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Unreal Engine 4 for Design Visualization: Developing Stunning Interactive Visualizations, Animations, and Renderings

Book Description

The Official, Full-Color Guide to Developing Interactive Visualizations, Animations, and Renderings with Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) was created to develop video games, but it has gone viral among architecture, science, engineering, and medical visualization communities. UE4’s stunning visual quality, cutting-edge toolset, unbeatable price (free!), and unprecedented ease of use redefines the state of the art and has turned the gaming, film, and visualization industries on their heads.

Unreal Engine 4 for Design Visualization delivers the knowledge visualization professionals need to leverage UE4’s immense power. World-class UE4 expert Tom Shannon introduces Unreal Engine 4’s components and technical concepts, mentoring you through the entire process of building outstanding visualization content–all with realistic, carefully documented, step-by-step sample projects.

Shannon answers the questions most often asked about UE4 visualization, addressing issues ranging from data import and processing to lighting, advanced materials, and rendering. He reveals important ways in which UE4 works differently from traditional rendering systems, even when it uses similar terminology. Throughout, he writes from the perspective of visualization professionals in architecture, engineering, or science–not gaming.

  • Understand UE4’s components and development environment,

  • Master UE4’s pipeline from source data to delivered application

  • Recognize and adapt to the differences between UE4 and traditional visualization and rendering techniques

  • Achieve staggering realism with UE4’s Physically Based Rendering (PBR) Materials, Lighting, and Post-Processing pipelines

  • Create production-ready Materials with the interactive real-time Material Editor

  • Quickly set up projects, import massive datasets, and populate worlds with accurate visualization data

  • Develop bright, warm lighting for architectural visualizations

  • Create pre-rendered animations with Sequencer

  • Use Blueprints Visual Scripting to create complex interactions without writing a single line of code

  • Work with (and around) UE4’s limitations and leveraging its advantages to achieve your vision

All UE4 project files and 3ds Max source files, plus additional resources and links, are available at the book's companion website.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents at a Glance
  6. Contents
  7. Preface
    1. Who Should Read This Book
    2. How This Book Is Organized
      1. Part I: Unreal Engine 4 Overview
      2. Part II: Your First UE4 Project
      3. Part III: Architectural Visualization Project
    3. Source Files
    4. Conventions Used in This Book
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. About the Author
  10. Part I: Unreal Engine 4 Overview
    1. Chapter 1. Getting Started with Unreal Engine 4
      1. What Is Unreal Engine 4?
      2. A Brief History of Unreal Engine
      3. Introducing Unreal Engine 4
      4. UE4 Highlights for Visualization
      5. Developing Interactive Visualizations with Unreal Engine 4
        1. What UE4 Brings to Visualization
        2. UE4 Development Caveats
        3. Identifying Great UE4 Projects
      6. Unreal Engine 4 Development Requirements
      7. Teamwork in Unreal Engine 4
        1. Source Control Overview
        2. Unreal Engine 4 Versioning Support Integration
      8. Costs of Developing for UE4
        1. Hardware
        2. Development Time
        3. Testing and QA
      9. Cost Savings of UE4
      10. Resources and Training
        1. Community Support
        2. Marketplace
        3. Community Events and Conferences
      11. Summary
    2. Chapter 2. Working with UE4
      1. Unreal Engine 4 Components
        1. Epic Games Launcher
        2. UE4 Engine
        3. UE4 Editor
        4. UE4 Projects
        5. Source Art
      2. Project Folder Structure
        1. Config
        2. Saved
        3. Plugins (Optional)
        4. Content
        5. Intermediate
      3. Understanding .uasset Files
      4. Unreal Engine 4 Content Pipeline
        1. Set Up a New Project
        2. Build Content
        3. Export Content
        4. Import Content to UE4
        5. Populate the Level with Content
        6. Add Interactivity (Programming!)
        7. Test and Refine
        8. Package
        9. Distribute
        10. Provide Support
      5. Summary
    3. Chapter 3. Content Pipeline
      1. Content Pipeline Overview
        1. Content Preparation
      2. 3D Scene Setup
        1. Units
        2. Statistics
        3. Backface Cull and Normals
      3. Preparing Geometry for UE4
        1. Architecture and Prop Meshes
        2. Naming
        3. UV Mapping
        4. Level of Detail (LOD)
        5. Collision
        6. Pivot Point
      4. FBX Mesh Pipeline
        1. Export Settings
        2. Exporting Multiple Meshes
        3. Reimporting
        4. Where to Put Your FBX Files
      5. Texture and Material Workflow
        1. Textures
        2. Multiple Materials
      6. Importing to the Content Library
        1. Initiating Imports
        2. Mesh Import Options
        3. Texture Options
      7. Camera Workflow
      8. Summary
    4. Chapter 4. Lighting and Rendering
      1. Understanding Unreal Engine’s Physically Based Rendering (PBR)
        1. Base Color
        2. Roughness
        3. Metallic
        4. Getting the Most from PBR
      2. Lights in UE4
      3. Understanding Light Mobility
        1. Moveable Lights
        2. Stationary Lights
        3. Static Lights
      4. Real-Time Reflections
        1. Reflection Probes
        2. Post Process Reflections
      5. Post-Processing
        1. Anti-Aliasing
        2. Bloom, Glare, and Lens Flares
        3. Eye Adaptation (Auto Exposure)
        4. Depth of Field
        5. Film Effects
        6. Motion Blur
        7. Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO)
        8. Screen Space Reflections
        9. Screen Percentage
        10. Post Process Materials
      6. Summary
    5. Chapter 5. Materials
      1. Materials Overview
        1. Creating Materials
        2. Applying Materials
        3. Modifying Materials
      2. UE4 Material Editor
        1. Opening the Material Editor
        2. Editor UI
        3. Placing Nodes
        4. Using the Preview Viewport
        5. Compiling Shaders
        6. Saving
      3. How Unreal Materials Work
        1. Pixel and Vertex Shaders
        2. Materials Are Math
        3. Material Functions
      4. Surface Types
        1. Opaque
        2. Masked
        3. Translucent
      5. Material Instances
        1. Material Parameters
        2. Inheritance
        3. Overriding Parameters
        4. Organization
        5. Master Materials
      6. A Simple Material
        1. Placing Parameter Nodes
        2. Making Material Instances
        3. Adding a Roughness Map
        4. Adding a Normal Map
        5. Understanding the Base Color Map
      7. Summary
    6. Chapter 6. Blueprints
      1. Introducing Blueprints
      2. Objects, Classes, and Actors
        1. Objects
        2. Classes
        3. Actors
      3. The Player
      4. The Player Controller
        1. Input Handling
        2. Player Data
        3. Rotation
        4. Mouse Interface
        5. Other Controllers
      5. Pawns
      6. The World
      7. Levels
      8. Components
      9. Variables and their Types
      10. The Tick
        1. Delta Seconds
      11. Class Inheritance
      12. Spawning and Destroying
        1. Construction Script
        2. Begin Play Event
      13. Blueprint Communication
        1. Direct Blueprint Communication
        2. Event Dispatchers
        3. Blueprint Interfaces
        4. Blueprint Casting
      14. Compiling the Script
      15. Summary
  11. Part II: Your First UE4 Project
    1. Chapter 7. Setting Up the Project
      1. Project Scope
      2. Creating a New Project from the Launcher
      3. Summary
    2. Chapter 8. Populating the World
      1. Making and Saving a New, Blank Level
      2. Placing and Modifying Assets
        1. Moving, Scaling, and Rotating
        2. Using the Details Panel
        3. Snapping
        4. Duplicating
        5. Adding Actors from the Class Browser
      3. Let there Be Light
        1. Sun
        2. Atmospheric Fog
        3. Assign the Sun to the Atmosphere
        4. Sky Light
      4. Moving Around the Scene
        1. Game Style
        2. Object Focused
      5. Building the Architecture
      6. Adding Details to Your Structure
        1. Placing Props
        2. Placing Lights
        3. Adding IES Profiles
      7. Summary
    3. Chapter 9. Making it Interactive with Blueprints
      1. Setting Up the Project
      2. Press Play
        1. Play Modes
        2. Default GameMode
      3. Creating the Pawn
        1. Setting the Player’s View Height
        2. Setting Up the Movement Speed
      4. Input Mapping
        1. Action and Axis Mapping
        2. Setting Up Mappings
        3. Input Device Flexibility
      5. Creating the Player Controller Class
      6. Adding Input with Blueprints
        1. Adding Axis Events
      7. Rotating the View (Looking)
      8. Player Movement
        1. Referencing the Pawn
        2. Is Valid
        3. Add Movement Input
      9. GameMode
        1. Creating the GameMode
        2. Assigning the GameMode to the Project
      10. Placing the Player Start Actor
      11. Summary
    4. Chapter 10. Packaging and Distribution
      1. Packaged Versus Editor Builds
      2. Project Packaging
        1. Content Cooking
        2. Deployment
      3. Packaging Options
        1. Platforms
        2. Build Configuration
      4. How to Package
      5. Launching Your Application
      6. Packaging Errors
      7. Distributing the Project
      8. Using Installers
      9. Summary
  12. Part III: Architectural Visualization Project
    1. Chapter 11. Project Setup
      1. Project Scope and Requirements
      2. Setting Up the Project
        1. Creating the Project
        2. Migrating from Another Project
        3. Don’t Forget the Input
        4. Copying, Renaming, and Moving Assets
      3. Applying Project Settings
      4. Summary
    2. Chapter 12. Data Pipeline
      1. Organizing the Scene
      2. Materials
      3. Architecture and Fixtures
        1. Ensuring Clean Geometry
        2. Using Good UV Coordinates
      4. Exporting the Scene
        1. Using Multiple FBX Files
        2. Using a Single FBX File
      5. Importing the Scene
        1. Importing into the Content Browser
        2. Importing into the Level
      6. Prop Meshes
        1. Setting Pivot Points
        2. Using Mindful Geometry
        3. Exporting
        4. Importing
      7. Summary
    3. Chapter 13. Populating the Scene
      1. Scene Building for Visualization
      2. Setting Up the Level
        1. Creating a New Level
        2. Adding Basic Lighting
      3. Placing Architecture Static Meshes
        1. Dragging and Dropping Meshes
        2. Setting the Location to Zero
      4. Placing Prop Meshes
        1. Surface Snapping
        2. Cloning and Copying
        3. Shift+Dragging
      5. Scene Organization
        1. World Outliner
        2. Layers
        3. Grouping
        4. Actor Blueprints
      6. Summary
    4. Chapter 14. Architectural Lighting
      1. Getting the Most from UE4’s Lighting
        1. Materials and Lighting
      2. Static Lighting with Lightmass
      3. Adjusting the Sun and Sky Lights
        1. Sun Light
        2. Sky Light
      4. Building Lighting
      5. Lightmass Settings for Architecture Visualizations
        1. Static Lighting Level Scale
        2. Num Indirect Lighting Bounces
        3. Indirect Lighting Quality
        4. Indirect Lighting Smoothness
        5. Compress Lightmaps
      6. Lightmap UV Density Adjustments
        1. Rebuild and Save
      7. Placing Interior Lighting
        1. Spot Lights
        2. Mobility
        3. Intensity
        4. Temperature
        5. Attenuation
        6. IES Files
        7. Auto Exposure
      8. Placing Light Portals
      9. Using Reflection Probes
        1. Size
        2. Performance
      10. Post-Process Volume
        1. Volume Actors
        2. Placing the Post-Process Volume
        3. Post-Process Volume Setup
      11. Summary
    5. Chapter 15. Architectural Materials
      1. What Is a Master Material?
        1. Material Network Overview
        2. Parameter Nodes
      2. Creating the Master Material
        1. Base Color
        2. Metallic
        3. Roughness
        4. Normal
        5. Ambient Occlusion
        6. Texture Scaling and Transform
      3. Creating Material Instances
        1. Painted Walls
        2. Floors
      4. Advanced Materials
        1. Parallax Occlusion Mapping
        2. Glass
      5. Summary
    6. Chapter 16. Creating Cinematics with Sequencer
      1. Getting Started with Sequencer
        1. Master Sequence
        2. Dynamic Cameras
      2. Animating the Camera
        1. Setting Keyframes
        2. Piloting the Camera
        3. Track and Camera Naming
        4. Transitions
      3. Editing the Shots
      4. Saving
      5. Collaborating
      6. Rendering to Video
        1. Render Movie Settings
        2. Rendering Process
      7. Summary
    7. Chapter 17. Preparing the Level for Interactivity
      1. Setting Up Your Level
      2. Adding the Player Start Actor
      3. Adding Collision
        1. Complex Versus Simple Collision
        2. Walls and Floors
        3. Setting Prop Collision
      4. Enabling the Mouse Cursor
      5. Creating Post-Process Outlines
      6. Summary
    8. Chapter 18. Intermediate Blueprints: UMG Interaction
      1. Toggling Datasets
      2. Making the Variation Level
        1. Making a Copy with Save As
        2. Importing the New Architecture
        3. Replacing the Architecture Meshes
        4. Setting Up Lightmap Density
        5. Applying Materials
        6. Enabling Collision
        7. Decorating (Optional)
        8. Building Lighting
      3. Level Streaming
        1. Making a New Level
        2. Accessing the Levels Interface
        3. Adding Streaming Levels
        4. Using Blueprints Versus Always Loaded Levels
      4. Defining a Player Start Actor
      5. Setting Up the Level Blueprint
        1. Opening the Level Blueprint
        2. Using Events
        3. Testing Time
      6. Programming the Switching
        1. Creating Custom Events
      7. Testing Time
        1. Creating the Keyboard Shortcut
        2. Compiling and Saving
        3. Clicking Play
      8. Unreal Motion Graphics (UMG)
        1. Using Widgets
        2. Horizontal Box
        3. Buttons
        4. Labels
      9. Back to the Level Blueprint
        1. Creating the Widget
        2. Adding the Widget to the Viewport
        3. Event Binding
        4. Compiling and Saving
        5. Playing the Game
      10. Summary
    9. Chapter 19. Advanced Blueprints: Material Switcher
      1. Setting the Goal
      2. Building the Actor Blueprint
      3. Creating Variables
        1. Meshes To Modify Array
        2. Materials Array
        3. Start Material Index Variable
        4. Current Material Index Variable
        5. IsClicked Variable
      4. Adding Components
        1. Billboard Component
        2. TextRender Component
      5. Creating the Change Material Function
        1. New Index Input
        2. Is Valid Index
        3. For Each Loop
      6. Understanding the Construction Script
        1. Set Text Label
        2. Draw Connecty Lines
        3. Change Material to Start Index
      7. Understanding the Event Graph
        1. Begin Play
        2. Event Binding
        3. Mouse Over and Mouse Out
        4. Click Action
        5. Detecting False Clicks
      8. Populating the Level
        1. Adding Meshes
        2. Adding Materials
        3. Setting Defaults
        4. Copying and Pasting
      9. Playing the Application
      10. Summary
    10. Chapter 20. Final Thoughts
      1. UE4 Continually Changing
      2. Future of Visualization
      3. Next Steps
      4. Virtual Reality
      5. Film Making
      6. Content Creation
      7. Thank You
  13. Glossary
  14. Index