Wednesday, October 25th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Epic Games releases Twinmotion 2023.2

Originally posted on 14 September 2023 for Preview 1 and updated for the final release.

Epic Games has released Twinmotion 2023.2, the next major version of its Unreal-Engine-based real-time visualisation software.

The update adds support for Lumen, Unreal Engine’s real-time global illumination system, reworks Twinmotion’s exposure controls, and adds a fast-rendering new glass material.

Other new features include the option to import and render animated objects, including 3D characters, and to import materials in Substance .sbsar format.

In addition, the old free trial of Twinmotion has been replaced with a new watermarked Community Edition.

An easy-to-use tool for visualising CAD data
Created by visualisation studio KA-RA, Twinmotion was desgned to help architects with limited 3D experience to create still or animated visualisations of buildings.

It imports hero models in a range of standard 3D file formats, or via live links to CAD applications. Users can then create background environments from a library of stock assets, and assign lights.

Atmospheric properties – including clouds, rain and snow, and ambient lighting based on geographical location and time of day – can be adjusted via slider-based controls.

The software was acquired by Epic in 2019, and initially made available for free, before being re-released commercially in 2020 with an aggressive new price point.

Twinmotion 2032.2: support for real-time global illumination system Lumen
The update moves the software to the same foundation as Unreal Engine 5.3, the latest version of the game engine and real-time renderer.

The updated engine has a number of new features, the major one being support for Lumen, Unreal Engine’s real-time global illumination (GI) system.

The software now has two real-time rendering modes: Standard, which uses a volumetric approach to ambient lighting, and Lumen, which is a surface-based approach, using ray tracing to calculate one light bounce and one reflection bounce.

Lumen generates better-quality renders, but uses more CPU/GPU resources and RAM.

It provides a middle option between the old real-time rendering and the Path Tracer, which provides even greater render quality, but uses even more resources.

In the initial release, Lumen is not available in VR mode, or on the cycloramas or LED walls used in virtual production, although the latter should be supported “soon”.

Changes to Twinmotion’s exposure system
Twinmotion 2023.2 also moves the software to real-world light values for sun intensity.

As a result the software’s auto-exposure algorithm has been adjusted to work with a larger range of exposure values, with the total range increased from 4 stops to 26 stops.

In addition, new Local Exposure settings have been added to help preserve shadow and highlight details in scenes with high dynamic ranges.

New Basic glass material and better import of Sketchfab models
Other changes include a new Basic glass material, intended as a faster-rendering alternative to the more fully featured Standard and Colored glass materials for scenes that contain a lot of clear glass.

There are also improvements to water materials, which now correctly render path traced transparency; and to snow and rain effects, which respond better to wind speed and direction.

Import and render animated objects
Another major change in Twinmotion 2023.2 is support for animated objects.

Users can now import animations in FBX or glTF/GLB format for rendering inside Twinmotion, previewing the results using the video controls or the scrubber.

Both static and skeletal meshes are supported, so you can import 3D characters, but not currently blendshape-based facial animations, or animated cameras and lights.

It’s still officially an experimental feature, so there are also a number of known issues and limitations: you can find a full list in the release notes.

Import Substance .sbsar materials
In addition, the update adds native support for Adobe’s .sbsar format, making it possible to import materials created in apps like Substance 3D Designer and edit them inside Twinmotion.

Materials only remain procedural when imported directly, not via Datasmith; and textures have a maximum resolution of 4,096 x 4,096px. You can find a list of limitations in the release notes.

Improvements to the Paint and Scatter tools
The release also updates Twinmotion’s Paint and Scatter tools, used to dress scenes with instanced objects.

It is now possible to scatter any simple static mesh from the Twinmotion library, including meshes from the Epic Games-owned online libraries Quixel Megascans and Sketchfab.

Assets from Sketchfab can now be imported with the model hierarchy intact.

Old free trial replaced by a watermarked Community Edition
Epic Games has also replaced the old non-commercial free trial of Twinmotion, which capped exports at 2K resolution, but which was otherwise fully featured, with a new Community Edition.

It’s still free, but as well as limiting resolution, it lacks access to online collaboration system Twinmotion Cloud.

Price, system requirements and release date
Twinmotion 2023.2 is available for Windows 10+ and macOS 12.x. Integration plugins are available for CAD and DCC apps including 3ds Max 2017+, SketchUp Pro 2019+ and Unreal Engine 4.27+.

New licences now cost $749, up $250 from the previous release. The software is free for students and educators, and there is also a free Community Edition of the software which caps export resolution at 2K, and lacks access to Twinmotion Cloud.

Read an overview of the new features in Twinmotion 2023.2 on Epic Games’ blog

Read a full list of new features in Twinmotion 2023.2 in the online changelog

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