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  • Writer's pictureFlorian Thess

How real-time rendering and Unreal Engine 5 change the game

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

What is the biggest breakthrough in the film industry recently? The Internet? Smartphones? Motion capture technology? No, it’s real-time rendering! We all want to see our dreams and vision of the project materialize instantly rather than endure numerous delays and setbacks.

What is real-time rendering?

Real-time rendering is a computer graphics technique for generating interactive 3D graphics in real time. The rendering is done rapidly enough to produce an interactive response from the user. The application generates the image of the 3D scene for the user to see without any significant delay after the user has moved or rotated the virtual camera. Real-time rendering is used in video games, simulations, and visualization applications, as well as in some other areas such as flight simulation and training systems that are too costly to have traditionally rendered images.

Real-time technologies have been used in movie production since the 1990s—for example, by Industrial Light & Magic for special effects—however it was not until 1993 that a real-time photorealistic computer-generated character was presented to the public with "Jurassic Park's" John Hammond. Today, real-time 3D technologies are widely used among video games, most often with one of two approaches: either fully pre-rendered graphics using software such as RenderWare or a real-time graphics engine which uses techniques such as rasterization.

Advantages of real-time rendering vs traditional rendering methods

There are a number of real-time engines that are being used today and Unreal Engine is one of them. The advantages of real-time rendering include the ability to do interactive editing as well as viewing changes in real-time. In addition, it can be used for a variety of devices including mobile devices, gaming consoles and computers.

The challenge of rendering 3D animations is one that's been around for a long time. It doesn't matter whether you're creating videos for fun, or if you're doing it professionally, rendering takes time. That's because 3D scenes have millions of polygons and each frame needs to be rendered separately. This is obviously a very time consuming process.

What makes the problem even worse is that many of the programs we use for rendering are designed with video editing in mind. They aren't made for 3D animation. As a result, they struggle to cope when dealing with large 3D files. This means that you can spend hours waiting for an animation to render, only to find out the final result looks awful. The problem has been getting worse over time as computers have grown more powerful, but at the same time, the amount of polygons in animations has increased dramatically. Using Unreal Engine 5's real-time rendering engine allows users to make changes to their designs on the fly and see what it looks like almost instantly without having to wait hours for the final result to be rendered. This dramatically speeds up production times and reduces costs significantly since there's no need to engage in costly rendering processes anymore.

Nanite doesn't put a number on how many objects can be used in a scene

What are some of the new features in UE5 really bring to the table, including "Nanite" and "Lumen".

"Lumen" is a new rendering engine for Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) that uses the power of the GPU and the CPU to render photorealistic images with Global Illumination in real-time. This makes it possible to develop content that are just as beautiful as they are interactive and immersive.

"'Nanite' is an entity-component framework that enables you to create and manage a large number of objects, such as characters and enemies, with ease," says Ben Davis, lead programmer at Epic Games. "It's much easier to use than our previous solutions, allowing us to iterate on content faster and get more complex effects running smoothly."

Lumen: Global Illumination in real-time

How are real-time rendering engines changing the game in video games, film and other markets?

Many industries use real-time rendering, including video games, architecture and media. Thanks to Unreal Engine 5, this technology is now available to everyone. Games are an interesting example of what can be achieved with real-time rendering. The new Unreal Engine 5 has better tools for the creation of realistic games. Game developers can create more realistic worlds than ever before and give the player a unique experience. Unreal Engine 5 also supports VFX work. It is used in the movie industry, where it can be used to create stunning visual effects in movies such as "Gravity", "The Avengers" or "Skyfall". With its new tools, even beginners can create impressive videos without much effort. Unreal Engine 5 helps architects create stunning 3D renderings of their buildings or city plans. These images can then be uploaded online to help sell the product or make a very convincing pitch.

Virtual Production Stage powered by Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine 5 makes it easier to create 3D applications that have previously been the domain of VFX studios, with an engine that's incredibly advanced yet easy to use.

It has built-in support for 3D packages like Autodesk's Maya and Maxon's Cinema 4D via an easy-to-use asset pipeline. This streamlined process lets studios create games with the same tools they use for film, television and VFX projects. The end result is more seamless integration between cinematic storytelling in games and other media forms — something that opens up a whole new world for indie developers in particular.

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