[Video] Unreal Engine 5 Is The Future of Archviz | Exploring 6 Game-Changing Features
I think the ultimate tool, and perhaps the future of archviz, is with Unreal Engine 5
Real time rendering is taking over archviz graphics, and for good reason. It is so much more intuitive to create art in real time. Also, it is usually faster and therefore more cost effective. So many tools have become popular that fill this need for real time feedback -- Lumion, Enscape and Twinmotion to name a few -- but I think the ultimate tool, and perhaps the future of archviz, is with Unreal Engine 5. It is not a simple software. On the contrary, it is so powerful that it can be overwhelming, but that is also its strength. It is an incredibly powerful tool that unlocks so many possibilities for archviz. Check out the video, listen to my arguments in favor of Unreal Engine, and let me know what you think. As always, I welcome feedback.
In addition to the video, these are the top 6 features that I believe really set Unreal Engine apart from other software.
Feature 1: Pricing
Ever since Unreal Engine announced it pricing model, that essentially made it free to use for archviz, it has been a very appealing option. It is not free because it is simple, or not robust, or lacking features. It is an incredibly powerful software, used by millions of people around the world to create incredible professional work. This includes professional studios as well. The fact that it can be used for free in the archviz industry is quite remarkable.
Feature 2: Virtual Reality
It is not alone in its ability to create VR experiences, but it is somewhat unique in how customizable that experience can be. Many VR software options made specifically for VR are a little bit of a one trick pony. Often times, that is exactly what is needed, so that is okay, of course. However, Unreal Engine offers something different that can take projects to an entirely different level – the power to customize. One key capability that it offers is the ability to add interaction. So, for example, you can interact with objects inside of a scene. You can create user interfaces inside of VR that allow users to interactively change materials and surfaces, change furniture and décor, change the lighting of the scene, turn lights on and off. You can pick things up and throw them. Once, I made needed to make a VR walkthrough of a bowling alley, so of course I added interaction that made it possible to actually go bowling in VR. In a game engine like Unreal – with seemingly unlimited power – it is not so hard to do this, even for a non-programmer like myself. This leads us to our next feature…
Feature 3: Blueprints
Blueprints are what makes the magic happen in UE4. It also sets Unreal Engine apart from simpler VR and real time solutions, and even from other game engines where you might have to learn actual programming languages.
If you are unfamiliar with Blueprints, it is the proprietary block coding built right into Unreal Engine. It gives you the power to add code, interactivity and behaviors to any of your models within the engine, but you don’t really need to be a programmer to use it. Even a dummy like myself, who only knows the basic principles of programming, has been able to make some pretty cool, custom, interactive real time projects using blueprints. Honestly, blueprints are what really puts Unreal Engine over the top when it comes to power and capabilities of the software.
Feature 4: Megascans
You probably know by now about the vast Megascans library, a collection of photoscanned, highly realistic assets, available for free within Unreal. Now, there are all sorts of assets that you can purchase for Unreal too, a huge marketplace of them, but having a ton of super high-quality ones built-in is quite awesome. Megascans have extremely realistic objects, textures and decals. Their integration is extremely streamlined too. For example, you can pick how detailed you need your models to be, from low all the way up to Nanite level – super high quality, but without slowing down your scene (another awesome feature of Unreal Engine – then simply import them and drag them into your scene. This humungous library of extremely high quality assets can quickly and easily enhance any scene. I will say that the one downside of Megascans is that the collection is heavily weighted to more natural objects and materials, and not as much manmade. It is amazing for building environments.
Feature 5: Lumen
The holy grail of real time software over the last several years seems to be real time ray tracing. With the advent of RTX video cards, and the advancement of the game engine software, this is now achievable. However, Unreal Engine 5 has taken it a step further with the introduction of Lumen. Lumen is a proprietary method that estimates ray tracing quite well, but at much less cost. It is now possible to light your scene – even an interior scene – with a whole bunch of lights, and Lumen can give you a very quick and accurate estimation of the global illumination happening within the room. It is a fantastic solution for great looking scenes that need to run quickly like an architectural walkthrough. In my opinion, it is a big step up from having to light bake everything in order to get good lighting results.
Feature 6: Path tracing
Lumen is great, but want if you don’t want to estimate anything? What if you want full accuracy in all your lighting, like something a Vray rendering would give you? Well…Unreal Engine actually has that built-in too, with the path tracer. This requires an Ray trace capable video card, but it can absolutely produce photorealistic results just like any other render engine. It comes at the cost of time – you can’t exactly call the path tracing real time (it usually will refine for a few seconds or more depending on settings), but the fact that you can get a fully accurate rendering out of UE5 as well is awesome, and it just adds to the versatility of the software. One awesome way to use the path tracer is to set up all your camera moves, depth of field, animation, etc in real time, then export the animation using the path tracer. This gives the best of both worlds, where you get real time feedback on all your animation, but if you have the time to render, you can still allow the computer to generate a fully accurate and realistic finished result.
real time software is going to continue to take over our industry, and Unreal Engine does it better than any other software I have used
So, there you have it. I have shared my thoughts. I really do think that real time software is going to continue to take over our industry, and Unreal Engine does it better than any other software I have used. Keep in mind, I use all the others too, especially when I know they will be sufficient for the needs of a project – Unreal Engine is absolutely overkill sometimes – but when I have something highly custom, something outside the box, something that needs to really blow people away, I know where to turn.
Where do you turn?