GDC 2018: Epic Games Shows Off Real-Time Ray Tracing in Unreal Engine 4

NVIDIA, ILMxLAB, and Epic Games have revealed a new video demonstrating the best of what real-time ray tracing has to offer players.

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One of the bigger developments in modern computer graphics is ray tracing technology. Previously reserved for the likes of Hollywood films, ray tracing allows for the highest possible realism when it comes to simulating light in digital environments. Before now, the technology wasn't available in most games due to the high amount of power required; however, new advancements in graphics processors have allowed ray tracing to finally become something within the grasp of PC players, and Epic Games is here to show us just how good the future is looking.

NVIDIA, ILMxLAB, and Epic Games pooled their resources to produce a demonstration of ray tracing technology that was revealed during today's Unreal Engine-based State of Unreal opener at the Game Developer's Conference. Powered by NVIDIA RTX technology and Microsoft's DirectX Ray Tracing API, the technical demonstration combines several next-generation graphical features into a short video starring characters and themes from the Star Wars universe.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney spoke about the capabilities of ray tracing in the Unreal Engine, saying that the advanced technology should be a boon for all manner of entertainment:

“Ray tracing is a rendering process typically only associated with high-end offline renderers and hours and hours of computer processing time,” he said. “Film-quality ray tracing in real time is an Unreal Engine first. This is an exciting new development for the media and entertainment linear content worlds—and any markets that require photorealistic visualization.”

GDC attendees will be able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the video was made via the Cinematic Lighting in Unreal Engine presentation that will be held at the Yerba Buena Center later today. Fans who want to check out more details behind ray tracing technology and the ongoing efforts from NVIDIA and Epic Games can watch the livestream through Unreal Engine's YouTube and Twitch accounts.

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