Virtual Production in Unreal Engine 4.23
With the release of Unreal Engine 4.23 its clear to see Epics support for the Virtual production industry. Epic claim to have “transformed” film and TV production with the new virtual production tools and real-time ray tracing abilities of Unreal Engine 4.23. Unreal 4.23 is the biggest update for virtual production to date with bulks of new features for virtual film makers, whether its Ndisplay and LED walls or VR scouting.
HDRI Backdrop Actor
The new HDRI backdrop actor was a very exciting one for us here at On-set Facilities. This new feature allows you to instantly create a environment from a HDRI. The actor provides a fake ground, sky-sphere and realistic lighting all from a signal HDRI. The lighting of the project is all real-time and totally dynamic. HDRI backdrop actor is the fastest way to get a photorealistic scene in UE 4.23 and paired with photogrammetry assets it provides a high quality of photorealism in a fraction of the time.
Here’s a short test which took no more than 30 minutes to create. this demo shows the great results which can be archived with little to no time when pairing photogrametry and HDRIs.
Real-time Ray Tracing Improvements
Real-time ray tracing has been a key feature for the Unreal Engine ever since its release it provides the ability to high quality shadows and reflections all in real-time, although it didn’t come without its technical problems. In Unreal Engine 4.23 some of these technical issues should be improved with Epic focusing improvements towards stability and performance.
Ray tracing now supports more types of geometry and materials. Such as:
Hierarchical Instanced Static Meshes and Instanced Static Meshes
Transmission with SubSurface Materials
World Position Offset support for Landscape and Skeletal Mesh geometries
Ndisplay and LED Walls
Epic impressed the masses with its In-camera VFX demo out in Siggraph last month, with LED screens providing real-time reflections to real actors and props on-set. They archived this with the use of Ndisplay multi-display technologies a feature within Unreal Engine 4.22 although in 4.23 they’ve made improvements in performance and stability allowing anyone to try the new methods of virtual production.
VR Scouting for Film-makers
The VR scouting tool helps productions become a more collaborative experience and bring the creative back on-set. Allowing the Director, DVP (Director of Virtual Production) and DOP (Director of Photography) make creative decisions on-set there and then. VR scouting allows easier composing of shots for the DOP and collaborative design for arts departments with interactive worlds which can be modified in a instance whilst still in VR.
Remote Control over HTTP
Unreal Engine 4.23 now allows users to control the engine remotely over HTTP. Users can now create custom web interfaces that control your UE project. This opens up the possibilities of controlling the engine from anywhere with a almost zero latency or delay due to the HTTP controls.