This page will help you to get up to speed with InstaLOD for Unreal Engine in minutes.

Table of Contents

What is InstaLOD for Unreal Engine

InstaLOD for Unreal Engine enables you to optimize 3D meshes and scenes from within Unreal Engine 4.
Full support for both static and skeletal meshes as well as draw call reduction make InstaLOD the best choice for
optimization in Unreal Engine 4.

Prerequisites

InstaLOD for Unreal Engine currently supports the engine versions 4.22 , 4.23 and 4.24 on both Windows PC and macOS.
Support for the latest Unreal Engine version is typically added shortly after the official release. The plugin is maintained to be fully compatible with the latest version only.

InstaLOD has been built on Windows 10 using Visual Studio 2015. If you are using an earlier version of Windows, the installation of the Visual Studio 2015 redistributables is required.

If you are not using C++ in your UE4 project, you need to create an empty C++ class in the Unreal Editor first.
To create an empty C++ class inside UE4, open the project, click the green Add New button in the Content Browser and select New C++ Class. When prompted to select a parent class, select None or Empty to proceed.
InstaLOD for Unreal Engine ships with source code, so this step is required for UE4 to compile and to use the InstaLOD plugin.

Installing InstaLOD for Unreal Engine

To get started, copy the InstaLODMeshReduction folder to your project’s Plugins folder.
If you cannot find the Plugins folder in the root of your Unreal Engine project, simply create it using either Windows Explorer or macOS Finder.
Finally, right-click your project file projectname.uproject, and depending on your operating system, select either Generate Xcode project (macOS) or Generate Visual Studio project files (Windows).
The next time you open the UE4 project, the InstaLOD plugin will be compiled.

Unless you are using a custom fork of Unreal Engine 4, it is recommended to install InstaLOD to your project’s plugins folder, not into the engine’s plugins folder.

Updating from a previous version of InstaLOD for Unreal Engine

Before installing the latest version of InstaLOD for Unreal Engine, delete the InstaLODMeshReduction folder from your project’s Plugins folder.
Install the latest version of InstaLOD for Unreal Engine as described in the previous chapter. Sometimes your project needs to be cleaned from within Visual Studio before compilation.

Machine Authorization

A workstation needs to be authorized before InstaLOD for Unreal Engine can be used. If you haven’t authorized InstaLOD on your computer before, you will be asked to do so when starting the UE4 project. Enter your license information and press Authorize to request a license for your workstation. Your workstation is now authorized for use with InstaLOD. Make sure to deauthorize your workstation before uninstalling InstaLOD, or you will not be able to authorize another workstation.

If you proceed without authorizing your machine, all optimization operations will result in the generation
of a model that represents a key with the InstaLOD logo.
To replace these keys with the properly optimized geometry after authorizing your machine,
you can rebuild the mesh manually – or delete the Intermediate folder to force Unreal Engine to
rebuild all LOD models.

Machine Deauthorization

To deauthorize your workstation before uninstalling InstaLOD for Unreal Engine, open the InstaLOD tool window and go to the ? tab. Enter your credentials in the Deauthorize panel and click Deauthorize Workstation.

Setting up Unreal Engine for InstaLOD

InstaLOD for Unreal Engine needs to be manually selected as the active plugin in the Project Settings before it can be used.

In the Unreal Editor, navigate to Edit -> Project Settings. In the Editor rubric, the Mesh Simplification, the Hierarchical LOD Mesh Simplification and Skeletal Mesh Simplification must be configured to use InstaLODMeshReducation as the Mesh Reduction Plugin, Hierarchical LOD Mesh Reduction Plugin and Skeletal Mesh Reduction Plugin. After restarting the engine, InstaLOD is ready to use.

Using InstaLOD for Unreal Engine

InstaLOD is fully integrated into Unreal Engine 4 and all LOD features are now available to you.
This includes hierarchical LOD clusters, remeshing and the generation of static mesh and skeletal mesh LOD. Furthermore, InstaLOD for Unreal Engine supports Imposterzation, Material Merging, Occlusion Culling, and UV unwrapping.

InstaLOD feature set in Unreal Engine 4

InstaLOD for Unreal Engine brings the following feature set directly into the engine:

  • Optimize [OP] Reduce mesh polygon count
  • Remesh [RE] Create a highly optimized topology with transferred and new texture maps
  • Imposterize [IM] Single-click imposter pipeline
  • Material Merge [MM] Merge preexisting materials into a single texture atlas
  • Occlusion Cull [OC] Remove invisible faces
  • Unwrap [UV] Create UV layouts

InstaLOD’s great unified UX/UI allows you to directly map your preexisting knowledge from InstaLOD Studio XL and our DCC tool integrations to InstaLOD for Unreal Engine.
All operations are handled the same.
You can find more detailed information about the workflows of our features on our YouTube channel here or in our Knowledgebase here

Utilities Panel

The Utilities Panel allows to configure how processed meshes are used. They can be either used in a specific position of an LOD chain or appended at the end. Alternatively, they can also be saved as new assets.

  • Append To LOD Chain Appends the result to an LOD chain. If no LOD chain exists, it is automatically created.
  • Replace LOD at target index Replaces an existing LOD entry at the specified index. If no entry exists at the index, the result is appended to the LOD chain.
  • Save as new asset Saves the result as a new asset with a user-specified name. To automatically replace the source components in the scene, Update Selected Components With New Meshes can be checked.

Bake Output Panel

Operations that produce textures (Remesh, Imposterize and Material Merge) provide an additional Bake Output panel where the texture output and dimensions can be configured.

  • Super Sampling Textures are created with a higher resolution and downsampled which results in a smoother image.
  • Solidify Texture Pages Unused texture space is flooded filled with the colors of surrounding areas.
  • Alpha Mask Threshold When baking textures, Alpha Mask values equal or below this threshold are considered transparent.

Furthermore, you can configure which texture pages need to be transferred from the source mesh. Missing textures can be configured to be filled with a constant value.

Bake Texture Pages

When using the remesher, the following texture pages can be additionally baked out by InstaLOD:

  • Object-Space Normals Creates a normal map in object space
  • Mesh ID Creates a texture containing a unique color for each submesh
  • Vertex Colors Vertex colors are transferred into a texture
  • Ambient Occlusion Bakes AO into a texture
  • Bent Normals Bakes bent normals into a texture
  • Thickness Bakes thickness into a texture
  • Displacement Bakes displacement into a texture
  • Position Bakes position into a texture
  • Curvature Bakes curvature into a texture
  • Opacity Bakes opacity into a texture

Vertex based optimization weights

InstaLOD supports vertex color-based optimization weights. This is a great way to give artists full control over the optimization.

  • Vertex Pinning uses the blue vertex color channel to mark vertices as important. Values between [0…1] increase the weight of the vertex. A value of 1 marks the vertex as pinned and therefore not as collapsible.
  • Vertex Cullable Detail uses the red vertex color channel to mark vertices as cullable detail. Values between [0…1] will decrease the weight of the vertex. A value of 0 means the vertex will be culled as early as possible.

InstaLOD only accepts vertex color channels that have an empty green channel.
Avoid using both red and blue for a single vertex. If both red and blue colors are used on the same vertex, the higher color value will determine the weighting type. It is recommended to use pinning instead of culling to avoid interfering with the optimization strategy of the optimizer.

When using the optimizer through the InstaLOD window, Vertex Colors As Optimizer Weights can be endabled in the Advanced panel. When optimizing a mesh through the Skeletal Mesh Editor or through the Static Mesh Editor , vertex based optimization weights can be enabled by setting Silhouette to High or enable the InstaLOD.ForceOptimizerWeights cvar.

InstaLOD normally supports up to four vertex color channels and a dedicated mesh attribute for optimization weights.
If you’re running your project on a custom engine fork and you need to store other data in the vertex color channel,
you can make use of the additional fields provided by InstaLOD by modifying the FMeshDescription conversion methods found in the FInstaLOD class.

Painting vertex colors in Unreal Engine 4

Vertex colors are typically painted onto vertices during the model’s creation in a DCC tool like Autodesk Maya.
However, vertex colors can also be painted directly on a mesh from inside Unreal Engine 4.
To paint vertex colors from inside UE4 drag a model into the viewport of your level.
Switch into paint mode by pressing Shift+F2 and paint your desired vertex colors.
Once you are finished painting press the Copy instance colors to source mesh button to commit the vertex colors to your mesh.
Open the mesh in the static mesh editor, verify that the vertex colors have been updated using the Vert Colors view mode and press Save.

HLOD generation using InstaLOD

By configuring InstaLOD as the default Mesh Reduction plugin in the project settings for Hierarchical LOD Mesh Simplification, UE4 will make use of InstaLOD’s superior remesher to generate highly optimized and beautiful HLODs.

Open Source

InstaLOD for Unreal Engine ships with the full source code for the integration. Feel free to customize, enable and disable features.

Website

Please visit http://www.InstaLOD.com to stay up to date!

Thank you for using InstaLOD.

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