Application to Epic Games Megagrants for the BlenderBIM Add-on



  • @duncan should be an official organization thet registered as an organization somewhere
    For instance, it seems that last year one of Megafunds went to USDZ project from Pixar

  • @duncan disregard what ReD_CoDE says. Anybody can apply to this Megagrant. It doesn't have to be an organization; individuals can apply just as companies. The FAQ doesn't mention anything about being restricted to organizations,

    • Do I have to be a business to receive a grant?
      No. Individuals are eligible and encouraged to apply.

    • Will single developers and small teams be treated differently than large studios or businesses?
      We strive for fairness and treat every project equally, regardless of who you are.

    So, independently of whether Moult's application is successful or not, I encourage other people to apply to this Megagrant if they already know what they want to do with the funding.

  • edited September 2020

    @JanF correct, if you supply command(s) related to SVG to DXF conversion (which I've provided one sample as a comment in the code) it'll convert SVG to DXF.

    The conversion depends on the commands supplied. In my test, it seems as though CSS and fonts do not carry through :( - the font outlines are carried through but not the font text itself, and the CSS hatching is lost. Boo :( I've asked the question if anybody knows of an existing solution here. Otherwise, we may need to fix it ourselves.

  • @vocx I asked before about this grunts, so unregistered organizations and also individuals can apply, but it's really hard to win a grant more than $25,000

  • IHMO, Godot should be a higher priority than unreal. Godot is open source.

  • @ReD_CoDE said:
    Have you seen Unreal projects in the AEC field?
    As said before, you don't know anything about AI, automation and control, and XR and I hope you be able to find funds

    About Unreal-, Godot have AR and VR, this is not just good for render and games porn, creating a plugin for Godot than add a GPS and Gyroscope, any user might replace Autodesk LayoutPoint, I mean anyone might user AR VR in the construction, for this we will require Open Source Hardware and App for tablets, smartphone, pc, glasses, etc.

  • edited September 2020

    Godot is still far from Unreal in terms of polish but it is definitely a tool we should be looking at, even beyond AR / VR, it's a great tool for building applications outside of the typical games it's known for. For example, here's a paint app built with Godot. I even tried my hands at a to-do-list app, aiming at a tool that can be used for site meeting minutes and building snag lists amongst other things. I probably should start a separate thread for it is.

  • An update: a meeting has been proposed for Monday 5th October 7pm Sydney timezone to discuss goals.

    Can't wait!

  • Just an update on this! The meeting went well! There were two attendees from Epic, as well as myself on the call. We discussed the (ambitious) goals of the project, and the possibilities of collaboration with Epic Games projects.

    The conclusion sounds promising. We have determined that there is definitely an opportunity to collaborate in terms of the IFC support in Datasmith, of which more of their audience is demanding support for metadata. Metadata in IFC is a hairy topic, so this is definitely something we can help with. This additional commitment raises the application submission from the original request of 15,000USD to 30,000USD. I personally see this as an advantage, as OpenBIM only works if the ecosystem grows with it. We also discussed the recent development of the buildingSMART 2020 Awards Finalist, as well as the release of Ladybug Tools. These have been added to the submission to help support the application.

    I have just resubmitted the application, and there is now a further waiting period. I'll keep everyone posted when I hear more!

    The revised application is quoted below in a separate post due to its length.

    Describe your project

    Note: this is a re-submission of an earlier application, as discussed with Ken Pimentel.

    The objective of the BlenderBIM Add-on project is to provide a complete free software workflow in an OpenBIM production pipeline in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. This is the ability to work from early feasibility and concept phase, project coordination, detailed design, fabrication & construction, facility management and building maintenance, post-occupancy evaluation, and tear-down. The AEC industry is currently proprietary dominated.

    The main software package is an add-on for Blender. It provides import and export support for the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) schema: the ISO standard of 2D/3D data + semantic metadata exchange in multiple formats (IFC-SPF, IFCXML, IFCJSON, IFCZIP). It also provides import and export support of BCF (BIM Collaboration Format), the standard for design coordination in AEC. Apart from file IO, it supports the relevant workflows of authoring and analysing building models, including semantic classifications and properties, classification system integration (e.g. Uniclass), clash / collision detection, data cleanup, CSV scheduling, quantity take-off calculation tools and costing, 2D drawing and construction documentation generation, diffing files, construction sequencing, automated quality audits, COBie facility management, lighting simulation, structural analysis, energy modeling, and parametric constraints. Much of its functionality is also additionally provided as standalone headless Unix-style utilities, which are shared with other free software projects like FreeCAD, and XeoKit. Similarly, the underlying library IfcOpenShell which provides schema parsing is shared between many free software projects, of which we contribute to.

    I have successfully (but painfully) used it to deliver a small 250sqm highly bespoke building from concept design to fabrication and construction - including all drawings, construction sequencing, and scheduling. The add-on is currently being used in some aspects of large infrastructure projects in Sydney, including quality auditing, clash detection, and facility management data preparation. The project has seen publication in AECMag (alongside an open letter from UK architects to current proprietary monopoly Autodesk), BlenderNation, and has started a growing community called of AEC professionals in various disciplines, looking to use more free software in architecture, engineering and construction. There are now 400 forum members in half a year.

    In addition to providing features equivalent to (and exceeding) existing proprietary software, the BlenderBIM Add-on project aims to be different in two ways. First, they will be highly modular, allowing users to mix and match to create their own pipelines without lock-in to a platform / GUI / vendor tailored to their needs, and easily modify or extend the pipeline if it does not suit their needs. Secondly, the tools will uphold the highest standards possible of open data standards, exchange, and interoperability conventions, allowing us to integrate data across disciplines to make wiser decisions in the design and management of the built environment. It is currently observed that the lack of robust integration between disciplines is a factor in poor design of the built environment.

    The BlenderBIM Add-on project has recently been nominated as a buildingSMART 2020 Awards Finalist for the Technical Excellence category. buildingSMART is the organisation behind ISO standards for BIM data. The BlenderBIM Add-on project has also recently released a much awaited port of the Ladybug Tools for building physics and environmental analysis, providing the first full free software stack for these incredibly popular environmental design tools.

  • ... continued ...

    Describe your next steps

    Note: this is a re-submission of an earlier application, as discussed with Ken Pimentel.

    There is no shortage of other things to work on (see commit log), but I have identified three shortcomings that when solved are likely to have the highest impact on the AEC industry, and without dedicated attention would likely take a very long time to be resolved. The three are: reliability, drawing generation, and data specification compliance. In addition, there will be a fourth overall category required to support the first three, as well as with an additional focus on consulting for the Datasmith support of IFC.

    In summary, they are:

    1. Building test suites for ensuring geometric conversion reliability
    2. Drawing generation support
    3. ISO specification compliance
    4. Consultation of Datasmith IFC ingestion, potential collaboration of workflows with the BlenderBIM Add-on, and supplementary tasks

    These four initiatives (totalling 30,000USD) will be primarily done by three core developers (Johan, Thomas, and Dion (myself) respectively) - who will focus on our respective areas of expertise. Throughout this process, we will also engage with the open source AEC community ( to ensure that we are on track. The details are provided in the next question.

    The successful receiving of funding will also help achieve a goal of the OSArch community - where we hope that FOSS tools in AEC can be sustainably resourced, and not purely depend on volunteers. It will also help signal to the currently proprietary market that FOSS in AEC is a growing field, and support future partnerships with AEC firms.

    This application grant was done in a transparent manner, in consultation with the OSArch community:

    How are funds to be used

    Note: this is a re-submission of an earlier application, as discussed with Ken Pimentel.

    1. Reliability: Geometry in IFC is procedural and complex, therefore error-prone. Geometry issues can lead to wrong quantities and distrust in models and project partners. We will build a comprehensive test suite for IfcOpenShell and OpenCASCADE to ensure stable geometry processing for all dependent FOSS projects. 6000USD

    Under the hood of the BlenderBIM Add-on, FreeCAD, BIMSurfer, and many other free software that builds technology for BIM is a reliance on a library called IfcOpenShell based on OpenCASCADE, which does geometry processing. This geometry processing is highly fundamental and complex, especially given the diversity of datasets in the industry. To ensure that a stable foundation exists for all AEC FOSS projects in the future that deal with IFC BIM data, we need to complete building a test suite with a continuous integration server for different build environments, along with a way to continuously check geometry processing errors.

    Without this investment, in the future we are likely to run into stability problems that shake the reliability of many AEC FOSS projects simultaneously.

    Work has already started by Johan, one of the main IfcOpenShell developers, but there are hardware costs involved, as well as man-hour costs required to finish the job. Tasks include:

    • Result browsing and filtering, graph plotting
    • Visualization in web viewer
    • Metric calculation, e.g. group types of errors
    • Extract details from IfcConvert log files
    • Web-based presentation e.g CSS files
    • Interactive and continuous processing of new commits
    1. Drawing generation: The AEC industry operates largely on sectional drawings and symbology for execution and communication because the notation enables experts to quickly consume the information. We will re-engineer the C++ IFC to SVG serialiser for construction drawing generation so that it can be accessed via Python, adding multithreaded support, improved caching, standardised interfaces, and optimised data handling. 4000USD

    A fundamental feature in AEC is the conversion of 3D geometry to 2D construction drawings. Various approaches have already been attempted that do this conversion to varying quality. To finalise this feature requires consolidating these approaches into a C++ library that focuses just on this task. This will form the foundation of all drawing generation in the future, across multiple FOSS projects.

    This task is difficult as it requires specific domain knowledge of IFC geometry and an understanding of the OpenCASCADE geometry kernel with its many quirks and workarounds. Costs will sponsor man-hours directly.

    1. Specification compliance: reliable data exchange between disciplines / fields in the AEC rely on compliance to OpenBIM and ISO open data format specifications. We will add support for at least 80% of the IFC specification via the BlenderBIM Add-on. 5000USD

    The BlenderBIM Add-on currently supports 69% of the concepts described by the IFC specification. In order for Blender to be useful as a tool not just by architects, but also for mechanical, electrical, fire, engineering, environmental analysis, and structural analysis, it needs to be able to consume the metadata required in the lesser known aspects of the IFC specification.

    Time invested specifically in implementing the specification will mean that in the future, Blender will have the fundamentals already implemented when more non-architectural disciplines want to use free software, and we can focus instead on workflows and polishing the user experience. This investment will dramatically increase the potential and usefulness of Blender as a tool in AEC. Costs will support man-hours.

    1. Consultation and review with Epic Games on the IFC metadata capabilities of Datasmith and Unreal Engine, and all supplementary development required for the project. 15,000USD.

    The first three are highly targeted tasks, whereas the fourth is to support all supplementary development required to ensure that the software works well with user workflows. There will also be an additional focus on helping review and consult for IFC support in the Datasmith and Unreal Engine platform. High quality IFC ingestion is rare, and only works if the ecosystem supports it well. We can help ensure that the translation is of a high quality. If opportunities arise for the BlenderBIM Add-on to be involved in a workflow to integrate with Datasmith and Unreal, these will also be pursued.

  • Were Epic proposing that Datasmith uses the IFC file generated from BlenderBIM or that Datasmith could be used in Blender directly with the data on objects (applied using BlenderBIM)?

  • edited October 2020

    @Bedson both options were discussed (note: Datasmith already has IFC support). Initially, my impression was that in the former, IFC files coming from the BlenderBIM Add-on should ideally be no different from coming from any other platform, so I wasn't sure what value would be provided. In the latter, I saw risks in a double translation which would lead to data loss.

    Upon further reflection, also thanks to @aothms - I realise that there could be more value than what I first saw. In the former, IFC files coming from the BlenderBIM Add-on could help ensure quality where other proprietary vendors would be slow on the uptake, and also in the latter, despite a double translation, there could be value in using Blender as an intermediate step in a workflow where artists would want to modify things prior to ingestion.

    Time will tell. I have never used Datasmith, Unreal, or Twinmotion personally, so I suspect upon using these tools first hand, the true nature of the integration would emerge.

  • I have used data Smith, unreal and twin motion and I can tell that if you and Epic will support seamless IFC conversion from BlenderBIM to the epic games products, blenderBIM will boost (and Epic too) in the AEC world.

    Currently presentation or renders is a not so straight forward part of a BIM process. It is one that is making me halt to enter a BIM process myself. There are people using all kind of workarounds and using software like blender, SketchUp, 3dstudio and others to try to translate their bim models into rendering software. Sometimes editions in those modellers (texturing, ies lighting, entourage, special objects modelling,...) would be benefitial if it could be pushed back to the original bim modelling software via some compatible format, without loss of data or already with the correspondent classifications in place.

    Not having common ground between apps and treating BIM models only as geometry, with loss of IFC data and without possibility for interchange is a major headache.

    Besides that, rendering as well as virtual reality are getting through all the way to construction sites. Some rendering software like escape, minion and twin motion are handling or starting to handle IFC metadata to create richer presentations in VR, for instance. Having a streamlines process between rendering apps (mainly VR) and IFC might open several doors for BlenderBIM.

    There is opportunity there for you and, of course, Epic too.

  • @JQL Unreal natively supports IFC import, so you can render or do whatever you want in UE from BIM assets ported in Unreal

  • Also, Datasmith is just a validator, to ensure that data ported into UE are valid, and don't break the rules

  • Unreal isn't the only app on their ecosystem and it can evolve too. Also, unreal will probably suffer from the non standardization of IFC export from proprietary software, hence it's interesting to have a standard it can adhere too. Blender is also widely used by Unreal users so they should be very familiar with it. I can see no bad points on them supporting BlenderBIM, and I hope they do.

  • Just a heads up that this is still in progress, received this in the mail. Ping @aothms .

    Dear Dion,
    Thank you for your application to Epic MegaGrants. We are reviewing your grant application for the project "BlenderBIM Add-on", but we need a bit more time to make a decision. We thank you for your patience and will aim to have a response to you as soon as possible.

    • The Epic MegaGrants team
  • But, how much is it?

  • 15k. The proposal to integrate with UE / Datasmith was turned down.

  • @Moult said:
    15k. The proposal to integrate with UE / Datasmith was turned down.


  • Nice Congrats!

  • Very nice and deserved! Congratulations!

  • Nice~ This grant will be a important funding for openBIM industry

  • edited May 26

    Maybe I am wrong, but I think this is the first time that a Blender addon gets financial support from a big company. This could mean a interesting precedent for other addons around Blender ecosystem.

  • Unreal! (Yes pun intended!) Congratulations to Dion and all involved that made this happen.

  • Congratulations to all involved!

  • It might seem trivial but it is important that we go in and promote our activities on social media. Love it or hate it - it's a great way to get the word out about what we're doing.

  • That's awesome! Congratulations!

  • great news! already shared on linkedin! congrats @Moult!

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