DATAPREP – Archicad to Unreal Engine Workflow

Purpose of the exercise

The idea is that inside Archicad we have a graphic override that simplifies the actual materials in a reduced number of textures (wood, glass, white…) and then we send the information to an Unreal template that has some “studio light setting” and that via Dataprep can automatically map the AC materials into nice-looking Unreal materials and also change some of the Archicad objects into HQ UE assets. This process is done using Dataprep and the intention will be to continue developing these templates for different render-type output, allowing the integration of the viz part into the BIM process, seamlessly sending updated model information and thus not stopping the design process. 

Prepare Dataprep Recipe

1. Remove irrelevant objects by using a filter. 2. Set an action to substitute material by Table.

3. Set actions to replace the tree/objects classified by metadata information. 4. By using metadata we purposely can filter and do a command before committing to Unreal World

Prepare Data Table

This Data Table will help to interpret the Archicad materials into high-resolution Unreal materials.

Load Datasmith/IFC files and Execute

Commit to Unreal World

Set up a template file

1. Lightings

Create some rectangle lights around the model. In this case, we used one main light from the top and four supporting lights around the model

2. Shadow (Optional)

To create the shadow for the project, we used one Directional Light

3. Volumes

Then add LightmassImportanceVolume and PostProcessVolume, and make sure to scale these volumes to cover the whole model

4. Cameras

Set up a few cameras for the project

The issue is: the size of projects will vary. So after we import a new project, we just need to adjust those set-up parameters to match with the new one. And then the process will automatically be updated

Compare imported information from Datasmith and IFC

1. Gumble



Datasmith: Can not adjust the location of project’s origin point. IFC: Able to set survey point of the project in IFC.

2. Sub-component (Handrail)

Datasmith: Able to select sub-elements. But don’t have Metadata Information. IFC: Can’t be able to select sub-elements until committing to Unreal World. Have Metadata Information.

3. Metadata Table

4. Tree

Datasmith: The trees can be converted into Unreal Engine assets. But the location of the tree has changed because the gimbal of the tree is different between Archicad tree and UE tree. IFC: the tree cannot be converted!

Estimate the process

Archicad Export OptionsNo OptionsIFC Translator
File SizeSmallerLarger
Model Elements HierarchySimilar to IFC, but metadata for certain sub-components (e.g. mullions of curtain walls) are not visible until committed into Unreal World, meaning potentially certain metadata could not be manipulated by the recipe pre-commitment.Typical IFC hierarchy and naming convention. All elements are visible upon importing.
Light ImportYes (certain lights)No
Camera ImportYesNo

Properties-based surface override workflow: Surface override didn’t work for certain elements (limited by AC’s graphics override ability to override certain sub-components.