Twinmotion 2023.2 is the latest version of Epic Games' rendering visualiser, and its fast-becoming one of the best around, so much so that when the new features of Twinmotion 2023.2 were previewed I just had to write a piece and let everyone know to put this on their radar.
What is it? A real-time 3D visualisation tool and renderer, creating panoramas, standard or 360-degree VR scenes
New features Lumen dynamic GI and reflections, Early Access support for importing animated files, Adobe Substance 3D material support
Developer Epic Games
Price Free to students, commercial license $749 / £742.80
A little background, Twinmotion was originally created by KA-RA, before it was acquired by Epic Games in 2019. The tool is now built on Unreal-Engine technology and helps architects and 3D artists visualise their projects. Its USP is how easy it is to use, including a set of simple tools, many of which utilise drag and drop functionality. Lights, materials and models can be added to a scene to create an entire 3D scene.
Twinmotion 2023.2 includes a range of new features, from Lumen dynamic GI and reflections, to early access support for importing animated files, and Adobe Substance 3D material support, amongst others. These features further strengthen Twinmotion’s arsenal of tools and integrate it more firmly into recognised flows of architects and 3D artists. (Read my Twinmotion 2022.2 review to see how far things have come.)
This application will continue to find favour amongst those with limited 3D experience or expertise. With its ever expanding feature set it is also eating into the broader 3D community as it becomes a viable tool for creating ever more impressive visualisations at speed and with little fuss.
Lumen comes to Twinmotion 2023.2
The name ‘Lumen’ was first introduced in Unreal Engine 5 and has now found its way into Twinmotion. The name refers to their dynamic global illumination and reflections system that makes it possible to do away with light baking and rely on real-time dynamically calculated lighting solutions. This has been a game-changing feature for Unreal Engine and will no doubt prove popular amongst Twinmotion users too.
The Lumen technology has helped to move Twinmotion closer to production renderers such as V-Ray and Arnold but, despite its claim, is still quite a long way off the level of quality or adaptability. Production renderers often rely on a high number of light bounces to properly replicate the lighting and reflection model whereas Lumen supports only a single light bounce and one reflection bounce. This is enough to significantly improve the offering from the standard volumetric solution that was previously and still is available but it's not sufficient for creating the detail required for a more advanced solution.
Lumen performs well in general but is noticeably dependent upon the computer’s resources including the CPU, GPU and RAM. If you’re going to be relying on this feature for your projects then make sure you have the hardware to back it up, otherwise your machine will be quickly grinding to a halt.
It’s worth noting that in this release Lumen doesn’t work in VR mode or on LED walls for virtual production setups. It’s also disappointing to see that scattered and painted vegetation doesn’t contribute to the lighting solution. Artists will have to wait for these to be supported.
Animated file imports in Twinmotion 2023.2
Twinmotion's studio setup is aimed at automotive visualisers but I'm confused as to why it's so focused on this; the studio setup is great for any type of project requiring product or object visualisation, not just vehicles. I’d love to see this broadened to general use.
The feature itself works great and is very easy to get set up. The lighting is all good to go so you just need to delete the stock asset, drop your model in and then visualise it.
Having a reliable studio setup like this will be incredibly appealing for all product designers as it enables them to create amazing videos and images of their products for their stakeholders.
Another major feature introduced in this release is the ability to import FBX, gITF, and GLB files that contain animation data. This is a significant step forward as it enables a much higher level of scene customisation that wasn’t possible before.
Artists can now create their animations in whatever software they want and then import it for playback in Twinmotion. This support really helps to increase the level of immersion that a viewer feels and is perfect for architectural visualisation that requires moving people or cars.
This feature is only early access at this point so don’t expect it to be firing on all cylinders yet. You won’t find support for animations without meshes associated with them or animated cameras and lights. It’s also not possible to import animation data such as morph targets or blend shapes.
This has a real limitation for facial animations and so I hope this is something that is integrated in the not too distant future. Due to these limitations, it is vital to plan your animation techniques ahead of time so that you don’t waste unnecessary time when bringing your models into Twinmotion.
Twinmotion 2023.2 now with Adobe Substance 3D
The final thing to draw your attention to is the added support for Adobe Substance 3D materials. Adobe Substance material authoring has been gaining significant traction in recent years and is becoming a dominant technique for many artists.
I consider this a pro feature as Adobe Substance is not for the fainthearted and is unlikely to be part of the toolset for many architects and beginner 3D visualisers. That being said, these users might choose to download Substance Designer materials from other artists and use them in their own projects.
Twinmotion 2023.2 price
Twinmotion 2023.2 is free to students and teachers with its Education Edition and as with Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5 is also free via its Community Edition, if you're not using it for commercial reasons.
The commercial license is a one-off fee of $749 / £742.80, which gives you a perpetual license that is tied to one Epic Games account, which does mean you'll need more licenses for larger teams. If you already have a commercial edition license for one of the previous releases (like 2023.1, for example), and you want to upgrade to 2023.2, then it costs $199.
Visit the Twinmotion website for more details and download options and pricing.