Unreal Engine is used to create immersive experiences from 3D virtual fashion shows to 3D digital showrooms and store layout designs like Polygon Labs. 3D files must meet specific criteria to imported into Unreal Engine, which can often result in time consuming work for 3D artists to fix issues and decrease file size. VNTANA’s platform automatically optimizes 3D design files to meet Unreal Engine standards so you can focus on the experience instead of wasting time fixing 3D assets. The VNTANA 3D Model Unreal Plugin allows you to instantly import optimized 3D models from the VNTANA Platform into your Unreal scene without ever leaving the program.
To manually install the plug-in, externally from the Unreal Marketplace, simply download the source package from the Unreal Engine specific link above. This will provide you with a zip file named VNTANAPlugin_v1_1_UE5#.zip depending on the version of UE you are downloading for. Extract the contents, and place the entire internal folder named VNTANAPlugin into the “Plugins” folder of an Unreal Project. If this folder doesn’t exist, simply create it as per the below image. Note: It is best to close the project before making any changes to it’s file structure.
With the VNTANAPlugin folder and its contents placed within your projects “Plugins” folder, launch the project. You should be prompted with a build confirmation for the plugin, hit yes. This will build the plugin to match your Unreal Engine version.
From here you can either continue to work the plugin within this project, or to make it accessible to other projects copy the entire VNTANAPlugin folder from where you placed it within your project (the “Plugins” folder) and place it in the “Plugins” folder of your Unreal Engine installation.
- Your Unreal Projects folder should exist in your main users Documents folder, unless you manually changed this either during installation or after.
- Your Unreal Engine folder should be located in your Program Files directory under Epic Games.
- The Engine Plugins folder should be similar to: C:/Program Files/Epic Games/UE_5.#/Engine/Plugins where UE_5.# is dependent on the Engine version you are working with.
- Similar to Windows, your Unreal Projects folder should be in your Documents folder unless specified differently at install time or after.
- Your Unreal Engine Plugins folder is a little more hidden but should be stored at /Users/Shared/Epic Games/UE_5.#/Engine/Plugins where again UE_5.# is the Engine version you are running.
- An easy way to get to this shared folder is to press cmd + shift + g within the Finder application and typing /Users/Shared and enter.
Once you’ve added the full plugin with the build files generated by your project to the Unreal Engine Plugins folder, you can add it to any project by opening the project and navigating to the Plugins menu via Edit > Plugins. This will open a new window showing all installed or installable plugins. Simply search “VNTANA” in the search bar and the VNTANA Plugin should show up as an installable plugin. Check the box next to the plugin name, and press “Restart” when prompted at the bottom of the Plugins window. This will reload the project with the plugin loaded and ready to use.
The VNTANA Plugin is also available through the Epic Games Marketplace. Simply search VNTANA from the Marketplace home page and look for the code plugin named VNTANA 3D Model Unreal Plugin.
Select the plugin and press the ‘Install to Engine’ button. This will prompt you to select the correct Engine version to install the plugin to. Once installed, open any Unreal project in the UE version you selected for the plugin (5.0 or 5.1), and navigate to the plugins menu by going to Edit > Plugins. In the plugins window that opens, type “VNTANA” in the search and check the box next to the VNTANA Plugin. This will prompt you to restart the project, which will finish the install of the plugin.
The Plugin has two additional Plugin dependencies that are required to ensure full functionality. Both come standard with Unreal Engine however one is not enabled by default.
- gltf Importer: This should be enabled by default.
- Datasmith gltf Importer: This plugin is not enabled by default and must by enabled from the same Plugins menu as the regular VNTANA Plugin.
Using the Plugin
The Plugin offers an array of features to enhance your use of 3D within Unreal Engine, including directly downloading optimized GLB and FBX files from the VNTANA Platform. To run the Plugin, you can either click the button that is added to your top toolbar featuring the VNTANA blue ‘V’ icon. or navigate to Windows > VNTANA Plugin within Unreal.
Before making use of any of the features provided in the Plugin, you must authenticate with the VNTANA Platform. You can either enter a valid email and password for your VNTANA account, or enter an Authentication Key. If you use an Authentication Key, this will allow you to automatically log in each time the Plugin is launched, so long as the key hasn’t been revoked. To learn how to generate this key, see this guide.
Once authenticated, you must make sure the correct Organization and Folder are selected in the Left pane of the Plugin. These correspond to the Organizations and Folders you have access to on the VNTANA Platform.
The primary focus of the Plugin is to offer VNTANA users a direct link to their VNTANA Platform Organization and all the Optimized assets they’ve generated. The main page of the Plugin will preview assets you’ve optimized on the Platform based on the Organization and Folder you set, and will allow you to:
- View Optimization metrics on each asset including the optimized GLB and FBX sizes when applicable.
- Download the optimized GLB and / or FBX versions of your assets.
- Open the Product page of an asset in a browser directly from the Plugin.
Important: Assets which have been optimized with ‘Draco Compression’ on will not be downloadable as this setting is not accepted by Unreal. You can visit the Product page of any asset from within the Plugin to edit the Optimization settings and disable this option. This will reconvert the file and make it downloadable by the Plugin once complete.
The GLB download will store the file in the Content folder of your current working Unreal Project, prompting the gltf Importer to load the file as an Unreal Asset. Upon successful download, a prompt will present itself in the bottom right corner of your screen notifying you of changes to your Content directory and asking if you would like to import those changes (see below).
Selecting to import the changes will bring up another window for Import Settings. Make sure the Import Uniform Scale is at least 100, and press “Import” (see below).
This will finish importing and the file and it’s components should be visible in your projects Content Browser. There is unfortunately a bug with gltf imports which causes issues with Normal maps, so we’ve implemented a tool within the Plugin that can run through and fix this issue. See the section below on the Plugin Tools.
Just like the GLB download, the downloaded FBX will be saved in the Content directory of your current working Project. Upon detecting the change to this directory, Unreal will prompt you to import the changes via a dialog in the bottom right of your screen (see below).
This will open an import dialog for the FBX Import SDK which gives you a lot more control over the import settings than with the GLB. The only setting we recommend changing from the defaults is the Import Uniform Scale as this tends to be set to 1 the first time you import and left here you won’t be able to see your meshes. We recommend a setting of 100. Once you are satisfied with the settings, press “Import All”.
Different from the GLB import, there is one more step to finish the import. After pressing “Import All”, Unreal will begin importing the pieces of the Asset, but before importing textures you will be presented with a dialog confirming you wish import some number of changes (based on the number of textures) to your project. Like the first dialog, simply hit “Import” and it will unpack all the textures. The asset will be imported, however Unreal doesn’t retain the material connections for FBX imports. In order to simplify the process, we’ve included a tool to run through and reconnect all of the textures to their materials. See the Plugin Tools section below for more information.
In addition to the ability to download assets directly from the VNTANA Platform, we’ve included a simple uploader in the Plugin which can take FBX or GLB files from a given directory and upload them to the Folder you designate for Optimization. At this time this tool does not export Unreal assets to upload, it will only handle ready to go FBX or GLB files.
A Few Notes on Uploading
- Draco Compression: Though Draco Compression is an option available to VNTANA users when optimizing on the Platform, this option is not accessible via the Unreal Plugin as the expectation is that assets uploaded via this Plugin are intended to be redownloaded into Unreal which does not support Draco Compression.
- Product Name: The Product name for each asset on the Platform will be the filename found without the extension (.glb or .fbx).
- Update Product: The setting Update Product is the default option when uploading and it is always recommended to have this on to avoid unnecessary / unintended Product Creations in your Organization. When ‘On’, this setting will always first check for a Product of the same name as the file being uploaded and opt to Update that existing Product as opposed to Create a brand new one every single time.
- Tags: Tags can be added to an upload batch which can in turn be used to filter results when searching for Products either in the Plugin or on the Platform. All tags entered in a run will be applied to all Products in that run.
- Asset Directory: The directory that you input must be the sole level directory that contains the files you wish to upload. The Plugin will not recursively check sub-folders for additional files to avoid unintentional uploads.
In order to ensure the files you download and import into Unreal are properly set up and ready to use, we’ve developed two tools to automate some necessary steps.
GLB Normal Map Fix
Due to an import bug related to the gltf importers, the GLB files that are downloaded into Unreal and imported have incorrect Normal maps. They are imported with Default compression as opposed to Normalmap compression, and the Normal Texture Sampler is bogged down with unnecessary nodes. The GLB Normal Map fix tool will run through the Normal maps of a selected Asset, apply Normalmap compression to each, and generate a new Texture Sampler which only paths through a Normalizer before passing to the Material’s Normal input parameter.
FBX Material Reconstructor
With FBX files, when imported into Unreal the links between a material and its textures is severed. This means that you would have to find the correct maps to apply to each material, which is no small task when the names of each Material and Texture may not have any significance.
To resolve this issue, VNTANA has implemented a specific naming convention in its FBX optimization process which will assign each Material a name based on the maps which correspond to it. Using this name, the FBX tool within the Plugin is able to run through each Material in an asset and generate the correct Texture Samplers for each texture before passing them into their corresponding parameter inputs in the Material.
The Tool(s) Didn't Work?
If you notice any issues with the outcome of either of the provided tools, check the asset you are trying to run it on. If it is an old asset, meaning it was Optimized a long while ago, there is a possibility that the optimized structure is not current and the tool(s) can’t find the information they are looking for. You can either:
- Make the corrections/connections manually (in the case that only one or two materials failed to be fixed).
- Reprocess the asset on the Platform before trying again.
If the asset still isn’t turning out right, reach out to our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Plugin supports the following OS and Unreal Engine Versions:
- OS: MacOS, Windows
- UE: 5.0, 5.1