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Unity Acquires SpeedTree Creator Interactive Data Visualization

Software platform for vegetation modeling and environment creation to become more deeply integrated within the Unity ecosystem; future benefits will include faster and better artist authoring workflows and creation capabilities.

Unity has announced the acquisition of Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV), creator of SpeedTree, a suite of vegetation modeling and environment creation products for architecture, games, visual effects, and real-time simulations. As a long-time partner, the acquisition of IDV will allow for a deeper integration of SpeedTree into the Unity ecosystem, enhancing artists authoring workflows and environment creation capabilities.

“Creating natural, organic-looking environments is currently a costly and labor-intensive process. If you’re pursuing a high level of detail and realism, the process of manually creating one tree - not to mention a forest - can take upwards of four months,” said Ralph Hauwert, Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Unity. “With IDV’s SpeedTree suite of products part of the Unity product ecosystem, we can now offer creators native authoring workflows for creating real-time, rich, organic environments.”

SpeedTree software has assisted in the environment creation of popular games including Horizon: Zero Dawn; Call of Duty: War Zone; Witcher 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Hitman III; and Ghost of Tsushima. The software is also a leading solution for visual effects and was the recipient of a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for its contributions to modern cinema and an Engineering Emmy Award for its impact on the television industry. The foliage solutions can be spotted in many major films, from indie projects to the highest-grossing films of 2020. 

“We grew SpeedTree into an industry-standard tool by working directly with artists and developers across industries,” said Interactive Data Visualization co-founder Chris King. “This allowed SpeedTree to adapt to and anticipate the challenges faced by artists creating larger and higher fidelity worlds in real-time and VFX applications. We’re excited to join with Unity as we continue to work directly with creators at every level, expanding our existing solutions and developing new technologies as we move forward into the next phase of real-time interactive content.”

Currently SpeedTree and Unity customers can continue using both services as usual, including the existing SpeedTree and Unity integration. Like many of Unity’s products, including Vivox and Multiplay, SpeedTree’s tools and library of ready-to-use content is engine agnostic, ensuring it continues to reach creators in any development environment. Unity will retain all ten SpeedTree employees.

Future benefits include a deeper integration within the Unity ecosystem and better workflows between the two companies. This process has begun with Unity’s upcoming 2021.2 release, which highlights better integration of SpeedTree-generated assets with Unity’s Scriptable Render Pipelines and Terrain system.

The transaction closed on July 14, 2021. Financial and legal terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Source: Unity