Unity Forma makes it easy to create and publish marketing content and interactive experiences, including real-time 3D product configurators, from 3D product data. Let’s explore the import process and how to take the first step to start marketing your products in immersive ways on the web, mobile devices, and more.
What is Unity Forma and why should you care?
For a primer on Unity Forma, check out this blog post. Unity Forma is an extension to the Unity Editor that provides a standardized framework to ingest product data, prepare a master model and publish interactive and static content to multiple marketing channels.
Without it, you would need to create your own framework and maintain it across multiple projects. Not only is this costly and time-consuming for individual customers to develop and maintain, but it also results in incompatible implementations.
With Unity Forma, you can collaborate with others within your ecosystem, saving time and cost for everyone. Instead of building tools, you can free your teams to focus on building amazing marketing content.
Eager to learn more about Unity Forma? Join our upcoming webinar on January 28, where we’ll cover how to build an interactive 3D configurator and answer your questions.
Pro tip: Prepare your data beforehand
Since the release of Unity Forma last month, a wide range of businesses have adopted the product and plan to use it to showcase anything from cars and aircraft to eyewear and hospitality facilities. When products like these are imported into Unity Forma, the system can use any industry-standard data, structure, or assets associated with these products to create and organize variants for your configurator. Because each supported format includes different data about your asset, the steps you follow to import your product can differ.
The format, quality, and structure of your product data before you import it determines how much time you will spend on tasks like creating variants and assigning materials. Deleting redundant parts, flipping assemblies, separating overlapping geometries, and organizing different parts of your data should be done in advance to make sure your product is complete and verified before importing it. Pixyz Studio or Pixyz Batch from our partner Pixyz are ideal tools for this and can automate many of these common data preparation processes.
Bringing 3D product data into Unity Forma
Unity Forma’s main white stage is prepared for product visualization, with lighting and post-processing set up for both the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) to achieve the highest quality and the Universal Render Pipeline (URP) for full platform reach. It gives you a direct process to ingest your 3D product data. You simply drag your content into the center to automatically position it into the scene and begin creating the experience.
You can import the following asset formats:
- Unity Prefab – A reusable, fully prepared asset from a previous Unity project.
- FBX – FBX files from 3D modeling applications like Blender and Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max, or exported from other software products.
- Structured data – Unity Forma can be extended to automatically import structured datasets, including geometry, materials, and variant definitions. It ships with a CSV importer, which can be customized to automate the import process and condense it in a matter of seconds. This is covered in greater detail later in this post.
But that’s not all.
Unity Forma runs on top of Unity Industrial Collection, which includes the Pixyz Plugin, a product from Unity’s partner Pixyz. While Pixyz Plugin is not required to use Unity Forma, we highly recommend it as it significantly expands the 3D product data you can import.
Pixyz Plugin supports nearly 40 file formats, including key industry-standard computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D files. In addition, Pixyz Plugin features powerful optimization capabilities to reduce the time and effort required to transform 3D models into lightweight meshes that can run in real-time on the web, mobile devices, and other platforms with limited computational resources.
Unity Industrial Collection subscribers get access to additional import options for Unity Forma, including:
- Autodesk VRED – VRED users can import their existing models with variants into Unity Forma. See more information about the VRED import process in our documentation.
- All other Pixyz-supported formats – Import data from popular programs like 3DEXCITE DELTAGEN; Autodesk Alias, Inventor, and Revit; CATIA, Creo, Rhino, SketchUp, Solidworks, and Solid Edge, as well as a range of file formats like IFC, JT, OBJ, PLM XML, and PDFs. See the full list here.
Since the Unity Industrial Collection also supports additional material file formats like AxF and xTex, you can directly apply them to your model inside Unity Forma.
Fast-track 3D data import with Adapters
While Unity Forma ingests products for real-time 3D rapidly, you may wish to completely automate the import process to save additional time. Using the Adapter interface, Unity Forma customers with well-organized datasets can implement a completely automated import process that brings in all product data – geometry, materials, and variant definitions – instantly.
This feature is created with a thin layer of code in Unity Forma that can parse folders containing the datasets and metadata files. It can also be connected directly to running systems for automatic updates. Unity Forma’s CSV importer provides the foundation to create an adapter for standardized data sets that need to be imported. We’ll cover how to extend Unity Forma in our future webinars.
As demonstrated at our launch event with Volkswagen, the automaker worked with Unity to develop an adapter for its data structure. VW can now bring its entire fleet into Unity Forma without additional work, as all variants are automatically populated and all AxF materials are automatically imported and assigned to the correct part, in the correct state.
Adapters make the import process as simple as drag and drop, and instantly render the product in real-time 3D along with all variants
To get started with Adapters, we recommend working with Unity’s professional services team so that you can exactly meet the needs of your standardized data format. Creating and managing your own adapter is also an option with Forma – contact us to learn more.
Adapters allow for configuration strings to be passed directly into Unity Forma to resolve into specific product configurations. The parameters that define any configuration can also be extracted from the tool or the runtime application.
When creating content from Unity Forma, configuration strings can be embedded in the content or created as a sidecar file with an output. Using configuration strings, you can easily generate images on demand for specific configurations, with control over product staging.
Import environments to showcase products
Unity Forma comes with five environments out of the box (two of which are shown in the above image). They all come prepared for both HDRP and URP, as mentioned above. In addition to importing products, you can also import environments using Unity’s Render Studio (experimental feature), which prepares and captures high-quality images. You can import HDRI environments, drag and drop your product in the scene, and click to capture an image.
Compared to photography, offline rendering, and other traditional approaches, Unity Forma lets you create this content at a fraction of the time and cost. These images can be used to support image-based configurators, marketing campaigns, and more. Just note that this part of Unity Forma is still in the early stages of development, and we’ll be adding more functionality over time.
More to come: AI-based 3D data capture
In instances where 3D product data is not readily available, Unity is working to provide additional import options. We recently acquired RestAR, whose solution makes it easy to scan and render physical consumer products in high-quality 3D, using only a mobile device. Stay tuned for more to come as we work with the RestAR team to tailor their solution to the needs of Unity Forma customers.