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3 Great Tools for Achieving Photorealistic VFX

3 Great Tools for Achieving Photorealistic VFX

Can't decide what's real and what's not? That is the magic of photorealistic VFX, and it might be easier than you think!

The lines between the digital world and reality continue to blur as more advanced tools and processes surface, allowing VFX artists to achieve stunning photorealism in their rendered scenes.

From photogrammetry to advanced lighting and ray-tracing algorithms, it’s never been easier to craft visual effects that are on a whole new level.
One company that’s making a name for themselves in the VFX industry is Quixel, and they offer three tools that all VFX artists owe it to themselves to check out: Megascans, Bridge, and Mixer.

See what their tools are capable of with Houdini and Unreal Engine 4:

Exceptional Photorealism with Megascans

The heart of Quixel’s photorealism lies in Megascans, a massive library of thousands of 2D and 3D textures and assets that range from just about every material, object, or environment you could think of.

They also currently offer dozens of free assets, like steel, brick, and concrete textures. There are more organic ones like mud, moss, stone, twigs, grass, and plant ferns as well.

In addition to the wide variety of scans available, what makes Megascans even more appealing is the level of detail captured in the scans. Most of the assets are available in 8K, and the methods they’ve used to generate these scans give your VFX an immense level of realism that’s nearly indistinguishable from reality.

You’re probably wondering what kind of monstrous VFX workstation you'd need to be running to get visuals like this. As you'll see below, these effects are running in real-time, with full physics, lighting, and material control...on a single 1080 Ti.
According to their website, all assets are standardized and feature “optimized topology, UVs and LODs, consistent scale, resolution, and real-world PBR,” which means a lot less monotonous work for VFX artists. Creativity and design can then be the primary focus. 

One of their website’s testimonials praises the ability to use this valuable data for a streamlined “drag-n-drop workflow.”

In addition to providing the highest level of quality to architectural visualization, Megascans is also used by AAA game studios, as well as VFX studios around the world, for truly unique visuals that stand out.

Rapid Texture Creation with Mixer

If you liked Megascans, you’ll love Quixel’s material creation program called Mixer. The simplicity of Mixer allows you to create custom materials in mere minutes, and you can even pull in Megascans textures to manipulate and morph into your own custom materials.

The most powerful feature in Mixer is the tileable painting tool, which lets you sculpt, mask, and color 32-bit materials. You can even use procedural generation to create some truly epic scenes.

You can score a free beta of Mixer here, and start creating some spectacular visuals.

Seamless Material Integration and Asset Management with Bridge

Asset management can always be a challenge when working with VFX, but Quixel’s Bridge gives artists a great way to manage all their materials in one place. 

While a having centralized hub for materials can improve your workflow, Bridge also has an incredible feature that allows you to import your assets into any project with a single click.  

Bridge is compatible with UE4, Houdini, 3DS Max, Blender, Unity, and Maya.
Quixel’s aim across all their software is obvious: to bring photorealistic VFX to the forefront by advancing the quality of assets, as well as vastly simplifying the pipeline to implement those assets into a project. In turn, photorealistic VFX can be brought to the masses.

How to Learn Mixer and Bridge

If you’re interested in learning how to reach the next level in your VFX, Quixel has a free educational program you can enroll in, where you’ll not only receive training in both Mixer and Bridge, but you also receive hundreds of free Megascans assets.

Check it out now, and make your next project even better with photorealistic VFX!

First time here? ActionVFX creates action stock footage for VFX and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

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