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Datasmith for form•Z Technology Preview

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We are pleased to announce AutoDesSys was a recently awarded an Epic MegaGrant to create an interface between form•Z and Epic’s Unreal Engine and Twinmotion. The Datasmith plugin for form•Z is the first product of this exciting collaboration. This plugin allows you to quickly and easily convert your form•Z 3D model for use in Unreal Engine 4 and Twinmotion. A Technology Preview of the Datasmith plugin for form•Z is now available here: http://www.formz.com/fzsite1219/products/unreal.html

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You can get the plugin from here: http://www.formz.com/fzsite1219/products/unreal.html.  We are calling this a Technology Preview at this time as the plugin is better than a beta, but not quite complete as a release. Frankly we are hoping to get some feedback as it is used and see what improvements if any need to be made. Epic is also working on improvements in the datasmith API that will allow us to add more functionality including a live link between formZ and Unreal/Twinmotion (hence removing the export/import cycle making this a great tool during the design process). We expect to roll out updates as soon as these improvements are ready and at some point we will move it from a Technology Preview to a release bundled with the shipping form•Z app.

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5 hours ago, R2D2 said:

Twinmotion has a 25% discount till end of 2020.... I'm tempted....

Is there a timeframe for V1 release of the Plug-in yet?

According to their site, You can try Twinmotion for as long as you want for free as long as you aren't using it for paid commercial work.  An education license is also free for research purposes as long as you aren't using it on a for profit project.  I take this to mean that if you want to download it and complete some tutorials and a sample personal project, that should be fine.

https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/get-now/twinmotion

I'm very excited to see Twinmotion coming to FormZ!  I've been taking some of this downtime to learn Twinmotion for Rhino, and while it certainly has some bugs to work out, it's pretty awesome.  The Quixel Megascans library is insane!  And it's included as UNLIMITED access to all the assets for use with Twinmotion/UE4!  

https://quixel.com/megascans/home/

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So far I've only tried out exporting only one model and I'm pretty impressed how fast it is at exporting. Materials are coming in but all need editing as would be expected.

Say I'm working on a model in TM and after editing all my materials, placed entourage etc. and then I have to make changes in the FZ model, how does TM react to this?

Also, are there any rules we should follow in FormZ before exporting? For example, is it better to have UV applied materials?

 

Anyway, this is a great direction for FormZ and I'm looking forward to getting a smooth workflow between FormZ and TM.

 

Des

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Sounds like the Live Link plugin is forthcoming, and this Datasmith tool is more just for testing at the moment.

With the Live Link, any changes you make to your FMZ model will update live in Twinmotion.  However, it should be noted that if you make major changes like changing layer structure, you may need to import the changes separately, because TM does not currently handle that very well in the other Live Links on Rhino and SKP.

I'm seeing Twinmotion as more of the secondary scene compositing, rendering, and animation tool after all of the modeling is done in FormZ.  It can import FBX and OBJ files directly so its possible to now use these assets with your FormZ modeling without slowing down FormZ, since it would be only inside the TM project.  There are some decent tutorials on all of this as well, so you can go ahead and start learning without waiting for documentation from FormZ.

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On 12/3/2020 at 2:09 AM, Jaakko said:

Hi!

What is the main difference between Unreal Engine and Twinmotion? 

Twinmotion is an app built on the Unreal Engine.  It was designed to simplify using the Unreal Engine for Architecture visualization.  It has a couple of programs you should use with it.  Quixel Bridge, which is used to manage all your added assets like imported FBX / OBJ files, as well as finding and downloading Megascans models and textures included with any TM (Epic Games) account.  The second is Quixel Mixer, which lets you easily modify the textures and map them to any importable geometry.  IMHO this tool alone makes mapping textures to complex shapes so much easier that it deserves a serious look.

 

 

 

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On 12/4/2020 at 12:59 AM, Des said:

So far I've only tried out exporting only one model and I'm pretty impressed how fast it is at exporting. Materials are coming in but all need editing as would be expected.

Say I'm working on a model in TM and after editing all my materials, placed entourage etc. and then I have to make changes in the FZ model, how does TM react to this?

Here's the great thing about this system: Any material overrides you've applied in Twinmotion should stick. (We tag each exported entity with a unique identifier, so Twinmotion/Unreal can keep track of them.) Just export your model from formZ again, under the same .udatsmith filename. In Twinmotion, go back to the Import area and click on the refresh button just above the icon of your Datasmith file.

Please give it a try and let us know if you have any issues.

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On 12/4/2020 at 12:59 AM, Des said:

Also, are there any rules we should follow in FormZ before exporting? For example, is it better to have UV applied materials? 

In our testing, all mapping types are translating equally well.

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On 12/3/2020 at 2:09 AM, Jaakko said:

Hi!

What is the main difference between Unreal Engine and Twinmotion

From the Twinmotion product page:

Quote

Real-time immersive 3D architectural visualization
Easily produce high-quality images, panoramas, and standard or 360° VR videos in seconds! For architecture, construction, urban planning, and landscaping professionals, Twinmotion combines an intuitive icon-driven interface with the power of Unreal Engine.

From the Unreal Engine product page:

Quote

Unreal Engine is the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool. Continuously evolving to serve not only its original purpose as a state-of-the-art game engine, today it gives creators across industries the freedom and control to deliver cutting-edge content, interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds.

 

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I hate to be the one guy here who is having trouble, but after installing the plugin, I do not see "Datasmith" as an export option in the form.Z export menu. I checked, and the plugin has been put in my plugin folder. However, It doesn't show up as an export option. I have rebooted, but still no dice.

Any advice will be appreciated.

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Please confirm that you are using v9.0.6.1. Also check that the plugin directory is in the extensions search paths and is active (Extensions->Extensions Manager->Search Paths). The plugin path is  "/Applications/formZ 9/plugins" on Macintosh and "\Program Files\formZ 9\plugins" on Windows. It should get added automatically, but if its missing you can add it with the "+" at the bottom of the list. If you are using Windows, there are a few Microsoft redistributables that get installed. On occasion they do not install properly so try running the plugin installer again.

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Yes I am on 9.0.6.1 windows 10 pro. I went through the plugin path and so forth before and I did it again. When I first installed it, it did warn me that some redistributables didn't install correctly. That's why I installed it again. At this point I have reinstalled 3 times to no avail... I will try my other windows 10 machine and will let you know.

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6 hours ago, allanjl said:

Yes I am on 9.0.6.1 windows 10 pro. I went through the plugin path and so forth before and I did it again. When I first installed it, it did warn me that some redistributables didn't install correctly. That's why I installed it again. At this point I have reinstalled 3 times to no avail... I will try my other windows 10 machine and will let you know.

I initially had the same problem so I dragged the Datasmith plugin folder from (FormZ 9/Plugins) to (FormZ 9/FormZ 9.0 pro/Plugins) and it worked. I don't know why there are two plugin folders for FormZ.

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Same problem on OS X:

the install needs to go into:

 "/Applications/formZ 9/FormZ 9.0 pro/plugins"

But it installs into:

"/Applications/formZ 9/plugins"

and does not work from there.

Same problem occurs when installing Vray. I also dragged those folders over and it worked then.

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It is installing into the proper location: "/Applications/formZ 9/plugins". It is should not be moved to  "/Applications/formZ 9/FormZ 9.0 pro/plugins". If you do this it may get removed or interfere with future updates of form•Z itself.

The problem is likely that /Applications/formZ 9/plugins is missing from the plugins search paths on your machine. This path should get added automatically. You can check the plugin paths in Extensions->Extensions Manager->Search Paths If its missing from the list, you can add it with the "+" at the bottom . If the path is in the list, be sure it has is active (check mark.) We tested this process here on a clean installation and the /Applications/formZ 9/plugins path was properly added to the plugins search paths so we are puzzled as to why it is missing on your machine. 

Note you that can also reset the plugin search paths by removing the file "formZ Previous9.fpo" from the /Users/<user name>/Library/Preferences/autodessys/formZ 9.0 pro folder (\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\autodessys\formZ 9.0 pro directory on Windows). Note that this will remove any custom paths that you may have added.

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