Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Epic Games launches Unreal Studio in free open beta

Epic Games has released Unreal Studio, a new real-time visualisation product based on Unreal Engine and its Datasmith toolkit, as a free open beta.

The toolset is primarily intended to provide architects and designers with a more user-friendly way to produce photorealistic content of the type shown in the sizzle reel above by rendering inside UE4.

However, it may also appeal to anyone who needs to convert high-res offline assets into a form that they can use in games or VR projects, particularly if they work primarily in 3ds Max.

Import 3ds Max scenes or CAD data into Unreal Engine via Datasmith
At the core of Unreal Studio is Datasmith, the CAD data conversion toolkit originally developed by Motiva, and launched in closed beta last year after being acquired by Epic.

Datasmith streamlines the process of importing 3ds Max scenes and CAD data into Unreal Engine, with Epic claiming “productivity gains of 113%” over the old workflow of converting assets to FBX format.

It supports “more than 20 CAD and DCC sources”, including the native file formats of Rhino, SolidWorks, Inventor, Catia, NX and Creo, plus 3ds Max scenes with V-Ray, Corona and Mental Ray materials.

Any missing texture UVs are automatically generated on import.

Once imported, assets can be batch-processed, either via Unreal Engine’s Blueprint visual programming system, or via Python scripting, making it possible to automate common tasks.

Suggested use cases include merging separate source objects into one; decimating hi-res source meshes; mapping materials to their UE4 equivalents; and resizing images or converting them between file formats.

Supporting Substances, project templates and training
Other than Datasmith – and the considerable strengths of Unreal Engine itself, of course – Unreal Studio consists mainly of supporting resources.

Users get a library of 100 readymade Substances mimicking a range of real-world architectural and design materials, plus a further 25 aimed at games and entertainment work.

There is also a set of introductory video tutorials designed to bring users new to UE4 up to speed with the engine, and a ticketed support site.

Pricing and availability
Unreal Studio is available as a free open beta. As it’s based around Unreal Engine, you will need to be running Windows 7+, macOS 10.12.6+ or a suitable Linux distro.

The beta is scheduled to run until 1 November 2018, after which Unreal Studio will become a subscription-only service, priced at $49/month, but billed as an annual subscription.

Unlike Unreal Engine itself, the EULA doesn’t require you to give Epic a cut of the revenues of any commercial products you create with it, provided that they’re non-interactive, like rendered animation.

If you don’t sign up for a subscription, you will continue to be able to use any versions of the software then available to you, although you won’t be able to use the supporting assets or receive tech support.

Read more about Unreal Studio on Epic Games’ website
(Includes a link to register for the open beta)

Read Epic Games’ online FAQs about Unreal Studio