Working with MotionBuilder in 3ds Max - Part 2 - Max Bones

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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 2 - Max Bones

In this tutorial, you will create a skeleton in 3ds Max in preparation for further work in MotionBuilder. After you animate the skeleton in MotionBuilder, you will import the animation back to 3ds Max for rendering.


Notes

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

Transcript

00:00:00 --> 00:00:04
When you want to animate a character, you essentially need two things:

00:00:04 --> 00:00:10
The first is a mesh object for visuals and for rendering purposes.
This is what defines your character as your eyes perceive it.

00:00:11 --> 00:00:17
The second requirement is a skeleton that drives the mesh.
This, in fact, is what you need to animate.

00:00:17 --> 00:00:21
The mesh itself can be built in a variety of ways
and requires knowledge of modeling and texturing.

00:00:22 --> 00:00:25
This will not be covered here as this movie set is about animation.

00:00:26 --> 00:00:30
The creation of a skeleton however, is what concerns us at this time.

00:00:30 --> 00:00:37
There are essentially three skeleton systems you can use in 3ds Max:
Max Bones, Biped and CAT.

00:00:38 --> 00:00:43
In this movie, you'll learn the workflow in using Max Bones
to build a skeleton that can be animated in Motionbuilder.

00:00:44 --> 00:00:47
You will learn about Biped and CAT skeletons in later movies.

00:00:48 --> 00:00:56
This scene named Mia_Bones that you downloaded for this tutorial shows
a girl in a T-Stance pose and facing the -Y axis.

00:00:56 --> 00:01:00
These are important requirements to go from 3ds Max to Motionbuilder.

00:01:00 --> 00:01:05
A bone skeleton was created to match the anatomy of this girl named Mia.

00:01:05 --> 00:01:10
The bone skeleton was created using the Max Bones tool,
found in the Systems panel.

00:01:11 --> 00:01:15
Bone structures were then created for the various limbs.

00:01:17 --> 00:01:25
Using the Bone Tools floater, fins were adjusted to help with the skinning
and colors were changed to help with the visuals.

00:01:40 --> 00:01:48
Next, limb names were renamed from the generic Bone001, Bone002…
to a naming convention that Motionbuilder can understand.

00:01:49 --> 00:01:55
This naming convention is very important to follow if you wish
to streamline the interoperability with MotionBuilder.

00:01:55 --> 00:02:03
If you watched the first movie in this series, you would have noticed
how easy it was to rig or "characterize" a skeleton in Motionbuilder.

00:02:03 --> 00:02:09
This was easy only because the skeleton was named according
to the naming convention recognized by Motionbuilder.

00:02:09 --> 00:02:16
If you need to export multiple characters (and multiple skeletons),
you can give the skeleton's bones a prefix.

00:02:17 --> 00:02:25
Select the objects that make up the skeleton, all bones and the helper
for the pelvis, and choose the Rename Objects tool from the Tools menu.

00:02:26 --> 00:02:32
Ensure only the Prefix option is enabled and enter a prefix name
followed by a colon.

00:02:32 --> 00:02:41
The colon is a separator. Internally, Motionbuilder is just reading
the bone names that come after the colon,
while the prefix prevents name duplication.

00:02:41 --> 00:02:45
Click Rename to rename the skeleton limbs.

00:02:48 --> 00:02:53
If you were building this skeleton to animate this character in 3ds Max,
you'd need to rig it.

00:02:53 --> 00:02:59
At this time, although there is a hierarchy in the bones system,
there are no constraints to make the skeleton behave properly.

00:03:00 --> 00:03:04
Rigging a fully-articulated bone skeleton in 3ds Max is no easy task.

00:03:04 --> 00:03:10
It usually requires the addition of IK solvers, 2D manipulators
and other scripts and expressions.

00:03:10 --> 00:03:18
However, if your purpose is to animate the character using Motionbuilder,
then you do not need to worry about any rigging process in 3ds Max.

00:03:19 --> 00:03:21
You do need to skin your mesh to its skeleton though.

00:03:22 --> 00:03:25
Select the mesh and apply a Skin Modifier.

00:03:28 --> 00:03:32
Add all of the skeleton elements as skin bones.

00:03:35 --> 00:03:40
Normally, you would want to fine-tune the skin
but we won't worry about that for now.

00:03:43 --> 00:03:47
Simply export the file to disk, choosing the default FBX option.

00:03:48 --> 00:03:52
Choose an export folder and give your file the name Mia_Bones.

00:03:53 --> 00:03:57
In the dialog that appears, you can choose what information
to store in your fbx file.

00:03:57 --> 00:04:03
For this scene, the only option you need to ensure is checked is the
Embed Media option.

00:04:04 --> 00:04:08
This ensures the texture applied to the Mia mesh is included
in the fbx file.

00:04:08 --> 00:04:10
Click OK to save the fbx file.

00:04:11 --> 00:04:15
Start Motionbuilder and open the file you just saved to disk.

00:04:18 --> 00:04:23
With the cursor over the viewer, press Ctrl+A
until the viewer is in X-Ray mode.

00:04:26 --> 00:04:33
From the Asset Browser, under Templates > Characters,
drag the Character icon to one of the skeleton bones in the Viewer.

00:04:34 --> 00:04:37
Choose Characterize > Biped to rig your character.

00:04:38 --> 00:04:43
The process is easy enough as you can see,
but only because you properly named your bones in 3ds Max.

00:04:44 --> 00:04:50
At this point, you can enable the Control Rig in full FK/IK mode
to animate your character.

00:04:55 --> 00:04:59
You can also retarget Mia onto an existing Motion Capture file.

00:04:59 --> 00:05:03
From the Tutorials folder, drag the Punch file into the viewer.

00:05:04 --> 00:05:06
Merge the Punch sequence into the current scene.

00:05:07 --> 00:05:12
A new, yellow skeleton appears in the scene and is already animated
to throw a punch.

00:05:17 --> 00:05:24
In the Character Controls window, under Edit, switch from
Control Rig Input to PunchGuy Input.

00:05:25 --> 00:05:27
Now Mia is animated to throw a punch.

00:05:28 --> 00:05:32
Of course, the idea is to take that information back to 3ds Max,
for rendering purposes.

00:05:33 --> 00:05:39
However, at this time, Mia's animation is dependent
on the motion capture file you added to the Motionbuilder scene.

00:05:39 --> 00:05:46
In order to export back the information to 3ds Max,
you first need to "bake" Mia's animation to the skeleton.

00:05:46 --> 00:05:51
The information has to be baked in Forward Kinematics mode,
mostly as rotational information.

00:05:52 --> 00:05:57
The process of baking the information is called "Plot",
in Motionbuilder terminology.

00:05:58 --> 00:06:01
This is done by choosing Edit > Plot Character.

00:06:01 --> 00:06:06
Plot the animation to the skeleton in order to export it back to 3ds Max.

00:06:06 --> 00:06:10
Accept the default parameters; they work well in most situations.

00:06:10 --> 00:06:19
If you wish, you can save Mia's animation separately, instead of saving the
full scene which also includes the Motion Capture file and its own skeleton.

00:06:20 --> 00:06:23
This is done by choosing File > Save Character Animation.

00:06:24 --> 00:06:30
Give your new file a name, for example, Mia_Bones_animated.FBX

00:06:38 --> 00:06:42
Back in 3ds Max, where we last left Mia in a T-Stance pose.

00:06:43 --> 00:06:48
Choose File > Import, navigate to where you saved the animated file
and select it.

00:06:48 --> 00:06:54
In the File content drop-down menu, make sure the Update scene elements
option is selected.

00:06:55 --> 00:07:02
This ensures it only updates the animated state of objects
that have the same name, in this case, all skeleton elements.

00:07:03 --> 00:07:06
Click OK to import the animation and watch it unfold.

00:07:07 --> 00:07:12
As mentioned before, there is need for a bit of refinement
at the skin level but we'll accept that for now.

00:07:13 --> 00:07:18
If you need to make further adjustments to the animation,
then you'd best do that in Motionbuilder again.

00:07:19 --> 00:07:27
Even after you've plotted the animation to the skeleton in FK mode,
you can plot the animation back to a Control Rig for further refinement.

00:07:29 --> 00:07:33
This is done by choosing Edit > Plot Character > Control Rig.

00:07:34 --> 00:07:40
You can then use a new animation layer to offset or fine-tune
the Motion Capture clip already on the skeleton.

00:07:40 --> 00:07:46
For example by offsetting the position of the hands and keyframing these
by pressing the K shortcut.

00:08:06 --> 00:08:11
Once satisfied, you plot the final animation again to the skeleton
and reload it in 3ds Max as shown earlier.

00:08:12 --> 00:08:20
As you can see, the process of exporting max bones to Motionbuilder and back
is easy provided you used the right naming convention for your skeleton.

00:08:20 --> 00:08:27
In the next movie, you look at a different scenario where the skeleton
is based on a Biped skeleton instead of a Max Bones skeleton.
Posted By
Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Character
  • 2011
  • Character Animation
  • Character Effects
  • Workflow
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