Epic Games - Unreal Engine 5.3


Categories Virtual Production

Unreal Engine has been widely adopted across the media and entertainment industry, used on over 750 films and TV shows to date and counting. Unreal Engine 5.3, released in September, builds on the robust foundation of Unreal Engine 5, refining and adding new purpose-built toolsets for filmmakers and storytellers in the virtual production community to enable greater creative freedom and collaboration across departments.

Unreal Engine 5.3 also adds functionality to prepare for the next generation of LED volume stages. Virtual production features and updates in Unreal Engine 5.3 include-  nDisplay support for SMPTE ST 2110 In preparation for the next generation of LED production stages, Unreal Engine 5.3 adds Experimental support to nDisplay for SMPTE ST 2110, a new standard developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, SMPTE which enables the transport of video over IP.

Utilizing NVIDIA hardware and its Rivermax SDK, Unreal Engine support for SMPTE ST 2110 lays the groundwork for a range of hardware configurations that open up new possibilities for LED stages. For virtual production, Unreal Engine 5.3 support for the standard offers stage owners, Virtual Art Departments (VADs), and VFX studios new flexibility for deciding how video feeds are routed on an LED stage—including the ability to share the frustum between render nodes—leading to the potential for higher-resolution displays and more efficient use of hardware resources.

For multi-camera shoots, it offers the option of using a dedicated machine for each camera frustum, maximizing the potential rendering resolution, increasing frame rate, and allowing for more complex scene geometry and lighting than previously possible; it also addresses the challenge of the extra resolution required by wider-angle lens. Another benefit is lower latency, due to a simplified signal chain that removes the need for DisplayPort to HDMI convertors. Cine Cam Rig Rail - Integrated with VCam—as well as in-editor workflows—a new Cine Cam Rig Rail enables filmmakers to emulate the workflow and results of traditional camera movement along tracks or dollies; directors can even “ride the rail” from the comfort of their iPad. The Cine Cam Rig Rail provides more refined controls than the existing Rig Rail, including the ability to choreograph settings like camera rotation, focal length, focus distance, and so on, within Sequencer at different control points along the path.

VCam enhancements: The Unreal Engine 5.3 release includes the ability to review takes directly on an iPad for faster iteration. Crew can also simultaneously stream different VCam output for different team members—for example, with camera controls for the camera operator, without for the director—facilitating collaborative VCam shoots. Lastly, users can now record at a slower frame rate and playback at normal speed for easier capture of fast-moving action. There’s also the ability to indicate over-exposed areas in the camera view using a zebra-striped pattern. Cinematic-quality volumetric rendering: Two new features in Unreal Engine 5.3, Sparse Volume Textures (SVT) and Path Tracing of Heterogeneous Volumes, introduce a number of new capabilities for volumetric effects such as smoke and fire. Sparse Volume Textures store baked simulation data representing volumetric media, and can be simulated in Niagara or imported from OpenVDB (.vdb) files created in other 3D applications. In addition, more complete support for rendering volumes is now available as Experimental in the Path Tracer. This offers the potential for high-quality volumetric rendering—including global illumination, shadow and scattering—for films, episodic television, and other content directly in Unreal Engine.

Real-time use cases such as games and virtual production can also begin experimenting with SVTs for playback of volumetric elements. Unreal Stage iOS app: The new Unreal Stage app mirrors the dedicated In-Camera VFX Editor introduced in UE 5.1, but with a UI tailored for a touch interface. This means that stage operators can quickly and easily adjust color and lighting directly in the LED volume, instead of being constrained to a workstation that may not be near the actual set. The app enables production crew to place and position Light Cards and Flags, live color grade the LED volume, make targeted color tweaks to UE content, drop in Chromakey Cards around talent, and access custom widgets built with the web Remote Control toolset, for example to control the placement of the sun. Anamorphic lens calibration solver: Unreal Engine’s Camera Lens Calibration feature now supports solving anamorphic lens geometry for distortion, enabling filmmakers to match the distortion of live-action footage shot with these lenses in their digital content. Filmmakers can also use this feature to apply a given lens’ distortion profile to fully CG content, creating a more filmic feel. More: Unreal Engine 5.3 also delivers continued refinement of all core rendering features, including Nanite and Lumen, to give artists greater visual quality and enhanced performance. Specifically, Nanite has faster performance for masked materials, including foliage, and can represent a greater range of surfaces due to the new Explicit Tangents option; while Lumen with Hardware Ray Tracing has expanded capabilities that include multiple reflection bounces, and delivers faster performance on consoles.