Powering AR Experiences with Unreal Engine
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Overview of Unreal Engine
  2. How Unreal Engine Powers AR Experiences
  3. What are the Components of an AR Experience in Unreal Engine?
  4. Creating an AR Experience with Unreal Engine
  5. Optimization Tips for AR in Unreal Engine
  6. Incorporating Interactivity in AR with Unreal Engine
  7. What are the Challenges and Solutions When Using Unreal Engine for AR?

Picture this: You're crafting an impressive augmented reality (AR) experience. You've got the concept, the art, the story — but what's going to bring it all to life? You guessed it — the Unreal Engine. In the world of AR, Unreal Engine is a powerful tool that can transform your vision into a virtual production. This blog will guide you through the ins and outs of using Unreal Engine for your AR experiences.

Overview of Unreal Engine

First things first, let's get to know Unreal Engine a bit better. Developed by Epic Games, Unreal Engine is a complete suite of tools that empowers creators to bring real-time, high-quality experiences to PC, console, mobile, AR, and VR. Often used in the gaming industry, it's also making waves in the fields of film, automotive, architecture, and more.

But what makes Unreal Engine such a hit when it comes to AR? Here's a quick rundown:

  • Real-time rendering: Unreal Engine shines when it comes to real-time rendering. It can handle complex scenes with numerous objects, all while keeping the visuals crisp and clean. That's a big plus when you're trying to create AR experiences that feel immersive and real.
  • Blueprint scripting: Even if you're not a coding whiz, Unreal Engine's got you covered. With its visual scripting system, Blueprint, you can create game logic, interactions, and more — without writing a single line of code.
  • VR and AR support: Unreal Engine offers extensive support for VR and AR platforms. Whether you're creating an AR experience for a smartphone or a VR game for a high-end headset, Unreal Engine has the tools and compatibility you need.

Now that we've covered the basics of Unreal Engine, let's dive into how this powerful tool can be used to create unreal engine virtual production for AR experiences.

How Unreal Engine Powers AR Experiences

Unreal Engine is not just a game engine, it's a game-changer for AR experiences. It's the powerhouse that turns your creative ideas into interactive, virtual productions. So, how exactly does it do this?

  • Reality meets Virtuality: With Unreal Engine's robust AR functionality, it effortlessly blends digital content with the real world. This means you can place virtual objects in a real environment, interact with them, and even have them interact with the environment itself. It's like pulling the curtain between reality and fiction!
  • Visual scripting: Remember Blueprint, the visual scripting system we talked about? It's here that it really shines. Blueprint allows you to create complex interactions, behaviours, and effects for your AR experiences without having to code. You can create rules for how virtual objects interact with the real world, or how they respond to user input, all through a user-friendly, visual interface.
  • Stunning Graphics: Unreal Engine is known for its high-quality, real-time rendering. This means your AR experiences can include rich, detailed environments and objects that look incredibly realistic. It's this level of detail that can truly immerse users in your AR experience, making them feel like they're part of the action.
  • Multi-platform support: Whether your AR experience is for a smartphone, a tablet, a headset, or some other device, Unreal Engine has you covered. It supports a wide range of platforms, so you can bring your AR experience to whichever device your users prefer.

Whether you're creating a game, a film, an educational tool, or something else entirely, Unreal Engine has the power and flexibility to bring your vision to life. The possibilities for unreal engine virtual production for AR experiences are virtually endless!

What are the Components of an AR Experience in Unreal Engine?

Every AR experience built with Unreal Engine has several key components. Understanding these elements can help you create AR experiences that are not only immersive but also interactive. Let's break down these components:

  • AR Session: Think of the AR Session as the director of a film. It's in charge of managing the AR system, including tracking the device's position, understanding the environment, and inserting digital content into the real world. It's the backbone of your AR experience.
  • AR Anchors: These are the markers that Unreal Engine uses to place your virtual objects in the real world. Anchors can be attached to a specific point in the environment, like a table or wall, and the virtual objects will stay in that position, even if the device moves.
  • AR Geometries: These represent the real-world objects that Unreal Engine has detected and can interact with. This could be a table that your virtual character jumps on, or a wall that a virtual ball bounces off.
  • AR Light Estimation: This component helps Unreal Engine understand the lighting conditions of the real world and adjust the virtual objects accordingly. This way, the virtual objects can blend in more seamlessly with the real environment.
  • User Interaction: This is where you, the creator, can decide how users interact with the virtual objects. Do they tap on them? Do they drag them around? It's all up to you.

By understanding these components and how they work together, you can create compelling and interactive unreal engine virtual production for AR experiences that truly blur the line between the virtual and the real.

Creating an AR Experience with Unreal Engine

Now that you're familiar with the components of an AR experience in Unreal Engine, let's roll up our sleeves and get down to business—creating your own AR experience. Don't fret if you're new to this; the process is more manageable than you might think. So, let's take it step by step:

  1. Set Up Your Project: Start by creating a new project in Unreal Engine. Choose the 'Augmented Reality' template to get a head start. This template includes all the necessary settings and components for AR development.
  2. Create Your AR Session: Remember the AR Session from our previous section? You'll need to create one for your project. This is where you dictate the rules of your AR world.
  3. Design Your Virtual Objects: Now comes the fun part—creating the virtual objects that will populate your AR world. You can model these objects right in Unreal Engine or import them from 3D modeling software.
  4. Place Your AR Anchors: Once you have your objects, it's time to decide where they will appear in the real world. You can place anchors at specific locations, or let the system place them automatically based on the user's environment.
  5. Define User Interactions: Decide how users will interact with your virtual objects. Will they be able to move objects around? Will objects respond to touch? The choice is yours.
  6. Test and Optimize: Finally, test your AR experience on a real device. Look for any issues or areas that could use improvement. Remember, optimization is key to a smooth and enjoyable AR experience.

Creating an Unreal Engine virtual production for AR experiences may seem like a big task, but when broken down into these manageable steps, you'll find it's a highly creative and rewarding process. So why not give it a try? Who knows—you might just create the next big thing in AR!

Optimization Tips for AR in Unreal Engine

Let's face it: Optimization is like the vegetables on your dinner plate. It might not be as exciting as creating virtual objects or defining user interactions, but it's just as important—if not more—for a well-rounded AR experience. So, here are some tips to optimize your Unreal Engine virtual production for AR experiences:

  1. Mind Your Polygons: High-polygon models look great, but they can slow down your app and drain your device's battery. Aim for a balance between visual quality and performance.
  2. Optimize Textures: Large textures can also bog down your app. Use the appropriate size and compression settings for your textures, and consider using mipmaps for distant objects.
  3. Use the Right Light: Dynamic lighting looks awesome, but it's also resource-intensive. Consider using static or baked lighting for static objects, and reserve dynamic lighting for moving objects.
  4. Test, Test, Test: Test your AR app on a variety of devices. The more you test, the more opportunities you'll have to spot and resolve performance issues.
  5. Stay Up-to-Date: Unreal Engine is always evolving, with new features and optimizations added regularly. Make sure you’re using the latest version to take advantage of these improvements.

Keep these optimization tips in mind, and you'll be well on your way to creating a smooth, enjoyable Unreal Engine virtual production for AR experiences. After all, what's the point of creating an amazing AR experience if it doesn't run well on your user's device?

Incorporating Interactivity in AR with Unreal Engine

Creating an AR experience is cool, but it's even cooler when you can interact with it, right? The good news is, Unreal Engine provides a ton of tools and features that let you add interactivity to your AR experiences. Here's how:

  1. Blueprints: Think of Blueprints as your magic wand for adding interactivity. It's a visual scripting system in Unreal Engine that lets you create game logic without writing a single line of code. For example, you can create a Blueprint that makes a virtual object move when you tap on it.
  2. Physics Simulation: Want to make your virtual objects behave like they would in the real world? Use Unreal Engine's built-in physics simulation. This can add a whole new level of realism to your AR experiences.
  3. Audio: Audio is an often overlooked aspect of interactivity. With Unreal Engine, you can add sound effects that respond to user actions, enhancing the immersive experience.
  4. Multi-User Experiences: Unreal Engine supports creating shared AR experiences, where multiple users can interact with the same virtual content. Imagine playing a game of virtual hide and seek with your friends!

Remember, interactivity is the key to engaging AR experiences. It's what turns a cool tech demo into a fun app that people want to use over and over again. So, don't be shy—dive into Unreal Engine's interactive features and bring your AR experiences to life!

What are the Challenges and Solutions When Using Unreal Engine for AR?

Even the most powerful engines can occasionally sputter. Unreal Engine is no exception. But don't worry—where there's a hiccup, there's always a solution:

  1. Complexity: Unreal Engine is a robust piece of software; that's what allows it to create such immersive AR experiences. However, this complexity can be overwhelming for beginners. The solution? Take it slow, start with the basics, and gradually explore advanced features. There are plenty of tutorials available to guide you through your Unreal Engine journey.
  2. Performance: AR experiences, especially those with heavy graphics, can be demanding on devices. Unreal Engine's high-quality visuals may cause performance issues on some devices. But don't fret—you can optimize your AR experiences for better performance (more on that in the "Optimization Tips for AR in Unreal Engine" section).
  3. Compatibility: Not all devices support all AR features. This can be a challenge when developing AR experiences intended for a wide audience. The solution lies in thorough testing and adjusting your AR experiences based on the capabilities of target devices.

Despite these challenges, Unreal Engine remains a top choice for AR development, thanks to its extensive capabilities and the solutions it offers. Remember, every problem is an invitation to learn and grow—and Unreal Engine provides plenty of opportunities for both!

If you're fascinated by the potential of AR experiences and want to learn more about implementing them with Unreal Engine, don't miss the 'Augmented Photography' workshop by Albertomaria. This workshop will provide you with insights into creating immersive and engaging AR experiences using Unreal Engine, helping you take your skills to the next level.