Originally posted on 19 November 2020. Scroll down for news of the Forest Pack 7.4.3 update.
iToo Software has released
the first public beta of Forest Pack 7.0, the next version of its scattering plugin for 3ds Max, making it possible to scatter lights as well as geometry.
The update also adds new colour correction features, support for Chaos Group’s Chaos Vantage, and the option to export scenes for use in the Unity game engine.
The ‘ultimate scattering tool for 3ds Max’
Described by iToo as “the ultimate scattering tool for 3ds Max”, Forest Pack is designed to distribute objects across a scene: as the name suggests, usually plant models, but also rocks or buildings.
The plugin can generate scenes with hundreds of thousands of scattered objects, with a point cloud display mode to improve viewport response, and the option to convert Forest Pack objects to Max’s native instances.
The scattering process is fully parametric, and object distribution can also be controlled by image maps, splines or painting directly onto terrain geometry.
Forest Pack can scatter both static and animated objects, with the option to randomise both texture maps and the time offset of animation cycles, or control them via image maps.
New in version 7.0: scatter lights throughout your scene as if they were geometry
To that, Forest Pack 7.0 adds the option to scatter non-geometric objects like splines or lights: the latter shown to spectacular effect in the demo video above.
Users of Corona Renderer and OctaneRender can use all of Forest Pack’s standard scattering options; in Arnold and V-Ray, the light distribution cannot be animated or changed after frame 0.
New colour correction options, plus support for Project Lavina and Unity
Other new features include global colour correction, with users now able to adjust Hue Shift, Saturation and Brightness for all the Forest Color textures in a scene.
Users can also now export Forest Pack scatters to the Unity game engine for real-time rendering in a similar way to Unreal Engine, which already supports Forest Pack in its Datasmith importer.
Scenes using Forest Pack are also now supported in Chaos Vantage, Chaos Group’s new real-time tool for exploring large V-Ray scenes.
Updates to the accompanying asset libraries
The Library Browser has also been rewritten, primarily to make it easier to develop new features in future, although in version 7.0, it does improve search capabilities, including the option to use Boolean queries.
iToo also says the the final release will be accompanies by new asset libraries, including one with 40 photoscanned tree stumps, and one with 89 new presets for generating 3D hedges.
Updated 9 March 2021: Forest Pack 7.0 is now shipping.
As well as the new features, workflow changes include new randomisation options in reference mode and a lot of small quality-of-life improvements, shown in the video above.
The update also extends support for Corona Renderer, with users now able to scatter animated object, in the same way as when working with other third-party render engines.
Updated 20 January 2022: iToo Software has released Forest Pack 7.3.
The update reworks the way that Forest Pack handles object grouping, making it possible to apply transforms to the group as a whole, rather than the individual objects within it: for example, to rotate groups around a central pivot when scattering them, rather than rotate the individual objects on their own axes.
When scattering using reference markers, it is now possible to assign specific named objects to each marker.
Other changes include support for VRayVolumeGrid, making it possible to scatter volumes in V-Ray’s native format; and for native V-Ray light instancing, making it possible to randomise colours via VRayMultiSubTex.
Updated 14 July 2022: iToo Software has released Forest Pack 7.4.3.
The 7.4.x releases are mainly compatibility updates: previous updates added support for 3ds Max 2023 and Arnold 7.1, while Forest Pack 7.4.3 itself makes the plugin compatible with V-Ray 6, which shipped last week.
A key feature of V-Ray 6 was its own scattering tool, Chaos Scatter. Not entirely surprisingly, iToo doesn’t mention in its blog post, which discreetly points out the extra things that you can do with Forest Pack.
New features in Forest Pack 7.4.x include support for expressions when matching references in a scene by name – sometimes used to replace objects in a CAD file with trees – as shown in the video above.
Pricing and availability
Forest Pack 7.4.3 is available for 3ds Max 2013+. You can find a list of compatible render engines here.
Since the release of Forest Pack 7.0, the price of new perpetual licences has risen from €220 to €230 ($275). There is also a free Lite edition. It’s feature-limited, but can be used on commercial projects.
Read more about Forest Pack on the product webpage
(The download link for the Lite edition is at the foot of the page)
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