The newest version of Unreal Engine features a whole bunch of new cool features, including Sequencer, VR Editor, Daydream VR-support, planar reflections and OSVR support.
Probably the biggest and most fun feature to play with right now is the Sequencer. This little tool allows you to build amazing 3d-movies entirely in engine. It’s a real treat for animators and animation studios, wishing to use UE4 to their benefit.
Sequencer’s non-linear workflow gives you the ability to compose and edit your shots in a creative and iterative fashion. You can easily make changes to a particular shot, like change the color of a light or add a fog element, and rollback to a previous take to experiment with how your sequence comes together. It’s also designed so that multiple artists can work on multiple shots simultaneously. Check out the Subway Sequencer Project on the Learn Tab of the Launcher to see Sequencer in action.
What’s more interesting here is the inclusion of real-time planar reflections.
These work by rendering the scene again from the direction of the reflection, so there’s a significant cost to using this feature. However, the reflection quality is much more reliable than with Screen Space Reflections.
To use planar reflections, first enable “Support global clip plane for Planar Reflections” in the Rendering project settings, and restart the editor. Then place a Planar Reflection Actor and position it in your scene. Any nearby reflective materials will automatically be affected by the planar reflection and their normals will be used to distort the reflection, allowing simulated waves. This is a new feature and has a number of limitations:
- There’s no way to control what rendering features are enabled in the reflection pass.
- Dynamic shadowing and fog are incorrect in the reflection pass.
- Only a constant roughness value is supported, and it’s specified on the planar reflection component.
Planar reflections work on mobile, but materials which use planar reflections need the “Planar Reflections” flag set under the “Mobile” section of the material properties.
The other great feature is grass and foliage scalability. The scalability system has a new Foliage scalability setting. Landscape grass and foliage density can be reduced automatically based on the current scalability setting, and the setting is able to be changed at runtime, so games can implement a foliage detail setting slider.
Landscape Grass is automatically included in the foliage scalability, but Foliage must opt-in via the “Enable Density Scaling” option in the Scalability section on the FoliageType. It should typically be enabled for “detail” foliage without collision, such as small rocks and bushes. It should be disabled for foliage types with collision such as trees, as the collision for removed instances will continue to exist in the game. The density scaling to apply to grass and foliage at each scalability level is configured with the “grass.DensityScale” and “foliage.DensityScale” variables in the [FoliageQuality] sections of BaseScalability.ini and can be overridden in your game’s DefaultScalability.ini.
Dual-normal clear-coat shading model is also a very interesting addition. You can now use multiple normal maps with Clear Coat materials to achieve realistic shading for surfaces like carbon fiber.
The Clear Coat shading model now has the option to specify a second normal map for the surface below the clearcoat layer. This allows us to more accurately model complex materials such as carbon fiber which have a different geometric surface than the clearcoat layer. This option must be enabled via the project settings: Rendering -> Clear Coat Use Dual Normal. Enabling this feature adds some cost to all clearcoat materials as well as some additional overhead to the main rendering code. To use it, you must place a *Clear Coat Bottom Normal*
- node in the material graph. This is where you will plug in the output of your second normal calculation.
DUAL-NORMAL CLEAR COAT SHADING MODEL
You can check out more details about the most recent release in the official UE4 blog. This is really a huge update.