SpeedTree – Houdini – 3D Animation and VFX SpeedTree FBX

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“Plitvice Lagoon” by Steven Klipowicz, Alvaro “Varomix” Castaneda (cmiVFX),
& Chris Maynard (cmiVFX). Rendered in Mantra.

[Aug, 2011] – SpeedTree®, the premier vegetation solution featured in 2009’s Avatar, has been released in a new version with official Houdini® support, enabling the accurate export of SpeedTree FBX models and materials, natural lighting, and efficient forest creation and management.

“Houdini Artists who need to create vegetation either in the form of a single tree or a complete forest, can work quickly and efficiently with SpeedTree,” said Cristin Barghiel, Director of Product Development at Side Effects Software. “SpeedTree for Houdini opens up new worlds of possibility when creating high-quality rendered environments.”

Among the most important features of SpeedTree for Houdini:

SpeedTree FBX. SpeedTree FBX processes the geometry and materials during import to get the trees right the first time. Includes the ability to reload placed trees, and to convert the FBX data into Houdini-native “.bgeo” files (and back to FBX if needed). Additionally, automatic display proxies can be toggled in place of the full tree in the Scene View (the full tree will appear when rendered).
Feature-rich SpeedTree Material. A new shader type has been created for Houdini which handles all aspects of state-of-the-art tree rendering. The SpeedTree Material comes with two translucency models (SpeedTree-native translucency as well as subsurface scattering), tangent-space normal-mapping, backface culling, texture alpha channel and secondary detail texture support.
SpeedTree Forest. Create a forest in the SpeedTree Modeler, then import the world-building data into Houdini with SpeedTree’s world-building format. Choose between the ultra-fast “point instancing” option to load the trees at render-time only and standard instances, which support display proxies and variable vegetation density on the fly. Either way, your forest will come over to Houdini faithfully (NOTE: SpeedTree Forest and world-building are features of SpeedTree Cinema only and are not included with SpeedTree Studio).
Complex forest asset management. This suite of tools works under the hood to manage both tree and forest data efficiently. Duplicate assets are avoided, while trees or whole forests can be reloaded or deleted without tedious manual cleanup.
Documentation. SpeedTree for Houdini includes robust-documentation built in to the native Houdini help system.
“Our main goal was to integrate SpeedTree into Houdini’s procedural workflow as much as possible,” said Steve Klipowicz, Art Director at SpeedTree developer Interactive Data Visualization. “This way the award-winning capabilities of both Houdini and SpeedTree offer animators, movie production studios and many others an unprecedented level of environmental realism.”

SpeedTree Version 6 offers two packages for visual effects, animation, and broadcast media:  SpeedTree Cinema provides a premium solution for the most demanding productions, and SpeedTree Studio, at $895 per seat, delivers SpeedTree’s unparalleled modeling prowess to more budget-conscious applications. The version 6 lineup will soon include SpeedTree for Games, a real-time package that has been adding realistic vegetation to high-end video games since 2003.

All members of the SpeedTree v6 lineup include SpeedTree Modeler 6, which offers a highly-intuitive interface and the ability to precisely model, either procedurally or by hand, a virtually unlimited array of trees, plants, bushes, flowers, and even marine and fantasy species.

SpeedTree has been used in many AAA video games since 2002, as well as several top-grossing movies, including 2009’s Avatar. It was also a popular plug-in among 3ds Max users, in a product branded SpeedTreeMAX. That product was discontinued in 2009 and replaced with SpeedTree Cinema.

New features of SpeedTree Modeler v6 include workflow improvements, export customization and more realistic wind. SpeedTree for Games v6 includes SpeedTree SDK, which delivers dramatic efficiency improvements, shader system improvements and support for more platforms than ever before, including PSVita and Mac.

SpeedTree Version 6 is scheduled for hands-on demonstrations at SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver August 9-11 (Booth No. 162).

SpeedTree, featured in 2009’s Avatar, delivers beautiful, amazingly natural real-time trees and plants for movies, animations and architectural renderings. SpeedTree includes SpeedTree Modeler, an application for Windows, Mac and Linux that offers a unique hybrid of hand and procedural modeling options. For more information about SpeedTree, visit http://www.speedtree.com.

Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV) develops software products with a focus on real-time three dimensional applications for the game development, visual simulation, engineering visualization, and animation industries. IDV, a privately held corporation, was founded in 1999 in Columbia, South Carolina. For more information about IDV, visit http://www.idvinc.com.

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