Unreal Engine 5.3: 5 key options for CG artists

Initially posted on 27 July 2023, and up to date with particulars of the secure launch.

Epic Video games has launched Unreal Engine 5.3, the most recent model of the sport engine.

It’s one other vital replace, giving VFX artists the choice to import smoke and fireplace simulations created in different DCC purposes in OpenVDB format and render them inside Unreal Engine.

Animators get a brand new Skeletal Editor and Panel Fabric Editor, visualisation professionals get correct help for orthographic rendering, digital manufacturing artists get an anamorphic lens solver, and filmmakers get a rail digicam rig.

Under, you possibly can learn our choose of the 5 major new options in Unreal Engine 5.3 for CG artists, versus programmers, together with a abstract of the opposite key modifications.

1. VFX: import smoke, fireplace and clouds in OpenVDB format (Experimental)
One of many largest modifications in Unreal Engine 5.3 is the choice to import simulations from DCC purposes like Houdini in OpenVDB format and render them in Unreal Engine.

In contrast to third-party plugins for importing OpenVDB recordsdata, which convert the imported information to NanoVDB, Unreal Engine converts the info into Sparse Volume Textures (SVTs).

Like UE4’s Volume Textures, SVTs might be listed with 3D UV co-ordinates, however use “a lot much less” reminiscence.

SVTs are supported within the Deferred Renderer as Heterogeneous Volumes for smoke and fireplace, or as Volumetric Cloud or Volumetric Fog.

“Extra full help” is obtainable when rendering volumes with the Path Tracer, which may simulate scattering, self-shadowing and GI.

2. Animation: rig characters inside UE5 with the Skeletal Editor (Experimental)
One other main new function in Unreal Engine 5.3 is the Skeletal Editor, meant for rigging characters or modifying pores and skin weights instantly inside Unreal Editor, moderately than having to take action in DCC purposes.

Customers can convert Static Meshes to Skeletal Meshes, add or edit bones, and paint pores and skin weights, with help for traditional portray choices like Flood, Chill out and Normalize.

Animators additionally get updates to the Curve Editor and Smart Bake system, and workflow enhancements for animation retargeting.

3. VFX: new Panel Fabric Editor to streamline material simulation (Experimental)
Unreal Engine 5.3 additionally features a new Panel Cloth Editor, with help for XPBD (Prolonged Place Primarily based Dynamics) constraints in addition to the present PBD constraints.

Simulation metrics are not baked into the draped pose, so simulation high quality ought to be improved even when utilizing PBD constraints.

The brand new editor makes use of a non-destructive workflow, changing masks with reusable weight maps, and helps cloth-flesh interactions and Stage Set Quantity (LSV) collisions.

In keeping with Epic, it lays the muse for each real-time material modifying, and a “extra VFX-oriented” method based mostly round simulation caching, enabling customers to commerce simulation time in opposition to accuracy.

4. Visualisation: correct help for orthographic rendering (Experimental)
Architects and visualisation artists get correct help for orthographic rendering.

Unreal Engine has had an Orthographic mode for cameras for a while, however Epic describes it as having been “impractical to make use of” because of the variety of rendering options not supported.

In Unreal Engine 5.3, it helps “most fashionable options”, together with dynamic GI system Lumen, Nanite virtualised geometry, shadows, and Temporal Tremendous Decision (TSR) render upscaling.

5. Digital manufacturing: new anamorphic lens solver (Experimental)
Artists utilizing Unreal Engine for previs or digital manufacturing work get plenty of new options, together with a brand new Anamorphic Lens Mannequin and Anamorphic Lens Solver.

The modifications ought to make it attainable to render the CG components of a shot in actual time with distortion matching that of live-action footage shot utilizing anamorphic lenses.

Different key modifications embody preliminary help for Unreal Engine’s virtual camera system on macOS, and CineCamera Rig Rail, for organising rail digicam photographs inside Unreal Engine.

Updates to Nanite, Lumen and the modelling and simulation toolsets
Unreal Engine 5.3 additionally options additional updates to virtualised geometry system Nanite, dynamic lighting system Lumen, the in-engine modelling and UV instruments, and to the opposite simulation toolsets.

Nanite will get help for explicit per-vertex tangents, which ought to enhance outcomes with low-poly fashions, and might now be enabled in Landscape Actors to spice up runtime efficiency for giant panorama belongings.

Lumen now supports more than one bounce when rendering reflections utilizing {hardware} ray tracing, and Lumen Reflections can be utilized with out Lumen GI, to enhance the visible high quality of ranges with static lighting.

The in-engine modelling toolset will get a reworked UI and new vertex paint tools, whereas the UV editor can now visualise texture distortion by way of heatmaps.

Niagara, Unreal Engine’s particle results system, will get help for reworking fluid simulations after they’re cached, making it attainable to duplicate and offset caches to create extra advanced results.

The hair grooming toolset now helps streaming of groom and groom binding assets, and there’s preliminary help for hair strands within the deformer graph.

The brand new Procedural Content material Technology toolset launched in Unreal Engine 5.2 will get help for hierarchical workflows, making it attainable to make use of a number of grid sizes when producing sport worlds.

Pipeline integration and platform modifications
As well as, help for the USD and MaterialX requirements is being prolonged additional, with the choice to edit USD materials directly in the viewport and to import USD files with MaterialX shading networks.

Different key pipeline integration modifications embody the usage of the OpenColorIO (OCIO) normal for inside texture conversions.

You’ll find an entire record of modifications by way of the hyperlinks beneath, together with new options for builders like Multi-Course of Cook dinner, which makes higher use of obtainable CPU cores and reminiscence when utilizing a construct farm to transform content material to a platform-specific format.

System necessities and availability
Unreal Engine 5.3 is obtainable now for 64-bit Home windows, macOS and Linux.

Use of the editor is free, as is rendering non-interactive content material. For video games developed with the engine, Epic takes 5% of the gross royalties after the primary $1 million generated.

Read an overview of the new features in Unreal Engine 5.3 on Epic Games’ blog

Read a full list of new features in Unreal Engine 5.3 in the online release notes

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