Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney took to the stage today at GDC and revealed some rather incredible developments for the Unreal Engine that will be available this year for developers. We now know when the VR editor tools will be available, and the company revealed some incredible new developments for cinematic design with Unreal Engine.
Last year, Epic Games announced that it would make the entire Unreal Engine available to developers at no cost. Instead of upfront costs, Epic asks for 5 percent of sales after a project ships. The company announced that over 1.5 million developers have taken advantage of the tools that Epic Games provides. Sweeney said that each one of those developers has had unique needs, and by working closely with many of them to create the tools that they need, it adds to the available tools to the community. Everything that Epic Games develops for the Unreal Engine is made available to the community, for free, right down to the C++ source code.
Sequencer, which Epic revealed today, is one such example born from the need to have a non-linear cinematic video editor for 3D scenes. The company showcased scrubbing through 3D video files in an editor that appears very similar to a traditional video editor. The major difference with Sequencer is that it does all its operations in real time. You can scrub through clips, shuffle their order, add animations and effects, and even change the camera angle, all in real time.
Epic also showed off real-time facial animation and capture. Tameem Antoniades from Ninja Theory discussed how his team got together with 3lateral to use its face-reading technology, and Cubic Motion for its spatial solving technology, and used them to capture the emotion and facial movements of real actors. The company showed a live action, real-time capture on stage of Senua, a character from Ninja Theory’s upcoming game Hellblade.
McLaren Automotive was also revealed to be another partner with which Epic Games is working closely. McLaren revealed that the company is leveraging the power of the Unreal Engine to create tools for its designers to help create the company’s future car models. It is also launching a car customizer for customers to select the options they want for their order. McLaren provided Epic with all of its CAD designs, paint codes and material samples, which Epic has recreated in detail in the Unreal Engine to provide photorealistic reproductions of McLaren automobiles.
Internally, Epic has been working on its own products. Paragon, which launches in early access on March 18 (our preview here), uses new techniques to create incredibly realistic character models. The company said that it combined real close-up photographs of actors, taking in the details of their eyes and skin, and combining them with Unreal technology to create hyper-details characters.
Epic also demonstrated the power of its upcoming VR editor. The VR editor is a virtual reality version of the entire Unreal Editor. The editor lets you pinch to zoom in and out of the map, allowing you to be effectively giant or tiny. Epic Games said that the VR editor is very intuitive. You can pick up and move things naturally. “Your brain has been working this way since you were a baby,” Sweeney said.
The company said it is working on releasing a full binary version of the VR editor, which should be available in June, but Epic has released the source code today for those who want a head start with it.
Dev Grants Expanded
Sweeney also revealed an update to the Unreal Dev Grants program. Last year, Epic Games launched the Unreal Dev Grants program that would help fund independent developers that are building promising projects in Unreal Engine. Sweeney announced that Epic Games is adding an additional $500,000 to the fund, bringing it to a total of $1.2 million. Gabe Newel sweetened to pot a little bit, too: 500 Vives will be given to developers that show projects that have promise in VR.