Friday, July 23rd, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Unity Technologies acquires SpeedTree developer IDV

Unity Technologies has acquired IDV, developer of the SpeedTree family of tools for generating 3D tree models for use in game development, visual effects and visualisation.

The acquisition will result in a “deeper integration” between SpeedTree and Unity, although the annoucement suggests that IDV’s tools will remain compatible with other game engines.

All of IDV’s staff will join the new parent company. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Academy Award-winning tree-generation technology used in AAA games and movies
Founded in 2000, IDV has established itself as one of the leading players in the creation of 3D tree models for games and visual effects.

The firm’s technology has been used on recent AAA games including Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division 2, and movies from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises.

IDV’s tree-authoring tool SpeedTree Cinema won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2015.

Deeper integration with Unity planned, beginning with Unity 2021.2
SpeedTree Cinema’s games counterpart, SpeedTree Modeler, has been compatible with Unity for some time now, exporting tree models directly to the game engine.

IDV also provides a library of readymade 3D tree models that can be used in Unity.

According to Unity Technologies, the acquisition will bring “deeper integration of SpeedTree into the Unity ecosystem” and “better workflows between the two companies”.

Initial integration work is already visible in Unity 2021.2, currently available in beta, which features better integration of SpeedTree assets with Unity’s Scriptable Render Pipelines and Terrain system.

“Creating natural, organic-looking environments is currently a costly and labor-intensive process,” said Unity senior vice president for research and development Ralph Hauwert.

“With IDV’s SpeedTree suite of products part of the Unity product ecosystem, we can now offer creators native authoring workflows for creating real-time, rich, organic environments.”

No change in the short term for users of other SpeedTree products
For users of IDV’s other products – SpeedTree Cinema, SpeedTree Engine for Clarisse, other integrations of SpeedTree Modeler and SpeedTree Games middleware – nothing changes, at least in the short term.

Unity’s blog post announcing the buyout notes that “SpeedTree’s tools and expansive library of ready-to-use content is engine agnostic, ensuring it continues to reach creators in any development environment”.

We’ve contacted the firm to confirm that it will continue to provide SpeedTree subscriptions for Unreal Engine and Lumberyard and SpeedTree Games for other game engines, and will update if we hear back.

Read more about Unity Technologies’ acquisition of IDV on the Unity blog