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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. It has been licensed to developers of a range of video games for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and has been featured in about a dozen major 2013 film releases, including Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as 2012's Life of Pi and 2009's Avatar.


In a "Postmortem" feature on Gamasutra.com,[1] Kevin Meredith of IDV recounted SpeedTree as originating due to their lack of satisfaction with 3rd-party plug-ins on the market. 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 component for an animated architectural rendering. After refining SpeedTreeMAX for retail, IDV went on to produce the real-time version SDK version to much commercial success.

IDV released SpeedTree v5.0 in July 2009. v5.0 represented a "complete re-engineering" of the software, according to an IDV announcement in March 2009, and features a new set of components: SpeedTree Modeler (replacing SpeedTreeCAD) and SpeedTreeSDK (replacing SpeedTreeRT), as well as SpeedTree Compiler, which prepares SpeedTree files for real-time rendering. The same components are featured with Version 6 of the product, released in November 2011 and identified as SpeedTree for Games to distinguish it from other products not meant for gaming/real-time use.

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

SpeedTree won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2015. [2]

Products and components[edit]

On August 3, 2011, IDV announced the release of SpeedTree version 6 technology and its inclusion in two products, SpeedTree Cinema and a new product SpeedTree Studio. SpeedTree Cinema was first released by IDV in 2009, based on version 5 technology, and is meant for high-end movies and animations. SpeedTree Studio licenses at a lower price and offers fewer features than SpeedTree Cinema. SpeedTree for Games, featuring version 6 technology, was released on November 7, 2011. SpeedTree Architect was released on October 15, 2012 and offers a more limited version of SpeedTree Studio for architectural stills and fly-throughs. Version 7 of SpeedTree Cinema, SpeedTree Studio and SpeedTree Architect were released on November 13, 2013.

SpeedTree SDK is a software development kit written in C++ whose source code is available to licensees of SpeedTree for Games for use in video games and other real-time applications. It is intended to be fitted into a larger graphical engine, with the SpeedTree software handling the rendering of trees and foliage alone and the specific product's engine incorporating these into the larger environment.

SpeedTree Modeler is a Windows-based specialized modeling tool created specifically for creating and editing foliage. SpeedTree Modeler permits specification of such variables as branch length, branching angles, bark texture and gravitational influence, and then generates a tree from that information in a variety of static mesh or real-time formats. Trees created in SpeedTree Modeler can be more or less detailed, and consequently can be used for either real-time or prerendered display.

SpeedTree Compiler is a component of SpeedTree for Games used with SpeedTree SDK for real-time projects. It facilitates the creation of texture atlases and compiles and optimizes tree models for real-time use.

In early 2009, around the time it released SpeedTree Cinema, IDV discontinued SpeedTreeMAX and SpeedTreeMAYA, plug-ins for the popular 3D Studio Max and Maya modeling programs.

Game licensees, publishers and partners[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:

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.

Video games[edit]

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 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 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 2012 Adhesive Games
Heavenly Sword 2007 Ninja Theory
Killzone: Shadow Fall 2013 Guerrilla Games
LocoCycle 2013 Twisted Pixel Games
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
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 2015 CD Projekt RED
Zoo Tycoon 2013 Frontier Developments

Films and animation[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
2014 Godzilla
2014 Lucy
2014 Hercules
2014 Into the Storm
2014 Maleficent
2014 Noah
2014 The Nut Job
2014 The Giver
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 Speed Racer
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 non-game 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.[3] 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[4]
  • A project under development by the Germany-based division of European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS)[5]
  • 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.


  • SpeedTree won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2015. [6]
  • 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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]