Ultimate Unwrap 3D as DAE converter
ShiVa uses DAE 1.4 as its main model import format. It is an open standard that has found wide adoption over the years in most DCC tools. However, it is also a rather flexible standard, and every vendor tends to implement it a little differently. While tools like Lightwave work flawlessly, others like Cinema 4D can give you major problems, especially when it comes to animated objects. Fortunately, there is one tool which doubles as an excellent DAE/Collada file converter for ShiVa: Ultimate Unwrap 3D.
Common DAE import problems
Problems with the model importer can usually be broken down into 3 areas: textures/materials, size/orientation, and distortion/animation. Size and orientation are the easiest: ShiVa offers checkboxes and inputs for both in the import dialogue. As far as textures go, you can attempt to let ShiVa search for the appropriate maps by their suffixes, however you will always have to manually adjust lighting parameters like specular and normal strength, so unless you have very simple models which do require little to no adjustments, we recommend not enabling textures and materials at import time and instead designing them separately.
While it is possible to import models with animations, we often recommend keeping the model away from its animation track during the initial import and then importing the animation clips separately later. You will be given the option to select what you wish to import in step two of the import process:
Animation issues on the other hand are probably the hardest problem to solve. Without a clean and properly jointed import, ShiVa’s built-in TRS corrections will not help you much. To give an example, here we have a rigged test cylinder in Cinema 4D R18. It has been set up with the usual guidelines, like a root bone at (0,0,0) that connects to the rest of the skeleton, no joint scaling, 60 fps animation target, etc:
You would expect C4D’s DAE 1.4 exporter to export ShiVa-compatible files. At first, everything looks fine, however a click onto the cylinder reveals the completely displaced bone structure. After hitting the animation playback button, you can how the cylinder gets badly distorted:
Ultimate Unwrap 3D
The website states, “Ultimate Unwrap 3D (UU3D) is a specialty Windows UV mapping tool for unfolding and unwrapping 3D models. It includes an easy-to-use UV coordinate editor, a standard set of UV mapping projections such as planar, box, cylindrical, and spherical, as well as advanced UV mapping projections such as face UV mapping, camera UV mapping, and unwrap UV faces for those difficult to map areas on a model.”, all of which is great, but we will completely ignore, since we only need its file converting and animation playback facilities. You can read up on all supported file formats on the UU3D format compatibility website.
When we try importing the C4D DAE files into UU3D, we can see a similar picture of misplaced bones and distorted cylinders. UU3D is trying its best to make sense of the data, but like ShiVa, it has problems with the way C4D’s DAE is written.
The solution is using FBX as an intermediary. FBX carries all your UV, animation, mesh etc. data just as well, sadly ShiVa cannot read it. Here is where UU3D’s fantastic conversion functionality comes into play. Just load the FBX file into UU3D and export as DAE/Collada, which conforms to the exact specification of ShiVa’s 1.4 importer.
The save dialogue will you give you a handful of options:
It is important that you choose Y-up, however the scale (cm or m) does not matter since ShiVa comes with its own scaling controls during import. Futher options are:
– Materials: Yes, to keep subsets – you can still disable them in ShiVa’s importer
– Texture coordinates: Yes, to keep your UVs
– Vertex normals: Yes, otherwise lighting/normal mapping has severe issues
– Vertex colors: Optional, only if you need them
– Animation: Optional, if your model has any
– Multiple UV sets: Optional, probably No (only used for specialized applications like static lighting import from other DCCs, special overlay effects, etc.)
– Texture Filepath: ShiVa will try to search for texture files on its own during import, so “filename only” will suffice
After UU3D is done with its DAE export, you should have no problems importing your model into ShiVa 3D with all bones and meshes in the correct orientation: