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New Epic Unreal Engine demos highlight the power its ray tracing tools for creating photorealistic graphics

A CG version of actor Alicia Vikander developed for the film Troll using ray tracing tools in Unreal Engine 4.22. (Source: Nvidia)
A CG version of actor Alicia Vikander developed for the film Troll using ray tracing tools in Unreal Engine 4.22. (Source: Nvidia)
Epic Games has used GDC to showcase its capabilities of its Unreal Engine 4.22 with ray tracing enabled. The demos, powered by a single Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti, demonstrate jaw-dropping realism that could easily be confused for live action film.

GDC has seen some impressive tech demos over the years, but Epic Games has taken things to a new level. The Fortnite maker has given game developers a peek at the capabilities of its latest Unreal Engine 4.22 with real-time ray tracing switched on. Both demos are powered by a single Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti and deliver a level of photo realism hitherto never seen created by a game rendering engine.

The first video (top) is a trailer from a short film called Troll currently in development. It has been developed by Goodbye Kansas Studios and Deep Forest Films using the Unreal Engine to create a fantasy world. The film features a com-gen version of Tomb Raider star Alicia Vikander showing cinematic-quality lighting as well as soft shadows and reflections. It has been in the works for several months, although a release date for the movie has yet to be announced.

In the second video embedded below (bottom), Epic teamed up with studio Quixel in for a short futuristic trailer to that one could easily confuse for a sci-fi live action film. Yes, it is that good. It won’t be turned into a game, unfortunately, but it shows what is already possible with current technology. While it might be a little while before we see games demonstrating this level of detail, it is worth noting that the ReBirth trailer was created by just three artists using an unmodified version of the Unreal Engine.

“Ray tracing is more than just reflections — it’s about all the subtle lighting interactions needed to create a natural, beautiful image,” said Nick Penwarden, director of engineering for Unreal Engine at Epic Games. “Ray tracing adds these subtle lighting effects throughout the scene, making everything look more real and natural and making it easier to create beautiful shots.”

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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-03-21 (Update: 2019-03-21)
Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - News Editor
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have been particularly interested in all things Apple, but also enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture.