Unreal Engine 4.26 Release Makes Hair and Fur Production-Ready

Credit: Epic Games
Epic Games adds new tools to Unreal Engine 4.26. 

Those working in the virtual production space have new tools at their fingertips with the latest version of Unreal Engine 4.26. Among them are options for higher-quality video output, improved design review tools, and best of all, Hair and Fur is production-ready, allowing the users to edit, simulate, and render true strand-based hair, fur, and feathers for our bird friends. 

According to Epic Games, the new Hair and Fur tool now features a new Asset Groom Editor for setting up properties and is compatible with features like DOF and Fog. Additionally, LOD generation is now built-in, allowing you to generate cards and meshes for lower-end hardware. 

For more lifelike movement, you can create animations in Sequencer by blending animation clips, making it easier to build out sequences.

With the update, you can now preview skeleton animations to see how one blends into the next. Additionally, the feature is compatible with Control Rig, which is said to offer an experimental full-body IK solution in addition to the standard FK/IK.

A new Volumetric Cloud has been introduced that allows you to interact with Sky Atmosphere, Sky Light, and up to two directional lights to detail atmospheres and clouds. Atmospheres are able to receive volumetric shadows from meshes and clouds, which update in real-time to reflect the time of day. There's also a new Environment Lighting Mixer window that puts all the components affecting atmosphere lighting to be authored in one place.

Credit: Epic Games

Other enhancements include a new Water system to adjust the depth, width, and velocity of rivers, and a new Water Mesh Actor to help render detailed surfaces up close.  

An updated Movie Render Queue, similar to Adobe's Media Encoder, lets you render out passes that include matte IDs, camera motion vectors, Z-depth, ambient occlusion, reflections, and more. It also supports OpenColorIO (OCIO), allowing you to work in any color space, and the image will look as intended to the target platform.

Additionally, you can now export multi-channel EXRs, Apple ProRes, Avid DNxHR codecs, and Final Cut Pro XML EDLs. You also have the ability to integrate render farms.

Under the hood, Unreal Engine 4.26 supports NVIDIA’s NVLink, which supports data transfer between two GPUs, a new REST-compliant Remote Control API that enables users to collect and organize parameters or function libraries from the Unreal Engine UI into customizable presets. There are also performance improvements in the Collaborative Viewer template that enables multi-user design reviews on VR/AR/Desktop. 

You can download Unreal Engine for free here.      

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