Unreal Engine 5.3: 5 key options for CG artists

Epic Video games has launched the primary public preview of Unreal Engine 5.3, the brand new model of the sport engine.

It’s one other important 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 a revamped Material Editor, visualisation professionals get correct assist for orthographic rendering, and digital manufacturing artists get an anamorphic lens solver.

Beneath, you’ll be able to learn our choose of the 5 foremost new options in Unreal Engine 5.3 for CG artists, versus programmers, together with a short abstract of the opposite key adjustments.


1. VFX: import smoke, fireplace and clouds in OpenVDB format (Experimental)
One of many largest adjustments 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 current third-party plugins for importing OpenVDB recordsdata, which convert the imported knowledge to NanoVDB, Unreal Engine converts the info into Sparse Volume Textures (SVTs).

Like UE4’s Volume Textures, SVTs may 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 assist” is out there when rendering volumes with the Path Tracer, which might simulate scattering, self-shadowing and GI.


2. Animation: new Skeletal Editor for skinning characters inside Unreal Engine (Experimental)
One other main new function in Unreal Engine 5.3 is the Skeletal Editor, supposed for rigging characters or enhancing pores and skin weights immediately inside Unreal Editor, fairly 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 assist for traditional weight-painting choices like Flood, Calm down and Normalize.

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


3. VFX: new Material Editor to streamline fabric simulation (Experimental)
Unreal Engine 5.3 additionally features a new Cloth Editor, with assist for XPBD (Prolonged Place Based mostly Dynamics) constraints in addition to the present PBD constraints.

Simulation metrics are now 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 Degree Set Quantity (LSV) collisions.

In line with Epic, it lays the muse for each real-time fabric enhancing, and a “extra VFX-oriented” method based mostly round simulation caching, enabling customers to commerce simulation time towards accuracy.


4. Visualisation: correct assist for orthographic rendering (Experimental)
Architectural professionals and visualisation artists get correct assist 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 numerous new options, together with a brand new Anamorphic Lens Mannequin and Anamorphic Lens Solver.

The adjustments ought to make it potential 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 adjustments embrace preliminary assist for Unreal Engine’s virtual camera system on macOS, and CineCameraRigRail, for organising rail digital camera pictures inside Unreal Engine.


Different adjustments: additional updates to Nanite, Lumen and the modelling and simulation toolsets
Different adjustments listed on Epic Video games’ online roadmap embrace updates to Nanite, Lumen, the in-engine modelling and UV instruments, and to the opposite simulation toolsets.

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

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 through heatmaps, as proven within the picture above.

Niagara, Unreal Engine’s particle results system, will get assist for remodeling fluid simulations after they’re cached, making it potential to duplicate and offset caches to create extra complicated results.

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

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

Pipeline integration and platform adjustments
As well as, assist 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 adjustments embrace using the OpenColorIO (OCIO) normal for inner texture conversions, and beta support for the Unreal Editor on Apple’s new M2 processors.

We’ll replace this story as soon as the ultimate launch notes for Unreal Engine 5.3 can be found: if Epic follows its traditional schedule, it ought to be in a few months’ time.

System necessities and availability
Unreal Engine 5.3 is out there now as a public preview for 64-bit Home windows, macOS and Linux. The present steady launch is Unreal Engine 5.2.

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 by a title.

Read Epic Games’ forum post announcing the Unreal Engine 5.3 preview

Read an overview of the features in Unreal Engine 5.3 in the public roadmap

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