If you haven’t been paying too much attention, you might be surprised to see how often Unreal Engine pops up in the visual art industry. While the name is rather famous in the video game industry, it isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to the 3D rendering world outside of it. However, if you’ve been keeping track of where Unreal is being implemented these days, you know that it’s becoming far more than a video game engine.
In 1995 Tim Sweeney began coding the engine for a next-generation first person shooter titled Unreal. The game itself would end up being a heavy-hitter, but it would be the engine itself that had lasting appeal. The way Sweeney and Epic built the engine to make game development easier for themselves, turned out to be the perfect selling point. Like ID Software’s game engines(now called “ID Tech) Epic could make more money licensing the engine out to other game developers than by actually making and selling games.
Today Unreal is on version 4.26 as of the time of writing and Unreal Engine 5 has already been demoed on the Playstation 5 with jaw-dropping real-time graphics.
Unreal isn’t just cutting edge, it’s a game engine that pushes the entire industry forward and thanks to competition with the likes of the ID Tech engine, the folks behind Unreal are coming up with ingenious ways to get better visuals while using less resources.
Gaming Industry Domination
The list of video games that use Unreal Engine is staggering. While triple-AAA titles from mega publishers such as Electronic arts or Ubisoft tend to develop their own in-house solution, Unreal is an excellent solution for everyone else. If you just want to create a top-tier game without spending a fortune on R&D, Unreal has you covered. Indie developers can use it to create simpler titles with few people working on the game. Medium-sized development teams can use Unreal to create games that fall into the emerging “double A” class of game. With high production values, but a shorter experience made with a smaller budget.
One of the key reasons Unreal can help smaller developers get to market is the fact that they waive royalties until your game has made a million dollars. If you never hit those numbers, you don’t have to pay them.
Unreal’s popularity is also at least partly related to the fact that it runs on just about everything. PCs, consoles, tablets, and smartphones all have Unreal titles running on them. It makes it easier to put out multi platform releases and offers amazing levels of scalability across different devices.
Unreal’s Industry Expansion
Unreal has become such a friendly and powerful engine that other industries have started to take notice. Non-game apps that are meant for marketing, for example, now use Unreal to create their visuals.
The most amazing recent example comes from the hit show The Mandalorian. The show has pioneered a digital stage, called “the volume” It’s essentially a round sound stage encased in giant screens. While the show is being filmed, 3D graphics are rendered and animated in real time. VFX artists are present during filming and they use Unreal on-set to change the imagery in any way the director wants. It’s a total game-changer for how TV shows are made.
The Real-time Difference
Which brings us to what makes Unreal so special. While there are plenty of rendering engines that can create beautiful photo-realistic images and videos using off-line rendering, Unreal can approximate those results in real-time. While it’s obviously not matching that quality, the gap is now so small that new ways of thinking are emerging around the use of real-time 3D graphics in productions or projects that may have opted for off-line rendering in the past. It allows for entirely new workflows and applications of the technology and as hardware becomes faster, we’re sure there will be a point where off-line rendering will begin to show diminishing returns.
Our Unreal-ready Beasts: Titan W599 Octane and Titan W64
Learning Unreal in order to prepare for a future where real-time 3D manipulation and artistry will be in demand doesn’t take much. There’s a heap of great online courses and free official material that lets you learn the ins and outs of the software. However, when you’re ready to actually produce something amazing, you’ll need the hardware to make it possible.
We’ve picked out two of our powerhouse workstations we believe will give you the best foundation for creating and running real-time renders in Unreal Engine.
First off there’s the bruiser of the pair, the Titan W599, which can be equipped with up to 56 CPU cores. Two terabytes of RAM is entirely possible as well as a pair of GPUs of your choice. The W599’s base configuration is a great start with oodles of room for upgrades as your needs, skills and business grows.
The other machine you might consider as an Unreal Engine creation beast is the Titan W64 Octane. While it only has a single CPU socket, you still have the option of installing a 28-core CPU should you need one. RAM can still be upgraded to 1.5TB and as many as four GPU cards. This offers fantastic expansion options, with a base model packing just enough horsepower to let you create your vision in Unreal from day 1.
We see a bright future for Unreal Engine and if you agree, then we think one of these Titan workstations could be the perfect partner for your ambitions as a creator or an aspiring developer.
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