Friday, July 21st, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

IDV releases SpeedTree 9.5

IDV has released SpeedTree 9.5, the latest version of its line of software for generating 3D trees.

The update makes it possible to manipulate parts of a leaf individually, adds a new Projectors system for adding details like moss or snow, and extends support for height maps.

A production-proven toolset for authoring 3D trees for games and visual effects
Released over two decades ago, and now owned by Unity, SpeedTree generates textured, wind-animated 3D trees for real-time and offline work, using a combination of procedural generation and manual editing.

Although there have been several different editions of the software over the years, it is currently available as SpeedTree Cinema, for visual effects and feature animation work, and SpeedTree Games.

Both include SpeedTree Modeler, the actual plant-authoring software, and SpeedTree Library, a library of readymade 3D plants. SpeedTree Games also includes the SpeedTree SDK.

SpeedTree 9.5: new Frond editing workflow lets you adjust parts of a leaf individually
New features in SpeedTree 9.5 include the option to manipulate sections of Fronds individually.

Users can now isolate parts of a leaf, like individual leaflets in compound leaves, by masking them in the Cutout Editor, then apply procedural changes.

Suggested use cases include randomising the look of leaves by curling sections, or having forces like wind and gravity affect sections differently.

SpeedTree 9.5: add moss or snow to trees with Projectors
Other new features include Projectors, a new system for adding procedural details to models.

It uses ray casting to create the distribution pattern, projecting light rays into the scene, and generating details wherever the rays strike a surface.

On trees themselves, that makes it possible to create natural-looking directional effects, like moss only growing up one side of the trunk, or snow settling on branches from above.

It can also be used to scatter objects on the ground surrounding a tree, as shown in the video above.

SpeedTree 9.5: greater support for height maps and updates to the paint tools
Other changes include support for height maps in the Leaf, Batched leaf and Frond generators.

As well as being a way of adding detail to parts of a tree, IDV says that the change “allows you to identify subsections on a mesh via … the Cutout editor, eliminating the need for external modeling software”.

The paint tools have also been improved, with new options including brush size, falloff, and opacity margin.

SpeedTree 9.1 to 9.4: global lighting properties and new Decal and Mesh detail generators
Since we last wrote about SpeedTree, IDV has also added a number of other features.

SpeedTree 9.4 added global lighting properties for real-time trees, new gradient and radial noise patterns in the Map editor, and the option to import cameras in FBX format to use as scene cameras.

Other changes since SpeedTree 9.0 include new Decal and Mesh detail generators, for generating surface details, and the option to add perspective and orthographic cameras and save them as part of a scene.

Pricing and system requirements
SpeedTree Cinema 9.5 and SpeedTree Games 9.5 are available for Windows 7+, CentOS 7 and Ubuntu 18.04/20.04 Linux and macOS 10.13+. The software is rental-only.

Indie subscriptions, for users with revenue under $100,000/year, cost $19/month or $199/year.

Pro subscriptions, for users with revenue under $1 million/year, cost $499/year for a node-locked licence, or $899/year for a floating licence.

Enterprise subscriptions, for studios with revenues over $1 million/year, are priced on demand.

Read an overview of the new features in SpeedTree 9.5 on IDV’s blog

Read a full list of new features in SpeedTree 9.5 in the release notes