Unreal Engine 4.24 released with USD support. When will Blender get it?

Hi everyone. Unreal Engine 4.24 released with USD support. Here are some of the features:

It seems that it will also support skeletal animations. I heard thalks that Blender will also implement USD export…when will we get it ? Also, will USD become a better alternative than FBX for Unreal Engine-Blender workflows ?

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Is USD really that good? Such as for example having glTF or even having the .blend as a last resort, how USD would be a better option?

For me personally the ideal way is to support directly .blend file format everywhere so in that we won’t have to deal with exporters at all, this is like having the Blender community vetoing the entire industry.

The tables have turned. :slight_smile:

Why? What’s the benefit when .blend is very specific to Blender. With USD no expert is required you can work directly on your scene in your DCC of choice and the changes will get reflected in UE4 and vice verse if I’m not mistaken. The point of USD is to make an interchange format that is not DCC specific. The industry right now seems to be putting their eggs into USD.

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One strong example is that Unity supports .blend files right on the go, which is really handy for those of us using Blender, because we can avoid unnecessary exports and use the .blend files as they are, thus having direct access with the program and the ability to modify them as they are. In that spirit Unity did the right thing and I expect all software gradually to support .blend files on the fly either natively or through plugins.

However other users of Maya or Modo etc had to cry about it so far and use .fbx instead all this time. However it seems now with this USD file format the might willing to try it and see if interesting. Indeed is more powerful than FBX but still the question is why not use glTF instead which is literally a JSON file.

still I don’t understand how USD would really help that instead glTF would become the new ideal choice among developers.

Not exactly sure but there is a USD support task by developer Sybren with a 2.82 tag:
https://developer.blender.org/D6287

USD is open source: https://graphics.pixar.com/usd/docs/Open-Source-Release.html
Why would you turn tables for such good thing :upside_down_face:

We should get to a point -as a Blender community- of having really strong pipelines that can stay intact and stable as they are, instead of following the trends.

If there is one thing we can learn from history is that the fail of the Collada format was somewhat the same. A really sincere and legit effort in its own time, to provide cross-software-asset compatibility but plagued by lots of problem of versioning, complexity, overengineering. Thus most developers went for simple formats.

To proove my point I went really deep here and downloaded Blender 2.4 and I was able to save a file and open it in the new 2.8 version. This is an experiment that can guarantee that whoever invests in the .blend file format will make the safe bet. However no one knows if at some point in the future USD becomes obsolete.


.blend is not an interchange format.

Also, there are definitely 2.4 blends that won’t open well in 2.8, so I’d be more sparing with your personal guarantees!

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You can do the same with Maya, It’s not good practice though. If you’re working with legacy files you use the version of the software they were made with.

Unity uses the blender executable to export a fbx file under the hood then imports it. The same as it does for Max, and Maya. It all uses FBX under the hood.

https://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/3D-formats.html#Proprietary3DappFiles

Warning: Unity converts proprietary files to .fbx files as part of the import process. However, it is recommended that you export to FBX instead of directly saving your application files in the Project. It is not recommended to use native file formats directly in production.

but like they say this is bad practice. you should be storing your source files separately and properly versioning them. Only versioned, published files should make it into your game’s project structure.

The big draw about USD is its much more than a file format, its a framework of tools that facilitate digital pipeline creation. If it was just another FBX no one would be excited.

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You do realize the .blend file format is different version-to-version, and the only reason you can open old files at all is that there’s a bunch of versioning code that updates old files which keeps getting longer and longer with each new Blender release?

.blend is Blender’s internal format. It sucks for anything other than Blender.

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And to be clear, this is no critisism of blender. All apps do this. Interchange formats are designed to distill data down to the lowest common denominator. the .blend file is designed to store things the way that works best for blender.

Some of USDs capabilities are outlined here. Hydra, Variants, Opinions, Prims

from 2:19 gives a nice example

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My main point about the .blend files is that since we are Blender users we can stick to things we better like and know they work for sure right off the bat, rather than trying to figure out other more clever ways. :+1:

As for example with Unity -as stated- even if the assets get converted through the FBX pipeline (you won’t get the entire 100% of pure features) at least everything works under the hood automatically to some degree, and thus simplifying your work, the only thing we would care about is to put the .blend file (or a copy of the file) right inside the Assets folder and let Unity figure out what it means. Within the same mindset say for example you prefer to export your model to .fbx and not use .blend here you just make your life more difficult with one extra step.

It looks like a developer started working on this subject, so anyone interested can expect to see results in the future. But for me is .blend all the way baby. :stuck_out_tongue:

Unity does not support .blend it’s converting .blend to .fbx and then importing that .fbx into Unity. That’s all it’s doing.

What I said.

Unless the .FBX exporter breaks etc. So you should care. USD avoids most of that it’s open source it’s not just an export format, it’s a scene description framework of sorts that allows for better interchange between applications. What you are advocating is sticking with the proprietary FBX format because you want to drag and drop a .blend file into other apps? That doesn’t make sense at all imo.

The exporter is in Master:
https://developer.blender.org/rBec62413f803ee506633f0e52d1e52b0980c0ed0d

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Very soon, it seems.

I tried USD from Blender to UE4. First off, scale issue and no static mesh instancing support. Camera aren’t exported. Not sure if its UE4 fault or Blender fault, USD workflow is still very new for both platform.

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I think you have oversimplified this dramatically.

While I will not argue with you about your personal choice. This is up to you.

But to recommend it and start suggesting that it is a good thing to do is not fair to others.

Maybe you will never have a problem with this, many will.

There are several issues with this method in production. I won’t bore you with it.

But regards USD, there will never be a perfect interchange format. Especially when Blender is I’m the mix.

On the positive side for Blender this could circumvent the many issues and limitations on the fbx format in Blender due to license restrictions.

And it is these issues that limit the effectiveness of your chosen method as well as drive the reason that most people should not use Blend files directly in Unity. Because it is using fbx with all it’s limitations.

At least for now if you export to fbx you have access to more features that you don’t have when trying to use Blender files.

My main point is that USD in it’s core design a pumped up version of Collada/Alembic/GlTF/VRML and it has already proven that none of these formats are favorable across Blender users.

Also it looks like USD can handle well and efficiently problems of collaboration as well, but in reality again never a Blender user will actually participate in such a large scale project with dozens of teams over-writing each other’s data (or need the ability to preserve changes in a non destructive way).

Despite being a very well thought and advanced file format for it’s initial intended purpose, Blender users will still look for the most simple and efficient solution for specific use cases. Which is to import or export assets in a compact form across one or two application at most (eg: ZBrush/3DCoat/AfterEffects/Unity/Unreal).

Yeah I think I get it. I can totally appreciate your opinion.

I don’t think we can know what will come of the USD format until it is further developed. Especially for Blender.

My point was about using Blender as the way to import into Unity. It is at best unreliable unless you don’t care about at least a half a dozen bugs you will create by doing that.

It may not seem like a currently true trend. But I do see the immediate future of Blender as working with large teams in larger studios. It is already happening.

My studio is very small. We use Blender mostly. And I plan to expand in the next year or two. I deal with clients in Unity on a daily basis. And Blender is very difficult to use in any pipeline because of how different it is and the limitation of the .fbx format.

I also make very liberal use of Alembic. It is a great format for animation. But it is not the best solution for everything.

We desperately need a better solution in my experience.

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