Basic Unreal Importing
Map and Importing
There are two main file types that we use to import created files into Unreal Engine 4: OBJ and FBX. When given the option, we typically use FBX because it’s higher quality and retains some more information that an OBJ file. For this blog, we will touch on the virtual reality side of importing an FBX model.
First, we’ll start out by creating a new virtual reality project. Be sure that it includes the starter content when creating the project. Select your folder location, give your project a name, and then create the project.
Figure 1: Starting Screen
Next, we will navigate to the starter map that will include starter content. Double-click the Virtual Reality BP folder, then Maps, and finally select the Motion Controller Map
Figure 2: Locating Starter Map
Now we will import the file or files we will want to view in virtual reality and eventually, interact with. This is accomplished by selecting the import option from the content browser and navigating the file. We will be importing a table created in SolidWorks and saved off as an FBX.
Figure 3: Importing Files
After the file is selected, a window will open asking for some information on what to do with the file. We leave everything default in this window. This will differ in appearance depending on which file type was imported.
Figure 4: FBX Import Options
The file now has been added to the content browser and for importing it into the scene, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping the file in. Depending on where the origin is located, there may be some work that will need to be done as far as orienting it in the correct way. These next steps will layout methods for moving and rotating the model.
The model has been dragged in, but it’s not in the most desired position. Click on the object and a X-Y-Z translation axis will appear. If this does not appear, be sure that the translate objects option is selected (highlighted in Figure 5). Simply grab an arrow with left mouse click and drag the object to any location.
Figure 5: Translating Imported Models
Next, we will want to rotate the entire model so that when we load in, we will be looking at the correct orientation to see the Perception Engineering logo. Again, select the model and this time select the option next to the translate option. This will provide a new method to rotate the part. Grab either the red, blue, or green slider and the part can now be rotated.
Figure 6: Rotating Imported Models
Viewing in Virtual Reality
Once the model is in the final desired location, we can now view it in virtual reality. We won’t be able to do much in the way of animating any system or even grabbing the model. We will be able to move around it, crawl under it, and even stand on top. This is accomplished by going up to the play button highlighted in Figure 7, selecting the drop-down arrow, and hitting the play in VR option.
Figure 7: Playing in the VR Preview
In a short amount of time with very few steps, we were able to take a plain FBX file to viewing it’s entirely in a 1:1 scale using Unreal Engine 4. This is only the very basic steps. With more time and practice, models can be customized to do just about anything from having components slide off the table to the table rotating for a full 360° view without getting out of your seat!