Datasmith Direct Link Workflow

See how to import content into Twinmotion using the Datasmith Direct Link workflow.

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Linux

To use this workflow, the Datasmith Exporter plugin for your design application must be installed. For more information on design applications that support Datasmith, and where to download the plugins, refer to Supported Design Applications for Datasmith.

You can use the Datasmith Direct Link workflow to import 3D scenes and assets from your design application into Twinmotion in a way that retains group hierarchy and organization, components, objects, and materials.

After you install the Datasmith Exporter plugin in your design application, you can use the Direct Link functionality to import your content into Twinmotion and synchronize files between your design application and Twinmotion. Any changes you make to a project in your design application are synchronized and reflected in your Twinmotion project. If your design application supports the Direct Link Auto Sync feature, syncing is automatic. Otherwise, syncing is a one-click operation.

Multiple Direct Links can be created, allowing you to import and mix and match files from different applications into one Twinmotion project. For more information, refer to Setting Up Multiple Direct Links.

Datasmith Direct Link between an Archicad file and Twinmotion

The DirectLinkTextures Folder

When a Direct Link is created, a folder named DirectLinkTextures is created on your computer. The textures from the scene in your design application are exported and saved in this folder. During the Direct Link process, the textures in this folder are used as a reference for the textures in the original project.

By default, the DirectLinkTextures folder is created in: Users\[user name]\Documents\Twinmotion[version number]. To change the location of the folder, open the Preferences panel (Ctrl + P), and in the Settings tab, click Direct Link.

preferences-panel.png

Direct Link settings in the Preferences panel

This feature can be disabled by deselecting the Use Textures folder checkbox.

disable-textures-folder.png

Use textures folder checkbox

Disabling this feature can be useful if, for example, you want to do a quick one-off Direct Link connection for testing purposes only and don't need to save textures for future referencing. When this feature is disabled, the textures are saved in a temporary folder, instead of the dedicated DirectLinkTextures folder. As temporary folders are sometimes deleted by the operating system, the Direct Link connection might not be able to locate the textures the next time you open the file if you save them in a temporary folder.

  1. Download the Datasmith Exporter plugin for your design application.

    The plugins can be downloaded from the Twinmotion website, from the Supported Design Applications for Datasmith documentation page, or from your design application's website.

  2. Install the plugin for your design application.

    For information on how to install the Datasmith Exporter plugin for Archicad, Revit, Rhino, or SketchUp Pro refer to:

    Using Datasmith with Archicad

    Using Datasmith with Revit

    Using Datasmith with Rhino

    Using Datasmith with SketchUp Pro

  3. In your design application, open the scene that you want to use to set up a Datasmith Direct Link.

  4. In Twinmotion, click Import.

    Import icon

    The Import window opens.

    Import window

  5. In the Import window, select the Direct Link tab.

    Direct Link tab

    The filename of the scene from your design application appears in the Direct Link settings source field. If you have more than one design application open, all of the filenames of the scenes that are open appear in the Direct Link settings source dropdown. If this is the case, select the scene that you want to use.

    Direct Link file name

  6. Under Options, select the Direct Link importing options. For more information about the importing options, refer to Import Options below.

    Direct Link options

  7. Click Import. The content from your design application is imported into Twinmotion.

  8. In your design application, on the Datasmith Exporter toolbar, click Synchronize with Direct Link.

    Synchronize with Direct Link button

    Synchronize with Direct Link button in the Datasmith Exporter toolbar

    The Direct Link synchronization process starts, and the scene from your design application opens in Twinmotion.

    The time required for the synchronization process varies depending on the amount and complexity of the data that is being synchronized.

A Twinmotion project can have Direct Links to multiple design applications at the same time. You can create one Direct Link to each design application. If you need more than one Direct Link to the same design application, you must open a separate instance of the application for each Direct Link.

To set up multiple Direct Links, follow the steps in Setting Up a Datasmith Direct Link for each Direct Link you want to create.

Import Options

The table below shows the Import options available when importing files into Twinmotion using the Datasmith Direct Link workflow.

Option

Description

Collapse

Keep hierarchy

Select this option to retain the same geometry hierarchy that is used in your source file. In Twinmotion, all objects will be separate and have their own pivot point, so you can move and manipulate them independently. When you select this option, you can also view Building Information Modeling (BIM) information for each element in your scene.

This option is useful if you want to create phasing groups and scene states. All objects inside your scene will be separate, making it possible to hide and show them as needed.

Retaining hierarchy is also useful if your scene contains dummy objects that need to be replaced by Twinmotion objects, as you will need each object to be separate.

Note: Although keeping the hierarchy is sometimes necessary, selecting this option will increase the size of your scene in Twinmotion.

Collapse by material

This option optimizes the model for real-time rendering, as it reduces the number of objects that are imported into Twinmotion — all objects that use the same material are collapsed into one single group. If a material is modified on any of the objects in the group, it will also be modified on all objects in the group.

This is the recommended option and is selected by default.

Collapse all

Select this option to import objects or scenes as a whole. In Twinmotion, the entire object or scene will be grouped as one element and controlled by one pivot point only, making it easier to move, select, or delete, or to save in the User Library.

Max UV precision

Select this option to ensure that the UV map layouts projected on objects that are imported into Twinmotion are maintained accurately and with the maximum precision possible. Selecting this option can increase the amount of memory consumption during the import process.

Selecting the Max UV Precision option resolves most UV map precision issues. Some issues may not be resolved on import due to geometry issues originating in the 3D modeling process in the original design application.

Process

This setting determines whether lights are processed when imported into Twinmotion.

This option is only available when you first import a 3D model into Twinmotion; it is not available in the Direct Link Settings when resetting or reimporting a 3D model.

Direct Link settings for reset and reimport

All: Imports the light source and the geometry of the light. By default, this option is selected.

Meshes: Imports the geometry of the light only.

Light: Imports the light source only.

Light settings

When the Process option is set to either All or Light, this property determines the settings of imported Omnidirectional lights, Spot lights, and Area lights when imported into Twinmotion. These settings affect the imported light source only, and do not affect imported geometry.

Lights that are disabled when imported are not fully supported. They may not be imported, or the color of the light may change to black. There are some conversion inconsistencies when importing lights between design applications and Twinmotion.

Use original : The original lighting parameters such as intensity, color, angle, IES profile, and other compatible settings that were set in the design application are used.

Set intensity to 300lm: The original lighting parameters that were set in the design application are used, but the intensity of lights is set to 300lm.

Set all values to TM default : The lighting parameters are converted to Twinmotion default lighting parameters.

Enable substitution

Select this option if you want to enable material substitution. When importing or reimporting scenes, this option enables you to replace any material that is used in your source file with a Twinmotion material. The material substitutions are defined in a .csv file. This can be useful if your scene contains many objects and you want to simplify material changes by being able to apply the same material to many objects.

Note: This option can be used with any of the Collapse options.

Substitution table

The .csv file that defines the material substitutions that you want to make when importing or reimporting a scene.

By default, the .csv file is located in C:\Users[user name]\Documents\Twinmotion[version number].

Using the Direct Link Auto Sync Feature

To use Direct Link Auto Sync, you must have both your design application and Twinmotion open, with a Datasmith Direct Link set up between them.

  • To enable the Direct Link Auto Sync feature, click the Direct Link Auto Sync button in the Datasmith Exporter toolbar.

    In Archicad and SketchUp Pro, the background of the button switches to light blue when enabled.

    In Rhino, the appearance of the button remains the same when enabled or disabled. You can verify the status of the Direct Link Auto Sync feature in the command history window.

    Enabled

    Disabled

    Archicad and SketchUp Pro

    autosync-icon-on.png

    autosync-icon-off.png

    Rhino

    autosync-rhino-enabled.png

    autosync-rhino-disabled.png

Updating a Scene in Twinmotion

If you make changes to a 3D model in your design application that has a Direct Link set up with Twinmotion, you can update the scene in Twinmotion the next time you open it by synchronizing your design application and Twinmotion.

  1. In your design application, open the scene that needs to be updated in Twinmotion.

  2. In Twinmotion, open the scene you want to update.

    If the file name and location of the scene has not changed,

    Twinmotion automatically establishes a connection between the scene in Twinmotion and the scene in your design application.

    If the file name and location has changed,

    a broken link icon appears on the file name in the Import dock. If this occurs, click the ellipsis (...) above the file in the dock, and in the menu, select Direct Link Settings to locate the file.

  3. In your design application, press the Synchronize with Direct Link button on the Datasmith Exporter toolbar.

    The Direct Link feature updates the scene in Twinmotion with any changes that were made to the scene in your design application.

If you have made changes to materials or objects, or have deleted objects, you can reimport the original settings for these items only from your source file instead of doing a full reimport. In the Import dock, point your cursor above the scene icon, and select Reset transform on selection, Reset materials on selection, Reset properties on selection, or Reimport deleted objects.

Reset and reimport options

Note that if the link between your source file and Twinmotion is broken, you need to re-establish the link before selecting one of the options.

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