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C4D vs unreal engine for archviz

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I'm just watching a webinar on unreal for archviz, and wondering if this is going to be the future of archviz?  I do mostly stills of exteriors/interiors, not motion graphics.  I love C4d because my drafting software (vectorworks) ports nicely over to it, and it renders beautifully.  But it is really hard to argue with real time rendering and the rendering from the unreal engine looks pretty dang good.  


I'm wondering if other cafe members have thoughts/opinions on the subject?  Obviously for motion graphics I think C4D is practically unbeatable, but how about for architectural/environmental stuff?

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That's not a bad idea any more given the current level of the technology, but I imagine it will take a bit of getting used to for people who don't use game engines for anything else... might take a while to catch on as an alternative workflow, but I see no real practical reason why it wouldn't work once you are comfortable and familiar with the UI and its way of doing things...



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  • Community Staff

Game Engines are great, but they are also very limiting to work with. Especially Lightmapping (which you kind of need in UE if you want photorealistic results, no idea how good RTX is by now) is a pain in the butt to work with and due to lack of previewing (like lower rez renders in Octane etc.) very time consuming. You are basically changing something that you are not 100% happy with, and then you wait for an hour for the light to compile.


Of course there's also serious other drawbacks, such as limited polycounts (although not as much as it used to be) and that you just can't send a client an Unreal Engine project to have a look, since you need a powerful PC to run it. It just doesn't run sufficiently on Office PCs.

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Hi Grant, 


I do think this is the future for arch viz and arch viz walk thrus. I've looked it all over a few times and have friends in the film industry looking at it more seriously. I share your Vectorworks to Cinema workflow.  For me, personally, the amount of upfront work needed for light mapping and UVing doesn't make sense for quick turnaround entertainment sketches. Redshift on a decent machine gets me super quick results and is fast enough that I can sit with a designer or art director and work on looks in real enough time. I think longer term projects with longer design development periods could make good use of this tech, but it feels like you take the time we used to wait on renders to cook (pre Gpu rendering) and move it into the time spent in preproduction getting light mapping set up. VW to C4D with Redshift or Corona feels like the sweet spot in the middle if you have the right hardware. 


But still, it's interesting and I want to learn it 🙂

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I believe arch viz will switch to unreal, when unreal engine 5 comes out you will see alot more switching. However i do believe their may be a shift within the archviz industry for artists to work for architect practices directly. 

Due to unreals quick turn around for visuals/ animations and walkthroughs and the implementation of Lumin and Nanite, it will likely be used as a tool inhouse to help architects visualise there plans, more quickly and iterate alot more. I'm not sure how this holds for viz studios, but as long as your on the ball with it, it will be an easy transition. People are talking about lightmapping which is what you do now in unreal engine 4, but this will change completely come unreal 5. I think the process is going to be alot more streamlined for both games and arch viz.

another thing RTX cards will be superseeded by the 3080 giving over 2 times the power it currently has to run realtime. I think we will transition to doing the high quality we are used to inside unreal very soon. 

On the other hand, Stills / photomontages / VVI's will always be needed i can't see them going away, but i think we all need to take ue5 seriously when it comes out. Epic does have a good grasp of what we need now and will implement it as they want our business

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The webinar I watched was highlighting real time raytracing with RTX cards.  It looked pretty compelling as I watched, but after thinking about it, if one had a comparable set up and did the same work in C4D with Redshift or some other gpu renderer the results would probably be pretty close.  I did kind of laugh at the end as the presenter showed their methodology at the end for getting stills...it was kind of a bizarro screen grab process.  


But I do find the technology pretty compelling.  It has come so far so fast, I'm excited to see what happens in the near future.

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Yup, I watched the same webinar and was blown away by the real time raytracing in Unreal Engine. I also know of several studios that are switching over to this render workflow and their results look amazing. And now that my favorite render engine Octane is available for UE, I too am excited to see what the future will bring.

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We do concept/ set vis, rather than arch-viz, but are increasingly incorporating more Unreal Engine & I've been learning it hard the last few weeks. The performance & rendering stuff is awesome but it's a steep learning curve - the game engine doesn't have near that level of user-freindliness & interactivity that you get with Cinema or Maya, sometimes things that are trivial in Cinema are a nightmare of node-spaghetti with nothing to interact with in the viewport.

It's pretty cool though, I'd advise anyone who's interested & can make some time to give it a go, I think it will only get more widespread outside of games but you'll want a Cinema/ Maya / Blender whatever to feed it stuff for the foresee-able future.

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Mi biggest issue with Unreal Engine is the Outliner, Blueprints are awesome, they seem difficult at first but are really easy to use.


Navigating, hiding objects, isolating objects, cloning, symmetry, variance in colors, and stuff we take for granted in apps require some work in UE. Assets Blueprints help a lot. But if your C4D scene usually is a mess of box.1 - box.999, you wont get far in Unreal Engine


You also need to learn a lot of tricks for reflections and once you are comfortable with you will gain a lot of speed for sure, but UE4 render engine is not Arnold / Redshift. Anyway, I dont see how this is a VS thread, since you cant model assets in Unreal.


I dont have a lot of experienc, I only have done two virtual sets using Unreal Engine ( Im uploading examples of the latest)



still 2.jpg

still 4.jpg

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From my previous experience in Unreal Engine 4, the real-time aspect is for your on-screen feedback. Not sure if they've changed this since I used it a couple years ago. For example, I was into creating levels for Unreal Tournament (which they dropped after Fornite took off. Damn them.) and yes the better your PC the more real-time the feedback was. BUT, when I wanted to see the real version of my creation, I had to change the settings and compile the level which included all the rendering of light and shadow. This process is very similar to what the rest of the world does in traditional 3D apps.


Now, I have not used Unreal Engine 5 so there may be a new workflow to save out the GPU renders. Question is, is that GPU raytraced with physically accurate effects? I don't personally know. The engine has come a long way though.

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This was the webinar in question.  It does look like the raytracing is realtime (with a pretty great RTX card).  Note however, at the end when he talks about getting stills out, the process looks very similar to how gpu rendering works in a renderer like redshift or corona: low quality at first and then better at the expense of time...



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