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COLLADA Exporter now in the Unity Asset Store

August 14, 2012

Recently, I registered as an Asset Store publisher and went about submitting the COLLADA export as an “Asset” to the Unity Asset Store.

With this Unity extension to the editor’s ‘file’ menu, you can take your finished work from Unity to any COLLADA (.dae format) importing application, such as Apple’s Preview or iBook, Photoshop, Autodesk Max or Maya, Google Earth, SketchUp, (even back into Unity!) as well as most digital content creation tools, even your own applications!

This extension to the Unity file menu allows you to export COLLADA (.dae) files from Unity. It is very easy to set up and use.

Set up:

To set-up/install, simply take the downloaded .dll file and move it into the ‘Editor’ drop-down under the Unity Project window.

From the top, here is the COLLADA exporter (under the Unity File menu) explained:

Export choice may be either “Entire Scene” (the default when nothing selected by the user), or you may select one or several objects to export by choosing “Selection Only”.

Options defined:

The first set of options is the Header information, where you can fill in the names of the authors, comments and copyright information – all these are optional. This comprises the Header of a COLLADA file.

Then you have the Length unity name and Length unit size in meters which defaults to “meter” and “1” meter is the default. If you use inches for example, you can enter “inch” in the unit name box and 0.0254 in the unit size box. There is no actual conversion.

Then you have the Textures options. If you select “Copy Images”, all the images used by the Asset exported will be stored in sub-directories below the texture folder. The default name for the texture folder is “textures” but you can change that to whatever you want. The default conversion choice for images is to “Convert All Images To PNG”. This will have the artifact to remove transparencies in the image. Another option is “Convert Other Types To PNG”. This will convert all images to .png except those that were already .png’s, which are just copied over. The last conversion choice option is “Do Not Convert Images”. In that case, the original images will be copied into the texture folder directly. The issue with this option is that most COLLADA importers may not recognize formats such as .psd. Whichever choice is made, the COLLADA document will reference the image file that was copied or converted. If instead, texture copy is set to “Do Not Copy Images”, the images won’t be copied but the conversion choice will still be used as references in the COLLADA document. This option is very useful when frequently exporting your scene is necessary, but you have not changed your images. It’s also useful if you modify the images outside of Unity and you do not want the exporter to erase your images. The last option in Texture options is export UV that defaults to “Export First UV Set” – which is the texture mapping used for diffuse textures. This version of this exporter only exports diffuse materials, so other UV sets will be needed only if you want to do some extra effort to write your own shaders.

Then you have the Animations options. The first choice is to export or not export any animations. If you export Animations, the exporter will automatically “Bake Matrices” in the scene and export animations as matrices. The evaluate frames default is “Export All Animation Frames” which will export one matrix per frame of animation. If you select “Export Animation Keys” only the matrices at keyframes will be exported. This option should be used only if software in which you want to import your COLLADA document is able to interpolate the values between the keyframes. The next option is called single key that defaults to “Eliminate Single Key Animation.” This is included because Unity allows single key animation in clips which would freeze the animation to the value in that key. The next option is animation target. COLLADA allows for “Multiple Targets Per Clip” in order to keep the document small by sharing animation across multiple instance objects (aka: prefabs). Unfortunately most COLLADA importers do not support multiple targets per clip therefore one can select the option “Duplicate Animation Clips” which is a work-around but which bloats the size of the exported document. The last Animation option is export skins and the default value is “Export Skins As Controllers” which is how skins and bones are expressed in COLLADA. If the animation export is selected, the animation will be applied to the bones through the controllers. Another option here is to “Export Skins as Geometry” which will convert the skins and bones to basic geometry (which does not support animation). This is useful when you want to export the model into an application that does not recognize skinning. The last choice is “Not Export Skins” which will ignore skinned objects in the export.

The you have the Miscellaneous options. The first option is only available if “Do Not Export Animation” was selected. It allows the option to “Separate Rotation Translation And Scale” in the COLLADA scene. The second option is to export the cameras. This is useful for tools such as Preview that enable the end user to have preset views. The next option is called light export, which allows for exporting the lights (or not). Most of the time, it is recommended not to export the lights as many applications can only handle a very limited number of lights; otherwise the scene may display completely black! Thus, it is best to rely on the lights of the importing application. The last option enables you to “Export Lightmaps” which will copy the images used for lightmapping into the texture folder. Since this exporter only supports diffuse textures, the lightmaps won’t appear in the importing application unless you can write your own shaders.

The last button is Export! Once you click on this, it allows you to select where you want to export the COLLADA (.dae) document and texture folder.

Questions? Send email to for more info!


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