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A Quick Word About SpeedTree 8

SpeedTree 8 is a significant upgrade from previous versions. Here are some important things to know whether you're migrating from older versions or trying SpeedTree for the first time.

Your old models will load in SpeedTree 8

But, you won't have access to many of the new features until you upgrade at least some of the generators. Spine and leaf generators are now considered obsolete; whenever possible you should use the new generators (they're listed in the next item) to do everything these generators used to do. The new generators compute faster (in some cases hundreds of times faster) and have many new modeling features. Also, be aware that some core bug fixes may change the model slightly and growth and wind are handled differently in SpeedTree 8.

There are many new generators

Our approach going forward is to make each generator focus on exactly one thing, and do that thing very efficiently For example, the functionality of the Spine has been replaced by Branch, Frond, and Cap. Each has a narrower focus and their own place in the generator hierarchy.

Here's a complete list of the new generators:

Branch Creates polygonal and subdivision branches (replaces the branch part of Spine and SubDiv).
Frond Places blade or mesh geometry along a branch (replaces the frond part of Spine).
Cap Caps off the end of open branches (replaces the cap part of Spine).
BatchedLeaf Very efficiently creates mesh based leaf geometry (replaces Leaf, computes hundreds of times faster).
LeafMesh Creates mesh-based leaf geometry (also replaces Leaf, slower than BatchedLeaf, but you can node edit the results).
Knot Adds knots, cavities, gashes, and lumps to branch geometry.
Fin Adds small, planar details like peeling bark and fungi to branches.

Full PBR material workflow

The material system and viewport rendering now utilize a Physically Based Rendering system. This means your models will look more like they will in your final application while you work with them, and the materials you make will plug seamlessly into other PBR renderers.

There are three new generation algorithms, and you should almost always use them

For regular branch and leaf placement, at least. These algorithms adapt to the model better than their predecessors and typically result in more natural placement of tree parts. The new algorithms are:

PhyllotaxyNatural leaf placement (alternating, opposite, etc.).
IntervalPlace children at intervals along their parent starting from the end.
BifurcationPlace children at sharp bends in their parent, simulating splits.

A single VFX model now contains multiple resolutions

There is a Resolution group on the main toolbar that allows you to pick between four resolutions (High, Normal, Low, Draft). A series of magenta resolution curve properties on each generator let you do things like lower segment count, knock out leaves and twigs, and even swap out whole generators based on the resolution setting. Pick the resolution appropriate for your scene and go from there.

A single VFX model contains all the season variations too

Each of the models created by SpeedTree will have all of the Seasons modeled. Select the season you want by adjusting the season slider on the toolbar. You can select any season, as well as transitions between seasons. When you export, all of the necessary materials will be created and no special shading networks are required in your target application.

There are many new branch modeling features

Too many to list and describe here, in fact. Here are some highlights:

ExtensionsChild branches can now continue any parent that doesn't come to a point. This means you can go from the bottom of the trunk to the tip of a twig with smooth transitions.
Late noiseGives your branches natural bends and jinks without destroying the overall shape.
SplitsSplit trunks and branches with no UV seam and independently addressable extensions.
Shape ControlBranch structures can now naturally branch out toward a defining shape or mesh.
PruningEliminate branches that point too far down or up, cross back into the interior, or touch the ground.

New mesh editor

Creating meshes for your leaf maps has never been easier with the new Cutout Editor. In the new system, just click points to create the mesh you want and use it on your model right away, no need to leave the app.

Animated forces

The strength of Forces can now be animated and the results exported as a cache. Use this feature to simulate external events like explosions or scene interactions.

Length and radius styles are gone

…at least on the new Branch generator. Length and radius (both values and segments) are now always computed as the absolute value plus the percentage values.

New collision system

Leaf collision now happens in the background after every edit. If you load an old model and you have too many leaves, take a look at the new collision settings.

New LOD system

The LOD system has changed as well. The new system makes decisions based on the each component's contribution to the model silhouette. This approach means the first shot is usually very close and tweaking the results is much easier.

New exporting system

Okay, so now you've got a better model in SpeedTree. Good news! Models Export faster, and there are more exporting options than ever before. Exported models integrate seamlessly into dcc apps as well. No more complex shading networks, even for seasons!