Geodesic Presents UE4 DMX Plugin at UnrealFest 2020

Geodesic had the pleasure of working directly with Epic Games to bring the new DMX plugin to life in Unreal Engine 4.25. In this talk we show how you can use the built-in DMX plugin to remotely control immersive virtual production experiences. The DMX plugin allows the same DMX input to control virtual fixtures as well as hardware fixtures, all from within UE4. This means that objects and actors in front of a green screen can be lit by a real light. Simultaneously a virtual light can fill the virtual scene with the same luminescence that is lighting the actor. In the demo, we combine this functionality with Unreal’s built-in multi-user functionality to enable live lighting control of a studio on another continent.

What is DMX?

DMX is a protocol designed to control entertainment hardware such as lights used in broadcast studios, concerts, corporate events, and theaters. Other types of hardware that can be controlled via DMX include lasers, fog machines, fireworks, water jets, CO2 cannons, and pixel tape. DMX alone cannot be sent over an internet connection, and is usually sent with an XLR cable or a 5-pin cable. Thankfully, there are protocols that wrap DMX into a network stream-able format. The Unreal Engine DMX plugin supports the most common of these protocols – ArtNet and streaming-ACN (sACN).

Unreal Engine DMX Plugin

With the DMX plugin enabled, UE4 can both receive and send DMX information using sACN or ArtNet. DMX information can be used to control anything in Unreal – anything. This means that you can use DMX to control the color of a light in the scene, or you can use it to control the size of a chair and the speed of the clouds. Unreal allows users to send and receive 65535 universes of information. This means that you can use Unreal for live control of a functionally unlimited number of fixtures. You could busk DMX live for an event, or synchronize lighting with a virtual production such that things happening in a scene affect the real lighting in the studio.

By default, the plugin comes with a number of generic DMX fixtures that can help you get started, and it supports GDTF importing for fixture patching. All of the fixture functions are modular, so you can create your own fixtures easily.

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