Rense de Boer, an ex-Technical Art Director at Battlefield developer DICE, has a published a video exploring the limits of real-time rendering in Unreal Engine 4. Going under the name Art by Rens, we’ve seen his work before but this time he’s opted for a forest project that’s all being rendered in real time.
I don’t know what it is about forests that has environmental designers obsessed about perfecting them, although I suspect it has to do with them being so innately familiar to so many people, and yet incredibly complex to recreate, making it a standout marker of technical excellence.
De Boer is on a quest to achieve photorealism, and the basis of this footage he’s edging mightily close. He’s used Unreal Engine 4 in conjunction with SpeedTree, ExLevel and Allegorithmic software in order to achieve the desired effect, as well as photogrammetry techniques to achieve the photorealistic texture quality. He’s totally ignoring any potential performance restrictions, technical limitations, and memory resources here, aiming solely for the most realistic graphical rendering possible.
There’s still a slight air of uncanny valley to it but that’s to take nothing away from what is a damn fine artistic achievement. It’s impressive this can all be rendered in real time as well, giving us a peek at the sort of quality can come to expect from our games over the coming years.