SpeedTree FAQ

Whether creating a lush game environment or designing an animated forest for a feature film, you probably have questions about SpeedTree. We’re here to help. See below for FAQs regarding General information and the Modeling and SDK products.


Q: Which version of SpeedTree should I use?

A: Game developers and anyone creating a real-time application should take a look at SpeedTree for Games v7. Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 developers can make use of our integration into these engines through our Subscription Modeler. SpeedTree Cinema and SpeedTree Studio service the film, broadcast, and architecture markets.

Q: How much does a SpeedTree license cost?

A: SpeedTree Cinema and SpeedTree Studio pricing information is available at our online store. SpeedTree for Games v7 is licensed per title/platform for games and on a case by case basis for other real-time applications (e.g., military trainers). The Subscription Modeler for Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 is available for $19.99 a month.

Contact for more information on SpeedTree for Games v7.

Q: Are there any additional licensing fees when using the Unity 5 or Unreal Engine 4 Subscription Modeler ?

A: No. Assets created in the Subscription Modeler or purchased in our online store can be used in real-time application without any furthur licenses or fees. A current subscription is not required to use assets created in the Modeler or Purchased in the store. Distibution or sale of created models is currently not allowed under our EULA.

Q: Can I get a free evaluation?

A: Yes. Follow the link to download SpeedTree Cinema and SpeedTree Studio evaluations. Go here to get started with a SpeedTree for Games v7 evaluation. We do not currently offer an evaluation for our Subscription Modeler


Q: What type of algorithm do you use to model trees?

A: We have a combination of a home-grown procedural algorithm and hand drawing. We try to be more of a 3D art tool than a nature simulator so that modeling in SpeedTree is a little closer to the apps you're used to. One noteworthy feature of SpeedTree is that any part of the generated models can be edited manually without affecting the rest of the model. This approach lets you hand edit the parts you need to and lets the procedural algorithm handle the rest.

Q: Can I use my own meshes and texture maps?

A: Yes. All of the texture maps are just files on the disk stored in common image formats. You are free to use your own or mix and match those in our library. Anywhere SpeedTree populates the model with meshes (e.g., leaves) you can use meshes from our library or import your own .fbx and .obj files.

Q: How do I get SpeedTree Models in my app?

A: All permanent license versions of the SpeedTree Modeler (Cinema, Studio, Architect, Games) can export .fbx and .obj files, which can then be imported into apps like Maya and 3ds Max. We also provide scripts that make that process easier by assigning materials so that all SpeedTree effects (e.g., branch intersection blending) are captured. SpeedTree for Games users have an additional tool called the SpeedTree Compiler that compiles artist friendly SpeedTree models into a compact, render-ready format for use with the SDK. Subscription versions of the SpeedTree tools (UE4, Unity) are made to easily interact with the app for which they are intended.

Q: Can the software make animated 3d tree models?

A: Yes. There is an extensive wind system in the application that includes a wizard to simplify wind editing. Wind animation is captured and implemented in the SDK for real-time application developers. (Each tree in the forest will have unique wind behavior). Offline rendering users receive wind animation data via a point cache. Additionally, a weighted skeleton is computed and exported for those wishing to do manual animation.


Q: What comes with the SDK?

A: You get the full SpeedTree Model Library (150+ species, 500+ models, 2000+ textures and meshes), the SpeedTree Modeler (art tool for modeling trees), the SpeedTree Compiler (SDK tool for creating texture atlases, 360 degree normal mapped billboards, and run-time ready assets), and the SDK (set of multi platform C++ classes).

Q: What does the SDK handle?

A: The SDK covers all aspects of the forest rendering including model loading, vertex buffer creation, forest level culling, level of detail management, wind animation, and final rendering.

Q: Can I control how it operates?

A: Yes. The SDK is modular so you can use as little or as much as makes sense in your app. In addition, it is designed in such a way that you control the actual platform calls. For example, the SDK tells you when and which texture to load, but you are responsible for making the final calls to the hardware.

Q: Do you have examples?

A: Yes. We have a reference application that shows in detail how to use the SDK to render a forest with LOD transitions and wind animations. There is a version of this application on all platforms we support including PC (OpenGL and DirectX), Mac OSX, Linus, Xbox® 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and more.