Abhishek Karmakar has released Easy Treez, a new foliage modelling tool for Maya. Easy Treez's approach to tree creation is designed to be easy to art direct. To create a tree you first poly model a canopy from which the plugin will generate non-intersecting branches that match the shape. Other features include the ability to add procedural dynamics, the ability to sculpt and deform the trunk and branches, radial & linear branch modes and more. Easy Treez is distributed using a pay-what-you-want model with a minimum price of $35. Find out more on Gumroad.
Radeon has announced an open source version of ProRender aimed at developers. This initiative does not affect the ProRender plugins for 3DS Max, Maya, Blender and Solidworks which retain some features not currently available in the open source version, but means that developers are able to create their own implementations of Radeon ProRender. Also announced is the integration of ProRender with Cinema4D R19 and Modo as well as several improvement to the existing plugins. For more details see the Radeon website.
Epic has released Unreal Engine 4.17 with a new compositing system and Image Plate plugin that enables artists to combine realtime rendered content with live action footage. Other new features include improvements to the Sequencer, a new asset management framework, the ability to query information about assets at runtime using Blueprints, Xbox One X support, VR spectator mode support, and much more. For the full list of new features see the Unreal Engine website.