After having spent years using traditional ray-traced render engines, here are some reasons why we have made the transition to Unreal Engine as our primary renderer.

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Look Development, visualize in real-time

Being able to instantly test different materials for floors or tissue types for furniture, moving around lights testing there different intensities and color, and having full control of the Sun shadows even after a scene has been rendered. All of this saves an incredible amount of time when setting up the atmosphere for a scene.

Rendering before the animation starts

Unreal Engine has a full Global Illumination solver that creates light map textures for all the objects in a scene. As the entire scene has been calculated and can be used in real time, we can instantly iterate camera animations for a sequence. Comparing this lighting calculation method to a traditional ray-tracer, it takes about the same amount of time. Although with ray-traced images you are locked to that single view, where as in a game engine like Unreal you are free to move the camera where ever you like, making changes instantly.

Color Grading, image conservation

The post processing color grading tools in Unreal Engine removes the pain of lost render output due to the lack of color information. Before, when we would produce an image or sequence, we would try to keep the output flat or neutral making it easier to color correct in post. That process has now become obsolete as we do all our color grading directly in the engine.

Directing, the power of Sequencer

One of the best additions to an Unreal Engine workflow is the Sequencer. A real-time video editor that functions like Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve, as well as being able to animate pretty much anything along the timeline. This provides a powerful tool that gives full control over the camera animations and the camera settings in 3D space. Which adds a whole new dimension to creating films for architectural visualization as it provides a completely non destructive workflow.

Output, fast turnaround and better communication

As the final deadline approaches there is nothing more difficult than having to deal with last minute changes. Using Unreal Engine most changes can be made without having to re-calculate the scene. Changing or adding new objects can be dealt with, as there is a Volumetric Lighting solver that accommodates movable objects which closely resembles the pre-calculated lighting. Having full control of a pixel size and frame rate makes all the difference, as time is reduced to a few minutes on a single computer rather rendering non stop on multiple PC’s for a few days.

What else but the future

The next step for us is to bridge the gap between our perception of this world with a virtual one. We really want to do something special with VR, so we are taking the time to get to know the in's and out's and make some interesting experiences with the Blueprint system. Thus developing innovative control schemes that have various  interactive mechanisms in order to get people immersed into an experience of space, light and shadow.