Over the past decade, photogrammetry has exploded in the game and VFX industries as an innovative way to capture stunningly detailed models directly from nature. With the new photogrammetry toolset available in SpeedTree Games, Games Indie, and Cinema, the precision and beauty of organic structures can now join hands with procedural geometry.
Separate geometry pieces can take hours of blending textures and polygons in a 3D modeling app. With our new tools, you can use these scans as fundamental building blocks with our all-in-one program. We’ve broken our new features into four key parts to demonstrate the workflow.
1. Extend photogrammetry or sculpted mesh
Goal: Import your scanned trunk into SpeedTree and blend it into procedural generators.
This is done with a new generator called “stitch,” which looks a little like an extraterrestrial spaceship attacking your tree. It’s a workhorse of a generator designed to glue together geometry and generators.
The stitch generator can be manipulated in the viewport window when in “node mode”, similar to moving a mesh force, and can be used in two distinct workflows.
A. Vertex Blended Stitch
Weld SpeedTree geometry to a photogrammetry mesh by using a vertex blended extension to join the mesh to the procedural generator.
This is done using the Stitch generator that is added to the scene and is manually aligned with the imported mesh.
B. Texture Blended Stitch
Combine SpeedTree geometry to a photogrammetry mesh with a band of geometry and a blended texture map.
SpeedTree lets you control the blending of the generated texture band, and it’s properties directly in the modeler window.
2. Attach SpeedTree Geometry to a mesh
Goal: Import your scanned mesh into SpeedTree and spawn procedural geometry.
Use a “target generator” attached to a procedural branch in hand drawing mode to affix branches onto your trunk.
In v7 you could import a mesh to use as a force object and spawn arbitrarily placed SpeedTree branches. This option offered little placement control and no blending. In SpeedTree 8, we added a tool that allows for precise positioning.
3. Combine and weld MULTIPLE MESHES
Goal: Combine mesh to mesh with a welded joint!
Use this technique to create branching structures from smaller scanned objects or build an entire tree using one repeated mesh. This is especially helpful for scanned geometry where you need to include easier to capture tube-shaped branches but you also need to include forked pieces.
This workflow acts like our frond generator that sits along the spine. This means edits to the spine allow manipulation of the mesh shape. Use noise, length, gravity, and forces to vary the shape or to hide repeated patterns. Additionally, meshes attached using this method can move in the wind like regular branches.
4. Mesh Preparation Tools
Goal: Prepare scanned or stylized meshes for combining/blending.
A. Harness a wider range of available assets.
Make use of your photogrammetry scans and 3rd-party assets by using SpeedTree to mark locations on the mesh itself. Skip Houdini & Maya!
Set 3D anchors to mark where attachments can be placed and export your creation as an .xml file.
Use a “stitch” for easy cleanup, to break off faulty scan areas, or to simplify.
B. Meshes can be freely moved around the viewport.
You can now attach several meshes to one mesh and they can be moved together.
To move any mesh in the viewport window use the “W”, “E”, and “R” hotkeys.
For example, in the pumpkin model in the banner below, we were able to quickly place some photogrammetry pumpkins with procedural parts protruding (whew!)
If you haven’t yet integrated photogrammetry into your project or want to take a different approach to the photogrammetry workflow you currently have, take a peek at the features and requirements for SpeedTree Games, Games Indie, and Cinema to see which one might be right for you.