Epic Games has announced a divergence from its eponymous target market with the launch of Unreal Studio in open beta form, pushing its previously gaming-centric Unreal Engine at designers, architects, and manufacturers looking for real-time rendering.

First launched in 1998 as the driving force behind at-the-time visually impressive sci-fi first-person shooter Unreal, Epic Games' Unreal Engine is now in its fourth major revision and supports a wide variety of devices from games consoles, mobile, and virtual reality platforms to Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs. In its near-two-decades of life, though, the engine has had one major focus: being the best engine it can be for games developers.

Unreal Studio changes that. Launched this week as an open beta, Unreal Studio is designed for a new market: architects, designers, and manufacturers. Based on Datasmith, a professional tool for automatically transferring computer aided design (CAD) data into Unreal Engine launched by Epic in beta form five months ago, Unreal Studio is Epic's first foray into an all-in-one product for non-gaming industries.

'The Unreal Studio open beta builds on the success of our Datasmith release. Datasmith simplifies bringing Unreal Engine into architecture and design pipelines with automatic lightmap and UV creation along with scripted workflows to organise, optimise and clean up geometry,' explains Marc Petit, general manager of Unreal Enterprise at Epic Games. 'The feedback has been overwhelming: In just five months we had over 14,000 beta registrations, and a recent beta survey reported Datasmith productivity gains of 113 percent. We’re taking all the "boring" work out of the process and giving users more time to be creative.'

'Real-time engines have primarily been designed for the gaming industry, making them impractical to use for architectural and manufacturing visualisation. Until now. Unreal Studio changes the paradigm by addressing needs specific to our industry, such as importing engineering models and easily achieving visual consistency,' adds Karen Hapner, senior visualisation designer at Herman Miller. 'With Unreal Studio, I can use Unreal Engine to efficiently create interactive, immersive experiences for our customers.'

More information, and a link to sign up for the free beta ahead of a full launch in November at a $49 per user per month subscription rate (around £35 excluding taxes) is available from the official website.


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