Trees Plugins for 3ds Max. I have no idea how many of them are out there but there seems to be tons. There are the standard foliage objects, and the 2 plugins who have demo versions shipping In the box.
Typically the problem with foliage is the amount of geometry which it adds to a typical scene. Well Tree Storm is no exception, but rendering times do not seem to be adversely affected. After some experimentation I was able to place about 100 trees in an empty scene, and render it with mental ray on my test system in about 3 minutes.
Recently, some of my students in my CGSociety course introduced me to trees created by Onyx. So I contacted them and they were kind enough to send me a version which I could evaluate. Well at first I was not sure I liked them, but after closer inspection and examination they are working great.
At the heart of the program is the Adjust Polygons dialog which allows you to adjust the number of polygons that an individual tree will use. Those who are familiar with adjusting foliage in 3ds Max should not take long to get familiar with this dialog.
Now the trick to get mental ray to play nice with this plugin was to use instances extensively when cloning the trees. Take 3 or 4 unique trees, instance them, use rotation and scale to give some diversity and your memory requirements go down. Therefore more trees.
I think you'll agree the results look great.