3 Ways Visual Effects Are Improving In Unity | ActionVFX

3 Ways Visual Effects Are Improving In Unity

3 Ways Visual Effects Are Improving In Unity

Check out these Unity features that all VFX artists should know about moving forward.

You’ve probably seen the gains made in real-time VFX over the last couple of years. The Unreal Engine has driven some of the most visually-impressive movies and shows like The Mandalorian thanks to its integration with real-time VFX pipelines.

While the Unreal Engine’s versatility has taken its use far beyond the world of video game production in a short amount of time, Unity is also advancing to make dazzling CG work possible for VFX artists everywhere.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the latest VFX-focused features you can find in Unity 2019.3.

First, take a look at this recent short film produced entirely in the latest version of Unity!

Unity Visual Effect Graph

The most VFX-friendly addition to Unity has been the Visual Effect Graph, which makes it possible for artists to generate their own scenes without the need to write a single line of code. The VFX Graph interface uses a node-based workflow that allows for a straight-forward iterative process.

"Whether it’s a sci-fi hologram, a fire-breathing dragon or a rain-streaked window, the node-based effects and adaptive features in Visual Effect Graph empower you to create beautiful VFX in real-time." - Unity

This allows artists who don’t necessarily have a background in scripting or game development to create their own Unity-powered VFX assets. Then, they can export them for compositing or editing in programs like Nuke or After Effects.  

According to their website, the developers of Unity see VFX Graph as an “entry point for visual effect artists.”

"You can author configurable, reusable next-generation effects, ranging from simple to complex without writing any code. VFX Graph handles millions of particles on the GPU. Inspired by the leading tools for film visual effects software, it empowers artists to create standout VFX for games and more." - Unity

Real-Time VFX Support

Unity also features GPU-based rendering that allows you to experiment with your VFX creations with real-time feedback.

Director Neill Blomkamp worked with the Unity Demo team to develop a series of short films that showcase the power of real-time rendering in Unity.

OctaneRender Integration

A key component to generating photorealistic renders in Unity is the OctaneRender plugin. OctaneRender Prime is the free version for Unity, but you can pay a monthly fee for access to OctaneRender Studio or OctaneRender Creator, each of which includes OctaneRender for After Effects and Nuke, which could be a great bonus for VFX artists. 

The Studio and Creator versions also include more local GPU power you can take advantage of.  

We’ve covered various renderers in-depth so you can have a good idea of which one is right for your pipeline, and OctaneRender is particularly great because of how versatile it is across multiple 3D platforms.

Unity vs. Unreal Engine

It’s no secret that the Unreal Engine is the frontrunner when it comes to virtual production and real-time VFX, but it’s exciting to know that there are other great developers making huge strides to bring 3D innovations to the world of visual effects.

From a VFX standpoint, Unity is currently best-suited for 3D animations (like the examples above), but it could also be a great tool for pre-vis work.  

If you’re interested in learning more about how Unity can be used as a tool for filmmaking, check out this resource that features in-depth training, project files, and tutorials to get you started.

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