Designing something as complicated as a car can take years. Even though CAD and rendering technology have improved tremendously over the past two decades, there is one major time sink in the automotive design process that there’s been no way to get around: The “review” step that occurs throughout the process, whereby the designers must evaluate whether the latest iteration meets their goals.
In order to conduct this review, designers—who are sometimes scattered across different continents—need a physical model that can show them, in a way a flat rendering or even a 3D CAD model cannot, how the contours and transitions of the car look and feel in 3D space. And if changes need to be made, as they so often do during the design process, creating another physical model can take weeks.
Fortunately for car designers, VR technology is finally advancing to the point where it can significantly reduce the design and development time. Unreal Engine is a robust, high-performance, real-time C++ engine that can deliver complex scenes with high frame rates. Coupled with NVIDIA’s Holodeck, a you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it VR environment, designers from multiple locations can remotely convene in a virtual studio and collaborate on designs in real time.
Ken Pimentel, Senior Product Manager at Epic Games, says “Experiencing a design before the first surface is molded or the first wall goes up, has been the dream of many of our customers. With Unreal Engine and Unreal Studio, they’ve found it easier than ever to take complex designs and experience them directly through VR, AR and other immersive displays.”
The power of Unreal Engine isn’t only beneficial to auto designers, of course. Another example of the software’s capabilities is in real-time editing of motion graphics. Combining actual film footage with CAD models results in a movie where the lighting and styling of objects can be edited on the fly, or combined with CG effects. Here’s a short film demoing this, produced for the 2017 Game Developers Conference:
Of course, for designers to wield Unreal Engine’s capabilities, they need to be able to port their existing files over into the system. That’s where Unreal Studio comes in; it’s a suite of tools used to import CAD data into Unreal Engine, helping designers across a variety of disciplines get the most out of their design workflows.
Unreal Engine 4 is a complete suite of development tools made for anyone working with real-time technology. From enterprise applications and cinematic experiences to high-quality games across PC, console, mobile, VR and AR, Unreal Engine 4 gives you everything you need to start, ship, grow and stand out from the crowd.
A world-class toolset and accessible workflows empower developers to quickly iterate on ideas and see immediate results without touching a line of code, while full source code access gives everyone in the Unreal Engine 4 community the freedom to modify and extend engine features.
Unreal Studio 4.20 was just released, with improvements to mesh editing, importing files, Datasmith support for SketchUp and a number of other improvements.
For a limited time, Unreal Studio is being released as a free beta. Those who sign up can use it with a 100% royalty-free license. The Unreal Engine site has tons of examples and demos of how the technology works, and what you can do with it.