1.3 DATA/TOOLS – WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Here’s some information about the software and data you’ll need to follow these tutorials.
Since UE4 doesn’t natively support geographic data, you’ll need a few tools to help you overcome this. This series of tutorials also uses some 3rd party content from the UE4 market place – if you want to follow the steps exactly, you’ll need that too:
GIS (Geographic Information System) Software
To read/prepare GIS data for UE4, you’re going to need some GIS Software.
We like Global Mapper from Blue Marble Geographics, LLC. It’s intuitive to use and has loads of functionality to make life easier.
Global Mapper’s not free ($499), but there are freeware alternatives (e.g. Quantum GIS).
This tutorial uses an older version, Global Mapper 13, but you can mimic the processes in recent versions, QGIS, or similar.
Procedural Landscape Ecosystem – Blueprints/Materials:
Since the purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to import GIS data into UE4, we’re not focussing on generating meshes and materials – those used in this tutorial are from the UE4 market place.
The Procedural Landscape Ecosystem content from Gokhan Karadayi is awesome! We love it and we’re sure you will too. You can either purchase it from the UE4 market place, or create your own landscape materials and then follow the same processes.
There are loads of sources of GIS data around the world. Some are free, some are commercial.
High resolution GIS data is available for free for the US from public institutions, so we’re going to use that for this tutorial.
Digital Terrain Model Data:
There are two types of digital elevation model:
- Digital Surface Model (DSM) is the first surface the RADAR (or LIDAR) hits and includes trees, houses etc. We don’t want that.
- Digital Terrain Model (DTM) is the ‘bald terrain’, where surface features have been edited out. That’s the one we want.
Luckily the area we’re creating has 1m/pixel data available so we’ll use that.
Aerial/satellite imagery comes in varying resolutions.
UE4 wants you to match the resolution of the DTM, so we’ll get 1m imagery too.
Try to be selective about which aerial images you use. There are lots of sources of variable quality – the better the input data, the better the output. We’ll talk you though sourcing aerial photography from USGS in the next tutorial.
Road/Rail/Trail Vector Maps:
We need vector lines to show us where roads, rail and hiking trails should go.
Vectors should be high resolution and correlate with the DTM/aerial.
If you’re following the tutorial with your own data, great – you can skip the next bit.