How do I import a hierarchial animation in Unreal?

I might be missing something obvious (it’s happened before), but I’m looking at tutorials and all of them are so simple that they just have one mesh and one animation that they import via FBX.

But what if I have multiple meshes in a hierarchy that I move around in an animation and save it as FBX. How do I import it?

If I do “import into level” I get the hierarchy but not the animation. If I do “normal” import, I get the animation but not the hierarchy.

Also, I have to check “skeleton” to get the animation options at all, which is wrong because I don’t have a skeleton. I’m just moving pivots around (dummy objects in 3D Studio Max).

What am I missing? How have people been doing mechanical animations in Unreal for all these years?

In Unity, importing the same file generates a prefab that I can just drop into the level and press play to animate. I can even edit the keyframes if I want to. Sort of like automatically generating a level sequence of the animation. Super simple.

EDIT: I found this thread from 2014 where someone mentions an “import rigid mesh” option, but I can’t find it in 4.21 so I’m hoping I’m missing a new and improved workflow that’s happened in the intervening years……ns-for-objects

I’m curious as to the best way to do this as well. I’m currently using the “Import Into Level” option to bring in my assemblies, which gives me the local pivot point on each static mesh.

One problem I’m running into is when I try to animate everything using the sequencer.

I have several null objects in my 3D scene so that I can group objects under one pivot point. “Import Into Level” converts those null objects into Scene Components in the blueprint. These scene components have the correct orientation in the blueprint, but when you try to animate it in the sequencer it moves in world space only.

Has anyone else ran into this?

It seems this was added as a feature to Datasmith via the Level Sequencer. Which I think means you still can’t create a Blueprint of hierarchial animated objects, they need to be level specific and treated as fully separate objects.

There seems to be an experimental Actor Sequencer feature in the works, but no idea if that is still being worked on or when it will be finished (also, as you noted, a Blueprint doesn’t seem to have an empty object for pivots, like a level does).