We talk a lot about Unreal Engine here at No Film School because it, along with programs like Unity and Blender, are not only part of today's ethos of filmmaking, but are essential to the future of creativity as more productions step into virtual production.

Today, Unreal Engine has announced version 5.0 is available for early access for developers. So if you're curious about learning the program, now is a great time to start. 

For those unfamiliar, Unreal Engine is a 3D creation tool that allows you to create a multitude of things, from storyboards to complex previs and renders. It's the software that allows The Mandalorian to go virtual and how indie filmmakers are making inspiring short films.

If you're new to virtual production, read this primer here and go beyond the basics here. If reading isn't your thing, check out Matt Workman's YouTube channel. He's doing great things about virtual production for indie filmmakers. 

But back to Unreal Engine 5.0.

From the press release, Unreal Engine says version 5.0 will deliver more "freedom, fidelity, and flexibility" for creators. New features like Nanite and Lumen will tune life-like images and a new World Partition enables scalable content. While early access is available to game developers, it's fairly easy to download it from the website or jump into earlier versions, which are free to use. 

Let's take a look at what's new in Unreal Engine 5, according to the company. 


The virtualized micropolygon system lets users create games with massive, unprecedented amounts of geometric detail. Directly import film-quality source assets comprised of millions of polygons and place them millions of times, all while maintaining a real-time frame rate, and without any noticeable loss of fidelity. 


Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that lets users create dynamic, believable scenes. With Lumen, indirect lighting adapts on the fly to changes to direct lighting or geometry, such as changing the sun’s angle with the time of day, turning on a flashlight, or opening an exterior door. This means you no longer have to author lightmap UVs, wait for lightmaps to bake, or place reflection captures—you can simply create and edit lights inside the Unreal Editor and see the same final lighting as when the game is run on the console.

Open Worlds

The new World Partition system changes how levels are managed and streamed, automatically dividing the world into a grid and streaming the necessary cells. Team members can also simultaneously work on the same region of the same World without stepping on each other’s toes via the new One File Per Actor system. Data Layers allow you to create different variations of the same World—such as daytime and nighttime versions—as layers that exist in the same space.


Author incredibly detailed characters in dynamic, real-time environments with Unreal Engine 5’s powerful animation toolset. Working in context, you can iterate faster and more accurately, without the need for time-consuming round-tripping. Artist-friendly tools like Control Rig let you quickly create rigs and share them across multiple characters, pose them in Sequencer and save and apply the poses with the new Pose Browser, and easily create natural movement with the new Full-Body IK solver. 


MetaSounds offers complete control over audio DSP graph generation of sound sources, letting users manage all aspects of audio rendering to drive next-generation procedural audio experiences. MetaSounds is analogous to a fully programmable material and rendering pipeline, bringing all the benefits of procedural content creation to audio that the Material Editor brings to shaders: dynamic data-driven assets, the ability to map game parameters to sound playback, huge workflow improvements, and much more.

Editor Workflow

The revamped Unreal Editor provides an updated visual style, streamlined workflows, and optimized use of screen real estate, making it easier, faster, and more pleasing to use. You can now quickly access frequently used properties in the Details panel with a new favoriting system, while the new Create button on the main toolbar lets you easily place Actors into your world.


MetaHumans created in MetaHuman Creator are compatible with both UE4 and UE5. 

Unreal Engine 5.0 is expected to arrive in early 2022. You get early access by visiting this website