Collada Improvements in 2.66: We need more testing

Hi all;

After Blender 2.62 was released we started working on Collada improvements, mostly fixing very basic issues though. But the Collada exporter and Importer should now be in a much better state compared to the past. And now it is time to ask for testers to test the module in more depth and to learn what features are still missing to make this a useful module for exchanging models & animation-data between applications.

I believe that we now can transfer:

  • static models with textures
  • Basic materials&Lights support
  • Armatures plus animations
  • Shape keys and Shape key animations

The Collada Exporter seems more robust (better tested) than the importer.

What still is on the todo list:

  • Full Materials&Light support
  • Improve compatibility with other applications
  • Better error detection
  • Speed optimizations
  • More todos are in the Blender Collada -wiki page
  • <What else ? …>

Any feedback on bugs and missing features are very welcome.


Nice work. I will see if I can make some tests between sketchup and blender when 2.66 is out.

Improve compatibility with other applications

How about adding support for importing and exporting smoothing groups,
so we can have a least one format imp/exp with this feature?

As far as i can tell smoothing groups are not directly supported by Collada. And Autodesk does not export smoothing groups as well. However it looks like Autodesk is able to generate smoothing groups apparently by examining the mesh data. And i also think smoothing groups can be emulated in Blender by using an edge Split modifier (Well, maybe the edge split modifier is exactly the blender implementation of smoothing groups)

  • The Blender exporter can apply the edge split modifier, thus it sort of supports smoothing groups already.

  • Maybe we could add an import option “create edge splits” which would try to setup an edge split modifier and define sharp seems based on some mesh data (like duplicate vertices along an edge loop are marked as sharp, just an idea)

Cool - I have access to the Unigine SDK - I will give it some compatibility testing when I have time… Thanks to the developers for their work

You must understand, we don’t support many normals per vertex in blender (yet). So a proper implementation of that will have to wait.

I don’t demand a proper implementation, there’s hardly anything properly implemented when it comes to Blender’s IO as I can say from a user’s point of view.
If I could use one format exporter that has a hack which can do it I would be already pretty good.
Does the lack of multiple normals per vertex internally make it impossible to convert sharp edges to smoothing groups (or whatever you may call it) upon export?

Well, anyway again I seem to be the only one who cares, so don’t pay to much attention.

@Gaia I have now run a couple of sketchup models through Blender and where I have previously experienced wierd units, lost faces and fucked materials everything is working very smoothly now. I have hoped for this for a long time every since I saw Third and Seventh by Alex Roman where he is using 3D warehouse models as reference.
Only problem has nothing to do with your script. All materials are imported as Blender internal materials as internal is still Blenders default engine.
There are some scripts to convert basic materials and as sketchup models only have diffuse image textures I see only a little annoyance.

On your part: Great Work! I expect to think on your work every time i need to reference something from a sketchup model.

Lastly: I will keep testing more complex models by myself soon.

THANKS and Cheers!

its possible to import collada in blender cycles and materials cycles

@^ it is?? -> runs home trying…

EDIT: Just tried… How do you manage it…? When I import a test model from the 3d warehouse it loads all the materials alright but it does not ie. set a specific texture to each material…

Your not the only one who cares. Blender’s I/O is what keeps it from being used in many of our productions. Trying to get models to and from maya results in a lot of re-doing work. Smoothing groups get destroyed, edge weights are lost, ngons get triangulated.

The good news is that the situation is imporoving (OBJ import/export supports ngons now), but we are still a long ways off. I’ll give collada a try again soon. I’m very excited about being able to get bones/animations/blendshapes transferred back and forth accurately.

Is there a thorough full list of model data that DOESN’T transfer?

Hey guys, thanks for the collada improvements. I was able to import a scene with 5 mil polygons, including the lights and the camera. So to me that is a good step in the right direction, and feels stable enough for now.

This is the status list of implementation as i could find out by testing:

Not supported yet:

  • Ngons
  • Groups
  • Animations with Constraints

Only basic support:

  • Lights
  • Materials

Not sure if can be supported:

  • Curves
  • Nurbs
  • Text
  • metaballs
  • force fields

Unlikely to be ever supported:

  • Modifiers
  • Blender meta data

I started this thread because i wanted to learn about currently broken features.
But of course i also would like to get feedback about the “mostly wanted missing features”.

And for sure i would like to get some hints about how relevant the Collada support is at all.
Maybe it is not relevant because its not complete, or its not relevant because Collada
is simply not used in production. Or its highly relevant and Blender could gain a lot by adding
better support.

Despite of that my goal is to improve Collada such that the data exchange
with Maya gets well supported. And i appreciate any help.

@MM: I am not so sure why you say we don’t care about IO as this thread here states the opposite… Well, maybe there was not much care about Collada in the past. But i am here now and won’t go away soon :slight_smile:

The camera data is one of the aspect that doesn´t work with the 2.66 collada importer, I just tried with a softimage scene and once I import the camera there´s no animation at all for the camera.

No, I meant just smoothing groups in that case :slight_smile: and you’re doing a great job.

Please can you report a bug for that and attach an example file ? thanks :slight_smile:

Thanks a bunch for your efforts on this! I hope to contribute some decent testing soon.

I would say, however, that if it doesnt support ngons then its usefulness is highly limited. I hope support can be added soon.

@Gaia: I have made some runs at the office now and everything seems to be working nicely! Great work. I still have to set up cycles materials and stuff but as the UV map and the texture and material name etc is all imported its a piece of cake…! Waaay cool man!

I have an idea for you though that would help in studio situations.
I work with a lot of guys who use sketchup or max or other programs. And I receive files from them. The geometry and uv maps etc might have changed from each time I get it but often the materials are the same. So I recieve a file with a material ie. “Bricks_01”.
I set the materials up in cycles with nice normals, spec, refl, toning etc.
When I then get a file from my colloquies and import it into the scene a new material is now created called “Bricks_01.001”.

It would be a great help if there where an option in the import field “Use existing materials” that would check if the material name already exist and assign that material instead of creating a new one.

Again: Great work. With this and the sections script and the new SVG exporrt, Blender is shaping up great for architects.

Check this file Gaia Clary:

This is an exported camera from softimage, looks like some data is trasnfered but in the wrong place so the camera is actually not having any movement at all but if you check in the camera animation there’s something there, it’s just not connected in the right place.

I checked several collada exports from poser pro and they all seemed fine except for one where the weight maps didn’t come out right. I’ll have to look into that . We will be testing shape key transfer from poser into blender in the next day or so, I’m not sure poser supports shape key output, but that was the last hurdle for us to move away from MDD. I used the new MDD modifier and I LOVE IT! worked great for us. Wish I had had that a year or two ago, would have meant using blender for a much larger piece of the production.

Oh, one other quick note, have been using collada export from agisoft photoscan for quite some time and it has worked flawlessly, especially the cameras with their positions, works WONDERFUL. thanks for the hard work.