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What's my best strategy to make a bunch of video renders of trees growing?

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  • What's my best strategy to make a bunch of video renders of trees growing?

    Hello! I'm a total absolute beginner at Speedtree. I don't even have it yet!

    I have a very specific need, and I'm trying to figure out what my best plan would be to execute it.

    My end goal is this:
    20-30x individual 3-minute long rendered video files (or image sequences) with alpha channel, of single trees, profile angle. They grow a little bit, and go from bare to fully covered in leaves (with the leaves sprouting realistically). Bonus would be to have gentle wind ruffling them as well.

    I'll be taking these rendered video files into Adobe After Effects and dropping them into an existing motion graphics project as 2d layers.

    I have some limited 3d experience (A little Blender, a little C4D, etc).

    What's my path of least resistance to creating this?

    The game versions of Speedtree standalone or do I need to run them inside of a host environment like Unity, etc? Do I need Speedtree Cinema?

    Do I need the tree library?

    Can any of them render a video file out easily?

    Is it easy to make a quick tree, animate its properties over time (like leaves sprouting, slight branch growth, etc) and then render it out?

    MANY MANY THANKS for any help, fair users of Speedtree!

    ps - alternatively, I could imagine making this work by getting an OBJ sequence of the animation exported out, and then loading that to render in one of my 3d apps, but it's definitely suboptimal in terms of workflow complexity.
    Last edited by titaniumdoughnut; 01-24-2020, 06:52 PM.

  • #2
    Hi titaniumdoughnut : SpeedTree Cinema is what you'll need to do what you've described. You can download an evaluation of SpeedTree Cinema here:

    Through the evaluation, you can see what using the SpeedTree modeler is like as well as how to toggle growth settings to best suit your needs.

    If you'd like 20 to 30 trees of varied species and textures, the library might be something to consider: pre-built trees with seasonal variation & optimized wind are a great way to save time. While there are sample trees that come with the modeler, if you're looking for a specific species or find the samples insufficient, you can peruse the library or build your own (We have tutorials on YouTube and Documentation!).

    Trees built using the procedural parameters that can be randomized and give you more model options utilizing the same pre-built set of textures and wind settings.

    We hope this helps!


    • #3
      Thank you!

      If I make some trees I like in the evaluation copy, can I then open those up in the full copy if I buy it? Or would I need to start over?

      Can I purchase individual trees from the shop as well (as opposed to the full library), and animate their season and wind? I.e., animate from winter to summer with a single keyframe?


      • #4
        titaniumdoughnut : you should be able to open the trees you've created in the evaluation version of the software: they're still operational SPMs, the software's evaluation just has built in limitations (random triangles will be removed from exports and 100 frames is the limit on exported sequences).

        Yes, you can purchase individual trees from our store as opposed to the full library.

        Animating season and wind is a little more difficult. Wind is generated based on procedural parameters that you set (i.e. they are not keyframe based), and seasons are not able to be keyframe animated as well.

        If you want to transition through seasons, exporting separate seasons on one tree using the same wind conditions and animation duration and fading between the resulting exports in the motion graphics application of your choice may get you the approximate effect you're looking for.


        • #5
          Thanks so much!

          A big part of what I'm trying to achieve is a tree "growing" over 4 minutes or so. What I'm picturing is leaves sprouting (as if transitioning from winter to summer) and some slight branch growth. The most important part is leaves sprouting.

          Is there a way to keyframe animate that?


          • #6
            titaniumdoughnut Because these are procedural elements, you cannot keyframe these animations exactly, but you can can control how they will appear using the growth settings on the leaf generators.

            Here's the general documentation page on growth:

            and the leaf generator page with more specific information regarding the generator's growth options:

            Hope that these pages provide you with a solid start to experimenting and getting the leaf growth you're going for. (There should be two growth samples in the Cinema Modeler's Samples folder should you want to play around with a model designed around growth! One is a sapling, the other is a vine growing onto a trellis.)