Design-led industries such as Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) use a variety of software tools to design models in 3D. Many of these companies are starting to capitalize on immersive visualizations for use cases such as sales, planning, and design collaboration. Unreal Engine (UE4) helps bring 3D designs to life and is used widely in the industry to create real-time visualizations. However, importing to Unreal Engine and converting to FBX file format can create problems in a 3D file’s asset hierarchy, and delay projects.

Why are hierarchies so important?

A 3D file is organized in hierarchies of scenes, groups and objects. 3D scenes are complex, especially in a BIM model where different elements such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are included with the architectural model. Objects make up a 3D scene and can be organized by groups. These groups can either dictate a parent-child relationship (where changes to the parent group apply to the child objects) or an individualistic relationship, used to simply organize a complex 3D file. Since 3D scenes from design-led industries are so complex, keeping assets organized is crucial.

Converting to FBX and broken hierarchies

In order to import into UE4 and create photoreal AR and VR visualizations, 3D files from a variety of software are converted into FBX file format, which is easily compatible with UE4. However, converting to FBX format is problematic as it notoriously breaks hierarchies, turning a well-organized design file into a confusing mix of objects with no parent group. Imagine carefully crafting a hierarchy skeleton in 3DS Max only to have it be deleted or damaged after converting it to FBX and importing in Unreal Engine. This would force you to go back to your original design software and rearrange your hierarchies, setting you and your project behind.

Broken hierarchies are only noticeable after the FBX file is imported into Unreal Engine, which is very time consuming for large files. Meshmatic’s algorithms can quickly detect broken hierarchies in your 3D file before you import into Unreal Engine, saving you valuable time.

How does Meshmatic detect broken hierarchies?

Meshmatic bridges the gap between design software and visualization in UE4. Before importing your design file to UE4, you can open it in its original format in Meshmatic. Our software thoroughly analyzes the 3D file to find bottlenecks and performance limiting factors. Meshmatic detects a variety of qualities, including object count, and graphs them in a heat map. If an area has too many loose objects with no parent groups, it will be clearly visible in the heat map, and areas with an abnormal number of groups (and no parent) can point to a broken hierarchy.

After analyzing the graphic aspects of your 3D file, Meshmatic provides suggestions on how to optimize it. For example, if a heat map shows an area with an abnormal number of loose objects (which can be indicative of a broken hierarchy), Meshmatic will suggest to the user to go back to their original design software and fix their export options. This saves the user time by helping them fix broken hierarchies before having to import a large file into UE4.