E-on Software Release The Plant Factory PLE

E-on is well-known for outrageous prices (though that depends who you ask), but they are also known for providing their software for free under their Private Learning Edition licensing. It was unclear at the time of release if there would be a PLE version of The Plant Factory, so many will be very happy to see the software join E-on’s list of PLE software.

Basically, what E-on is doing here is giving away the full featured version of their software for free on the strict condition that the work is non-commercial, and should be used only for personal education, so great for students, enthusiasts, and evaluation for potential commercial purchases. Of course there are some limitations in the software: Renders carry a logo and will be water marked after 30 days; exporting mesh removes 1 in 5 polygons; importing full featured files into Vue is limited to PLE versions, and can’t be exchanged with other users.

But what is The Plant Factory?

Obviously not everyone that stumbles upon this post will know what The Plant Factory (TPF) is, some will not know who E-on is, or have ever have heard of Vue (pushing it there?). I’ll leave the later names and products to the investigation of interested parties, but TPF is a modeling program (stand-alone or plugin for Vue), that allows users to create a huge variety of vegetation. TPF has also been used to create other sorts of objects, but vegetation is by far the primary use. Yep, the name is a dead giveaway.

Plant Factory includes three modeling methods – node based procedural, snap ‘n connect components, and shape painting. The three methods can be combined at any stage. Any variety of plants, from grass, to succulents, shrubs and trees and vines can be created. TPF includes technology to grow plants on objects – especially cool for vines and other climbing plants. Plants can be animated and exported fully rigged and UV mapped in many popular file types for use in just about any 3D program. You can find a list of full features here. Access The Plant Factory Personal Learning Edition here.

The Plant Factory Pre-Release II Sees Relaxed Feature Restrictions

The Plant Factory - e-on softwareE-on Hoses Down Fire On The Plant Factory Blog

The tune has certainly changed over at The Plant Factory’s blog. Whether it is a sensible distillation of the overwhelmingly blood curdling response from the blog’s angry mob, and the probable torrent of emails, or whether it was the more mild-tempered feedback from pre-release adopters (or some combination of the two), but E-on has relaxed a number of the harsh feature restrictions.

Changes for The Plant Factory Pre-Release II

TPF Studio users will now enjoy full node and graph capabilities that were previously restricted only to Producer. Essentially this means that users of Studio can now produce the same content they would be able to with the Producer version.

Plant Factory Designer replaces Plant Factory for Vue

With all the features of the previously announced PFfV, Designer users will now be able to export static objects as FPX, OBJ, and 3DS formats.

Pre-Release II will be available on Monday, 10th of June and the new price will be $595 for one week after release – still a discount of $400.

A move in the right direction

E-on have undoubtedly won many users with their alterations. Many will be happy that they no longer have to fork out almost $1500 for a product they spent months reading about with every teasing post. Being able to settle with a fully featured TPF, just without the fancy compositing/rendering capabilities, for $995 (or $396 if you grab it now) will settle a lot of bad blood. For some, the final price tag will still be much too high, which I tend to agree with, especially considering that objects created with any version of TPF cannot be distributed outside Cornucopia 3D. Given the price of the software one can still only ask, WTF?

WTF indeed

In a post on the blog, one responder pointed out that free redistribution of TPF products would be commercial suicide for e-on. If people could just go out and buy plants from any old back alley brokerage, then why would anyone need to buy the software in the first place? How would e-on be compensated for their fabulous software development?

Umm… are we serious here? This sort of thinking plays right into the hands of e-on, and simply just doesn’t fly. Clients and content consumers are always hungry for new varieties and unique content. Artists always want/need to create new from scratch. If free distribution of content killed sales of content creation software then why is there so much software out there, and why are these suicidal developers constantly updating it?

E-on are certainly heading in the right direction here, but are they more concerned with creating tools (to sell at enormous cost – think upgrades here too people), or with establishing themselves as a content distribution service which? If the latter, it would be greatly appreciated if they dropped the price of such software.

e-on Software’s The Plant Factory: Trees Your Way

The Plant Factory: next gen plant creation technologies goes anywhere

e-on’s new baby, The Plant Factory (TPF) is looking ready to rock the landscape and environment world, and could be up for an imminent release with June (2013) as the nominated release window. Exact date and price have not been publically finalised. TPF is a flexible, standalone go-anywhere application.  e-on states the program incorporates four fundamental design elements (to copy/past verbatim):

1. Multi-Platform/Multi-Discipline – operates across all CG platforms including real-time, streaming, and offline rendering systems and caters to the needs of CG, SFX, Landscaping, GeoDesign, Architecture and Gaming communities

2. Botanical Coherency – allows the creation of more botanically accurate plant appearances and behaviours

3. Precise Control – users can create plants of any desired shape, appearance, and behaviour using simple building blocks

4. Massive Populations – building on e-on’s leadership in EcoSystems™ to create landscapes containing millions of plants

All roads lead to trees

TPF has three distinct but interconnected methods for users to sink their teeth into and flora-craft to their hearts content. Any user should find one of the three methods (or a combination of any) to suits their current skills, needs, or whim.

1. Manually paint the shape of the plant – allows for quick creative flare

2. Assemble ready-made components – easiest of the trio – like connecting Lego

3. Construct everything from scratch, using a graph of nodes – the most flexible but might scare those unused to the increasingly popular node based method of working

The Plant Factory is capable of easily creating a wide variety of plant types from mushrooms to willows and palm trees, and even many things that are not remotely plant related.

TPF automatically rigs, textures (including displacement), uvmaps, and animates plants (swaying in gentle breeze to bending and twisting in storm conditions). TPF creations can be exported, for use in just about any 3D program, in many of the popular mesh formats as mesh or vertices cloud. Vue users will experience tighter integration with TPF than users of other software packages, with features like dynamic LOD for scaling detail to resolution, editing within Vue plant editor, and seamless integration with EcoSystem technology to create landscapes populated by hundreds of thousands of unique plants.

Rendering for compositing

As if all these tools weren’t cool enough, TPF comes loaded with an integrated compositing focused render engine which automatically generates and saves colour, alpha, and depth images. It supports  G-Buffer, and extensive multi-pass rendering down to the per asset and per material levels asset with the convenience of grouping into a multi-layer PSD.

The Plant Factory is exciting!

Personally, I’m excited …but I doubt I will green enough to grab a copy on launch day. With e-on’s penchant for personal learning editions (PLE), I do have hope I will be able to get my hands on a mostly functional version of the program.

TPF Story Developments

Pre-Release II – e-on relaxes feature restrictions