Animations for Hard Surface Models


I’m coming from Unity and new to UE4. I’ve been having a hard time trying to find tutorials on creating animations for hard surface models such as a spaceship. In Unity, it was very easy to do with the timeline and keyframes and it allowed me to save the animation as it’s own file.

I have a spaceship built in Blender and it has multiple parts I’d like to animate, such as the landing gear, wing/engine rotation, pilot seat, lockers, and some panels. In Unity, I was able to simply create keyframe animations for each object. They are simple objects that only require animating the position and rotations. In UE4, everything seems a lot harder to do. It seems animating in UE4 is mostly done with skeletal meshes and some complex setup that looks like visual scripting, but aren’t those for organic objects like humanoid characters where the models need to bend? All of my models are hard surface models and don’t need to bend.

Importing meshes in UE4 is also a lot more complicated than in Unity. In Unity, for my spaceship, on import I have an empty parent object, and the exterior hull, interior hull, engines, landing gear, and other various components as child objects. But when I import it into UE4, I can either import as a combined mesh (but then I can’t animate the parts I want), or I can import them all as separate meshes (which makes the Meshes folder look messy with a bunch of spaceship parts that shouldn’t be used by themselves). Is there a way to keep parent/child structure like in Unity?

This is also for selling in the Marketplace. So I don’t want to have a bunch of separate meshes that are meant to be children of other objects. In Unity, the raw meshes aren’t meant to be used directly and are plugged into prefabs. But in UE4, it seems meshes are used. So I want to only keep meshes in there that are meant to be used as is. There doesn’t seem to be any tutorials on how to set up models and animations (or even any tutorials on how to submit the package) to sell on the Marketplace. In Unity, I just create the folder structure, import my models/materials/textures, create prefabs of the models (and combine multiple meshes into single prefabs with parent/child hierarchy intact), plug in the textures into the materials, create a demo scene, and download the Asset Store Tools to upload the asset. For UE4, I can’t seem to find any tutorials on this process.

You probably need more details, are these dynamic animations? An animation sequence? Checkout this Live Tutorial (excellent) on blueprint communication, will be handy info for triggering animation events such as opening your doors, panels, landing gear ect.( ). if you get on youtube and simply search UE4 Door Animation you will find TONS of tutorials. As for importing your ship and all the parts, it will import all the objects individually but with all of their pivots at the 0,0,0 mark, so once imported, you can simply select them all, and then drag into your level and Bam, there you have everything. Search topics on youtube for using sequencer to animate things like your landing gear, possibly your doors ect. There are A LOT of various ways of doing things, so you just have to learn, experiement an see which option is best for your situation. You may be able to bring all of your static meshes into a single blueprint, then for items such as your doors or panels, try parenting them to a scene component, and then you can rotate that element along proper axis using the scene component. Otherwise, you will have to export your static meshes individually to have the pivot set where you want (will always be the 0,0,0 mark fo the file/scene), then bring it into your blueprint and copy/paste the correct coordinates from your 3D App. If your meshes are parented and wont be moving/animated apart from eachother, it would probably be best to have them as one mesh (join them in 3D App or you can join them in UE4). You can also use blueprints to animate doors by rotating aong an axis and using Lerps. There are a lot of ways of doing things so you have to research and find what works bestfor your situation. Im very new myself, but hope this helps you out some or gives you a lead.