Frequently asked questions


Do we need to use lightmaps in our work?

Lightmaps are only required when you are using baked lighting, if you are using entirely movable or ray traced lighting you do not need lightmaps. They are quite helpful for getting framerates up for use on stage, but the time it takes to bake the lighting makes them less useful in the rapid iteration phases in an art department

Source Control

Source Control, what is it used for?

Unreal engine projects can have 1000's of files in them. Source control makes a master copy of that structure and then everyone's computer syncs to that. When someone updates a small portion of it and syncs it back to the server, everyone else only has to download the changes, not the entire thing again It does checking in/out. So there is less of a chance of overwriting someone else's work It also allows you to undo changes if something goes wrong or look at how things were done in the past. Or track who made a change and when it happened. Very nice for asset managers and eventually the whole post pipeline It keeps file sizes down since there are not 100 copies of a 2tb unreal project If all of my art department is on the same server, it also allows a set designer and illustrator to be working on the same environment back and forth quickly, and then for the PD to hop into that environment for a review using their own computer. Similarly you can drop previs and sometimes vfx into the mix and then everyone is working from the same files. Allowing for a more collaborative environment. Care should be taken to set up a hand off system in that instance though, so VFX doesn't start working on an in progress enviro (A source control guru can make sure that each department has its own safe space the others do not have access to)


How do I get cinematic lenses in UE4?

You want to use the cine camera storyboards actor from the project found on this page. It is located in Plugins-StoryboardTool-Cameras-Cinecamera Storyboards

Alternatively, you can use the cine camera actor and google the camera/lens combination you are interested in. In the details of the cine camera, go to the filmback section, set it to custom and input the dimensions of the filmback from the camera body. Then go to lens settings and fill out the MM of your lens. Double check the field of view at the bottom of the first section to make sure it matches the camera/lens combo. The aspect ratio is a function of the filmback and on certain camera/lens combos things get complicated.

UE4 Troubleshooting

Autosaves or I didn't hit save all and UE4 crashed. Now when I open my level I get a warning saying assets are missing and my scene looks different

How to recover autosaves: This is an advanced technique and on a show you would want to discuss it with whomever is managing the unreal project, such as the virtual art director.

In the folder where you keep your project - saved-autosaves-game-same folder s
tructure as you had in UE are the autosave backups of your unreal files. I would copy the game folder, delete everything but the files you want to restore, if there are multiple autosaves, delete the older ones. Then rename it without the _auto# at the end, keeping the .uasset Then copy those files to the correct place in your project content folder. You can compare the date modified on the autosaved file with the date modified on any existing file to choose which is most likely to be the one you want. I would do this a bit at a time and keep double checking in UE to make sure something didn't go wrong. Things can go wrong and source control is advised to be able to undo any accidents. You will have to reconcile offline work after each step you do

General UE4

Outside UE4

What 3d modeling software should I be using?

Blender is well featured, rapidly adding new, useful features, has a strong community who support eachother. It doesn't do everything the standard way though, so you have to learn the quirks of the export system, and at times you really feel the linux style interface. It's snapping and measurement tools have not had the same love as the rest of the ui, so if you are trying to get exact dimensions, it is slightly harder. Blender is greatly improved by:

Maya is fantastic for animation and modelling, and its snapping system is very robust and user friendly. It is also the defacto industry standard for vfx, so you can hand models directly to them. It does some weird things with exports, costs a lot of money every year, and could use a UI overhaul in my opinion. Lots of old, sometimes half-broken tools are hiding just under the surface and sometimes you need to try the 5 different ways of doing something to get it "right". Maya also hides it's modifier stack from you, and if you are not aware of it, you can get bitten pretty hard.
Maya light, is probably to avoid. It has very strict limits on how many triangles you can have, and Maya proper won't even read its save files.

Modo is a bit more approachable for a lot of people. My limited experience with it is that the way it handles materials is a bit odd, and that it hides a lot of the modeling underworks from you, so digging deeper into modeling is a bit harder 3ds max and Cinema4d are similar. I like how 3dsMax does modifier stacks similarly to blender. Sketchup is quick and intuitive, but it is dirty and will not forgive your modeling sins. It is very easy to create horrifyingly messy models in sketchup that will ruin your day. It is also not very robust for UV maps

Rhino/vectorworks/autocad: Rhino is probably the most robust for 3d modeling intuitively, but these programs all largely work with nurbs surfaces. It is a different workflow than the polygon modeling used by the other mentioned programs, but can be very powerful. Accuracy is the main benefit, overly complex models and less than stellar UV tools are the drawback All of these programs are just tools though. Getting models out in a way that others can use them and on time are the important bits. Once you learn good modeling practices, they tend to translate pretty well between all programs. It is also useful to have at least a cursory knowledge of a few programs. Even if you cannot model in a program, knowing a bit about what its strengths/weakness are will help you collaborate with someone else who does. Houdini really shines if you need a whole bunch of variations on an object. Need 500 unique rocks/buildings? Houdini will do that faster and better than anything else on the market. Substance Designer/Painter or quixel mixer are super powerful for materials and textures Zbrush, and to a lesser extent blender are fantastic for sculpting objects organically