Chaos Group unveils V-Ray for Unreal

As one of the world’s most popular physically-based renderers, V-Ray is used daily by top design studios, architectural firms, advertising agencies, and visual effects companies around the globe. Chaos Group also noticed the rapid adoption of Unreal Engine by many of these firms to create interactive or immersive experiences, so for them to produce V-Ray for Unreal was a logical step. Having been in beta since March, the full product launch came one week before Autodesk University 2018. 

“We’re always listening to our customers, and we’re fortunate in that we get to work with creatives in multiple industries,” says Chaos Group’s Communications Director David Tracy, who unveiled the software publically at the show. “Whether it’s architectural visualization, automotive, or visual effects, every industry has its own challenges. The one common need for any artist or designer, though, is a smooth workflow, and reliable results across all their entire toolset. That, and excellent results.”

In this case, that smooth workflow means being able to easily repurpose V-Ray scenes created in 3ds Max, Maya, Rhino, or SketchUp in Unreal Engine, without needing to learn new rendering paradigms. With V-Ray for Unreal, lights and materials are automatically converted into their real-time equivalents for UE workflows, but they maintain a smart connection to the originals—so you can continue to create full-quality ray-traced renders directly from the Unreal Editor with the same content. “With V-Ray for Unreal we wanted to create the fastest, simplest way to bring V-Ray scenes into a real-time environment, and give artists the ability to render V-Ray ray-traced images directly from Unreal,” says Tracy. “Now, artists can achieve great-looking real time and great-looking physically-based renders with a workflow that they already know.” 

Importantly, the software also introduces V-Ray Light Baking, enabling artists and designers to bake V-Ray lights (including IES) directly into Unreal with full GPU acceleration, for the highest-quality real-time illumination. This ensures that the lighting in the V-Ray rendering is well matched to the real-time experience in Unreal Engine.

“We’re excited to bring our Academy Award-winning ray-tracing technology to Unreal Engine and see what amazing content artists come up with, and make their lives a little easier in the process,” says Tracy. “Working with Epic has been great, and from a development standpoint, it helps that UE4 is an open platform. I think the combination of V-Ray and Unreal Engine is a natural fit for any studio that has V-Ray in their pipeline and is interested in using Unreal.” V-Ray for Unreal is available now. For pricing and availability, or to download a trial version, visit the Chaos Group website.

“If fidelity to V-Ray rendering and the V-Ray workflow is most important to customers, then this is a great solution for our joint customers. No one is going to match a V-Ray scene to Unreal Engine better than the creators of V-Ray,” says Pierre-Felix Breton, Technical Product Manager for Epic Games. “It’s also the only solution if you want to bring V-Ray scenes from Maya, SketchUp, and Rhino into Unreal Engine, since Unreal Studio doesn’t support reading V-Ray scene data from those tools. Unreal Engine is the only real-time engine Chaos Group supports, so this is a great endorsement.”

Now, customers can retain their investment in V-Ray knowledge as they transition to real time, while they explore what’s possible with Unreal Studio. Where V-Ray for Unreal is all about fidelity to V-Ray and V-Ray rendering, Unreal Studio is more focused on scene structure, metadata, and the ability to optimize assets for interactive experiences. 

With support for 3ds Max, Revit, and SketchUp Pro (not to mention a wide range of CAD formats), Unreal Studio is an ideal partner to V-Ray for Unreal. Its Datasmith feature set not only provides import capabilities but also data optimization tools, which can be used in parallel with V-Ray for Unreal. Along with Datasmith, it offers one-to-one ticketed support, targeted learning, and industry-relevant templates and assets. Why not download the free beta today?

Unreal Awards: Experience Design competition winners announced!

We’re thrilled to announce the winners in our first ever Unreal Awards: Experience Design competition. We set out to find design innovators using Unreal Engine for architecture, manufacturing, and product design, and we weren’t disappointed.

The winners were selected from our shortlist of nominees by our esteemed panel of judges. Our thanks to Stephen Phillips from Theia Interactive; Fabio D’Agnano from IUAV Architecture University of Venice; Omer Harpaz from Line Creative; Carlos Cristerna from Neoscape; Gamma Basra from Foster + Partners; Gianpiero Monopoli from State of Art Academy; and Pierre Maheut from Allegorithmic for a difficult job well done.

The winners will share over $70,000 worth of prizes. In addition to cash awards, they’ll receive valuable bonuses from our generous sponsors: Substance, Esri, AXYZ design, and TurboSquid.

And the winners are:

Architecture, engineering, and construction

1st place: Project created by BVN REAL

2nd place: Project created by ZOAN

3rd place: Project created by Buildmedia/Realspace

 

Product design

1st place: Project created by 3DigitStudio

2nd place: Project created by RAYWORKS

3rd place: Project created by PriestmanGoode

 

Manufacturing

1st place: Project created by GE’s Industrial Interactive

2nd place: Project created by AltSpace

3rd place: Project created by GE’s Industrial Interactive

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who entered, and of course to our generous sponsors: Substance, Esri, Axyz, and Turbosquid. 

Interested in creating winning design experiences of your own? Download the free Unreal Studio beta today.

Digital humans: 3Lateral cracks the code for real-time facial performance

3Lateral has long been recognized as an industry leader in facial performance capture. In the latest podcast in our Visual Disruptors series, Vladimir Mastilovic, Founder and Director, talks about how new developments will change filmmakers’ approach to digital performance in virtual production, and how 3Lateral joining forces with Epic Games will affect the availability of these tools in the future. 

Listen to the full podcast below or read on for an overview, then visit our virtual production hub for more podcasts, videos, articles, and insights.

There’s a good chance you’ve already seen 3Lateral’s work in action. The company was behind the facial capture and animation for AAA games like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Activision’s Call of Duty, and Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. With Epic Games, 3Lateral has worked on real-time digital humans in projects such as Siren, Hellblade, and Osiris Black with Andy Serkis.
Mastilovic has been fascinated by facial animation since he saw the groundbreaking film The Abyss in 1989, where director James Cameron created the first CG face made entirely of water in film history.

“I was completely mesmerized with that,” says Mastilovic, “and I wanted to know more about how that was done.”

Fifteen years later, Mastilovic would go on to found 3Lateral in his native Serbia, and forever change the way facial motion capture and performance are approached in the industry.

From micro expressions to true performance

Underlying 3Lateral’s work is the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), which categorizes facial muscle movements. FACS was developed in the 1960s by researcher Dr. Paul Ekman, who studied cultures untouched by modernization and discovered that all human beings use the same facial expressions to express emotion. 

Ekman’s research led him to develop the science of micro expressions, the facial contractions common to all peoples of the world. “I love the fact that there is a nonverbal universal language between every human being,” says Mastilovic. 
While FACS has long been used by the VFX community to inform manually keyframed facial animation, 3Lateral has taken things a step further. Part of 3Lateral’s secret sauce is “rig logic,” which goes beyond traditional facial capture systems to retain the essence of the live actor’s performance while targeting it realistically to a digital character. As an actor performs live on camera, 3Lateral’s system translates the actor’s facial movements to FACS in real time, which then tells the target facial rig what to do.

To inform the transfer of human performance to a completely different facial structure, 3Lateral introduced the notion of digital DNA. “DNA is a set of measurements that we are observing on a particular face,” explains Mastilovic. “The DNA file contains the offset from the general model that is specific to a person. And that DNA file then becomes the key for translating geometric data into semantic data.”

3Lateral recently showcased this technology in the Osiris Black project, where actor Andy Serkis’s performance of a Shakespearean monologue was targeted to an alien character in real time. The video shows the power of this virtual production technique where, despite the fact that Serkis has facial features very different from the target character, the realism, emotion, and power of the original performance remain.

“That’s a technology that translates the performance Into this nonverbal universal language,” says Mastilovic. ”We basically just transferred his [Serkis’s] performance into FACS code and then just loaded it on the alien.”

The result stunned the industry, and opened up a new world for real-time facial performance capture in virtual production.

Beyond the rigs: The future with Epic Games

Epic acquired 3Lateral last month. Mastilovic, with his lifelong passion for realizing lifelike human performance in CG, looks forward to expanding 3Lateral’s R&D, and especially wants to develop tools that can be made publicly available. 

He laments that due to increasing demand for facial capture and animation, 3Lateral has had to turn away more than 95% of projects offered to them in the last year. Mastilovic hopes that with the new availability of tools that anyone can use, no one will have to walk away disappointed.
Mastilovic sees Unreal Engine as a tool for much more than gaming, with future applications in machine learning, communication, personal self-improvement, social research, and more. Within filmmaking, he sees immediate uses in virtual production beyond simple facial capture. For example, parts of an actor’s performance can be remixed in real time to try out different emotional pacings for a scene. 

“The applications are too long to list,” he says. “It creates a wonderful new world of opportunities where the users of this tech will inspire us back and show us the ways that this can be used, that we didn’t even imagine.”

This podcast interview with Mastilovic is part of our Visual Disruptors series. Visit our Virtual Production page to get more great podcasts, videos, and articles on virtual production!
 

Look-development workflows in Unreal Studio with Substance and X-Rite

Striking a balance between crafting material realism and finding your creative spark is often one of the challenges in look development. Pairing the right tools together, however, can give you the technical palette you need to tap into the full realm of design possibilities.

In our recent webinar, we introduced viewers to Unreal Studio’s powerful look-development tools, and showed them how to effectively light, texture, and render an automotive asset in stunning detail with Unreal Studio, Substance, and X-Rite. In case you missed the live event, we’ve brought the recording to you here.

Join Daryl Obert, Design Specialist at Epic Games; Wes McDermott, Integrations Product Manager at Allegorithmic; and Dr. Marc Ellens, Senior Software Engineer and TAC Evangelist at X-Rite, as they guide you through best practices in their respective tools.

You’ll learn about:

  • Effectively lighting, texturing, and rendering an asset for look development
  • Establishing proper lighting, post-processing, and camera setups
  • Working with measured materials with X-Rite’s AxF component
  • Unlocking creative possibilities with Substance

If you’d like to follow along, download the project files. Looking for more webinars? Check out the full series here.

Lux Machina brings real-time control to live event broadcast effects with Unreal Engine

Massive screens, custom-built set pieces and sophisticated lighting are a hallmark of polished live event productions, though integrating those components into existing broadcast transmission infrastructure can be a challenge. Enter Lux Machina, a comp…

Shortlist chosen for “Unreal Awards: Experience Design” competition

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: which entries are in the running to win the first ever Unreal Awards: Experience Design competition? Our quest to find and reward design innovators using Unreal Engine for architecture, manufacturing, and product design is reaching its closing stages, and the shortlist is in.

The winners are in line to share over $70,000 worth of prizes across the three categories, including cash awards and valuable bonuses from our generous sponsors: Allegorithmic, Esri, AXYZ design, and TurboSquid.

We’ve had a tough time narrowing down the field from some great entries, but we have made our selection. The following submissions have made our shortlist, but, to ensure complete fairness, we’ll be keeping their creators anonymous until judging is complete—so the only identifier here is their three-digit entry number. 

Nominees in the Architecture category

Nominees in the Manufacturing category

Nominees in the Product Design category

We’d like to thank everyone who entered, and wish all of our shortlisted nominees the best of luck! Now it’s down to our esteemed panel of judges from Theia Interactive, IUAV Architecture University of Venice, Line Creative, Neoscape, Foster + Partners, State of Art Academy, and Allegorithmic to pick the winners, which will be announced the week of February 11 to 15, 2019. Stay tuned for that post, where we’ll present the complete videos from each of our winners and runners-up.

Is design innovation something you’d like to be part of your future? Download the free Unreal Studio beta today, and start creating something Epic.

Featured free Marketplace content – February 2019

In partnership with Unreal Engine Marketplace creators, each month select content will be available for free to the UE4 community to give artists, designers and programmers even more resources at no additional cost.

Check out the new content available this month!

February’s Featured Free Content:

CCG Toolkit – Aaron Scott

A customizable card game framework to create single and multiplayer experiences

Hand Painted Textures Starter Kit – LowlyPoly

21 hand-painted textures, mobile and PBR ready

Luos’s Particle Toolkit Vol. 1 – Luos

A particle toolkit full of meshes, noise textures, material functions and more, with over 67 sample particles

Platformer Kit 2D – Polyart Studios

A 2D platformer creation toolkit with a fully customizable player character and 21 animation states

Scifi Kitbash Level Builder – Denys Rutkovskyi

A collection of SciFi assets, including walls, doors, props, and decals

New Permanently Free Content:

Medieval Dungeon – Infuse Studio 

A collection of modular meshes and props to build a medieval dungeon and crypt

Particles and Wind Control System – Dragon Motion

A wind control system with environmental particle effects

Snag these free packs while they’re still available and check back in March as new free content will be featured!

Are you a Marketplace creator interested in having your content featured for free to the community? Visit unrealengine.com/uesponsoredcontent.
 

Agog Labs joins Epic Games

We’re pleased to share that Agog Labs has become a part of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine team.

Awarded an Unreal Dev Grant in 2015, Agog Labs is known for SkookumScript, a powerful scripting solution and command console that is used to create AI, gameplay and high-level stage direction aspects of projects of all types across major platforms. Its live workflow includes robust yet simple and easy-to-learn features, native game concepts such as concurrency with minimal lines of code, and deep integration with Blueprints and C++. While active development of SkookumScript has ceased, it remains available as a community-supported plugin for Unreal Engine 4. 

For access to SkookumScript, visit http://skookumscript.com/download.  

Markus Breyer and Conan Reis
 

Conan Reis, CEO of Agog Labs said, “Here at Agog Labs our goal has always been to create authoring and development tools that allow people to focus on bringing their passionate imaginings to life. We melt our brains so you don’t have to. Epic has the same goals and spark of mad science, which makes it easy to align our paths. We’re honored to become part of the Epic family.”

Welcome to the team, Agog Labs.