Epic Games optimises viz and VR workflow from CAD to Unreal Engine

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Scene imported via Datasmith (about 8 minutes) into Unreal Engine and baked, no further refinement. Statistics: 200 objects, 1.6M polygons, 90 FPS. Image courtesy of A-VR

Epic Games is looking to simplify and optimise the process of importing CAD and DCC data into Unreal Engine for architectural and design visualisation.

At Siggraph today, the company gave a technology preview of a new workflow toolkit for the popular game engine, which is used for real time design viz and VR.

Datasmith provides a high-fidelity translation of numerous common scene assets including geometry, textures, materials, lights and cameras. One of the key aims is to significantly reduce the amount of rework content creators need to carry out in the engine, particularly when working with ever-changing design assets, resulting in significant time savings.

For the preview, Epic’s Chris Murray used data from Italian architects Lissoni and designers at Harley-Davidson Motorcycles to show how Datasmith’s 3ds Max plug-in and CAD importers enable users to import files that retain visual fidelity to the source.

According to Epic, this saves hours in data transfer and preparation time, taking the user most of the way to creating a fully interactive, photoreal, real-time visualisation experience.

Datasmith is focused on the four main stages of data workflow: aggregation, preparation, optimisation and automation. 


Aggregation assembles data from diverse sources into a single “sandbox” where you can work with all the data in one place. 

Preparation provides tools to fix holes, weld seams, flip normals, eliminate overlaps, or all the tasks involved in cleaning up a data set. 

Optimisation is the stage where you can group thousands of like objects, simplify heavy meshes or re-tessellate complex surfaces to better fit the requirements of your workflow. 

Automation provides a mechanism to redo all of the above tasks in order to have a non-destructive workflow. It’s a general principle that upstream design or creative data will always be changing and downstream tools and workflows need to anticipate such changes allow refresh of source data without all the manual reworking.

Datasmith will be available as a private beta in August (unrealengine.com/beta).

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