The new version of Unreal Engine (4.12) is released. The full release notes are here: https://www.unrealengine.com/blog/unreal-engine-4-12-released
It’s a game engine so it’s useful if you want to make a game, but even if you don’t, this release is a bit more interesting for Blender users than usual. Some new features that may be interesting:
Sequencer: A non-linear editor to make cinematics or other movies in realtime. You can then render to a movie or images (.jpg or .png) at 4k resolution (or less) at the FPS you get in the engine. Usually this means 60 fps or more.
Cinematic cameras and viewport: A camera that mimics real life cameras with customizable lenses, filmback, focal length, look at tracking and more. Also DOF with a focus button where you can click on something in the scene to automatically focus there. The camera rigs are a crane rig and a rail rig, they work as their real life counterparts. There’s also the option to just keyframe normally of course. The viewport has embedded controls and frames (grid style overlays) for composition planning.
High quality reflections: 16 bit normals/tangents for smoother looking reflections. Custom resolutions for sky cubemaps and reflection probes for higher quality lighting/reflections. Also custom cubemaps per reflection probe if needed so you can add additional reflection probes with targeted reflections.
Twist corrective animation node: A node that can drive curves (for example morph targets, read shape keys) with relative bone rotation. Basically works like a driver in Blender. This is not super useful if you already have drivers set up while exporting animation, but if you don’t, this is an easy way to hook up your shape keys to bones.
Full scene importer: A new import option called Import Into Level that imports all static meshes and skeletal meshes (read meshes that don’t move and character rigs) into your project. It opens up a screen with some options where you can choose how materials get imported and so on. You can also reimport an entire scene by rightclicking the Scene FBX asset that is created and choosing reimport. Using this feature you can continue working in your Blender scene if you want and then easily reimport those changes.
These are the features that seemed the most useful if you want to experiment with rendering archviz/animations/whatever using a game engine. UE4 has a royalty system for games where you pay 5% of the gross revenue you make but for anything that isn’t a game/kickstarter for a game it’s 100% free.
In a few hours there will be a livestream where Epic show off some of the rendering features they developed for their McLaren car configurator project. Here’s an image they used for the release notes. I’m guessing this is a screenshot that is cropped from 4k resolution. Gotta love those .jpg compression artifacts!