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actors vs components - quick question

so programs like blender and maya are only to design components to export into unreal, which then UE animates them as an actor? i feel like this is a dumb question, but i’m hung up on it.

You’re ok! UE, Maya and Blender are all really amazing programs that can do a lot of cool stuff and it seems the disconnect comes from having the idea that one program does one thing. But Unreal is a really amazing piece of technology that now just works on the idea that if you export a, as you stated “component” as an FBX, you can do whatever you want in whatever middleware. So if you want to animate in Maya or something then that’s fine but you just need to use the FBX pipeline which…yeah hang on.

Bing! https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Content/FBX/Animations/index.html

Then Blender that’s an open source version of Maya. I use Maya so I have less experience with Blender, but I’ve used that too and all that I can say is that I had to use another middlware called FBX Converter (it’s great) to make sure all my stuff was the right filetype for UE.

Also, if you ARE going to use ART (Animation and Rigging Tool) in UE, you should read this because I only use Maya for rigging and I have very little idea how to do it in engine.

EDIT: Oh woah, I just re-read your post and saw something that I want to briefly go into as well.

So “Components” are something and “Actors” are something else. If you are familiar with OOP then an Actor is a Class. It’s the most basic Class in UE. It can be put into a scene, it supports scale, it can be moved, rotated, etc. It can also have “Components” assigned to it. Components don’t exist by themselves, they are assigned to Actors like pieces of functionality. So, I just wanted to quickly make it clear that what you design, the actual things you put into UE are Actors. StaticMeshActors, CameraActors, etc. Those are Actors. Components just make Actors do things.

awesome reply, thanks a bunch!