

In what we hope is welcome news, when Unity 5 ships, instead of $495/seat, we will offer the SpeedTree Modeler application as a subscription at $19/month. These subscriptions will be tied to a user, not a machine, essentially acting as a floating license.

We’ll be sharing a lot more as we get closer to the release of Unity 5.  If have you have any questions or suggestions, or would like to be contacted with the latest updates about SpeedTree for Unity, contact us at unity@speedtree.com.

We will also be at Unite in Seattle this year. Please stop by our booth to see the latest!

EDIT: Clarified our new Modeler pricing.

To SpeedTree® Modeler for UE4 Subscription Preview Users

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Just as a reminder to those who already have the preview release, the models won’t work in UE4 unless you have Unreal Engine version 4.3.

Also, when the SpeedTree® Modeler application is out of preview, you’ll be able to purchase UE4-specific models. Please do not purchase the “v7″ or “v6″ tree models we currently have on the SpeedTree Store, these are for animation/vfx users. They will not load in UE4 and even with a Modeler subscription, they will probably not work well in UE4.3 without modification. The UE4 models are packed with features for UE4 users and will hopefully be worth the wait!

Clarification of SpeedTree® for UE4 Subscription Offering

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Hey guys! We’re back home after the big Unreal Engine / SpeedTree® Twitch broadcast (watch archived broadcast video below). We had a blast! Big thanks to Epic and Dana for having us out.

UE4 SpeedTree Twitch Broadcast (6/19/14) from Epic Games

We’ve received a lot of questions and comments and I wanted to post a few clarifying points about our offering to UE4 subscribers:

  • We’re offering the Modeler at $19/month. This is a separate charge from Epic’s $19/month + 5% royalty. There is no one-time fee / permanent license offering at this time, but if that’s something you’re interested in, let us know at unreal@speedtree.com.
  • For SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription users, we do not charge any sort of royalty, per platform fees, or per-title fees. You can use your license for any number of titles or platforms.
  • We will also offer tree models specifically for UE4 users at speedtree.com and eventually the Unreal Marketplace. Each species is packed with content. Pricing is still in flux, but they will be less than the $49 models we offer to visual effects artists.
  • There were questions about using this license for non-UE4 applications. Importing and rendering in Maya for example. This license is intended for use for UE4 Subscription only and works with that pipeline only. There are no other export options.
  • SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription is intended for UE4 Subscription users only. Those users with a traditional or custom UE4 license should contact sales@speedtree.com to obtain a SpeedTree license.
  • During the broadcast, I made an offer to get early subscriptions of the Modeler to folks who wanted to start before UE 4.3 is available. To reiterate, this is not immediately available but we predict it will be soon and in advance of the UE 4.3 release. SpeedTree for UE4 Subscription will be available to everyone when UE 4.3 is released.
  • The Modeler will cease to function at the end of your subscription term, but any trees you create with it or buy at the SpeedTree Store will continue to operate in UE4 indefinitely.
  • We will be releasing new tutorials, but here are several on the Modeler to get you started.
  • If you’d like to be added to our UE4 Subscription announcement list, email us at unreal@speedtree.com.

While SpeedTree won’t meet everyone’s vegetation needs, we hope you’ll give it a shot. We are very excited about offering a subscription model along side our good friends at Epic Games!

P.S. We saw a lot of excitement about the video we played (sorry about that glitch during the broadcast). Direct link here. Our main UE4 Subscription page is here. Thanks!

SpeedTree® at E3 2014

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Following the E3 2014 game trailer releases? Notice some nice vegetation?

Chances are, you’re looking at SpeedTree®!

Here are a few of the games we can talk about now, with links to their E3 trailers:

Are there others? Yes, lots! Can we reveal them yet? Unfortunately, not yet, but the rest of this year and well into 2015, SpeedTree’s going to be a prominent feature in a lot of outstanding games.

 

ILM’s “Noah” & the Making of V7’s Animated Growth

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When Industrial Light and Magic approached us about growing a small sapling into a massive forest for a key scene in the film Noah, needless to say, we were excited to help bring this vision to life. We were especially thrilled that this collaboration ultimately led to the development of the new Animated Growth feature, now available to users of SpeedTree® Cinema 7 and soon to be included with SpeedTree for Games 7.

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We recently asked Jerome Platteaux, Digital Environments Artist at ILM, to offer his views on how this collaboration led to the development of a dramatic scene in Noah. Jerome shared some of the backstory behind this visualization of a mystical seed growing into a large, mature forest within a matter of seconds . . .

“Darren Aronofsky had filmed plates for the forest growth sequence on Long Island, New York. Those plates represented the wider environment where we had to integrate our digital forest. Darren was very specific on how the forest should grow. It had to follow a particular path at a defined rate. He also wanted all the trees to grow at different speeds. Some were fast and jittery while others were slow and smooth. It was all about variations.”

Platteaux explained why he initially turned to IDV and SpeedTree to help realize Aronofsky’s ambitious vision for this scene…

“SpeedTree has been successfully used on a number of projects here at ILM. I personally used it in creating the red forest on ‘Star Trek Into Darkness.’ We knew we could create photorealistic trees with SpeedTree, so instead of reinventing the wheel in another package, or spending a huge amount of development time, we decided to use SpeedTree and build on top of our past experience. It was this thinking that guided us to the collaboration with IDV on the development of tools to animate the growth of the trees directly within the software itself.”

Our development and collaboration process moved ahead rapidly, according to Platteaux . . .

“After an initial meeting where we explained what was needed to accomplish the growing forest shot on ‘Noah,’ IDV’s development team came back to us with a prototype fairly quickly.

I was sending feedback every couple of days and IDV would follow up by sending an updated version of SpeedTree with new features and extra bells and whistles implemented. For instance, I needed to check the look of the animation for our high-resolution trees, so I asked if they could create a movie exporter from the animation tab and a week later it was an option. The IDV team was very responsive and it was a great collaboration which allowed us to work more efficiently.”

Platteaux also commented on the challenge of rendering dozens of trees with wind and varied growth speeds for each tree . . .

“The pipeline looked incredibly complex, but in actuality it was a succession of simple tasks. Once the methodology was in place and we had settled on a look, I spent most of my time adjusting the speed of the forest expansion and working on the animation of the individual trees. This is what was particularly heavy on disk space. For instance, some of our trees comprised up to two millions polygons. For the render, I wrote a script that, on the fly, would send an empty scene to the farm to create the forest, while intelligently optimizing and populating each frame with trees.

I remember there was a point when we wanted to add wind to the trees; I wondered if it would be too much to ask. A short time later I received a reply that simply said, ‘Will do’– That was a big relief.”

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This unique collaboration with ILM led to development of the Animated Growth feature, which now allows any SpeedTree Cinema 7 user to animate rapidly growing foliage for projects both large and small. We’ve already seen this new feature used for the small screen by Digital Domain and Ingenuity Engine.

We’re grateful to ILM for inspiring the development of a powerful new animation tool and thrilled that SpeedTree made a key contribution to such a memorable scene in Noah. As Jerome Platteaux points out . . .

“A 100 year old tree growing from sapling to full size in 3 seconds obviously would have been impossible to film as a time lapse effect given our production schedule, so SpeedTree was a key piece of software in allowing us to realize Darren’s vision.”

All images © Copyright 2014 Paramount Pictures. Courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic.

Mr. X Cuts Out Hours Instead of Trees using SpeedTree® in “Vikings”

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Toronto-based visual effects studio Mr. X has faced some distinctive challenges working on the second season of the acclaimed hit drama series Vikings.  The producers of the History Channel’s Canadian-Irish hit series required a number of complicated shots, blending on-location plates filmed in Ireland with 13th century digital assets―all on a tight TV production schedule.  Normally, this would have required the Mr. X rotoscope team to cut around trees in the mid-ground so that they could insert 3D assets and set extensions behind them.

Scene from Vikings

With the help of SpeedTree® Cinema, Mr. X was able to take a very different approach and save a significant amount of time.  As Paul Wishart, Assets/Environments Artist at Mr. X, recently shared with us:

“Between the motion blur on the plates and the nature of rotoing out something as complicated as a tree or plant, these shots would have been impossible, within the quick turnaround time of TV, without the aid of SpeedTree. We were able to replicate the trees and plants from the plate in a fraction of the time that it would have taken our roto team to cut it out, and often were able to add more variety and realism than the practical set offered.”

Vikings TV Series

In certain instances, the directors required elements to match the plate exactly and SpeedTree delivered the precision editing tools that the Mr. X team needed to accomplish this efficiently, according to Wishart:

“Using SpeedTree’s split window layout, we were able to bring the camera and plate into one screen and model from the other, similar to a modeling package like Maya.  Enabling SpeedTree’s edit mode gave us infinite control to match the branch structure of the plate exactly before populating the tree with leaves and twigs. The result was a seamless integration of the CG trees with the plate.”

SpeedTree was also used by Mr. X to great extent on the recent epic Pompeii, creating over 120 unique plants and trees to form and then destroy the ancient landscapes, and is now using the toolkit for The Hundred-Foot Journey to “spruce up” wide shots of the rustic French countryside.

Mr. X was recently recognized for their innovative VFX work on Vikings with a 2014 Canadian Screen Award for “Best Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series.”

SpeedTree® User Profile: Jamir Blanco

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Jamir Blanco, who started using SpeedTree® almost two years ago, reports that the software has impressed his colleagues, won him recognition and helped him complete projects quickly. Here’s more about Jamir and his experiences:

Jamir Blanco

Name: Jamir Blanco
Title/Occupation: Freelance environment artist for film, game, and animation
SpeedTree Product Used: SpeedTree Studio
SpeedTree User Since: September 2012
Location: Florida, United States
Portfolio: www.jamirblanco.blogspot.com and www.jamirblanco.cgsociety.org

What experience with SpeedTree is most memorable?
The first project I used SpeedTree in was “Glass Butterfly,” a fantasy-based music video directed by Jennifer Phang. As the lead environment artist, I was tasked with researching solutions for creating realistic trees. After coming across and playing with the SpeedTree Studio demo for a couple hours, I realized how useful and seamless the software integrated into our pipeline. That’s when I decided to purchase the application and give it a go.
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I still remember the awe and excitement in the dailies room when I popped open my laptop for the first time to show the director and fellow artists the hero trees I’d modeled with SpeedTree.

To be able to display the assets in real-time fully lit, textured, and even with wind animation going on within the SpeedTree interface was really impressive, and they loved it!

What do you like about SpeedTree?
SpeedTree’s ease of use, realistic quality, and fast results make it a must-have tool for any environment artist.

I find it very easy and effective to import assets into the software and add overgrowth and vegetation on top, almost regardless of what the assets may be. I feel that micro-detail like moss and ivy are very difficult to re-create in CG effectively, but it adds so much life to any shot. This is where SpeedTree has really worked for me.

Has SpeedTree helped you professionally?
SpeedTree has given me the edge I need to stand out among my peers and express my creativity freely in a very artist-friendly and intuitive way. It has also helped me in getting my portfolio to stand out and get included in 3D World magazine.

The next time a professional project comes up that requires cg trees, I will be able to meet the director’s expectations with ease and comfort, without sacrificing any artistic choices due to technicalities, all thanks to SpeedTree!

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