SpeedTree

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SpeedTree
SpeedTree Logo
Developer(s) Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV)
Stable release SpeedTree for Games v6.3 (March 20, 2013)
SpeedTree Cinema v7, SpeedTree Studio v7 and SpeedTree Architect 7 (November 13, 2013)
Operating system Windows, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Mac OS X, Linux
Type Game Middleware and Animation
Website SpeedTree Official Website

SpeedTree is a group of vegetation programming and modeling software products developed and sold by Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV) that generates virtual foliage for animations, architecture and in real time for video games and demanding real time simulations.

SpeedTree has been licensed to developers of a range of video games for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 since 2002.

SpeedTree has been used in more than 30 major films since its release in 2009,[1][2] including Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Life of Pi and was used to generate the lush vegetation of Pandora, in Avatar.[3][4]

SpeedTree was awarded a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2015,[5] presented to Michael Sechrest and Chris King of the SpeedTree engineering team.[6][7]

History[edit]

SpeedTree was conceptualized at IDV in circa 2000, and originated due to their lack of satisfaction with 3rd-party tree-generation software on the market.[8]

The initial version of SpeedTreeCAD (CAD standing for "computer-aided design") was developed by IDV for a real-time golf simulation. Although backers pulled out of the golf project, IDV refined the CAD software as a 3D Studio Max plug-in for an animated architectural rendering, dubbing it SpeedTreeMAX.[8]

SpeedTreeMAX was released in December 2002, and the same month IDV released SpeedTreeRT, a real-time foliage/tree middleware SDK, which allowed automatic levels of foliage detail, real-time wind effects, and multiple lighting options.[8]

IDV eventually released plug-ins for Maya as well, appropriately named SpeedTreeMAYA. In early 2009, IDV discontinued the SpeedTreeMAX and SpeedTreeMAYA plugins, replacing them with SpeedTree Modeler and Compiler products.

IDV released SpeedTree 5 in July 2009, and it represented a "complete re-engineering" of the software:

  • SpeedTree Modeler (replacing SpeedTreeCAD) and SpeedTreeSDK (replacing SpeedTreeRT)
  • SpeedTree Compiler, which prepares SpeedTree files for real-time rendering

SpeedTree Cinema was first released by IDV in 2009, based on version 5 technology.

SpeedTree for Games (version 6) was released on November 7, 2011, and was essentially a re-branded version of SpeedTree 6 (Modeler + Compiler). The product was identified as SpeedTree for Games to distinguish it from other products not meant for gaming/real-time use.

SpeedTree Architect was released on October 15, 2012, and is designed for architectural 3D CAD use and 3D fly-throughs.

IDV released updated versions of SpeedTree Cinema, SpeedTree Studio and SpeedTree Architect in November 2013.

SpeedTree won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2015,[9] for their SpeedTree Cinema product suite.

Products[edit]

Suites[edit]

SpeedTree Cinema was released by IDV in 2009, and saw its first major use in Avatar by James Cameron. SpeedTree Cinema is designed for use in the film industry, and generates high-resolution meshes and high-quality textures for Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and Cinema4D.[10][11] The Cinema edition includes SpeedTree Modeler, and the complete Tree Model Library designed by IDV, while with other suites tree packs must be purchased separately.[10] The Cinema edition can simulate animated growth of trees and plants, and can export data for animated wind effects.[10]

SpeedTree Architect was released in 2012, is designed for use in 3D architectural CAD. It generates meshes compatible with typical architectural applications such as Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and Rhino.[12] The Architect edition also exports normal maps and UV maps, for physically-accurate rendering engines such as V-Ray and mental ray.[12]

SpeedTree for Games is the professional edition of SpeedTree for video game development, contrasting with the Subscription edition offered to independent studios and hobbyists.[13] The Games edition includes the Modeler, Compiler, and SDK.[13] This edition permits professional game developers to integrate SpeedTree runtime technology into any game engine of their choice.[14] Meshes generated with the system are low poly, with multiple levels of detail, use texture atlases, and are typically stored in an efficient binary format.[15]

SpeedTree Subscription Edition is a low-cost edition of SpeedTree Modeler and Runtime, targeted at independent game studios. The licensing fee is a $20 monthly charge, as well as additional charges for tree packs.[16] Subscribers get access to the SpeedTree editor, the ability to generate 3D models of trees and plants, such plants being exclusively usable with either Unreal Engine 4[17] or Unity,[18][19] depending on the license. Subscribers can download additional tree model packs from the Model Library, and pricing varies between packs.[20][21]

Components[edit]

SpeedTree Modeler is a Windows-based specialized modeling tool for designing foliage.[22] The modeler features a combination of procedural tree generation, and hand-editing tools, to draw trees or transform individual tree parts.[22] Procedural tree generation uses configuration such as branch length, branching angles and bark texture to generate a tree in a variety of formats. Newer versions support a drag-and-drop interface that automatically blends branch intersections and handles branch collisions.[11][23]

SpeedTree Compiler is a software that enables creation of efficient tree models for use in real-time rendering or video games. It generates texture atlases and compiles and optimizes tree models for real-time use.[15]

SpeedTree SDK is a multi-platform C++ SDK that efficiently handles rendering of SpeedTree-generated trees and forests. The engine is designed to integrate and operate within a larger game engine, with ready-made support for Unreal Engine, Unity and OGRE.[13][24] The engine contains optimized systems to cull off-screen trees, and to determine level of detail for on-screen trees.[13][25] Full source code is available to licensees for use in video games and other real-time applications, and modification of the engine is supported.[13] The engine is built to work with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox, PlayStation and PlayStation Vita.[23]

Partners[edit]

IDV is a licensed middleware partner with PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

IDV has partnered with Epic Games in order to integrate the software with Epic's Unreal Engine 4 and Unreal Engine 3 and the free UDK engine released in November 2009. Partnerships have also been formed between IDV and BigWorld Tech, the Vision Engine by Havok, Multiverse Network, the Gamebryo engine by Emergent Game Technologies and the OGRE open-source rendering engine by Torus Knot.

Awards[edit]

  • SpeedTree won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2015.[9]
  • 2008 Develop Industry Excellence Awards Finalist, in the Technology & Services, Tools Providers category. Develop, a UK-based magazine and website serving the game industry, first recognized industry achievements in a variety of categories in 2003.
  • 2005 Frontline Award, Middleware category. This award program, sponsored by Game Developer magazine, recognizes exceptional game development tools.
  • Frontline Award Finalist: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2012
  • MT2 Top 100: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. The MT2 Top 100 awards are sponsored by Kerrigan Media International and Military Training Technology to recognize companies and technologies that have made a significant impact in the military training industry.

Applications[edit]

Video game industry[edit]

SpeedTree for Games was licensed for its first video games, including The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, in December 2002. SpeedTree has been licensed for PC and next-generation console titles in a wide variety of genres. Studios that have used SpeedTree, or published games featuring the technology, include:

Selected recent, upcoming and/or popular titles featuring SpeedTree for Games:

Title Year Developer
America's Army 3 2009 United States Army
Assassin's Creed: Unity 2014 Ubisoft Montreal
Batman: Arkham Asylum 2009 Rocksteady Studios
Batman: Arkham City 2011 Rocksteady Studios
Batman: Arkham Knight 2015 Rocksteady Studios
Battlefield 3 2011 EA Digital Illusions CE
Battlefield 4[28] 2013 EA Digital Illusions CE
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway 2008 Gearbox Software
Call of Duty 3 2006 Treyarch
Champions Online 2009 Cryptic Studios
Crackdown 2007 Realtime Worlds
Destiny[25][26] 2014 Bungie
Dragon Age: Inquisition 2014 BioWare
Dragon Age: Origins 2009 BioWare Edmonton
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2006 Bethesda Game Studios
The Evil Within 2014 Tango Gameworks
Empire: Total War 2009 The Creative Assembly
Fallout 3 2008 Bethesda Game Studios
Far Cry 4 2014 Ubisoft Montreal
Forza Horizon 2012 Playground Games
Forza Motorsport 5 2013 Turn 10 Studios
Gears of War 3 2011 Epic Games
Grand Theft Auto IV 2008 Rockstar North
H1Z1 2015 Sony Online Entertainment
Hawken[29] 2012 Adhesive Games
Heavenly Sword 2007 Ninja Theory
Killzone: Shadow Fall 2013 Guerrilla Games
LocoCycle 2013 Twisted Pixel Games
The Order: 1886 2015 Ready at Dawn
Primal Carnage 2013 Lukewarm Media
Project Gotham Racing 4 2007 Bizarre Creations
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction 2007 Insomniac Games
Resistance 2 2008 Insomniac Games
Saints Row 3 2011 Volition, Inc.
Saints Row 4 2013 Volition, Inc.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 2014 Monolith Productions
Skylanders: Swap Force 2013 Vicarious Visions
Sports Champions 2010 San Diego Studio
Star Wars: The Old Republic 2011 BioWare
State of Decay 2013 Undead Labs
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 (Xbox 360 only) 2005 EA Sports
Tom Clancy's The Division 2015 Ubisoft Massive
Unreal Tournament 3 2007 Epic Games
Valkyria Chronicles 2008 Sega Wow
World of Tanks 2008 Wargaming.net
Warriors Orochi 3[30] 2011 Tecmo Koei
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 2015 CD Projekt RED
Zoo Tycoon 2013 Frontier Developments

Film and animation industry[edit]

Following the release of SpeedTree Cinema in 2009, SpeedTree saw its first major cinematic use in 2009's Avatar, in which the technology provided the vegetation for the flyover of the planet Pandora in the first frames of the movie, as well as other scenes. Known movies and television productions featuring SpeedTree include:

Year Film
2015 Unbroken
2014 Godzilla
2014 Lucy
2014 Hercules
2014 Into the Storm
2014 Maleficent
2014 Noah
2014 The Nut Job
2014 The Giver
2014 In the Heart of the Sea
2014 The Hundred-Foot Journey
2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
2012 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
2013 Free Birds
2012 The Avengers
2008 Mirror Mirror
2008 Speed Racer
2008 Birdman
2014 Pompeii
2014 Vikings
2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past
2013 47 Ronin
2013 Thor: The Dark World
2013 G.I. Joe: Retaliation
2013 The Great Gatsby
2013 Iron Man 3
2013 Jack the Giant Slayer
2013 The Lone Ranger
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness
2013 White House Down
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street
2013 World War Z
2013 Olympus Has Fallen
2012 Life of Pi
2012 The Men Who Built America
2012 Snow White and the Huntsman
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
2011 Super 8
2009 Avatar

Real-time applications[edit]

SpeedTree is being used in the following real-time, non-game projects and offerings:

  • America's Army project, both the America's Army game and in non-public applications used for training, simulation, education, virtual prototyping and outreach
  • An optional foliage module with the Vega Prime visualization product line.[31] Vega Prime is a 3D visual simulation software package used by the global military industry and in other game and non-game markets.
  • An Apache attack helicopter FLIR simulation developed for the US Army by Camber Corp. for pilot training under night flying conditions
  • The Expresso Fitness Virtual Reality Bike, a cardio exercise system developed by Expresso Fitness and sold to gyms and home users
  • A combat simulation developed by Emergent Game Technologies for the US Department of Defense[32]
  • A project under development by the Germany-based division of European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS)[33]
  • The Forest Fire project, developed by the Media Convergence Laboratory (MCL) at the University of Central Florida. The project is helping to determine if a virtual reality presentation of wildfires can influence local residents to invest in prescribed burns and other protective efforts.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hollywood’s movie tech wizards honoured by Oscars organizers, LiveMint
  2. ^ SpeedTree Brings Photoreal Vegetation to The Wolf of Wall Street, ComputerGraphicsWorld
  3. ^ Avatar Profile, SpeedTree website
  4. ^ The Science Behind Oscar's Award-Winning Trees And Tresses, PhysicsCentral
  5. ^ SpeedTree® Receives a Scientific and Technical Academy Award®, Gamasutra
  6. ^ 21 SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENTS TO BE HONORED WITH ACADEMY AWARDS®, OSCARS Website
  7. ^ Local Computer Graphics Company Earns Academy Award for Technical Achievement, FreeTimes
  8. ^ a b c "Middleware Postmortem: IDV Inc's SpeedTreeRT". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  9. ^ a b http://www.oscars.org/news/21-scientific-and-technical-achievements-be-honored-academy-awardsr
  10. ^ a b c SpeedTree Cinema, SpeedTree Store
  11. ^ a b SpeedTree v6.1.1 Provides Support for Cinema 4D, Animation World Network
  12. ^ a b SpeedTree Architect
  13. ^ a b c d e SpeedTree for Games, SpeedTree
  14. ^ SpeedTree SDK Middleware, SpeedTree
  15. ^ a b SpeedTree Compiler, SpeedTree
  16. ^ SpeedTree Modeler for Unreal Engine 4 adopts $19 per month subscription fee, DevelopOnline
  17. ^ SpeedTree for UE4* Subscription Modeler, SpeedTree
  18. ^ SpeedTree for Unity 5, SpeedTree
  19. ^ SpeedTree® for Unity® 5 Beta Launched, Gamasutra
  20. ^ Tree packages for Unreal Engine 4, SpeedTree Store
  21. ^ Tree packages for Unity, SpeedTree Store
  22. ^ a b SpeedTree Modeler Features, SpeedTree website
  23. ^ a b New Optimized SpeedTree Version Adds Support For Vita, Mac, DirectX 11, Gamasutra
  24. ^ SpeedTree integrated into Unreal Engine 4, DevelopOnline.net
  25. ^ a b SpeedTree plants roots in Bungie's Destiny, DevelopOnline
  26. ^ a b Destiny to Feature SpeedTree For Games for Creating Environmental Vegetation, GamingBolt
  27. ^ The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Will Be One of the Largest Install of Current Era: 50GB on PS4 and Xbox One!, Air Herald
  28. ^ Battlefield 4 Teaser Trailers Teases Tanks And Boats, CinemaBlend
  29. ^ Hawken Will Use SpeedTree, CinemaBlend
  30. ^ Warriors Orochi 3 Using IDV's SpeedTree, CinemaBlend
  31. ^ official announcement
  32. ^ official announcement
  33. ^ official announcement

External links[edit]