Exporting and Importing FBX files

This page describes how you can export a scene from Sequencer as an FBX file, make alterations to that file inside a 3rd party application like 3dsMax or Maya, then import that FBX file (along with your changes) back into Unreal Engine into Sequencer as part of your existing scene.

There are some caveats to this process to be aware of. Keep the following in mind:

  • When exporting, you can export all the objects in your scene with animations to your FBX file.

  • Importing FBX files will only import animation. It will not create new objects.

  • Export/Import does not work with Master Sequences, Shots within a Master, or Subscenes.

  • Make sure that your time settings in your 3rd party application matches the time frame used for your scene in Unreal Engine.

As long as you export from a source Level Sequence and not a shot that sits inside a Master and are only altering the animation of existing assets, you will be able to import your changes directly back into your scene inside Unreal Engine. Also, using the same time frames in both Unreal Engine and your 3rd party application will ensure that they line up and that the imported scene is not resampled at a different time rate.

Example Workflow

Below, we export a scene from the Sequencer Showcase (pictured below) available for free from the Learn tab of the Launcher, take it into Maya and alter the camera movement in the scene, then import that FBX along with our changes back into Unreal Engine where our existing scene is automatically updated to reflect our changes.


Exporting from Sequencer

First, determine which Level Sequence to export.

  1. In the clip below, we pick the shot we want to alter and open it up. We then go into the General Options and choose Export. We have a Master Track that includes shot0040_001 so we open that particular Level Sequence to export it.

External Editing

Once we have an exported FBX from Sequencer, we open our 3rd party application to import it so we can start editing it.

  1. Before we import our FBX into Maya, we set our working units for Time to match our Time Rate used in Unreal Engine.

  2. We then import our FBX into Maya and set up our scene so that we can begin making edits. Once our scene is imported, we set our Perspective under Panel to use the camera shotCamA in our scene and hide any elements obstructing the view (such as the godray mesh) with it selected and Ctrl + H. Lastly under View we Select Camera to display the properties and keyframes for our shotCamA which we can then begin to edit.

  3. Next we make edits to the movement of our camera. Above we select the Translation and Rotation properties of our shotCamA and Right-click and Break Connections. We then pick a new starting point for the camera to be in to start our scene and press S to keyframe the new position. We scrub ahead slightly and move the camera to the ending position and press S again to keyframe the end position so that our camera moves along a new path.

  4. With our changes in place, we then export our scene using Export Selection. During the export process from Maya, we first change the export type to FBX export.Then, under Advanced Options and Axis Conversion, we change the Up Axis to follow Z to allow for a compatible import into Unreal Engine. Future versions of the engine may address this so that you do not have to convert the axis, but you will need to do this for now to avoid any importing problems.

Importing to Sequencer

Now that we have an edited version in FBX format we can import it and the changes into Unreal Engine, updating our scene.

  1. Inside our shot0040_001 that we wanted to edit, we right-click on our shotCamA and select Import. This will take the transform data inside the FBX and apply it to the selected object in Unreal Engine. This can be useful if you want to apply the same transform data to multiple objects inside your scene.

    You can also import the FBX from the General Options window instead of using the right-click method.


    When choosing this method, Unreal Engine will try to match the names of your objects. For example, we have shotCamA in both our FBX file and our Sequence so it will apply the data from the FBX file to that object inside Unreal Engine.

In our example we only applied Transform changes to our camera. However, we could have keyframed new values for our Focal Length to produce a different looking shot as well. You can experiment with this workflow and use what works best in your given situation. There may be times when you want to export to a 3D package like Maya or 3dsMax to fine-tune aspects of your scene and then import your changes back into your scene in Unreal Engine.