Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.20, which it says features improved real-time rendering and creative tools — including optimizations for the iOS, Android and Nintendo Switch platforms that were developed specifically for Epic’s blockbuster free-to-play videogame Fortnite.
The update also includes new support for some key tools used by broadcasters and creative studios. For example, a plug-in based on AJA’s SDK supports the Kona 4 and Corvid 44 video cards, making it easier to implement CG graphics and AR elements in live broadcasts. And Shotgun support has been added, allowing users to assign tasks to specific Unreal Engine assets, streamlining the review process.
Metadata import is now supported from software including 3ds Max and SketchUp, allowing users to build custom workflow including property-based batch processes, Python-scripted commands and more. And a new mesh-editing toolset supports basic fixes to imported geometry inside Unreal Engine.
A new Cinematic Depth of Field bokeh simulator replaces the old Circle DOF methodology, creating what Epic calls faster, cleaner and more cinematic depth of field effects with the ability to specify the number of diaphragm blades and lens aperture to get the correct bokeh effect.
And digital humans keep getting better, this time with new support for dual-lobe and double Beckman specular models, backscatter transmission, and subsurface scattering. Epic said Unreal Engine users will now be treated to the same toolkit that were used to create Epic’s “Siren” and “Digital Andy Serkis” demos at this year’s Game Developers Conference.
Unreal Editor for Windows now includes a new proxy LOD tool designed to make it easier to render large environments on mobile and console platforms by intelligently reducing polygon count, draw calls and material complexity. In total, Epic said more than 100 optimizations have been made for mobile platforms and “tons” of performance and memory optimizations have been implemented for the Switch.
Finally, the Niagara VFX Editor, the successor to the existing Unreal Cascade particle editor, is included as an early-access release (meaning it’s not production ready, though Epic is soliciting feedback from all interested users), giving developers and designers expanded control over particle sims, rendering and performance tweaks.
You can bet Unreal Engine will have a solid presence at SIGGRAPH 2018. Visit the official Unreal Enterprise website for a schedule of events.