How to Animate a Character With
Your Complete Step-By-Step Guide to Animating Your Character With Motion Capture
Get a behind the scenes look as I walk you step-by-step through a complete animation project in MotionBuilder.
You'll learn everything you need to know to animate your character with motion capture: from exporting your character into MotionBuilder, to importing the finished animation back onto your character - exactly as you would in a professional studio.
Each lesson is packed with all the production ready tips, tricks and shortcuts you'll need to help you overcome the challenges you’ll face – even if you’ve never used MotionBuilder before!
- We'll start with the most important bit, how to get a character into MotionBuilder.
- Then in MotionBuilder, the most overlooked but equally important, how to set up your character to make it easier to work with.
- Once we've got everything optimised, we'll look at how to T-pose and characterize a character in MotionBuilder using 2 different techniques:
- First we'll use the manual approach and rotate Jess into a perfect T-Pose and then use drag-and-drop to complete the Character Mapping.
- Then we'll use a faster automated approach to T-pose an Unreal Mannequin and Unreal MetaHuman using IK, and then automagically complete the Character Mapping using a Skeleton Template File (included in the course).
- Next, we'll learn how to transfer motion capture to a character using the 2 most common types or mocap data: optical (Vicon, Motion Analysis, Opti-Track ) and skeleton (Xsens, Rokoko, Perception Neuron).
- The last thing to do is plot the data to our character and import the animation onto our character in our favourite DCC software of choice.
- Once you've mastered the process using an FK character rig, we'll do it again using a more common IK character animation rig.
- Then, to take things to next level, we'll dive even deeper into MotionBuilder's Character Settings and look at how to map human motion onto a non-human character.
- When you know how to get motion capture onto your character, the next thing to do is learn how to quickly and easily realign mocap in your scene.
- Finally, we'll learn how to use MotionBuilder's Story Tool to split takes containing multiple actions into separate files.
Get these steps right and not only will you save time, money, and frustration...But, you’ll also have more time to transform your motion capture into believable, life-like character animation.
Hi, I’m Simon Kay
Since 2000 I've used MotionBuilder to animate everything from highly trained special agents to planet defending robots at some of the leading video game, motion capture and visual effects studios in the world.
I've used it at ever stage of the production process: from building pipelines, tools and test animations in preproduction; to retargeting, clean-up and editing thousands of animations for video games and films.
What I want to teach you here are all the MotionBuilder tips, tricks and tools I've learned along the way that will actually make a difference, so you can spend less time fixing mocap and more time animating characters.
One of the first projects I worked on was a PlayStation 2 game based on the TV series Alias. To make the game more “NextGen”, the character’s movements needed to be as lifelike as possible, so we decided to use motion capture.
As the lead (actually, only) animator on the project, I needed to find the best software for working with this type of data.
Enter, MotionBuilder... or Kaydara FilmBoX as it was called back then.
Now all I had to do was learn how to use the software… while using it to create all the in-game animations… on a project that had already started… before we went on our first mocap shoot...
Suddenly I had a LOT of questions:
- How do you rig a character for motion capture?
- How do you get that character into MotionBuilder?
- How and when do you transfer the mocap to it?
- Why doesn’t it look right when you do?
- How do you get the animation back onto your character?
- And where does all this even fit into your pipeline?
When Alias shipped in 2004, I’d used MotionBuilder to create over 1,000 in-game animations. I learned a lot about how it works and what you can and can’t do with motion capture
Since then I’ve use MotionBuilder on hundreds of different projects at some of the leading video game, motion capture and visual effects studios.
This experience has given me a unique insight into what makes a reliable and efficient workflow that will transfer motion capture onto a character cleanly and accurately, on any sized project in any industry.
And this is the workflow I want to share with you today...
How to Animate a Character With Motion Capture
- Install ue4template.xml Skeleton Definition File
- Mannequin | T-Pose using IK (1:04)
- Mannequin | T-Pose Left Leg using IK (3:51)
- Mannequin | T-Pose Right Leg using IK (1:59)
- Mannequin | T-Pose Left Arm using IK (3:36)
- Mannequin | T-Pose Right Arm using IK (1:27)
- Mannequin | Automatic Character Mapping (0:39)
- Mannequin | Clean-up And Test (1:17)
- MetaHuman | T-Pose using IK (0:16)
- MetaHuman | T-Pose Left Leg using IK (2:12)
- MetaHuman | T-Pose Left Arm using IK (2:59)
- MetaHuman | Automatic Character Mapping (0:47)
- Rig Clean Up (3:59)
- T-Pose Arms Using IK (4:51)
- When it's Better NOT to T-Pose Fingers (0:42)
- Characterizing Non-Human Legs (5:19)
- Mapping Human to Non-Human Characters (2:08)
- Adjust Character Offsets (1:37)
- Setup Floor Contacts (2:53)
- Map Character Driven Mocap (4:22)
- Fix Knees (5:13)
- Adjust Stride Length (2:01)
...but what if I don't have a character or any motion capture?
The course also includes all the resources you see me using in the videos so you can follow along!
Jess Character Rig
- jess_maya2019.ma - The Maya 2019 version of the Jess FK character animation rig you can use to play along from the start.
- jess_export_v001.fbx - The MotionBuilder version of Jess to join in if you're not starting in Maya.
- jess_CHARACTERIZED_v001.fbx - The Characterized version of Jess you can compare your work with - or skip to, I wont judge...
- jess_ik_maya2019.ma - The Maya 2019 version of the Jess IK character rig.
- jess_ik_export_v001.fbx - The exported MotionBuilder version of the Jess IK character rig.
High Quality Mocap Data
- Female_walk_forward.fbx - High quality skeleton motion capture data.
- RangeOfMotion.trc - High quality optical motion capture data.
PLUS, loads more...
- Unreal Character Template XML - to automatically complete the Character Mapping for Unreal Characters - including MetaHumans
- How To Rig Character For MotionBuilder - My complete guide to rigging a character for MotionBuilder.
- MotionBuilder Keyboard Shortcuts - Keyboard shortcuts for MotionBuilder, Maya and 3DS Max "Inter Action Modes" in MotionBuilder.
- Motion Editing in MotionBuilder - This is everything I wish I knew when I started using MotionBuilder.
...but what if English isn't my first language?
Every video is captioned and available to download as a PDF to refer to whenever you need it.
"...but what if I get stuck?"
don't worry...every lecture has it's own Comments section so you can ask a question or check if it's already been answered.
"This course gave me, a complete newbie, a solid foundation in Motion Builder in a week!!!"
"I was a complete newbie at MotionBuilder (literally just installed it) and wanted to learn how to use it. I spent over two weeks trying to understand the tutorials Autodesk had, including their videos, however none of them were helping me. And I came up short on YouTube as the videos I found were either too advanced or too basic.
I finally came across this course. After watching the preview video for it, I did not hesitate and signed up immediately. It took me a week to take it. It is split up into small segments which is very helpful because I could keep going over certain parts until I mastered them.
What was beyond helpful is that the site the course is on, allowed for me to make comments in each segment, and I received replies to my questions and comments quickly, so that nothing was holding me back from proceeding with the course."
- Gabriella K
- Virtual Production Artist
This course is for you if…
- You’ve been using Max or Maya and want to add MotionBuilder to your work workflow.
- You’re planning to use MotionBuilder on your next project, but aren’t sure how it fits in.
- You’d like to see how MotionBuilder is used in the games or film industry.
- MotionBuilder has been recommended to you, but you don’t know where to start.
- You have some motion capture you want to use to animate your character.
- Your mocap data looks great, but somehow feels like it’s losing something in MotionBuilder.
- Your character stays still when you import the mocap from MotionBuilder.
- You don’t want to use the MotionBuilder naming convention for your character rig.
- You feel like MotionBuilder’s workflow is so abstract you’re struggling with everything you’ve tried so far.
You need to do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
Frequently Asked Questions
When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
Will this work with other software than Maya?
Yes. Although I'm using Maya, the FBX Exporter is the same in all 3D software. The Import and Export settings should work exactly the same