Capsule shadows might be useful for Arch Viz

Capsule Shadows were added to UE4 in 4.11. They were intended to be used with skeletal meshes for characters to add some soft indirect shadows in a scene with baked lighting. From this test, it looks like it could be really useful for arch viz scenes were you want to be able to move or remove furniture interactively.

Yes I was thinking about that when I first heard of the capsule shadows. Now it looks like it works well!

Do they allow for direction, like if the sun is coming in at an angle does the shadow rotate to keep the angle correct?

Yes, there is directional lighting to the shadows. It uses the Indirect Lighting Cache. You can see the direction better on the character, but it also is showing up on the legs of the chair.

There’s 3 things to worry about.

You need to import the asset as a skeletal mesh, create the capsules in the physics asset, assign the physics asset for shadows on the mesh, and enable indirect capsule shadows on the places asset. This wont work well for assets that can’t be represented roughly as capsules, and you can be really rough and get good results. Each leg of the couch is it’s own capsule, and the body is about 6 capsules long was, 2 for the back, one of the corner, 3 for the base, and 2 on each end for the arms. From what I’ve noticed, getting the feet accurate and having the rest very rough works fine, I would try to keep it under 20 capsules max because it’s a bit tedious and using a lot more does not mean a lot better results.

You might get better results switching Indirect Lighting Cache on the asset to volume instead of point, but that seemed to flicker more for me. You can also enable direct capsule shadows to get an idea of how well its working and what the shadows look like more clearly.

Since this uses the Indirect Lighting Cache, and the lighting cache uses the light mass scale setting, turning the scale to .1 might make the cache not work well. I was using .5 and that worked fine.

Here’s another example of how this could be used, this time with a moving ceiling fan.

I got a request to be able to change geometry in real time VR, example switch out kitchen cabinets. First is that even possible? You would need a library of parts the user could access through a menu. Second would this technique you’re showing retain correct shadows assuming number one could be accomplished?

I don’t think this technique would work well for cabinets. Capsules don’t make cubes very well.

For this project, are the cabinets going to be in one fixed location and layout? You could use material instances to change the look of the cabinets while keeping the lighting. You could just bake it with a grey color to keep the baked GI close enough, and use different normal maps or even the POM shader to get actual depth and a different door look on the cabinets.

Okay thanks. But how would the user be able to browse and select different cabinet faces in real time? Oh, never mind I get what you’re saying.