Omniverse - Game Engine Graphics without the Fuss

Feb 19, 2022 at 06:00 am by Warlord720

NVIDIA’s Omniverse is a powerful, yet easy to use, toolset that compares to game engines more than favorably in terms of render options and quality. Omniverse also lacks the complexity of most game engines as it is there for storytellers, filmmakers, and amateur directors instead of games. This means all that brainpower over at NVIDIA can concentrate on what’s important to this group of users without having to devote a lot of programming hours to the technical operation of a game.

This doesn’t mean that hours upon hours of coding and testing haven’t been spent on Omniverse. It means that the development of these tools can proceed at a much more rapid pace. Whereas game development has to split and devote resources on many fronts and put out many fires, Omniverse devs can concentrate on other things like simplicity and good rendering.

It seems a lot of folks are gamers in some sense now. It wasn’t always this way, but your grandmother and grandfather were there when video games were introduced. You’ll notice I said “video games” because that is what we used to call them. Now there are digital games in open worlds instead of prerecorded animation of video cut up to respond to certain code queues from the player like the old Dragon’s Lair (1983) laser-disc video game. 

Not having to be concerned with a lot of game mechanics and techniques, the developers over at NVIDIA can concentrate on the things we adore like eye candy and lots of it. Let’ 's face facts, visual special effects (VFX) are becoming a key element and sometimes the backbone of modern cinematography.   VFX is eye candy, and while it can be distracting and debilitating to a movie when used improperly or overused it is still an important part of cinematography.

Without the distraction of triggers, coding, and game flow Omniverse can help a storyteller get a quality final product without a huge team or budget. Add in tools like Character Creator, iClone, Blender and the possibilities start to boggle the mind.

Let’s take a look at a case in point. The following renders are both basic in respect to their platforms. Both could be improved with better lighting and other tweaks but I’m going to compare them in their basic forms that any user should be able to reproduce outside of hardware differences. Both were screenshots of the application workspace, not a final render by any means, and were captured using an RTX 3060, a very basic video card that works in Omniverse.

The first image is from the iClone workspace. There is no sky but there is basic Image Based Lighting (IBL) to go along with the default 3-point lighting.

iClone Workspace

The next is a screencap of Omniverse. The shadows are darker in Omniverse for one thing. The colors and materials are less cartoony with more depth. The textures are more muted the lighting looks a bit more advanced even though they are same.

Omniverse Workspace

I understand that a lot of this is subjective and difficult to fully convey within the limitations of this article and the size of the provided renders. Ask different artists and you’ll get different answers about what they want to see in their final renders, but it’s generally better to start with a more neutral, muted, toned-down look as opposed to a sharp-lined, cartoonish look. Unless, of course, that is the look you are going for.

USD export of scene objects or entire scenes for that matter, allow applications like iClone to transfer those assets into Omniverse, complete with animated cameras, lighting, and other important scene items. You can light in iClone and send to Omniverse or leave the iClone lighting basic and relight in Omniverse.

Rendering the output is simple too. Under the Rendering menu in the top toolbar, you’ll find Movie Capture which captures each frame in an image sequence for editing in your favorite video editor. No chasing your tail, no compiling or compile errors, no scripting just straightforward production work that can be further tweaked for better results.

If you already have iClone and a compatible RTX video card, then you should try Omniverse and you can have game engine graphics without game engine bloat or complexity.

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website


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