CARY, NY — Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.22 (unrealengine.com), which has new features designed to push the boundaries of photorealistic and cinematic quality for realtime experiences.
Realtime ray tracing allows users to selectively ray trace just the passes that benefit from it, to achieve subtle, accurate effects that contribute to the realism of a scene. Collaborative editing allows multiple developers to simultaneously make and view changes to the same Unreal Engine project, facilitating effective collaboration that eliminates bottlenecks.
UE 4.22’s rendering code refactor significantly improves mesh drawing performance, with more aggressive caching of drawing information for static scene elements, and automatic instancing to merge draw calls where possible.
Unreal has licensed Molecular Matters' Live++, and integrated it as a new Live Coding feature (Experimental). UE 4.22 also optimizes UnrealBuildTool and UnrealHeaderTool, reducing build times and resulting in up to 3x faster iterations when making C++ code changes.
Among the new tools for creative sound design are TimeSynth (Early Access) for sample-accurate audio clip management; a spectral analyzer for Submixes; layered sound concurrency for better control of how many sounds will play simultaneously; and spectral analysis baking.
With a new UI in Unreal’s built-in compositing tool Composure, users can achieve realtime compositing capabilities directly within Unreal Editor. This is well suired for on-set visualization. The sequence take recorder feature enables users to record animations from motion capture linked to characters in the scene, and from Live Link data, for future playback, enabling faster iteration and review of previous takes.
Unreal Engine now supports the Open Color IO framework for managing multiple color spaces across a film, TV series or animated project. On Windows platforms, UE 4.22 can use the GPU to speed up the processing of H.264 video streams to reduce the strain on the CPU when playing back video streams, resulting in smoother video and allowing the use of higher resolution movie files and more simultaneous input feeds.
UE 4.22 ships with new features for professional video I/O input formats and devices, including 4K UHD inputs for both AJA and Blackmagic; support for both 8-bit and 10-bit inputs; single-link, dual-link, and quad-link; AJA Kona 5 devices; HDMI 2.0 input; and UHD at high frame rates (up to 60fps).
Several new features make the nDisplay multi-display rendering system more flexible, handling new kinds of hardware configurations and inputs.
The new Animation Sharing plug-in reduces the overall amount of animation work required for a crowd of actors. It is based upon the Master-Pose Component system, while adding blending and additive Animation States. The Animation states are buckets for which animation instances are evaluated. The resulting poses are then transferred to all child components part of the bucket.
UE 4.22 supports streaming to Microsoft HoloLens, with full support coming to HoloLens 2 in May. Unreal Engine supports Google’s new game streaming platform, Stadia. With Unreal’s cross-platform capabilities, developers can access Stadia features through familiar interfaces for consistent workflows across any device.