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Using SpeedTree to create models and use them in Autodesk's Maya

Getting a SpeedTree model into Autodesk's Maya is a three step process. First, select or create a model in the SpeedTree Modeler. Second, export the model using 'FileExport mesh…' and selecting the appropriate preset. Third, import the model using the provided python plugin. See below for a detailed explanation of these steps.

1. Create the Model

The first step in the process is to use the SpeedTree Modeler to create the model you wish to use in Maya. This can be as simple as opening a library model or as complex as creating a tree from scratch. The model should include material assignments, correct uv coordinates, and everything else you need to see the model exactly as it should appear in Maya. The goal is to replicate the model exactly as it appears in the Modeler in Maya. This includes features such as detail mapping, branch intersection blending, and wind.

2. Export the Model

Once the model is complete, select 'FileExport mesh…'. In the ensuing file selector, select 'Autodesk FBX' from the combo box labelled 'Save as type' and pick a filename for the export (do not export to the same folder where the tree model exists). The model will be processed and the following dialog will be presented. Choose the option from the combo box labelled 'Preset' that matches the renderer you intend to use. Select 'Ok' to write the '.fbx' file.

It is important to export for the renderer you intend to use. You will use a matching script to import and process the '.fbx' file and by selecting the appropriate renderer here you will ensure that the processing script has everything it needs.

The options above the 'Preset' combo box can be selected as you see fit. The options below the combo will be set by the preset. See the exporting page for complete information on exporting options.

3. Import the Model Using the 'SpeedTree FBX' Plugin Script

In Maya, open the Plugin Manager (WindowSetting/PreferencesPlugin Manager). Select 'Browse' and go the SpeedTree installation folder. Select 'SpeedTree FBX' from the Scripts folder. This script represents the most streamlined importing approach (the other scripts in this folder offer advanced functionality documented here). You may want to select 'Auto-load' for this script so it is automatically loaded with Maya. The script makes use of the 'fbxmaya.mll' plugin so make sure that is loaded as well.

Import the model via the 'FileImport' menu option. in the 'filter' combo box choose 'FBX' for generic importing, 'SpeedTree FBX for Mental Ray' for Mental Ray rendering, or 'SpeedTree FBX for V-Ray' for V-Ray rendering. The file will be imported and processed to implement all SpeedTree features into the renderer you have selected.

It is important to use the option that matches the preset you used in step 2.

The image below depicts the hypergraph connections of a typical import. 'Container' objects are used to house the nodes that implement the shading network. Select the container and go to 'Published attributes' to edit the maps, translucency color, and lighting scalars used by each shading group. Expand the container to edit the shading network directly. Note the presenece of the custom SpeedTreeHelper node used to house the map names and translucency color for convenience.