The new Unreal Engine 4.25 is the first to offer a production-ready Niagara visual effects (VFX) system, used for games, high-end technical demonstration projects and virtual production for TV and film.
The new version of Unreal Engine, now available for download, launches with a host of new and enhanced features for industries across the board. The popular game Fortnite, from Epic Games, has been the test ground for the Niagara VFX and Chaos physics, and the team responsible for development confirmed that Niagara is now production-ready, with a polished new UI and significant performance and stability improvements. There are also a host of new features, including the ability to create complex, large-scale particle effects such as flocking and chains, and to have particles react to music or other audio sources—all in real time.
Meanwhile, says the team, “we’re continuing to progress the Chaos physics and destruction system, and we’re happy to say that with this release, Chaos supports destruction, static mesh dynamics with collisions, cloth, hair, rigid-body skeletal control for items such as ponytails, and scene queries. There’s still more to come in future releases.”
Improved in-camera visual effects
According to EpicGames, “Unreal Engine continues to be used in new and exciting ways to produce cinematic and linear content mixed with digital elements” and that’s a reason for the company to keep developing the tools available and add new ones. The new Movie Render Manager produces higher-quality rendered output with a streamlined workflow for integrating it into any pipeline. The nDisplay multiple display technology is easier to configure and more powerful than ever making LED walls and large venue displays available to virtually any production. There are also improvements to several areas such as in-camera visual effects, tools for broadcast and live events, motion graphics via 3D Text Animation and the addition of support for generating charts and graphs directly inside of Unreal Editor.
The company says that those looking “to produce high-quality movies and stills for uses like cinematics, marketing materials, or linear entertainment” should look no further than its “brand-new media output pipeline that lets you render with accumulated anti-aliasing and motion blur”. The pipeline also supports tiled rendering, so you can produce extremely high-resolution images directly from Unreal Engine without post-processing. Multiple render jobs can be queued and rendered without user intervention.
Among many other features introduced or expanded, this release brings ray-tracing features to the production ready level. From games, films, and broadcast to automotive and architectural visualization, ray tracing enables you to achieve new levels of believability in your real-time projects.
Overcome GPU memory limits
Also new is the High-Quality Media Export, which is a successor to the Sequencer Render Movie feature, and is built for higher quality, easier integration into production pipelines, and user extensibility. With High-Quality Media Export you can accumulate multiple render samples together to produce the final output frame, which allows for higher quality anti-aliasing, radial motion blur, and reduced noise in ray tracing.
High-Quality Media Export also supports several other new features to produce high-quality renders, such as the new High Resolution setting that allows tiled renders to overcome GPU memory limits and device timeout limitations. You can also export translucent images (with appropriate project/scene settings), produce 16-bit HDR images with linear data, and save render configurations into assets that you can reuse and share between developers. Lastly, batches are now managed with the new render queue, which allows you to batch render multiple sequences easily, similarly to the rendering process in Adobe After Effects.
These are just a few of the highlights in Unreal Engine 4.25. Check out the release notes to find out more and see the full feature list. With the release of Unreal Engine 4.25, EpicGames continues its mission to provide the most complete, flexible, powerful, and proven real-time 3D creation tool. If you’re an existing Unreal Engine user, you can download Unreal Engine 4.25 from the Epic Games launcher. If you’re looking to dive in for the first time, get started here.