Looking for advice on whether to use UE or a content creation app like 3DSMax


I’m looking for advice on what would be the best way to accomplish a task for a project so that I can then go out and hire the talent, maybe even from this forum.

Essentially I’m creating a lot of depth/displacement maps and I need to be able to render/save a screenshot of displaced geometry. For example, I have a bunch of height maps of geographical region and I want to displace the geometry of a plane to recreate them, more or less simple terrain creation stuff with some basic lighting for shadows. I just need to render a single frame/take a single screenshot of the displaced geometry and then move on to the next one. I’m getting these depth maps in real time on my webserver and so whenever a new one comes in, I need to get a picture of the displace plane and save it. I most likely need this running on AWS.

Another possibility is to actually take the vertices of a plane and move them to the correct z coordinate, and somehow send/stream this data to UE. I guess this would maybe be similar to some sort of character creation tool, like how people move cheekbones, lips, eyes etc in video games.

I can easily do these things manually with 3DSMax on my computer, and I’m sure I can write a script to do it programmatically, but 3dsmax is just way to slow for rendering even low resolution stuff. Game engines seem to have no problem rendering these displaced planes at like 90 fps. I’m dealing with 640x640 maps, or 409600 vertices.

So do you guys think I should try doing something like this with UE, or do you think I should stick to something like 3dsmax and figure out how to speed it up? I’m way out of my depth in doing this stuff myself, so I’ll likely need to post a job listing, but it would really help to know what makes most sense so I can post a job for the right thing/person.


3ds Max should be able to render really quickly, it shouldn’t take more than a few seconds at most. If you’re looking for someone to do that for you, you’ll probably have more luck finding a UE4 programmer than someone that could get all that set up automatically in 3ds Max.
All it needs to do is download the updated file and then set that as the displacement map in the material that the mesh is using and then save a screenshot.

Thanks for the reply. This is for a project with the intent of handling many, many thousands of these per day. Now I didn’t exactly use a powerful system when rendering in 3dsmax, but even a few seconds would takes days of constant rendering on a single machine. I guess I never considered if I could just capture a viewport image rather than a “render”. That said, UE4 also seems to have a lot of network capability which probably would make it much easier than trying to integrate real-time commands to 3dsmax via command line or scripting in python.

Thanks for your input!