Working with MotionBuilder in 3ds Max - Part 3 - Biped Skeletons

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5 min

Working with MotionBuilder in 3ds Max - Part 3 - Biped Skeletons

In this tutorial, learn how to set up a biped skeleton in preparation for export to MotionBuilder. After you animate the skeleton in MotionBuilder, you import the animation back to the biped skeleton in 3ds Max for rendering purposes. You can also use Biped Animation Layers for simple adjustments.


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


00:00:00 --> 00:00:07
The process of using a Biped skeleton when exporting to Motionbuilder
is as easy, if not easier than using Max Bones.

00:00:07 --> 00:00:12
A biped skeleton can be created with a simple click & drag
as you probably already know.

00:00:12 --> 00:00:16
It can be renamed at creation time,

00:00:25 --> 00:00:31
or you can rename a biped later by accessing the Motion Panel
and changing the root name under Modes & Display.

00:00:32 --> 00:00:36
Rename this skeleton to follow the character's name: PEPE.

00:00:42 --> 00:00:49
Pepe is already set in a T-Stance pose facing the -Y axis.
These are both requirements needed by Motionbuilder.

00:00:50 --> 00:00:56
Note that unlike with Max Bones, you don't need to worry
about skeleton elements names when using a biped.

00:00:56 --> 00:01:03
Export the FBX file as you did with the last movie.
Name it PEPE_Biped and accept the default parameters.

00:01:04 --> 00:01:07
You may get some warnings related to the geometry in the process,

00:01:07 --> 00:01:11
do not worry about those as your ultimate target is to deal
with animation data.

00:01:11 --> 00:01:15
The mesh itself will be unaffected when you are back in 3ds Max.

00:01:15 --> 00:01:18
In Motionbuilder, load the file you just saved.

00:01:22 --> 00:01:29
With the cursor over the viewer, press A to frame PEPE into the viewer,
and then press Ctrl+A until the viewer is in X-Ray mode.

00:01:30 --> 00:01:36
In the last movie, when dealing with Max Bones,
you used the Character icon to "rig" your skeleton.

00:01:37 --> 00:01:40
If you tried the same process here, you get an error.

00:01:40 --> 00:01:47
The Character tool is meant to be used with skeleton elements that have
very specific names that follow the Motionbuilder naming convention.

00:01:48 --> 00:01:57
Therefore, Motionbuilder is looking for 13 specific limbs and it cannot
find them because biped skeleton's have their own naming convention.

00:01:59 --> 00:02:03
Press Ctrl+Z to undo the Characterization process.

00:02:03 --> 00:02:09
In order to characterize or rig a biped skeleton,
use the 3ds Max Biped Template instead.

00:02:10 --> 00:02:16
This does the same job as the Character tool but works based on
3ds Max Biped's naming convention.

00:02:16 --> 00:02:20
From this point on, the process is very much the same as you have seen
in the last movie.

00:02:21 --> 00:02:27
You can activate a Control Rig in Full Body FK/IK mode,

00:02:28 --> 00:02:33
or you can use a Motion Capture file and retarget your character to follow it.

00:02:33 --> 00:02:41
From the Tutorials folder, drag the IceSlip motion file into the viewer
and merge the animation. A yellow skeleton appears.

00:02:43 --> 00:02:47
Change Pepe's input to follow the motion of the skeleton.

00:02:51 --> 00:02:55
To export Pepe's animation back to 3ds Max, you need to first plot it
to the skeleton.

00:02:56 --> 00:03:00
This is done by choosing Edit > Plot Character > Skeleton.

00:03:03 --> 00:03:09
You can then save that motion file separately by choosing
File > Save Character Animation.

00:03:11 --> 00:03:15
Name the file: PEPE_Biped_animated.

00:03:20 --> 00:03:30
Back in 3ds Max, import the newly-saved FBX file by choosing
the Update scene elements option.

00:03:33 --> 00:03:38
This only brings animation data on objects of the same name,
in this case, the biped skeleton.

00:03:39 --> 00:03:43
If you need to make changes to the animation, you can always do so
in Motionbuilder.

00:03:44 --> 00:03:49
There, you plot the animation back to the Control rig
and animate additive layers as seen in the last movie.

00:03:50 --> 00:03:57
However, using bipeds, you also have the possibility
of adding adjustments layers simply by using Biped layers.

00:03:57 --> 00:04:06
If all you need is a simple overall offset, this might be easier
than going back and forth continuously between the two applications.

00:04:27 --> 00:04:31
In the next movie, you take a look at a scenario involving a CAT skeleton.
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