Unreal Engine 5 is here and has been making an impact across multiple industries. Let’s see how we can utilize this amazing tech.
Since 2019, you’ve seen me talking about and showcasing tips on how motion graphics artists can use Unreal Engine in motion design but with the recent release of Unreal Engine 5 we can go so much deeper in other areas of design. Interactive experiences, Metahumans, Motion Capture, Virtual Production, Virtual and Augmented reality—what we can do now is limitless and is up to your creative genius to execute.
Wherever I go, I’m always asked the same questions: Unreal Engine 5 looks cool but who is it for? And can I use it? The answer to that is—it’s for everyone and YES! Unreal goes beyond just making videos games, and has been utilized in areas you wouldn’t have even thought. Volvo recently put together a case study of how they are using Unreal Engine to bring car collisions from 6 million car crashes a year to zero, and the latest season of Star Trek Discovery relied on Unreal to create a real life Holodeck.
What everyday users are creating
If you’ve been on social media, you’ve more than likely seen the insane Matrix Awakens demo the Epic Games team put together to show what the next generation of gaming will look like but more recently they released those same assets free to the public to go in and create their own magic. One of the very first things I saw someone create was a Superman game demo using these assets. It is mind blowing that 1 person was able to create something so quickly!
We are only beginning to see what people can create using these tools. 3D artist Lorenzo Drago recently made waves online when he showed this insanely photoreal environment he created himself in UE5, which had a lot of people questioning if it was even real until he revealed the project file screenshots.
One of my favorite uses of UE5 is something I didn’t expect, but makes perfect sense. We are starting to see people create digital avatars, either using the free Metahumans resources or creating them from scratch in their favorite DCCs—such as Cinema 4D and Character Creator.
Using motion capture suits—such as Xsens—one-person teams are creating full on CG series that used to be limited to powerhouses like Dreamworks and Pixar. Xanadu is one of the most creative and fun uses I’ve seen, where one guy not only creates 20 minute episodes all alone, but will also give a glimpse behind the scene of how he makes it which empowers more people into trying it themselves as well.
We are also seeing Twitch streamers pick up this same tech as well and instead of doing pre-rendered episodes they are live streaming as their digital avatars allowing them to interact with their audience all in real-time. Check out this side-by-side from Feeding Wolves.
Welcome to the future: HOLOGRAMS
As far back as I can remember, all my favorite sci-fi movies and shows had a big emphasis on holograms. Everyone always thought that, once we had interactive holograms in real life, we would be officially in the future and well…that time is now. Recently K-Pop superstars BTS performed with ColdPlay but were not even in the same country, but still were able to seamlessly make it happen live on air. Now we can truly think outside the box and make things happen without the worries of geological locational barriers
I’ve even dabbled a bit into holograms myself on a smaller stage using products like The Looking Glass and Lumepad with still really impressive results.
We are even now seeing reality TV shows like American Idol, or Alter Ego on FOX using UE5 to power holographic avatars driven by performers in motion capture suits.
So How Much?
The one question I get asked the most is, “I know Unreal Engine 5 is free now, but it’s too good to be true. How much will this cost me in the future?” The answer to that is nothing at all! Epic Games is the creators of Unreal Engine—which is also the same creators of the smash hit Fortnite. The cross-platform juggernaut is also free to play, but they make it up with items they sell on their marketplace.
Unreal Engine works the same exact way: The program is free, but they also have a marketplace where you can buy anything to get started, such as characters, materials, and even game level templates. The free to play model that works in gaming is also working here and I can see more applications trying this model out in the future as well.
If you’re looking where to get started, I’ve personally been covering Unreal Engine for years via my youtube channel WINBUSH - YouTube, and have also done multiple articles / tutorials you can find right here on School of Motion.
Unreal Engine is a 3D application, but you’ll often need to utilize programs like Cinema 4D to create your assets among other things. Having a good foundation in 3D will help you in your Unreal Engine journey and there's no better place to learn 3D than through my buddy EJ Hassenfratz here at School of Motion with Cinema 4D Basecamp.