April 3, 2014

New Release: Realistic Rendering Showcase

By Dana Cowley

If you watched today’s Twitch broadcast then you’ve already heard that all active UE4 subscribers can now download our Realistic Rendering showcase through Marketplace for free. We hope it’s a nice surprise for everyone!

Epic’s environment artist Paul Mader worked with senior designer Nick Donaldson to create this lifelike high-rise apartment scene. I asked Paul to say a few words about it.

“We wanted to show UE4 developers what they can do with the new tools and technology using a realistic rendering demo as a quick proof of concept. Real-time graphics have always had to fight with heavy limitations, and one of the easiest ways to downplay shading and lighting restraints is to make scenes that are very stylized, or to add dirt and grime to objects, for example. This exercise removed any type of mask to show how artists can now easily build true-to-life environments.”

According to Paul, producing a setting such as an apartment room works well, being familiar territory where imperfections tend to be obvious. “We wanted to test the tech with a clean, realistic room. UE4 has a physically-based material system that works with our global illumination renderer. Our goal was to come as close as possible to an architectural visualization rendering that one might expect to see created with offline rendering software such as Mental Ray or V-Ray.”

Paul and Nick spent three weeks creating the apartment scene from start to finish. “From the beginning the agenda was to avoid going crazy over-budget with our assets, and theoretically, every asset in that scene could be used for a high-end game,” he continues, revealing that the carpet, which exhibits fine detail down to the footprint traffic on individual fibers, was the best place to start.

“I thought that if I could make the carpet look good the rest should be no problem. Using UE4 you can see every little change immediately. Tweaking materials and lighting can be very time-consuming with an offline renderer, so being able to fine-tune changes within a scene and see them instantly is great.”

On the topic of UE4’s support for photometric lights, he says, “We can now set up realistic lighting using exact values in lumen and IES profiles taken from real light sources. It throws out the guesswork, and physically-based shading makes it easy to implement attractive materials that work in every light situation.”

We’re excited to see how developers use the realistic rendering showcase along with the other content that’s been released so far.

What do you think? Are you checking it out? Please share any feedback in the forums!