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Monday, September 20, 2021

Epic Games: Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 4.26: Here’s what’s new for creators

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Epic Games today released Unreal Engine 4.26, the comes with new tools for creators to craft believable real-time environments and characters for games, film and TV, visualisation, and training and simulation and more. Here are some of the highlights of the 4.26 release:
Hair and Fur for animated characters
Hair and Fur is production-ready in 4.26, with the ability to edit, simulate, and render true strand-based hair, fur, and feathers, as per Epic. Hair and Fur now features a new Asset Groom Editor for setting up properties and compatibility with features such as DOF and Fog. LOD generation is built in, and users can now able to generate cards and meshes for lower-end hardware in-engine as an experimental feature.
For further believability to their characters’ movements, users can now create animations in Sequencer by blending animation clips such as motion-captured data. Animators can preview skeleton animations to see how one skeleton blends into the next, and match joint placement for a smooth transition between clips. The feature is integrated with Control Rig, which now offers an experimental full-body IK solution in addition to the standard FK/IK.
Volumetric Cloud for natural worlds and environments
Unreal Engine 4.26 introduces a new Volumetric Cloud component that is able to interact with Sky Atmosphere, Sky Light, and up to two directional lights. The feature is meant to improve the quality of both realistic and stylised skies, clouds and other atmospheric effects. The atmosphere can receive volumetric shadows from meshes and clouds; lighting and shadowing updates in real time to reflect time-of-day changes. In addition, there’s a new Environment Lighting Mixer window that enables all components affecting atmosphere lighting to be authored in one place.
This release also sees the introduction of a new Water system, enabling artists to define oceans, lakes, rivers, and islands using splines. Users can adjust and visualise the depth, width, and velocity of rivers along their lengths, and the wavelength, amplitude, direction, and steepness of waves on oceans and lakes. The system includes a new Water Mesh Actor that uses a quad tree grid to render detailed surfaces up close.
Extended virtual production toolset
As per Epic, Unreal Engine 4.26 leverages technology such as NVIDIA’s NVLink, for data to be transferred between two GPUs at very high speed, in order to support the increasing number of pixels on today’s LED volumes. This allows any viewport to be rendered on another GPU; for example, one display-facing GPU would render the entire scene while another handles the inner frustum, passing the pixels back to the first one.
REST-compliant Remote Control API
The 4.26 release also introduces a new fully REST-compliant Remote Control API that enables users to collect and organise any parameters or function libraries from the Unreal Engine UI into customisable presets. These can be used in a panel in the Unreal Editor, or be connected to widgets—such as radial dials, sliders, or color pickers—in web applications, without coding, claims Epic.

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