Chapter 5.0 Introduction to Static Mesh Pipeline & Tools

Overview of Unreal Static Meshes
Static Meshes are the basic unit used to create world geometry for levels created in Unreal Engine 3. These are 3D models created in external modeling applications (such as 3dsMax, Maya, Softimage, etc.) that are imported into Unreal Editor through the Content Browser, saved in packages, and then used in various ways to create renderable elements.

Static Mesh Pipeline Tutorial
This document serves as an introduction to the Unreal Engine 3 art pipeline, as it applies to static meshes. Most attention will be directed toward features and procedures particular to the new engine. Features that have not changed in the new engine are discussed in detail elsewhere on UDN.

The ActorX plugins are used to export skeletal meshes and their animations to binary file formats (.psk and .psa, respectively) that the Unreal Editor can import. The Maya and XSI plugins also provide tools to export static meshes to .ase (.ase is implicitly supported by Max)
Plugin Locations ( /Binaries/ActorX/ )

Installation / Exporting Meshes from Max/Maya/XSI
This is a step-by-step primer on how to export a static mesh with multiple material assignments from 3D Modeling programs using the ActorX plugin


Static Mesh Editor
The Static Mesh Editor is the tool used to preview the look, collision, and UVs as well as set and manipulate the properties of static mesh assets in the Unreal Engine.
** Light Map Import/Export Pipline for MAX UV Editing**
** See Also Unwrapping UVs for Lightmaps **

Importing Meshes Tutorial
A primer on how to take mesh geometry that was exported from a 3D modeling program using the ActorX export plugin tools, and import it into the Unreal Engine and apply multiple materials

FBX Static Mesh Pipeline
The Static Mesh support in the FBX (FiLMBOX) import pipeline makes getting meshes from 3D applications into Unreal for use in games a simple, painless task. Not only are the meshes imported, but also the textures (diffuse and normal map only) used in the materials applied to those meshes in the 3D application will be imported and materials will be automatically created and applied to the imported meshes.
FBX Importer User Guide

Static Mesh Collision Tutorial
There are two types of collision performed: Unreal collision and physics collision for rigid bodies. Collision with static meshes, however, can require some optimization, simply because of the large number of triangles involved. The main job here is using simpler shapes for collision than for graphics.

Understanding Unreal Packages
An overview of packages & asset representation in the Unreal Engine. The UDK concept of a package is a file which contains blobs of binary data that can be manipulated and accessed via the Unreal Engine.

Mesh Simplification Tool ( Simplygon LODs )
The Mesh Simplification Tool lets you create a lower-resolution version of the original mesh. The mesh updates in-place so you can see the results instantly in the editor's viewports as you tweak the quality level of the mesh. The original mesh data is preserved, allowing you to tweak the mesh to your desired level of quality without losing the original source mesh. The simplified mesh will consume less memory and can result in an increase in runtime performance. Additionally, the tool can be used to automatically create level-of-detail (LOD) models for the mesh.

** Topics to Explore **
  • Fractured Static Meshes
  • Interactive Static Meshes

** Interesting GEMS **
  • Procedural Buildings