Unreal Engine 5.4 is here, and it's good news for filmmakers and animators (2024)

By Ian Dean

published

Epic Games releases new motion graphics, virtual camera and animation tools and more for its latest Unreal Engine 5 update.

Unreal Engine 5.4, the latest update to Epic Games' industry-leading game engine, has launched and it's good news for animators. The pitch of the new release is to enhance and develop the best features, such as Nanite, while offering new tools to aid animators and motion graphic artists.

Since launch Unreal Engine 5 has become a mainstay of many creative industries that stretch the platform's uses far beyond just video games, for example UE5 is used by filmmakers and has helped VFX artists with the introduction of LED stages and MetaHuman Animator, as used in the new Marvel 1943 game and its cinematics.

The highlights of UE 5.4 include new broadcast features, such as Unreal Engine Motion Design Mode (previously called Avalanche), and new virtual production tools, which now brings Unreal's virtual camera app,UnrealVCam, to Android for the first time.

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A closer look at UnrealEngine 5.4'sMotion Design Mode reveals a set of precisely tailored tools for motion design artists, with a workflow and design layout aimed at improving speed. Working on a 2D canvas, Motion Design Mode provides a comprehensive suite of tools, including 3D shapes, cloners, effectors, modifiers, animators and features for non-linear animations.

Epic Games has tested the new Motion Design Mode with over 300 companies and individual 550 artists taking part in the beta since last year. This included CBS Sports using Motion Design Mode to create the Super Bowl LVIII motion graphics designed on the theme of the Las Vegas strip. CBS Sports even used the tools to create an XR promo shoot at the MSG Sphere and live AR graphics during the game.

Over the years new tools in Unreal Engine 5 have been pushed to Apple devices first, with an iPhone used to showcase new MetaHuman Animator tools. But Unreal VCam for Android is a game-changer for Google and Android devices. The new UnrealVCam delivers virtual production-ready cinematography in real time from any Android device.

This is the same app that has been known asLive Link VCAMand only available on iOS, until now.The VCam essentially means filmmakers can transfer traditional concepts such as lens tricks, framing and camera movement intoUnrealEngine 5's digital virtual sets.

Filmmakers using Android devices can now record realistic sequences and edit shots, assemble footage in Unreal Engine’s Sequencer and more, which includes reviewing early set environments through the lens, previs shots before a shoot, capture real takes during principal photography and create a new shot in post.

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Other eye-catching new features are designed for animators, with a revamped animation toolset that now includes a new Modular Control Rig feature - this means animators can build rigs directly in the editor using modular parts. Automatic Retargeting is a new Layered Control Rigs feature that adds animation on top of anim clips, making the process simpler.

Motion Matching was previously released as an experimental feature and tested in Fortnite for select users, it's now in UE 5.4 and could really shake up how animation is created. Here's how Epic explains the feature: "Instead of using complex logic to select and transition animation clips at runtime, it relies on searching a relatively large database of captured animation using the current motion information of the character in game as the key."

Read all the new features in Unreal Engine 5.4 at the Unreal Engine blog, which includes news on new rendering tech and features in Nanite. If you're new to Unreal's tech, read our UE5 explainer and how Unreal Engine 5.3 review. If you want to upgrade your tech, read our guide to the most powerful laptops.

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Ian Dean

Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.

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Unreal Engine 5.4 is here, and it's good news for filmmakers and animators (2024)
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