Working with MotionBuilder in 3ds Max - Part 1 - Introduction

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Industry
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
Subject
  • Character
  • 2011
  • Character Animation
  • Character Effects
  • Workflow
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Advanced
Duration
9 min

Working with MotionBuilder in 3ds Max - Part 1 - Introduction

Autodesk MotionBuilder is a powerful real-time 3d character animation program where you can quickly rig and animate characters into full-body FK/IK manipulations. In this 5-part series, you learn about the interoperability of MotionBuilder with 3ds Max, and what you need to know and do to ensure a seamless operation between the two programs. In this introductory tutorial, learn the basic concepts and workflow for MotionBuilder.


Notes

  • Recorded in: Motionbuilder 2011, 3ds Max 2011
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2011 or higher.

Transcript

00:00:01 --> 00:00:06
Autodesk Motionbuilder is a powerful, specialized Character Animation tool.

00:00:06 --> 00:00:14
Motionbuilder is all about Character Animation, nothing more. There is no
modeling, photo-realistic rendering or any advanced texturing tools.

00:00:14 --> 00:00:23
Because it is so specialized, it is meant to be used as a central hub for
animating models created in other 3d applications, such as 3ds Max or Maya.

00:00:24 --> 00:00:32
The idea is to import a character from these applications, rig it and
animate it in Motionbuilder, then export it back out for final render.

00:00:32 --> 00:00:37
Motionbuilder has many areas of strength, in particular the way
it handles Motion Capture.

00:00:38 --> 00:00:42
Even if you are new to the application itself, you have already seen
its capabilities on the big screen.

00:00:43 --> 00:00:51
Every time you've gone to see a movie that relies heavily on digitally
animated 3D characters, chances are Motionbuilder was a part of the process.

00:00:52 --> 00:01:01
Many blockbusters like the Matrix and Lord of the Rings trilogies,
King Kong and Avatar among many others, made extensive use of Motionbuilder.

00:01:01 --> 00:01:07
In this movie, you explore some of the basic concepts and areas
of the interface so you know your way around.

00:01:08 --> 00:01:12
Remember that this movie series is not an extensive tutorial
on how to use Motionbuilder.

00:01:13 --> 00:01:20
It is to understand the workflow between 3ds Max and Motionbuilder,
and what you need to know to seamlessly operate the two together.

00:01:20 --> 00:01:26
When you install and launch Motionbuilder the first time,
you immediately notice the screen requirements.

00:01:26 --> 00:01:31
Motionbuilder has a lot of windows, and therefore needs a lot
of screen real estate.

00:01:31 --> 00:01:35
The default layout for the various windows is called the Editing layout.

00:01:36 --> 00:01:42
Fortunately, you can re-arrange your windows and save them into a layout
that works best for your screen resolution.

00:01:56 --> 00:02:04
In this case, two layouts have been created to accommodate
the 1600x900 resolution used to capture this movie.

00:02:04 --> 00:02:13
One layout emulates the default Editing layout in a smaller scale,
the other has been rearranged to favor a larger Viewer window.

00:02:13 --> 00:02:20
To open or merge a file in Motionbuilder, you can use the File menu
or the Asset Browser.

00:02:20 --> 00:02:24
There are many samples in the Tutorials folder that you can experiment with.

00:02:25 --> 00:02:29
Drag the mia_blue character to the viewer. Choose the FBX Open option.

00:02:30 --> 00:02:35
This character is not animated yet, so you can choose
the No Animation option to open the file.

00:02:35 --> 00:02:38
Mia appears in the viewer in a T-Stance pose.

00:02:39 --> 00:02:45
A few words about screen navigation: you can use Ctrl+Shift+LMB
to orbit around,

00:02:47 --> 00:02:49
Shift+LMB to Pan,

00:02:50 --> 00:02:54
and Ctrl+LMB to dolly in and out.

00:02:55 --> 00:03:02
Furthermore, you can press A to frame all objects in the scene,
or F to frame selected objects.

00:03:03 --> 00:03:10
The windows are contextual in Motionbuilder. In order for these hotkeys
to work, your cursor needs to be hovering over the viewer.

00:03:11 --> 00:03:14
A double-click in an empty area deselects all objects.

00:03:15 --> 00:03:22
Ctrl+W switches you to a Schematic View where the navigation hotkeys
mentioned a moment ago work the same way.

00:03:26 --> 00:03:28
Ctrl+E takes you back to the Perspective View.

00:03:29 --> 00:03:32
There is one last hotkey to mention that you will find useful.

00:03:32 --> 00:03:40
Ctrl+A is a toggle to switch between Normal viewing mode,
Models Only mode where the skeleton and other helpers are hidden,

00:03:41 --> 00:03:47
and X-Ray mode where you see the skeleton bones overlaid on top
of the body for easier selection.

00:03:47 --> 00:03:52
Remember that the cursor must be hovering inside the Viewer window
for these hotkeys to work.

00:03:53 --> 00:03:58
At this time you are looking at a female model that was skinned
against a bone skeleton.

00:03:58 --> 00:04:06
As it stands, this scene could have been imported from any 3D application
capable of producing a mesh and a bone structure, such as 3ds Max.

00:04:07 --> 00:04:13
However, Motionbuilder needs to take that combo package of mesh and bones
and turn it into something it can understand.

00:04:14 --> 00:04:19
This process is called "Characterizing" in Motionbuilder.
It is essentially a fancy word for Rigging.

00:04:20 --> 00:04:25
Make sure the Viewer is in XRay mode and go to Templates > Characters.

00:04:25 --> 00:04:31
Drag the Character icon to any of Mia's bones in the viewer
and choose the Characterize option.

00:04:32 --> 00:04:36
Choose the Biped option from the dialog that appears,
Mia being a 2-legged human.

00:04:37 --> 00:04:45
That's it! That's all it takes to rig a character in Motionbuilder. No need
for any fancy constraints, additional helpers or mathematical formulas.

00:04:46 --> 00:04:53
It almost sounds too good to be true, and it is; even if there are some
rules to follow, which you will discover as you view this movie series.

00:04:54 --> 00:04:58
At this point, you still need to tell Motionbuilder how you want
to animate this character.

00:04:58 --> 00:05:03
Options include simple keyframing or retargeting to a Motion Capture file.

00:05:03 --> 00:05:07
For simple keyframing of the limbs, you need a Control Rig.

00:05:08 --> 00:05:13
This can be selected from Character Controls > Edit > Control Rig.

00:05:13 --> 00:05:19
You are then prompted for the type, choose FK/IK. This option gives you
the most flexibility.

00:05:19 --> 00:05:23
Activate the Control Rig to get access to the character selection tool.

00:05:24 --> 00:05:30
There, you can easily select any animatable limb, even if you set
your viewer to Model Only.

00:05:31 --> 00:05:39
To make it easier to see which limb is selected, use the Translate tool.
This is essentially the Move tool in Motionbuilder terminology.

00:05:39 --> 00:05:47
You can also access Transform tools by pressing T for Translate,
R for Rotate, and S for Scale.

00:05:47 --> 00:05:51
Remember to keep your cursor over the Viewer when you use these hotkeys.

00:05:52 --> 00:05:56
In Translate mode, move Mia's left hand slightly in X & Y.

00:05:57 --> 00:06:02
Notice that when you go beyond an arm's length, how the full body reacts
to the motion.

00:06:02 --> 00:06:06
This makes it easy to place your character in any pose you want.

00:06:24 --> 00:06:30
If you want, you can even Pin limbs so that they remain static
when the rest of the body is in motion.

00:06:31 --> 00:06:35
To select multiple limbs, use the Ctrl key.

00:06:36 --> 00:06:39
You can then choose to pin them in Translation,

00:06:45 --> 00:06:48
or/and in rotation.

00:06:58 --> 00:07:02
The Reference node enables you to move the character
to a different location.

00:07:03 --> 00:07:06
This is a brief introduction on how to use the Control Rig.

00:07:06 --> 00:07:10
Another way of animating a character is by using Motion Retargeting.

00:07:11 --> 00:07:12
Set the Viewer to XRay mode.

00:07:13 --> 00:07:17
From the Tutorials folder, drag the IceSlip file into the Viewer.

00:07:18 --> 00:07:21
Choose FBX Merge > IceSlip.

00:07:23 --> 00:07:29
A yellow skeleton appears. It is animated to take a few steps,
then to slip and fall.

00:07:29 --> 00:07:33
You can use this animation to drive another character.

00:07:34 --> 00:07:38
Merge the Gremlin character in with No Animation.

00:07:38 --> 00:07:43
Unlike the Mia model, this gremlin has already been characterized
and is ready for animation.

00:07:44 --> 00:07:47
However, you will not use a Control Rig here.

00:07:47 --> 00:07:53
To make the Gremlin follow the skeleton, choose the Gremlin character
in the Character Controls window.

00:07:53 --> 00:07:58
Choose Edit > Input > Skeleton 2.

00:07:58 --> 00:08:01
The Gremlin now moves like the yellow skeleton.

00:08:01 --> 00:08:06
Because of its size, the gremlin takes smaller steps to accommodate
the motion.

00:08:07 --> 00:08:11
This is another area of strength that you have in Motionbuilder.

00:08:21 --> 00:08:26
You can even scale your character up & down in real-time
and see how the animation adjusts to that change.

00:08:26 --> 00:08:35
In the next movie, you'll learn a few rules of thumb pertaining
to character setups using bone skeletons in 3ds Max,
prior to export to Motionbuilder.
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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Character
  • 2011
  • Character Animation
  • Character Effects
  • Workflow
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