By Rodrigo de Deus

Scenarios for Virtual Production

Why did I choose the Unreal Engine for architecture?

I work for many years producing architectural projects, but I never had much patience with the works, I always liked the speed of 3D projects, we can execute everything we want on the computer screen.

The rendering part for me was always a little tedious, waiting hours to have a good render, and lots of light tests, textures until reaching a pleasant result, until the first renderers in real time, like Lumion, Twinmotion, appeared. very good to find these renderers, but they are well known to fall short of the expected results when compared to Vray, Corona and other great rendering engines in the Archviz market.
Then, when a few years ago I discovered something even more revolutionary in the engine that was created for games but that has adapted very well to the architecture segment.

Unreal Engine opened my professional universe, not only as a fun tool to render but with many more features, focused on VR, AR, XR in addition to delivering an excellent engine to render in real time, which was always what I sought, something that it was fast and hyperrealistic.

I started to produce my first projects aimed at serving my clients in the area of archviz, and soon I commanded to generate projects in VR, and every day more passionate about it I was invited to Studios to build scenarios for TV programs, Cinema, Advertising and broadcasts to alive. 
We live in times of change and professional reinvention that also influence architecture professionals and even traditional architectural visualization. Thanks to advances in technology, there is a new emerging career plan with enormous growth potential, such as real-time architecture visualization.
Real-time architectural visualization with Unreal Engine

With this technological wave comes a new and revolutionary concept, rendering in real time, this means that what we see in the viewer of our software is the final image at all times, with which the rendering times and the endless ones disappear. necessary iterations. to achieve the desired result in static or traditional rendering engines.

The Unreal Engine not only allows the creation of images or videos of photorealistic quality, but also the video game engine that is, it allows you to create complete, immersive and interactive experiences. Our students' first impression is generally "I didn't expect the Unreal Engine to have so much potential".
What can Unreal Engine do and what are its benefits?
To get a global idea of the potential of Unreal Engine, I will list some of its strengths and provide specific examples:

1. Creation of photorealistic images and videos in real time

Today, the Unreal Engine is the real-time engine with the highest visual quality on the market. For optimization purposes, it is necessary to perform a previous calculation of lighting or baking to have all the quality and nuances that the engine offers in terms of global or indirect lighting. We would say that this is the only aspect of the engine that is not in real time, but during this process the engine does not stop, so we can continue to work on materials or in post-production.

We create the materials from scratch, depending on our needs, being able to change their parameters in real time, with which the interaction with the customer becomes immediate.

There are different techniques for generating reflections, but we could say that at the visual level it is currently the least powerful facet of the software, because by optimization, rendering a scene twice so that it is reflected is very expensive at the performance level. But with the arrival of the next generation of NVIDIA RTX graphics cards, Epic Games and Microsoft were able to introduce Raytrace technology to the Unreal Engine's real-time rendering. This implies realistic reflections and indirect lighting in real time, solving the two problems mentioned above.
The entire process of framing and animating cameras is done within the Unreal Engine using a tool called Sequencer, which allows you to create animations, edit and assemble sequences in the same way as in external video editing programs, such as Adobe Premiere Pro. Even the color correction and the post-production part are done in Unreal Engine.

In short and in a very simplified way, what does it mean that the Unreal Engine is capable of generating image and video in real time? Well, a rendering is created from a single click instantly and a 30 second video takes 30 seconds to render.
2. Creating large environments and vegetation

In a native way, the Unreal Engine has a set of tools that allow us to create great outdoor environments, both in terms of terrain and vegetation (Landscape and Foliage). The advantage of using this method is that the software itself optimizes both the terrain and the vegetation, so that what is close to the camera is seen with the best quality and depending on the distance, the quality is automatically adapted so that we can create large areas of land with millions of vegetation elements without our performance or reduced frame rate.
3. Graphical programming using Blueprints

One of the great benefits of Unreal Engine is the ability to program without writing a single line of code. Thanks to a graphical interface through which we can generate interactivity, menus, buttons or even create our own scripts to automate our daily work processes.

This system is totally reversible, that is, we can go from Blueprints to C ++, which is the programming language of the Unreal Engine, and vice versa. So it's a perfect way to get along with our team of programmers. Experience tells us that, for infoarchitecture applications, it is generally not necessary to have programmers. Solid blueprint knowledge allows us to cover the full range of our customers' needs.
Latest Conclusions

As a general summary, I would like to share with you a reflection on my personal experience, which, as you can imagine, is very positive. From my point of view, if you like architecture, photography, painting, cinema or art in general, learning Unreal Engine is the perfect way to learn a profession that combines all these aspects. If, on the other hand, you are passionate about the world of video games, this is a good way to start creating your first projects.

I am passionate about it and I try to transmit all that passion to my students every day. This type of training is not implemented nationwide in universities, so the need for well-trained professionals is even more necessary. Don't hesitate and take the leap to real-time viewing!
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