Unreal Studio 4.23 Release Notes

Describes what's new in the 4.23 release of Unreal Studio.

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This release brings several major new features that are available exclusively to Unreal Studio subscribers, including workflow improvements that come directly from your feedback and suggestions. This page introduces what's new in this release.

Datasmith Import for Cinema 4D

Datasmith now offers a direct workflow from Cinema 4D into Unreal Engine, preserving the key elements of your original scene.

Cinema 4D

Unreal Engine

Whatever you do in Cinema 4D—scene building, motion graphics, animation—you’ll benefit from the same features Datasmith offers for the other file types it supports. This includes:

  • A non-destructive reimport process that handles iterative changes you make in Cinema 4D after initial import into Unreal Engine,

  • Converting animations into Level Sequence Assets,

  • Preserving complex scene hierarchies and layers,

  • Importing cameras with physical properties,

  • Converting surface materials to Unreal Engine’s physically based rendering system, and more.

If you’re using Datasmith for the first time, learn about how it works in the Datasmith Overview.

If you’ve used Datasmith before, and you want to know what’s special about the Cinema 4D importer, see Using Datasmith with Cinema 4D.

To get started:

  1. Save your Cinema 4D scene using the File > Save Project for Melange option.

  2. Then use the new Cinema 4D Datasmith importer to bring your .c4d file into your Unreal Engine Project. See Importing Datasmith Content into Unreal Engine 4.

Datasmith Import for IFC

Datasmith now offers a direct workflow from Industry Foundation Classes (IFC 2x3) files into Unreal Engine, automatically importing geometry, scene organization, metadata properties, and more.

IFC viewer

Unreal Engine

If you’re using Datasmith for the first time, learn about how it works in the Datasmith Overview.

If you’ve used Datasmith before, and you want to know what’s special about the IFC importer, see Using Datasmith with IFC.

To get started, simply use the new IFC Datasmith importer in the Toolbar to bring your .ifc file into your Unreal Engine Project. See Importing Datasmith Content into Unreal Engine 4.

New Collaborative Design Review Template

It’s now easier than ever to create a rich, collaborative runtime experience around your design data, thanks to the new Collab Viewer Template included only with Unreal Studio.

This new Template combines the Product Viewer and Multi-User Viewer Templates available in previous releases. If you used those Templates, you’ll recognize many of the same key features of them both, rolled into one:

  • Connect multiple users into a shared runtime experience, with rich presence information visible to all participants,

  • Interact with the scene by moving objects around and making objects transparent,

  • Set up and play "explode" animations that deconstruct complex assemblies,

  • Place Bookmarks to mark key viewpoints on the scene, and more.

The Collab Viewer also adds a few new features, such as a Toolbar that switches dynamically between multiple different navigation and interaction modes: Fly, Walk, Orbit Cam, and VR.

For details, see the Collab Viewer Template.

Create UV Mappings in the Static Mesh Editor

Version 4.22 introduced the ability to create new UV projections in the Unreal Editor through a scripting interface in Blueprint and Python. Now, the same tools are available in the UI of the Static Mesh Editor.

If you’ve imported Static Meshes into the Unreal Engine from a tool that doesn’t create UV mappings, or that doesn’t give you any control over the UV mappings it creates, this tool can help you create basic UV layouts that are good enough for wrapping simple tileable textures around your object.

You can create a new UV mapping for any Static Mesh by projecting its vertices onto a plane, a box, or a cylinder:

Use the new UV > Generate UVs option in the Toolbar of the Static Mesh Editor.

For more information, see the Static Mesh Editor UI documentation.

Retessellate CAD Geometry

It’s now faster to find the best balance between performance and visual fidelity for each of the Assets in your Project.

If you use Datasmith to import a scene that contains parametric surfaces, or NURBS, you can now retessellate the imported geometry without reimporting it from the original scene file. You can import your whole scene with one set of tessellation options, then override selected pieces of geometry with higher or lower settings.

Before retessellation: high tolerance, fewer triangles

After retessellation: low tolerance, more triangles

Because retessellating doesn’t reload the original scene file, it’s faster than selectively reimporting individual objects, and it doesn’t pick up any changes made to the geometry in the scene file since the last import.

For detailed instructions, see Retessellating CAD Geometry.

Datasmith Improvements for 3ds Max

This release continues to improve the way Datasmith handles scenes from 3ds Max, in direct response to feedback from the community of active users. Changes include:

  • Improvements and fixes for VRay and Corona lights:

    • Photometric point lights with uniform diffuse distributions are now imported as spotlights with a 90-degree cone angle, so that they correctly emit light in only one direction.

    • VRay disc lights are now imported in Unreal Engine as Rect Lights with a disc shape.

    • Corona area lights now translate to Unreal Engine as Rect Lights, using the same approach as VRay area lights.

    • Corona light intensity units now translate into equivalent values in Unreal.

    • Corona Cylinder lights now translate to Unreal with the correct rotation.

  • When Datasmith exports Body Objects from your 3ds Max scene, it now uses the viewport tessellation for those objects to create the Static Mesh Asset in the Unreal Engine. This respects the Mesh Quality Presets value that you set for Body Objects, and generates coarse, medium, or fine quality results according to the setting you choose in 3ds Max. For more information on this setting, see the 3ds Max Help.

  • The Datasmith Export Plugin for 3ds Max now adds a small MAXScript interface that you can use to automate exporting your scene to a .udatasmith file. For details, see Scripting Datasmith Exports from 3ds Max.

  • Previously, Datasmith only handled 3ds Max materials with IDs below 100. Materials with IDs above 100 did not translate to Unreal at all. This limitation has now been removed.

  • Helper objects at the root level of the 3ds Max scene were previously omitted from the Datasmith Scene after import. They are now represented as empty Actors, like helper objects at other levels of the scene hierarchy.

  • In previous releases, extruded meshes were sometimes imported with incorrect tangents. This could cause visual artifacts in Unreal Engine, especially when applying lightmap textures to the Static Meshes. This has now been resolved.

  • Added support for 3ds Max 2020.

Datasmith Improvements for Revit

We’ve made a few improvements to the Datasmith Revit importer to make the results in Unreal Engine more consistent with the original scene.

  • The importer now inverts UVs correctly on import. As a result, you can now assign textured Materials from other sources to your Revit models, and assign textured Materials imported from Revit to other Unreal Engine Assets, without the textures appearing upside down.

  • Datasmith now imports wall sweeps as Static Mesh geometry.

  • All light sources are now gathered together on a single Light Sources Layer to make it easier for you to isolate them in the Unreal Editor, and to better reflect the way Revit organizes lights.

Datasmith Improvements for Rhino

We’ve made a few improvements to the Datasmith Rhino importer to make the results in Unreal Engine more consistent with the original scene.

  • We've improved support for linked file references. The importer now follows multiple levels of linked files, and correctly scales the imported scenes if those linked files are set up to use different units.

  • We now have better handling for turning Rhino instances into Actors that instance the same Static Mesh Asset in Unreal.

  • Under the hood, the importer uses a new tessellation process that should provide better, cleaner results in less time. You should note an increase in import speed, along with the potential for improved runtime performance and visual results due to the cleaner tessellation.

See also the Upgrade Notes below for other changes in behavior that affect Rhino.

VRED and Deltagen Animations

The Datasmith importer for VRED and Deltagen now brings in animations as Level Sequence Assets instead of using custom Blueprints. This brings the import results in line with all other Datasmith formats that support animations, and makes the results much easier to understand and simpler to control using the standard Unreal Engine Sequencer tool.

For more information on how Datasmith works with animations, see About the Datasmith Import Process.

Python API for the Variant Manager

You can now set up the Variant Manager programmatically by creating Python and Blueprint scripts for the Unreal Editor.

Automating the construction of your Variant Sets and Variants makes the process more easily repeatable and less prone to error, and makes it possible to construct an automated pipeline for importing scene variants that you set up in other third party applications.

For details, see Scripting the Variant Manager.

Smoother Playback for Level Sequences

Level Sequence Assets generated by Datasmith now have the Lock to Display Rate at Runtime setting enabled by default. This makes complex animations imported from third-party applications play back more smoothly by capping the Engine's frame rate to the frame rate of the animation.

Improved Performance Working with Large Scenes

With every release, we continue to identify and remove performance bottlenecks that can come up when working with large scenes in Unreal Editor. This release, you should notice considerable improvements to import speed and memory requirements, Level load and save times, and general Editor responsiveness when working with Datasmith scenes that contain thousands of objects.

Upgrade Notes

If you’ve been using previous releases of Unreal Studio, there are a couple of important changes in behavior that may affect you.

  • CAD Importer Replaced by Datasmith Importer - We’ve refactored some core Datasmith import code, merging the CAD importer that you used in previous releases into the Datasmith importer. To import all supported CAD file types, you should now choose the Datasmith importer from the Toolbar.

    Datasmith Importers in 4.23

    See also the Datasmith Supported Software and File Types.

  • Datasmith Import API Changed - As a result of the change described above, the Python and Blueprint APIs for importing different kinds of Datasmith files have been unified. You now use the same sequence of calls to import all file types supported by Datasmith; the only difference is the settings that are exposed to you for customization.

    If you’ve used Python or Blueprint to customize the Datasmith import process, you’ll need to update your code to match the new API.

    See Customizing the Datasmith Import Process.

  • Datasmith for Rhino Materials - The Datasmith importer for Rhino now uses different logic to import and assign colors and materials. Previously, when assigning Materials to Static Meshes in Unreal, the importer fell back on the display colors assigned to objects, layers, and groups in Rhino. Now, the importer only brings in materials from Rhino, not viewport display colors. In addition, instead of using pre-built parent Materials for each new Material Instance, Datasmith now creates custom Parent Materials and places them in the Materials/Master folder in the Content Browser. This is similar to the way that Datasmith handles Materials from 3ds Max.

    These changes offer better consistency between results in Unreal and the rendered view in Rhino. However, if you’ve been using the Rhino importer in previous versions, you may see slightly different results for the same models in 4.23.

    See also Using Datasmith with Rhino.

Credits

  1. Classroom scene courtesy of Turbosquid user scripter.

  2. IFC building courtesy of https://github.com/openBIMstandards/DataSetSchependomlaan/.

    (C) original owners.

    This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. More info and a link to the full license text is available on http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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