Epic Games is realizing there is a large market for its gaming engine technologies outside of the gaming world. This week the company launched Unreal Studio as an open beta, providing customers in architecture, design, and manufacturing a shortcut to producing high-quality, real-time, fully immersive visual experiences.
What is Unreal Studio
Unreal Studio is a new offering from Epic Games that provide new software, professional support, and assets, along with the Datasmith workflow toolkit for streamlining transfer of CAD and 3ds Max data into Unreal Studio. Users can register for the open beta today.
“Build on the success of the Datasmith release, the Unreal Studio open beta simplifies the process of bringing the Unreal Engine into architecture and design pipelines with automatic lightmap and UV creation along with scripted workflows to organize, optimize, and clean up geometry,” says Marc Petit, General Manager of Unreal Enterprise at Epic Games.
“Real-time engines have primarily been designed for the gaming industry, making them impractical to use for architectural and manufacturing visualization. Until now. Unreal Studio changes the paradigm,” says Karen Hapner, Senior Visualization Designer at Herman Miller, “by addressing needs specific to our industry, such as importing engineering models and easily achieving visual consistency. With Unreal Studio, I can use Unreal Engine to create interactive, immersive experiences for our customers efficiently.”
Unreal Studio Features
Epic says that after five months in beta, Datasmith has been production-proven by thousands of customers using it to efficiently transfer CAD data from over 20 CAD sources, including Autodesk 3ds Max, into Unreal Engine.
Datasmith brings in CAD and 3D data into Unreal Studio. It brings in formats such as 3ds Max, Rhino, SolidWorks, Inventor, CATIA, Siemens NX, Creo, and other formats. It does not bring in any BIM file formats (see Analysis section below).
Included in Unreal Studio are Learning tools, extensive tutorials including the Unreal Engine fundamentals and industry-focused training materials, with updated content released on an ongoing basis. There are also Assets including in Unreal Studio, including 100 Substance materials from Allegorithmic for common architecture and design materials, and industry-specific templates to quickly create experiences. And, finally, there is Support, community-driven discussion board and one-to-one ticketed support.
A survey at CGarchitect.com of over 2,000 visualization experts revealed that the Unreal Engine is the number one real-time solution used in architectural visualization; more than 20 percent of respondents are already using UE4 in production.
The Unreal Studio open beta registration is available now. Readers interested should sign up and give it a spin. Full access to the beta is for both educational and commercial purposes.
For more information visit: https://www.unrealengine.com/es-US/studio
Architosh Analysis and Commentary
In talking to Marc Petit late last week, in preparation for the launch, I asked him why he thought the move to gaming engines was coming about. He noted there were several reasons, starting with fast rendering and the elimination of complex and expensive render farms. “The compromise in visual quality now is acceptable,” he added, a nod to the fact that one of the initial barriers to the adoption of gaming tech was its visual quality was inferior to professionals high-poly count oriented software.
Clearly, the other benefit is the immersive toolset in the gaming engines. Instead of many high-quality stills or a long and expensive animation, Unreal Engine puts the user into the environment where they can immersively experience, particularly with VR (virtual reality) headsets.
This news this week already follows the major news behind Twinmotion and its direct competitor apps—all of them “interactive renderers.” Tools like Lumion, LumenRT, and Twinmotion and some of the newer tools around Autodesk Revit from Autodesk are aiming to bring game-like immediacy and game-like physics (moving birds in the sky, clouds, rain, etc) the professional visualization markets.
Unreal Studio is not for architects. Marc Petit made it clear on our call with him that this is a professional visualization pro tool. There is no direct way to go from Autodesk Revit for example. However, beyond the immediate 3ds Max workflow orientation, he acknowledged that there will be a SketchUp interface for the Unreal Studio coming soon as well.
Back to the subject of architects and product designers as well. They will still be expected to rely on dedicated visualization pros to get their designs into these new types of immersive environments. But the question is—for how long?