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Epic Games is coming out Unreal engine 5.1 today as an update to the game engine it hopes will be used to build the metaverse.
The new update aims to make Unreal Engine 5 easier and faster for creating 3D content. The company has added a range of tested new features and improvements in 5.1 that make Unreal more robust, efficient and versatile for creators across all industries.
Epic Games said that more than half of all announced next-gen games will be made with Unreal Engine. And it said developers can now take advantage of updates to Lumen’s dynamic global lighting and reflection system. These are important things if you are a game developer, or if you expect to build the metaverse.
It also made updates to the Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry system and virtual shadow maps that lay the foundation for 60 frames per second (fps) games and experiences on next-gen consoles and capable PCs. These improvements will enable fast competition and detailed simulations with no latency, Epic said.
In addition, Nanite has also added a programmable rasterizer to enable material-driven animations and distortions via world position offset, as well as opacity masks. This development paves the way for artists to use Nanite to program the behavior of specific objects, for example Nanite-based foliage with leaves blowing in the wind.
UE 5.1 also adds several features to improve efficiency for developers of games and other large-scale interactive projects, helping teams become more productive. For example, virtual assets decouple the metadata from the object data, allowing developers to sync only what they need from source control systems like Perforce. This results in smaller workspaces and faster syncs for developers who don’t need access to the full object data. said Epic.
The new automated pipeline state object (PSO) caching for DX12 simplifies the process required to prepare a game for submission in the DirectX 12 API. And finally, on-demand shader compilation compiles only the shaders needed to render what’s on screen while working in the Unreal Editor, which can result in significant time savings and increased interactivity, Epic said.
For developers building huge open worlds, this release also offers additional functionality and improved workflows. World Partition now supports Large World Coordinates, allowing the creation of huge open worlds without loss of precision. Users can also enjoy accelerated source management workflows with World Partition, thanks to an improved user experience around managing, filtering, searching, and viewing files and change lists.
It’s also now easier to find content in the world from change lists, and vice versa. In addition, the new HLOD (Hierarchical Level of Detail) support for water rendering and streaming allows users to create large open-world bodies of water with better performance and a smaller memory footprint. As you can see in the picture it looks good.
In-camera visual effects
Unreal Engine has now been used in over 425 film and TV productions and has been integrated into over 300 virtual production stages worldwide. With enhancements in Unreal Engine 5.1 specifically tailored for virtual production workflows, engineers and artists now have multiple benefits including a dedicated In-Camera VFX Editor, enhanced Light Card system, enhanced Remote Control APIs, expanded color correction tools, initial Lumen support for nDisplay , and more.
First, LED stage operators can now take advantage of a new dedicated In-Camera VFX (ICVFX) Editor that supports a range of virtual production workflows. This largely eliminates the need for stage operators to search through the Outliner for specific objects and controls. UE 5.1 also adds UI, UX, and performance improvements to the Remote Control APIs, making it faster and easier for users to build powerful custom browser-based remote controls.
The ICVFX editor also includes an interface to an enhanced Light Card system displayed as a preview of the nDisplay wall. In addition to creating, moving and editing light maps and saving templates intuitively and efficiently, the new light maps can maintain their shape on the wall, preventing distortion.
Also new to the ICVFX Editor are color correction windows (CCWs) that allow color adjustments to be applied exclusively to everything behind it (similar to Power Windows in color correction applications), along with the ability to apply color corrections on an actor-by-actor basis, eliminating the need for complex masking.
In Unreal Engine 5.1, the new media plate actor enables OpenEXR support, allowing users to simply drag and drop footage from the content browser. In addition, users can now play mipmapped and tiled uncompressed EXRs both in-engine and with nDisplay using the appropriate SSD RAID, and now have the option to convert EXRs to the correct format for optimal playback.
In addition, Unreal Engine’s virtual camera system has been overhauled with a new underlying framework that leverages Epic’s pixel streaming technology for improved responsiveness and reliability, and an updated user interface with a modern camera-centric design that will be more familiar to camera operators.
Users now also have the option to connect hardware devices and will be able to customize the user interface in the future.
Lumen, Unreal Engine’s fully dynamic global lighting and reflection system, now offers
initial support for nDisplay in 5.1, provided the number of lights is modest (about 5-7 lights
total, depending on graphics card). With Lumen, indirect lighting adapts to changes at lightning speed
to the angle of the sun, lights, or position bounce maps, for example. Previously, these changes required a baking step that could interrupt production and interrupt the creative flow.
UE 5.1 also adds improvements to GPU Lightmass, including support for Sky Atmosphere, stationary Sky Lights, lighting features such as IES profiles and Rect Light textures, and improved quality and performance across the board.
The use of the Unreal Engine in animation has grown exponentially, from 15 productions between 2015 and 2019 to more than 160 productions from 2020 to 2022. For professionals who work with animated content, especially characters, Unreal Engine 5.1 offers several notable improvements to the built-in animation and engine animation. rigging tools, as well as Sequencer.
Now in beta, the machine learning (ML) Deformer generates high-fidelity approximations of nonlinear deformers, complex proprietary rigs, or random deformation by using a custom Maya plugin to train a machine learning model, which in turn runs in real time in Unreal Motor.
This allows users to simulate movie-quality distortions such as flexing muscles, bulging veins and sliding skin. Other character deformation improvements include improvements to the Deformer Graph Editor for easier graph creation and editing.
Also, the control rig continues to expand into full procedural rigging, increasing the impact and scalability of rigging teams. Core framework updates include a new construction event that allows users to generate rig hierarchies via a graph, and custom user events for creating and triggering rig events such as “Snap FK to IK”.
With these updates, artists will be able to create a single control rig asset that can build itself to suit characters that can have different skeletal proportions and traits – for example, the same Control Rig can adapt itself to a three-fingered monster or a five-fingered human without any modification to the rig -assets.
Unreal Engine 5.1 also adds support for constraints in Sequencer – the engine’s multi-track non-linear animation editor – including Position, Rotation, and Look-at.
Users can use these to quickly and easily create and animate relationships between any control rig or actors – for example, have a camera always follow a character, keep a character’s hands on the steering wheel, animate a clown juggling balls or the constraining a cowboy’s hips so that the character sits naturally in the saddle as the horse moves, with his hands holding the reins.
Sequencer also sees additional functionality available through Blueprint and Python scripting, and a reworked UI/UX for greater stability and extensibility, and to improve animation writing and editing workflows.
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