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5.7 Assimp's generic import of models


Assimp, the Open Asset Import Library, is an open source library providing a generic interface to load 3D models and scenes from a huge list of different file formats, including 3ds Max, Wavefront, LightWave, Blender, COLLADA, Milkshape.

This library can import the meshes, the material properties, the skeletal animations, the lights, cameras and complete scenes. The support for vertex and morph animations is planned but not yet implemented. The support for all these properties is quite good but may still vary depending on the file format used. Therefore, if the results are not good while using a given format, you may try to export to another format in order to test and see the difference.

The Assimp plugin that has been implemented in Crystal Space is integrated completely transparently into the CS loader system, meaning that it allows you to load any asset file of one of the format supported, just like if it was a file of the Crystal Space format, therefore without any further need to manipulate or import previously the file.

Loader interfaces

Technically speaking, the Assimp plugin implements the iBinaryLoaderPlugin and iModelLoader interfaces of Crystal Space, as any other CS-specific loader plugin. Therefore, when the iLoader or iThreadedLoader are used to load a file, the Assimp plugin will be selected if it supports the file format. It will then analyze the file, and import the objects as genmeshes, animeshes or whole scenes depending on the loader interface that was used.

If the iModelLoader interface is used, then only one mesh will be created. If there is any skeleton or animation defined, then the mesh will be an Animesh, otherwise it will be a Genmesh. If the iBinaryLoaderPlugin is used, then a mesh factory will be created for all the meshes defined in the file.

Additionally, if a mesh defined in the file contains points or line segments, then an extra render mesh will be added to the main mesh (using iMeshFactoryWrapper::AddExtraRenderMesh()).


An example has been added in the ‘data’ directory with the ‘Seymour’ COLLADA animated test model. It is composed of one data file and one texture file that have been packed in a ZIP file in ‘CS/data/seymour.zip’. This model can be loaded in ‘viewmesh’ using the following command:

viewmesh -R=data/seymour.zip Seymour.dae

Morph targets

A problem that has been mentioned about the Assimp library is that it does not yet support the import of vertex and morph animations. To overcome this, some tools have been added to Crystal Space in order to load and merge an Animesh with its morph targets defined in several different files. See the dedicated section for more info on this.

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