Users have questions
When Epic Games announced Unreal Studio for CAD users, the Webinar was accompanied by a Q&A panel. I picked out the best questions and present them below; you can read the entire list at https://www.ustream.tv/qna/23532233 . I rearranged the questions to group them into categories, and did some mild edits to make the text clearer.
- - -
What Unreal Studio Is
Q: So basically, Unreal Studio is the architectural workspace (where you import all the files and add the materials) and UnrealEngine is the renderer?
A: That is one way to look at it. However, we import materials and lights from 3ds Max too. And Unreal is a lot more than a renderer. If you consider it as a tool to create interactive experience that also has high visual fidelity, that becomes a game changer.
Q: Do I understand it correctly that Unreal Studio is different to what we using at the moment? And it’s going to become a subscription based?
A: Datasmith is part of Unreal Studio (if that is what you're thinking). It will become a subscription offering, but upon non-renewal, you can keep using it.
Q: Does "royalty free licensing" mean that once Studio becomes $49/month, I can publish as many projects as I want without extra cost?
A: Correct. You'll have to read the full EULA for this but in short, you can create projects and charge professional fees for them (like one would do for rendering images for an architect, as a service) and not have to pay anything to Epic.
Q: Is there any chance for student license after official release in November? I would love to buy it, but 50$pm is not affordable for me.
A: We will have EDU pricing in November, and it will be significantly cheaper.
Q: We already have Unreal Studio if we have been using Datasmith correct?
A: You are on the Datasmith beta, which will be closing April 1st so you must move to Unreal Studio, or Datasmith will stop working. Datasmith is inside Unreal Studio.
Q: Network managed floating licenses will be much easier to sell to management. They want me to spread these practices in the firm!
A: This is something we have on our road-map and that will come soon since it's expected from most major accounts and preferred by IT.
Programming with Unreal Studio
Q: Which version of Python is supported?
A: We are currently using Python 2.7. Here is a reference to get you started: https://epicgames.box.com/v/ScriptingandPythonGuide
Q: So without having a coder on my team, I won´t be able to make interactive archviz scenes, is that right? I though UES could do that.
A: Doesn't require a coder, unless you think visual programming by wiring up functions is a "coder". You can use our Blueprint feature to wire up things without touching a line of code.
Q: Datasmith with Mac support would be a great for realtime workflows, we have large office and would be much needed.
A: You can sort of do this as the UE4 assets you create with Unreal Studio are UE4 assets that you can load in our mac version of UE4. You just need to bootcamp Unreal Studio to get the assets.
Limits to Unreal Studio
Q: After importing model to UE with DS, it builds a scene with all meshes, separately. Sounds heavy on drawcalls. Any plans for auto instancing?
A: We have a lot of optimization planned. But we already support instances if they exist in 3ds Max. Once you have it in engine, then you can use our Python/Blueprint tools to optimize further (grouping, automation of LOD creation, finding/deleting small parts).
Q: What is the max vertex count within UE4? I know when working in Unity it will "break apart" a mesh when over the count for editor rendering.
A: Well, there is not a single value, it's rather a combination of several aspects that combines CPU and GPU load, memory, etc. It's possible to have models as big as 40 millions polygons if you keep drawcalls reasonable but on the other end it's possible to kill performance with small models made of 10k+ draw calls.
Supporting Other CAD Formats
(Among CAD formats, Unreal Engine today supports only MCAD ones.)
Q: Most architecture firms, don't utilize 3ds MAX when their main app is BIM, apps like Revit. Any Datasmith plug-in planned for Revit?
A: Yes, on our roadmap! We haven't started yet, but your one of the many requester for this workflow.
Q: Is there going to be a support for IFC formats in future?
A: We are looking into IFC. I think we will have to support it eventually, but it isn't on our roadmap so far.
Q: How about Aautodesk Fusion 360? Will you support that?
A: We don't have plans to support Fusion 360 directly. However if you can export to Step or STL there might be a chance for you to benefit from Unreal still. If there is a lot of demand for it, we can reconsider .
Q: Is there is a date for Datasmith working with Sketchup?
A: No commitment on the date, but its going to happen very soon. I just saw a build of our plug-in today and we get basic meshes. The smoothing groups are all wrong, and the objects are mirrored, but it’s expected by us in such early days. But don't panic yet, it will be all fine when were ready to beta test it.
Q: What would be recommended workflow for ArchiCAD--> Cinema 4D workflow to use Unreal for VR authoring?
A: Cinema4D is on our roadmap, it was just recently delated [sic]. I can't give an estimate on when it will happen. We are also planning on DWG support, so if ArchiCAD supports that, then maybe it will work for you.
Q: Will this allow for runtime import of common 3D file formats?
A: Not at the moment, but we are hearing this request more and more. Its something we will need to have a look at. Version 1.0 will not have this capability.
How CAD Models are Handled
Q: How does Datasmith handle the tessellation of CAD data? Does it triangulate and optimize vertices / mesh data?
A: We have implemented tessellation algorithm that generates not only optimized geometry for real time but also create UVs directly from the CAD NURBS data.
Q: How will optimization be handled for very dense designs on low-end (client) terminals? That bike model, for example?
A: Have you heard about HLOD [Hierarchical Level of Detail System] in Unreal Engine? You should research that. However, we are also looking into using the cloud to help you deliver to these low-end platforms.
Q: When it comes to using Datasmith’s pipeline to bring CAD models to poly based scenes, optimization becomes important, like pipe detection. Any plans?
A: Yes, we have feature detection coming. There is a bunch of related data prep tools that we simply have to get exposed via interfaces. We have the tech, just need to get it in your hands.
Q: Does Datasmith bring over the rigging structure on CAD models, say for cranes, cement trucks etc. with a piston-based rigging structure?
A: We are importing the product catalog structure (assembly and parts) but we don't currently import the joints and kinematics data. What would be your use case?
Q: I had some issues with unwrapping CAD model during the beta test of the Data Smith. Are everything fixed?
A: You'll have to try 4.19 and tell us.
Q: Will Unreal change the hierarchy naming conventions or file .meta data on import for CAD data?
A: We’re working on meta data support and you'll see things very soon on that. It’s not in 4.19, however (except for some hidden under the hood aspects). If your willing to go the Python route, you can "massage" your hierarchy the way you want it today. In the future we want to add more tools to let you handle hierarchies in the editor as well.
- - -
More info from https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/studio/getstudio