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Unreal is a real-time interactive 3D content creation and exploitation software developed by Epic Games, competing with Unity. This video game engine has expanded its applications in industries and architecture as a solution for virtual and augmented reality.

One advantage of Unreal Engine is its integrated support for importing and exporting FBX files. These FBX-based workflows are optimized to meet the requirements of video games, which tend to focus on working with individual objects. However, Datasmith provides entire scenes, potentially composed of thousands of objects, each with its own materials, pivots, scales, hierarchy, and metadata, from a wide range of sources.

Datasmith is a data conversion solution developed by Epic Games to facilitate the import of 3D data from various sources into Unreal Engine. It allows for the quick import of complex 3D models, scenes, and CAD data from software such as Autodesk 3ds Max, SketchUp, Revit, Cinema 4D, and SolidWorks into Unreal Engine.

Datasmith can handle large amounts of data, including materials, textures, lighting, and animations. It also supports automatic optimization of 3D models for real-time performance, making the data preparation process easier for virtual and augmented reality projects.

Although Datasmith is a more powerful tool, it is still possible to use the FBX import pipeline if it meets your needs. For example, you can use it to import additional decorative elements that you will use to complement Datasmith content in your Unreal level.

Since Unreal Engine 4.19, there is also experimental support for direct import of the glTF format into the Content Browser using the Unreal Editor's built-in importer. Like the FBX import process, this one has been optimized for object-based workflows and has different limitations compared to the Datasmith glTF importer.

It should be noted that the FBX format is owned and developed by Autodesk and is used to ensure interoperability between digital content creation applications such as Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk Maya, and Autodesk 3ds Max. Autodesk MotionBuilder natively supports FBX, while Autodesk Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max include FBX plugins.

Unreal Engine has an FBX import pipeline that allows for easy transfer of content from any number of digital content creation applications that support the format. See the procedure.

The advantages of the Unreal FBX importer over other import methods are:

Static mesh, skeletal mesh, animation, and morph targets in a single file format. Multiple assets/contents can be contained in a single file. Import of multiple LODs and morphs/blend shapes in a single import operation. Imported materials and textures applied to meshes.

In conclusion, Unreal Engine offers an optimal 3D interoperability solution for importing and exporting FBX files, as well as experimental import of glTF files. With these features, professionals in industries and architecture can easily create high-quality virtual and augmented reality experiences.

CAD Interop distributes several software solutions for preparing, converting, and visualizing your 3D CAD data in Unreal. Below is a list of our solutions compatible with Unreal: