cmlabs logo
vortex logo

Working with Filmbox (FBX) Files in Vortex Studio

Vortex Studio is used to power a wide range of simulators. Some are used to train heavy equipment operators or military vehicle drivers, while others are used for virtual prototyping. These applications don’t use the same content pipelines – training system integrators typically use 3D file formats, such as COLLADA and FBX, while engineers mostly use CAD models.

In version 2017a, the Vortex Studio Editor offers a new content pipeline based on the FBX file format. This new content pipeline supports the import and export of 3d models through the FBX file format: that’s the nodes, materials and geometries. We also introduced the import and the export of textures as DDS files.

What’s cool about this new content pipeline is that you can now do full round-trips between 3ds Max and the Vortex Studio Editor. This enhances collaboration between 3D artists and mechanical engineers.

  1. Start by importing a 3d model into the Vortex Studio Editor and save it as a Graphics Gallery file.
  2. You can now review and edit your Graphics Materials, add new Graphics Nodes, using the Vortex Studio Editor.
  3. Say you would like to change the topology of one small part of the 3d model:
    1. Right-click on a specific Graphics Node and export it to a new FBX file: Gallery Tools -> Export…
    2. In 3ds Max, create a new document and import this FBX file.
    3. Modify the 3d model. For this example, move the position of some vertices.
    4. In 3ds Max, export the modified 3d model to a new FBX file.
    5. Back in the Vortex Studio Editor: right-click on the Graphics Node and select : Gallery Tools -> Re-import…
    6. You’ll then be able to overwrite the modified geometries and/or create the new nodes that were modified/added in 3ds Max, directly into the Graphics Gallery file.

Since you can round-trip from the Graphics Gallery file within the Vortex Studio Editor, there is no need to archive both the Graphics Gallery files and all its ancestors such as the MAX file, the exported FBX file and the image files.

Say you are using Subversion for your binary file archiving: using the Graphics Gallery as the archiving format: you’ll save on disk space and you’ll be able to lock just one file to indicate that you are modifying it!

Moving the position of vertices is one of many operations that you can round-trip. Other examples:

  • Adding, removing vertices and triangles.
  • Splitting a mesh into multiple sub-meshes.
  • Changing the texture coordinates and smoothing groups of the vertices of a mesh.

Other Tricks & Developer Notes

In 3ds Max or Maya, you should set your units to “meter”. This will ensure that the scale you are enjoying in Vortex Studio is the same as in 3dsMax and Maya.

Vortex Studio support one or zero material per mesh. This means that in 3ds Max, if you use the Material IDs and the Multi-Material object, the mesh will be split when you import it in Vortex Studio.

When you re-import a 3d model, the names are used to match the Vortex items with the re-imported FBX items.

For this purpose, we write to 3ds Max’s user-defined properties, the following ID with the Vortex Studio node name: VortexGeometryName.