Is the future of Rendering Game Engines?Using Unreal/Unity as a primary DCC Tool

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  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: You haven't really seen or used much the tools discussed here, have you?


While I have an interest in all the technology and acronyms and try to learn them, I will readily admit I am "more driver than mechanic".

That said, the above feedback I used was passed on to me by nay-sayers of game engines (when I was actually sort of asking why we cannot have Marmoset-style "press F12 to take beauty render snapshot" renders yet in Blender).

I guess your point is "all roads lead to Rome". Regardless of where it comes from, if it makes a pretty picture, we all "get there eventually"?

As always, it is nice to hear from one more knowledgeable on the matter.
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  03 March 2015
It seems this demo has fully dynamic lighting with the following tech:

- Ray Traced Distance Field Shadows for the Sun *1
- Distance Field Ambient Occlusion for the Skylight *1 (medium scale AO wich doesn't suffer from screen space artifacts)
- Heightfield Global Illumination *1

So apart from the distance field calculations for the meshes, there was no baking for the lighting involved. They even removed the lighting in the photogrammetry scans through Delighing to get the correct albedo textures without shadows.

I recommend to watch the Making Of, which is even more impressive than the short in my opinion:

Notable times in the Video: 0:53; 17:51; 20:28; 35:17

AND in the Unreal Engine forums Tim Sweeney himself stepped in and said the following thing:
Originally Posted by Tim Sweeney: The complete UE4 Kite demo is coming along with 4.8. We might be able to release some of the content from the demo sooner. Stay tuned for news.
Source: https://forums.unrealengine.com/sho...ll=1#post238888


*1:
Originally Posted by DanielW: Distance Field Ambient Occlusion was used for sky shadowing, and Ray Traced Distance Field shadows were used for tree shadows in the range 100m - 1200m.

A new method was created for computing dynamic GI from heightfields, which is a part of Distance Field Global Illumination. The other part handles bounce from arbitrary static meshes, but that wasn't enabled as its bounce distance is too low and costs too much in a huge scene. On a 980 GTX the heightfield GI is 2.6ms.
Source: https://forums.unrealengine.com/sho...ll=1#post241581
Note: DF Shadows from 100m - 1200m means that from >Near Clipping Plane - 100m< shadows are shadow mapped (probably cascaded Shadow Maps from the same directional lightsource)
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Last edited by Xharthok : 03 March 2015 at 04:03 AM.
 
  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: While I have an interest in all the technology and acronyms and try to learn them, I will readily admit I am "more driver than mechanic".

That said, the above feedback I used was passed on to me by nay-sayers of game engines (when I was actually sort of asking why we cannot have Marmoset-style "press F12 to take beauty render snapshot" renders yet in Blender).

Are the naysayers competent when it comes to rendering tech? Personally I would suggest that, as a driver, you don't listen to naysayers when you see something inspiring, and instead you try and drive.
With Unreal being massively supported, entirely free including from royalties for pre-rendered content, and actually quite approachable there is no reason not to if you have the time.

Quote: I guess your point is "all roads lead to Rome". Regardless of where it comes from, if it makes a pretty picture, we all "get there eventually"?

Before it was a world of tricks held together with duct tape. When the world moves towards a physical model then unification and convergence of efforts and results isn't an impossibility any longer. That's happening.
Game and Film have moved a long way from their distant and disjointed relationship and now take inspiration from each other on a daily basis, that means a lot more done in one ends up available in the other.

The difference isn't any longer game vs film, it's simply how long you're willing to wait for a frame. If it's one 30th of a second on a PS4 then you still have to cling to some tricks, especially with shading (deferred vs inline and instant use of the sampling), but that doesn't mean the underlying tech for everything else remains removed from your needs as it used to be.

Look at the content creation demo linked above, and get the latest UE. The naysayers are probably the same people that in 2003 were telling me that sculpting and retopo would never catch up, or the same that ten years before again thought consoles would always use cartridges.
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  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Are the naysayers competent when it comes to rendering tech? Personally I would suggest that, as a driver, you don't listen to naysayers when you see something inspiring, and instead you try and drive.
With Unreal being massively supported, entirely free including from royalties for pre-rendered content, and actually quite approachable there is no reason not to if you have the time.


To be fair, I think these guys weren't even the true devs at Blender Foundation. I'd imagine the real devs and Ton Roosendaal have always had something closer to your line of thinking.

Personally as a "driver", I try to take in everything I think is useful to get the quickest
time around a bend.

Anything pretty from as far back as Unreal 3 is useful to me, and any image
I see in UE4, Unity 5, etc I consider inspiring.

I try to figure out how things like Image Based Rendering, for example, are done and I try to "hackjob" it anyway into our projects.

Never tell a driver he can't take that kerb or cut that corner.
So you might say I only give them limited credence. But I do admit I'm "no mechanic".

Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Before it was a world of tricks held together with duct tape. When the world moves towards a physical model then unification and convergence of efforts and results isn't an impossibility any longer. That's happening.
Game and Film have moved a long way from their distant and disjointed relationship and now take inspiration from each other on a daily basis, that means a lot more done in one ends up available in the other.

The difference isn't any longer game vs film, it's simply how long you're willing to wait for a frame. If it's one 30th of a second on a PS4 then you still have to cling to some tricks, especially with shading (deferred vs inline and instant use of the sampling), but that doesn't mean the underlying tech for everything else remains removed from your needs as it used to be.

Look at the content creation demo linked above, and get the latest UE. The naysayers are probably the same people that in 2003 were telling me that sculpting and retopo would never catch up, or the same that ten years before again thought consoles would always use cartridges.


That all definitely sounds delightful! I had been yearning for a time when everything "just renders as it should and does so quickly" everywhere.

I think part of my confusion really is wondering if I should wait for Blender Cycles to reach this point, or if I should use an engine like UE4 or Unity 5 as early as now since I've already felt the "convergence" as you call it was going to happen at some point and I'd gotten into a few arguments recently with people about it, but I never had the technical knowledge to back up my feeling.

If it's about getting there earlier, I have been thinking about Unity 5 precisely for that role.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 03 March 2015 at 02:57 AM.
 
  03 March 2015
If cycles or whatever catches up to them use it, switch to it or do so on the side, until then why not use what already does the stuff you need?
They aren't hard pieces of kit to learn, and an understanding of the physically based model approximated the way UE does it (I don't know about Unity tbh) won't hurt when you'll move to another software. Sure, Disney's "metalness" might be dropped for something else, crushed edge transmission/suppression tricks might differ, but the general feeling for, and understanding of, lighting in an engine like that will move across just fine.

I would understand waiting for the free alternative if the current offers were expensive, but we're talking about free stuff and with no legal obligations of any sort for your use case.

I would also suggest, when you turn around someone else's opinion on another forum like you did in your first post, you mention it ahead of the content, and if you feel it's authoritative also link the source. It came out pretty peremptory and personal instead of a second hand pass-it-on, which doesn't work out great unless you absolutely trust the competence of those it came from, especially the whole DX/OGL blurb which is usually index of a gamer level of understanding rather than developer or even competent driver.
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  03 March 2015
Point taken. Will cite more in future.
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  03 March 2015
At the end of my current project I'm going to delve into UE4 for use as a rendering engine for short films.
Ill always focus on 2D prerendered art (because I love it!), but honestly the stuff thats being produced in these engines is astounding.

For rendering purposes in terms of animations, we also arent limited to 'real time'. If I could get an animation rendering and outputting passes at a frame a minute or so - that would already be 5 to 10 times what I would consider a 'reasonable' rendering time for a 'one man studio'.

Can these engines output individual frames and passes? I suppose this question shows my ignorance!
 
  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by Pyke: At the end of my current project I'm going to delve into UE4 for use as a rendering engine for short films.
Ill always focus on 2D prerendered art (because I love it!), but honestly the stuff thats being produced in these engines is astounding.

For rendering purposes in terms of animations, we also arent limited to 'real time'. If I could get an animation rendering and outputting passes at a frame a minute or so - that would already be 5 to 10 times what I would consider a 'reasonable' rendering time for a 'one man studio'.

Can these engines output individual frames and passes? I suppose this question shows my ignorance!

In the one to five minutes a frame but with no compromises you should actually look at RedShift with a couple beefy videocards rather than Unreal, less work on the assets side and a lot more features. Of course it's not free, so this might be an irrelevant comment, but it's not expensive either.

And yes, all engines have started offering offline rendering and batch rendering of some description.

Passes though I'm not sure, someone who has done actual comp feed friendly work with them would be more indicated to answer this. They do have AoV like entry and exit points in shaders and they can be piped out, they even show it in a couple demos, but how many, how configurable, and how convenient to actually deal with they might be I honestly don't know.
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Last edited by ThE_JacO : 03 March 2015 at 06:30 AM.
 
  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: In the one to five minutes a frame but with no compromises you should actually look at RedShift with a couple beefy videocards rather than Unreal, less work on the assets side and a lot more features. Of course it's not free, so this might be an irrelevant comment, but it's not expensive either.

And yes, all engines have started offering offline rendering and batch rendering of some description.

Passes though I'm not sure, someone who has done actual comp feed friendly work with them would be more indicated to answer this. They do have AoV like entry and exit points in shaders and they can be piped out, they even show it in a couple demos, but how many, how configurable, and how convenient to actually deal with they might be I honestly don't know.


I think it must also be stated that the "sub 5 minute" render can actually be attained by many packages, including the current crop of 3D apps like Maya and Blender, not just game engines - although your mileage in image quality can vary.

With regards to passes, I always felt one of the larger paradigm shifts of working with game engines is the idea that you'd get more of the finished result "in-camera". Again, that's just a feeling I have. It's like their goal is to allow you to do Post to the "world" In-Production.

The UE4 demo above for example definitely looks like there's this goal of applying Post-FX in real time and in-camera.

That might sound scary at first, but if it renders quickly there's not going to be a lot of pain even if you have to re-work a scene.

I'm more concerned about rigging support and shape keys and facial blendshapes. But I'm still researching how that might have advanced in the Unity 5/UE4 version of game engines.

I did have one teammate on Source Engine, but his horror stories about asset preparation for it scared me away.
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  03 March 2015
So I finally got to watch that hour-long presentation of UE4.

And then I see this slide:



I am going to save this screen and hold Epic Games to their word.

Their FACS solution looks awesome! And the 400k vert count for realtime characters is incredible. It is a very high level of output.

So to answer the OP. "Is the Future of Rendering Game Engines?" My answer for MYSELF is YES. lol.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 03 March 2015 at 09:15 AM.
 
  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: I did have one teammate on Source Engine, but his horror stories about asset preparation for it scared me away.

The hammer editor? Wow, it's afwul to work with. I didn't manage to properly load a scene into it, sitting for 2 days trying to.
 
  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by Pyke: ... Can these engines output individual frames and passes? ...
In UE4 you can render AVI's, BMP-, PNG-, JPG-Sequences out of Matinee (the nonlinear sequence editor). You can also render out with considerably higher resolutions and arbitrary frame rates. Passes I haven't tested yet, since the post processes are currently more than sufficient for my needs.

In Matinee you also have control over Lighting, Cameras, Actors, Animations, Sound and you can expose variables from your Blueprint scripts to Matinee and animate them. Basicly it feels a bit like the graph editor from a 3D program merged with a video editor. For really advanced editing stuff it might not be ideal, but you can do all the things you see in the demos (like the Infiltrator Demo), wich at least seems to be enough for my indy filmmaking needs. There's also the possibility to export a rough fbx from matinee with all the cameras etc. and animate them in a 3d Program and import it back (but I haven't tested it yet).

I will render some shots for my short with UE4, so I'm currently investigating the process involved. I will share the things in detail with you guys.
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SciFi Short Film WIP: "Silent Star"
Animation in 3 days: "The Invasion"
Industrial Visualisation: "Extraction System"

Last edited by Xharthok : 03 March 2015 at 02:16 PM.
 
  03 March 2015
Originally Posted by mister3d: The hammer editor? Wow, it's afwul to work with. I didn't manage to properly load a scene into it, sitting for 2 days trying to.


He actually uses it actively for his Machinima.com material.

But when we asked him about it he simply told us it "wasn't worth it" to try and switch over to Source Filmmaker.

He claimed whatever time we hoped to gain in rendering would be lost trying to get assets or scenes to function.

As for UE4, I should have tempered my excitement. I'm now in this apparently growing list of people who are experiencing issues with the Unreal Launcher not installing UE 4.7.2 .

You click "Install" and nothing happens.

Worse is it seems to be one of those "I just turned on my PC the next day and everything was working" problems. So it seems Epic Games has no real solution to it.

Weird. Didn't expect this really.

Oh well. I'll try again throughout the week.
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  03 March 2015
I've been looking into real time visualisation software for the landscape architects I work for, tried Lumion which has a simple workflow and good library but costs around 2200. Unreal Engine certainly requires more setup work and isn't 'drag-and-drop' like Lumion is but it's free and looks really impressive.

Just saw Lumion have released a limited demo of Lumion 5.3, the only demo before this was for version 3!... I think I'll head down the road of Unreal, think it will be of more benefit in the future and of course it's free for all Vis work!
 
  03 March 2015
Wading around in UE4... I can see some advantages with it.

Primarily, this thing can fire out the UE4 definition of "beauty renders" at about less than half a second a frame at a user defined frame rate. And it looks pretty much like what you see on your PS3/PS4.

There's a lot of "distillation" going on here though. I'm not sure there's support for passes. There's no scene layering, so re-render really means re-render everything. But at the speed it does so, it no longer matters.

The first few and last few frames of every Image Sequence are actually FPS mode frames (not your Matinee scene camera). So you're always discarding the first and last few frames to get your image sequence.

You get a lot of stuff "for free". Anything you can place in a scene, for example, can be made to break apart destructively simply by right clicking it and choosing: "Make destructible". You get some free physics you no longer have to bake also so the thing can drop and break apart or get hit by something and break apart.

So there's definite advantages I can see, this early, to something like this.

It's like an "always rendering" scene assembler where you can drag and drop stuff and some properties are built-in. Like since you define collision areas, you can pile walls and objects on top of each other and by default they'd actually pile up physically and not just fall through each other.

But there are shortcuts that make all this possible. I noticed for example that while the lamps do light things in realtime, a Bounce Scene Reflections object used in UE4 - which is like a dual-purpose invisible chrome sphere Light Probe - actually does not update when lamps are added or removed to a scene unless you click "Update bounced reflections". That means there's still quite a few things being "baked" and it's not like UE4 magically does everything your 3D app renderer was doing.

Without access to passes or scene layers, I anticipate that one has to make sure that the long checklist of things a UE4 asset must have such as tonemaps, fine-tuned materials, etc is complete because basically the mindset going forward will be "You will NOT be able to fix the footage in post". If it only outputs JPEGs then you have to make sure what you have is good out-of-the-box.

Then again, you can argue that having "complete" assets that stand well in most conditions is how things should be done anyway.

That said, I must say I'm interested to learn more.

P.S.: For those of you who absolutely must have your buffers and passes, I've read on a forum that CryEngine Cinema Sandbox is capable of outputting larger-than-screen renders to 32-bit multi-channel EXR.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 03 March 2015 at 12:33 AM.
 
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