How can I create a motion capture animation

Integration of MoCap data

2.1. Unreal Engine

This chapter is about how you can export or import your characters animated in Maya to Unreal.

Before you get started, you should deal with the topic of skeletal hierarchy and naming.

The reason is that skeletons work very differently in Unreal than they do in Maya. There is no 3D representation of a skeleton that imitates a real biological skeleton, but only lists that represent bones and bone hierarchies. The main focus of a skeletal asset there is therefore not on the skeleton mesh, but only on the processing of the animation data.

Therefore, before the skeleton is exported, the skeleton must be prepared in Maya. Read the chapter Import into Autodesk Maya for this

2.1.1. Skeleton export

Since Unreal can only process skeleton and animation separately, you must first export your figure with its skeleton, but without animation. Then you export both with your animation.

  1. Choose in Outliner your mesh and its skeleton and create a new folder for both of them (Ctrl + G)
  2. Switch from modeling to rigging mode at the top left and select the mesh of your figure.
  3. Skin> Go to Bind Pose so that the character is in the T-pose.
  4. Now select the newly created folder and go over File> Send to Unreal> Selection in the export settings.
  5. Set the target folder for the export (preferably one in your Unreal project) and take over the following settings under the tab 'File Type Specific Options':
    • Include> Geometry> Smoothing Groups (a)
    • Include> Geometry> Animation (on, otherwise your connection between mesh and skeleton may be broken)
    • Include> Geometry> Animation> Bake Animation (off)
    • Include> Geometry> Animation> Deformed Models (select all)
    • Advanced Options> Axis Conversion> 'Z' (because in Unreal the axes are different than in Maya)
    • File Format (.fbx)

Animation export

As soon as the export is successfully completed, select your skeleton in Maya again and open again File> Send to Unreal> Selection.

This time you can use exactly all the settings as with the skeleton export. However, this time you should Include> Geometry> Animation> Bake Animation activate. Here you even have the option of determining the length of your animation using the number of frames.

Import data into Unreal

You should now have two FBX files. Unreal open the project you want to import your character into. Press the green one at the bottom of the content browser Import button. Select the freshly exported FBX file with your character without animation on your computer. A dialog window then opens with the import settings.

Then press Import All. If there is no serious error message, you have your figure correct as 'Skeletal Mesh' imported to Unreal. Do you now open your 'Skeletal Mesh' you can always rider ,Skeleton' (top right) see your skeletal structure on the left.

Now you can import the animation. So choose again in the Content Browser ,Import' and then the appropriate FBX file. Unreal now automatically detects that it is not a skeleton, but an animation. The only thing you have to do now is put the skeleton underneath Mesh> Skeleton select and again 'Import all' to press.

If you now open the Skeletal Mesh again and this time go to the Animation tab, your imported animation will be displayed in the bar in the Asset Browser at the bottom right. If you now press the play button at the bottom right, the animation should be played.

2.2. Unity

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