December 2, 2019
Explore nDisplay technology: limitless scaling of real-time content
Today, it isn’t uncommon to have display systems of various shapes and physical sizes at resolutions exceeding many times the highest of industry standards, such 8K. These aggregated displays often require live and synchronous content to refresh at rates of 60 fps and beyond.To display such a large volume of real-time pixels, the rendering of each frame needs to be distributed over a network of machines—with each machine rendering just a section of a frame—and then each frame must be displayed with precise matching of section edges, all at exactly the same time.
To facilitate such a complex process, Epic Games has introduced nDisplay technology for Unreal Engine. nDisplay combines network configuration data, details about display mechanisms, distribution of rendering, and image display for large surfaces and screens.
In the new white paper nDisplay Technology: Limitless scaling of real-time content, we explore the history and research behind nDisplay, and take a look at types of displays along with network configurations, testing, and syncing. We dive in deep to the nDisplay configuration file, the heart of nDisplay technology.The paper also discusses the implementation of the MPCDI standard and Scalable EasyBlend technology, both of which nDisplay uses to facilitate displaying content on arbitrary and odd-shaped surfaces of all kinds.
Who uses large displays?In the white paper, we mention several use cases for nDisplay including live events, architectural visualization, and virtual production. Here’s a closer look at these and other applications for scaled real-time content.
Live eventsWith real-time projection onto the inside of the world’s largest inflatable dome, hip-hop performer Childish Gambino teamed up with Weta Digital and 2n Design to create a real-time fantasy world for concert attendees.
2n used a 5.4K by 5.4K image rendered by five frame-locked machines powered by NVIDIA Quadro P6000 graphics, then split into a fisheye and sent to 12 projectors. “Using nDisplay to be able to distribute the real-time rendering, and keep the resolution and the frame rate where it needed to be for this project, was key,” says Jeremy Thompson, Art Director at 2n.
Military training applicationsThe military and defense sector was among the first to embrace large-scale real-time content for immersive training, giving trainees the sensation of reality without the dangers of live hostile situations.
“Immersion is key to learning transfer in virtual training,” says Sébastien Lozé, Industry Manager for Simulations at Epic Games. He adds that immersive dome projections provide environments where trainees can remain both immersed and connected to their peers, enabling them to develop the kinds of skills they need for high-tempo operations.
Immersive real-time sets for filmmakingIn August 2019, Epic joined industry partners Lux Machina, Magnopus, Profile Studios, Quixel, ARRI, and DP Matt Workman to test-drive a virtual production setup featuring live LED walls. The walls provide both the environments and the lighting, with the displayed scene illuminating actors and props and providing reflections. nDisplay controlled the live real-time background on three LED panels, each with a 4K image.
Scalable Display Manager on Unreal Engine MarketplaceIn the spirit of extending nDisplay functionality to a wider audience, Scalable Display has released Scalable Display Manager for Unreal, a free version of its calibration tool. With this watermarked version of Scalable Display Manager, you can test and experiment with projecting real-time content on dual-screen configurations of various shapes and sizes using nDisplay. The fully featured version of the Scalable Display Manager, which supports unlimited projectors, is available for purchase directly from Scalable Display Technologies.
The future of scalable real-time contentWith the ongoing developments around nDisplay, new and exciting opportunities are now within reach. Imagine projection mapping or massive LED canvases at never-before-seen sizes and resolutions delivering seamless, fully live and engaging 3D content—closing the gap between pre-rendered and real-time content. Complex and expensive setups that were once only accessible to a few are now within reach. The world is changing, and we want Unreal Engine users to be ahead of the wave.
To start on your journey into the new era of large displays, download the white paper nDisplay Technology: Limitless scaling of real-time content.