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Epic Games Acquires Megascans Producer Quixel

World’s largest photogrammetry asset library and bundled toolset will become free for all Unreal Engine use.

As they kicked off Unreal Academy London, Epic Games has announced the acquisition of Quixel, creator of the world’s largest photogrammetry asset library and bundled toolset, with all Quixel Megascans becoming free for all use with Unreal Engine. In addition, Epic announced significant Unreal Engine developments that streamline functionality to offer elegant solutions for creators across all industries.

Free access to Quixel

Founded in 2011, Quixel’s products include Megascans, an extensive library of 2D and 3D photogrammetry assets, supported by companion applications Bridge and Mixer. Leading game developers, filmmakers, and visualization specialists use Quixel Megascans assets to craft blockbuster games (Metro Exodus, Destiny 2, Battlefield V), animated entertainment (The Jungle Book, Black Panther, The Lion King, Pacific Rim: Uprising), and lifelike scenes through high-quality content and access to a vast array of tools. Quixel’s primary operations will remain based in Sweden, with over 100 employees across six countries joining the Epic Games team.

According to Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, “Building photorealistic 3D content is an expensive endeavor in game development and film production. By coming together with Quixel to make Megascans free for all use in Unreal Engine, this level of artistry is now available to everyone from triple-A studios to indies.”

“Our mission at Quixel has always been to make the world more accessible for everyone through ultra-high-resolution scanning,” Quixel co-founder Teddy Bergsman added. “As part of Epic Games, we’re now able to accelerate this vision as we grow the Megascans library, speed up the development of Bridge and Mixer, and improve integrations with all major 3D software and renderers.”

As part of making the Quixel Megascans library of more than 10,000 assets free for use with Unreal Engine, ten high-resolution packs have been shared for free on the Unreal Engine Marketplace, as well as a collection of assets from the popular Iceland collection used in the Rebirth cinematic short. Additional asset packs will be made available for free on the Marketplace at a future date within the Unreal Engine 4.24 release timeframe.

Shown earlier this year at GDC 2019’s State of Unreal, Rebirth was created using Megascans and Unreal Engine 4, to demonstrate how a small team can create photorealistic visuals in real time.

Since then, the Rebirth assets have been brought over into a virtual production demonstration to show in-camera VFX using Unreal Engine and LED wall displays in filmmaking, shown below in Epic's behind-the-scenes video. These new technologies and techniques signal a transformation to the creative process, effectively taking the post out of post-production. 

Quixel Mixer and Quixel Bridge are being made available for free to all, regardless of engine choice or license type. In addition, all Quixel Megascans users can look forward to more downloads per month and more generous license terms.

Unreal Studio for all

Epic also announced more streamlined features and workflows that advance Unreal Engine for all creators. Starting with Unreal Engine 4.24, features such as the Datasmith suite of plugins, static mesh editing, and the Variant Manager -- previously available through the free Unreal Studio beta -- now ship as part of the unified binary tool. As a result, all Unreal Engine users will now have access to the same features, regardless of industry and use case: games, architecture, automotive and transportation, film and television, broadcast and live events, as well as training and simulation—with the entire community benefitting from a more diverse user base with transferable skills.

As a result of this shift, the Unreal Studio beta will be retired upon the release of Unreal Engine 4.24. Users remaining on Unreal Studio 4.23 or earlier will be able to continue using the product, however Epic will no longer release new versions or offer further support. The Datasmith plugin for 4.19-4.23 will be made available for all users for free on the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Unreal Engine 4.24 highlights

Available now in Preview 1, Unreal Engine 4.24 ships with many upgrades and new features, notably:

  • New nondestructive, layer-based Landscape workflows enable more interesting and engaging outdoor environments where the terrain automatically adapts to other elements in the world.
  • The Sky Atmosphere component generates a physically-accurate sky that can be updated dynamically depending on the time of day, and it can be viewed from the ground or from the air to create realistic-looking planetscapes.
  • The new experimental strand-based hair and fur system brings characters to life with realistic, flowing hair.
  • Screen-space global illumination allows for natural light-filled spaces using fewer resources.
  • The Live Universal Scene Description (USD) Stage Actor creates a direct link to the USD file on disk for faster iteration and better collaboration.
  • Project creation workflow now includes a wizard-style workflow centered around the industry or type of project you are creating so you only see relevant settings and tools.

The Future of Twinmotion

Powered by Unreal Engine, Twinmotion is a highly intuitive, high-quality solution for fast and easy real-time visualization for architecture, construction, urban planning, and landscaping.

Previously, Epic had announced that Twinmotion would remain free until November 2019; once downloaded, the free version can be used indefinitely. Today, Epic is extending the free availability until the next release of Twinmotion, which is anticipated to ship in the first quarter of 2020. The new version will offer even greater photorealism, improved assets, tools to facilitate collaborative workflows, and more.

Source: Epic Games