Virtual production in Unreal Engine 4.24
With the release on Unreal Engine 4.24 we’ve been able to track down some of the many features coming to the new version of the engine. Due to the huge number of updates and fixes this article will stick to those which effect Virtual Production within the Unreal Engine.
Virtual Production Updates
Currently Sequencer is limited in its export to disk options, Unreal Engine 4.24 will provide Pro Media Exports support for Sequencer allowing media codecs like Avid DNXHR. This makes unreal more compatible with film and TV pipelines which are structured around such codecs.
NDisplay is set to receive several updates to improve its usability. Display will now be able to be used in any Unreal project, Where previously it was limited to a NDispaly game mode. Display was also limited to only using a Ndisplay pawn where as now we are able to turn any character into a pawn for NDisplay. NDisplay is the feature which made the production of Epics LED wall demo possible possible.
Due to Unreals extensive use in TV and broadcast many have requested the addition of 3D text. Unreal 4.24 will provide realtime 3d text to be used in TV, Live events and possibly film. Although 3D text is very catered towards broadcast needs and aesthetics it’s still a step closer to realtime VFX and graphics within the engine.
Other mentionable Updates
A huge update and very exciting new feature for engine is the addition of a new Modelling mode within Unreal Engine 4.24. This new mode will come with a range of sculpting tools that allow basic adjustments to models and meshes. Unreal described the new Modelling mode as a “simplified MudBox or ZBrush”. The sculpting tools will allow users to move and edit Vertexes. Although this modelling mode is basic now Epic’s only going to improve its features until we have a modelling “software” within the engine. (This does not replace the Static Mesh Asset Editor, but is a separate set of tools that are focused on interactive 3D modelling)
Hair and fur rendering and simulation will be supported in 4.24. users will be able to import your Alembic (.abc) groom from other DCC applications, create and setup your hair using the Groom component in UE4. Edit your Material in UE4, and use Niagara to set up hair physics with some adjustable settings. It’ll be great to have more realistic digital humans on set without the limitations of hair renders and simulations.
Unreal 4.24 will also host new atmospheric fog component which will provide a physical based earth like atmosphere. The fog is designed to provide a greater aerial perspectives. This fog will appear in the new Sun position plugin update which will now wrap a directional light, sky light and the new atmospheric fog into one actor to provide users with a single actor solution for creating worlds, similar to the HDRI actor introduced in 4.23.