Fortnite could get closer to ‘photo-realism’ in 2021 – here’s the video that shows how

Epic Games

MBW has been writing fairly extensively about Epic Games of late.

That’s because North Carolina-based Epic is the company behind Fortnite, and therefore also (a) the company that set up that in-game Travis Scott ‘concert’ the other week, which was watched live by nearly 28m people and (b) the company that every label, manager and agent want to get on the phone right now.

What you might not know is that Epic creates its video games using its own 3D creation tool, called Unreal Engine.

Unreal is the tech behind Fortnite, which now boasts over 350m registered players, as well as other blockbuster games from Epic. The firm also licenses Unreal to other, third-party game developers who use it as the building block for titles such as the Batman Arkham series.

Epic’s just released the below impressive/eye-opening tech demo of its upcoming Unreal Engine 5, and says it will upgrade Fortnite to become a UE5 game in mid-2021.

Here’s a press quote from Epic on UE5 that may tickle those music industry types wondering what the future of in-game Fornite concerts might look like: “One of our goals in this next generation is to achieve photorealism on par with movie CG and real life, and put it within practical reach of development teams of all sizes through highly productive tools and content libraries.”

“One of our goals in this next generation is to achieve photorealism on par with movie CG and real life.”

Epic Games on Unreal Engine 5

One more time, just in case you missed it: “… to achieve photorealism on par with movie CG and real life”.

The video below is of the Epic-built Lumen in the Land of Nanite, a real-time UE5 demo running live on PlayStation 5.

Sony‘s PlayStation 5 isn’t out for Joe Public just yet; it’s expected to launch in Q4 this year.

Unreal Engine 5 will be available for games developers in a preview version in early 2021, and in full release late in 2021, says Epic.

The currently available Unreal Engine (4.25) already supports ‘next gen’ consoles like PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Series X, which is also due for launch in ‘Holiday 2020’.

Epic added: “We’re designing for forward compatibility, so you can get started with next-gen development now in UE4 and move your projects to UE5 when ready.

“We will release Fortnite, built with UE4, on next-gen consoles at launch and, in keeping with our commitment to prove out industry-leading features through internal production, migrate the game to UE5 in mid-2021.”

The Unreal Engine 5 demo shows off two particular new technologies that Epic describes, in its own words, as:

  • Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. Nanite virtualized geometry means that film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine—anything from ZBrush sculpts to photogrammetry scans to CAD data—and it just works. Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real time so there are no more polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets; there is no need to bake details to normal maps or manually author LODs; and there is no loss in quality.
  • Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes. The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters. Artists and designers can create more dynamic scenes using Lumen, for example, changing the sun angle for time of day, turning on a flashlight, or blowing a hole in the ceiling, and indirect lighting will adapt accordingly. Lumen erases the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish and to author light map UVs—a huge time savings when an artist can move a light inside the Unreal Editor and lighting looks the same as when the game is run on console.

Last week, MBW spotted that Sony Music was hiring for a number of roles in Los Angeles, “dedicated to reimagining music through immersive media”.

Interestingly, these positions included specialists in working with Epic’s Unreal Engine.

Following the success of Travis Scott‘s Astronomical Fortnite show in April, Fortnite hosted live sets on its ‘Main Stage’ over the weekend from Dillon Francis, Steve Aoki, and deadmau5.

Fortnite’s latest virtual concerts follow last year’s in-game Marshmello set, which saw the bemasked DJ/producer played live to over 10 million people in smash video game.Music Business Worldwide

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