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Author Topic: Animating in Maya with Control Rigs, Baking, and Exporting into Brawlbox  (Read 4421 times)
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Eternal Yoshi
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    « on: November 09, 2013, 12:28:12 AM »


    First off, I have to credit jiang and Haloedhero for developing this method, I'm generally just porting it into actual text form. Credit to Vaanrose for showing everyone how to get Brawl models into Maya intact too.

    This Tutorial will still be expanded intermittently.

    What you need
    Maya 2014(Get the student version or whatever)
    Brawlbox 0.68(Exporting the model only)
    Brawlbox 0.69(For Animations)
    Autodesk FBX Converter 2010.2(To convert the model)
    Perseverance

    Maya is a very powerful animation program with a high learning curve, but it's worth learning because it's tools and hotkeys mean better animations at much better efficiency. There will be a transitional phrase, but there's something very... magical about using these tools for the first time after using Brawlbox's animation assets.

    First section needs to cover the right way to get the model into Brawlbox with the bones intact.
    Second section covers the Control Rig tools and a few hotkeys.
    Third Section We Bake the animation and learn a fast way of cleaning up keyframes in Maya
    Fourth Section covers Exporting

    Getting the model into Maya


    So we basically follow Vaanrose's instructions on getting the model in to Maya from Brawlbox using Brawlbox 0.68....

    For those that don't know what I'm talking about, I'll paraphrase.

    Just pick the character(it could be any character, even a custom one like Simon Belmont) in Brawlbox 0.68d:

    highlight the mdl0 and right click. Then select export and make sure you choose Collada Scene (.dae). Don't forget the textures

    Then you open the converter and just like with Vaan's tutorial, under "Source Files", click "Add..." and load the .DAE file; also make sure you have the destination format as "FBX201000 (Autodesk)"

    Then open the resulting .FBX file into Maya using Import.


    There now we have a model ready to animate(I have textures off in this scene).


    Using Control Rigs and Hotkeys
    First some Hotkeys for thought:

    4 = Wireframe Mode
    5 = Shaded mode
    6 = Shaded + Textured Mode
    Q = Select Tool
    W = Move Tool
    E = Rotate Tool
    R = Scale Tool
    Shift + W = Set Translation keyframe
    Shift + E = Set Rotation keyframe
    Shift + R = Set Scale keyframe
    I  = Insert Key(Graph Editor)
    S = Animate > Set Key(Use Wisely)
    Z = Undo
    Ctrl + Y = Redo

    Learn these and love these like I am currently. There's a lot more so be careful what you type. :p

    Edit: More here: http://www.keyxl.com/aaab24a/249/Autodesk-Maya-keyboard-shortcuts.htm

    Anyway using a Control Rig has so many advantages that I can't really put into words, but it makes previously tedious things like making a character crouch,kneel, etc. a snap. So let's set one up.
    First you need to open the Human IK Panel. Which should bring up a menu like this:

    Now we need to define the skeleton for the Control Rig to use(Don't worry this won't delete your rig if you do this right).
    So Click define Skeleton and you'll see something like this:

    Now we have to fill these in to use the control rig and tell which bone to use for which limb; just highlight the section and it'll tell you what limb it needs.
    Let's start with the legs. So click the limb labeled LeftUpLeg:

    Then Select LLegJ in your viewport either by clicking it in the viewport or using the Outliner, which is located in Window > Outliner.

    Then Right Click the LeftUpLeg Limb in the skeleton and select Assign Selected Bone. It'll turn Green. Do this for the rest of the Limbs using your best judgement and these guidelines.
    LeftUpLeg  = LLegJ
    LeftLeg      = LkneeJ
    LeftFoot     = LFootJ
    Reference  = TopN
    Hips           = HipN
    Spine         = WaistN/BodyN
    LeftArm      = LShoulderJ
    LeftForearm=LarmJ
    LeftHand    = LHandN

    Some are obvious and others aren't. Also note that there are arrows in there that let you zoom in to places where you have more to fill in like:

    Neck             = NeckN
    Spine1          = BustN
    LeftShoulder = LShoulderN

    and so on...

    Do this for all the important areas and you'll eventually get a Green Circle letting you know it's ready for application.


    Now, click on source and select Control Rig! You'll notice your character's skeleton has taken on a different appearance. Don't be worried the bones are still there, but you now have the control rig tools to use in animation now.


    Now the red circles are areas that you can now move and rotate the body part and more. It's rather tricky to describe, but it's very handy since the Control Rig also applies bone pinning.


    Just a derpy looking example.

    So yeah you can use these to animate the body AND set keyframes for these things, but before you animate we have to do a few things. We need to go to Window < Settings/Preferences < Preferences for a bit.
    Now in the categories section select settings. We need to change the frame rate from Film(24fps) to NTSC field (60 fps). We can also change joint size by going into the Kinematics tab. Also on the Animation Category, we should set the Interlopation settings like so:

    Lastly we need to go to the Time Slider category and make sure the animation will play back at 60 fps(which will be real time). Finally we can save and get with Animating.

    You can control the frame total by modifying the numbers circled in the previous pic.

    There are more controls with the Control Rig that you can modify to do different things. For example, the Gray Pin when checked, will highlight red and turn off all pinning. Try out different things for different results when moving/rotating.

    Just try out animating for yourself and experiment. Keep in mind that a Red line will appear in the time slider when the selected thing has a keyframe.

    Baking and The Graph Editor

    For the Sake of pacing, let's assume you've finished your animation and are ready to put into Brawlbox. There's some requisite we have to fufill first. First off, we need to bake the animation to the Brawl bones.
    The best way to do it is to first Bake the HipN bone by itself. Select HipN via the Outliner and then click Channel Box/Layer Editor on the right side of the screen to show what we need. Then Drag Click to Select all the Tranlsate/Rotation.

    Next we need to go to Edit > Keys > Bake Simulator.

    OK. Now on the time range, be sure to select Start/End and edit the numbers so that your entire animation is sampled. Now for the Smart Bake options....

    For the HipN bone, it's advised that this be precise so make sure the Fidelity Keys Tolerance are set to 1.0000 and the other settings are like in my picture and then hit Bake.



    It'll go through your animation and keyframe the HipN bone for you.



    Next we want to do the other bones.... which we can do simultaneously. What we need to do is select all the bones EXCEPT for HipN. and we can do that by selecting TopN and right click drag to Select Hiearchy. Then we deselect the HipN bone in the Outliner by Holding Ctrl + Left clicking the HipN bone.



    Now select ONLY ROTATION CHANNELS in the right section and return to the bake simulator. Now we need to change the Fidelity Keys Tolerance to something more than 1. While we can do 1, that'll keyframe way too much stuff. So Bake with the tolerance value between 5.00000 and 15.0000. Whichever you think works for you.

    Check your animation by playing it after baking. If it looks to inaccurate from what it was before, then you may have to try a lower number.

    Don't freak too much if you see Red Lines everywhere. This means we need to do some cleanup with the Graph Editor.

    Now we open the Graph Editor by going to Window > Animation Editor > Graph Editor.
    This visualizes our keyframes and interlopation. What we need to do is check for which bones have unecessary keyframes. More often than not, they tend to be baked bones that aren't moved or rotated in the animation. Here's an example.

    See how flat the line is? That's a not moving Axis waste of keyframes. So we need to select all of those and Click Delete/Backspace to remove them. Rinse and repeat for all "flat lining" bones. Don't be shy about using the outliner to select the bones. This will take a little while to do at first, but you'll get used to it and do it faster. You can also use this Graph editor to cleverly save on keyframe space on bones that are used as well, but I won't cover that in this first draft.

    Afterwards, you should have much less Red lines/Keyframes and have the animation look generally the same.

    See doesn't this look much more sane?

    Exporting the Animation the proper way for Brawlbox

    One Final thing to do before the export: We must select ALL the bones, put the time Slider on the first frame, and then select the Translation Channels:

    Then Right Click + Hold and hit Key Selected. This ensures that all translations will be in tact on the first frame. We can finally start exporting. Go To File > Export Selection's Little Settings box and change them like so. For the final time, make sure that the Start and End numbers match your animation length.

    Now export it as an .anim file.

    Time to import this thing into Brawlbox 0.69. However due to an odd bug, we can't do it when the Model viewer is open, so we need to open the motion file itself and import it that way. Be sure to Right Click > Import > Model Animation. DO NOT REPLACE with this Brawlbox version. Then save and check your animation with a different Brawlbox revision.


    I'm aware of how lenghty this is. This is as abridged as I could make it.

    Any questions and concerns should go here.
    « Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 11:42:02 PM by Eternal Yoshi » Logged


    BlackJax96
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    « Reply #1 on: November 09, 2013, 06:28:57 AM »


    I can't try this out yet but looks good, nice job.
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    « Reply #2 on: November 09, 2013, 07:27:46 AM »


    I've always liked animating in maya. This is going to make things alot easyer now
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    « Reply #3 on: November 09, 2013, 07:30:05 AM »


    Oh god yes....
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    « Reply #4 on: November 09, 2013, 01:28:56 PM »


    No one should ever need to animate in Brawlbox now

    This here is the sex.
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    « Reply #5 on: November 09, 2013, 02:24:25 PM »


    This is a godsend. I love animating in Maya. Thanx a million.
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    « Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013, 01:56:32 AM »


    so, this is basically dragging in the hand and it will affect the whole arm? SWEET!

    I need to get my hands on maya! Im srs here
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    « Reply #7 on: November 13, 2013, 03:37:16 PM »


    I have a small problem. I even managed to export the animation with Maya, but after importing it in Brawlbox, for some reason, every keyframe value is multiplied by 10^7. Did you encountered this problem on your tests?
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    Eternal Yoshi
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    « Reply #8 on: November 13, 2013, 04:13:23 PM »


    No I have not. What Maya version are you using?
    The importer doesn't really support versions not 2014.

    The more information on the situation you are in and what you do to bake and export, the more accurate my diagnosis will be.
    « Last Edit: November 13, 2013, 04:18:15 PM by Eternal Yoshi » Logged


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    « Reply #9 on: November 13, 2013, 04:26:35 PM »


    I have a small problem. I even managed to export the animation with Maya, but after importing it in Brawlbox, for some reason, every keyframe value is multiplied by 10^7. Did you encountered this problem on your tests?

    Sounds like a different unit of measurement. I'll have a dialog in the next BB update that will let you apply a conversion factor.
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    « Reply #10 on: November 14, 2013, 12:31:44 PM »


    No I have not. What Maya version are you using?
    The importer doesn't really support versions not 2014.

    The more information on the situation you are in and what you do to bake and export, the more accurate my diagnosis will be.


    Yes, I'm using version 2014, and also the plugin that comes with it already. I followed the tutorial without any doubts until the "Baking and The Graph Editor". I made just a single translation on the TopN bone to see if it would work. It also changed the values on other bones, but then I tried again with this bone only.
    I believe you said to select only the rotations for the other bones because we usually don't translate the model's body parts during animations. So, on this case, I didn't select the rotation values, as I just translated TopN.
    I also checked the interpolation graphic and it seems fine.
    On the exporting section, I put the time slider at the first frame, both on the frame bar on the bottom and on the Time Slider settings.

    Important: I made more tests and realized that the values were not being multiplied by 10, but any numbers with commas, like 74,44, have their comma ignored and are imported with the value of 7444. I didn't find the reason of this, though, and doesn't seem to happen while importing the animation back into maya.


    Sounds like a different unit of measurement. I'll have a dialog in the next BB update that will let you apply a conversion factor.

    Thanks for sharing the info.  But still, if that's the solution for my problem I still would have a hard time fixing every key frame, as they don't have always the same amount of digits.
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    « Reply #11 on: November 14, 2013, 01:44:28 PM »


    Important: I made more tests and realized that the values were not being multiplied by 10, but any numbers with commas, like 74,44, have their comma ignored and are imported with the value of 7444. I didn't find the reason of this, though, and doesn't seem to happen while importing the animation back into maya.

    Ok, I know exactly what the problem is then. Consider it fixed.
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    « Reply #12 on: November 16, 2013, 03:35:26 PM »


    Hello, is there some way to define the skeleton for a character once and for all ? Because it's a pain for me to always define it before starting animating.
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    Eternal Yoshi
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    « Reply #13 on: November 16, 2013, 06:30:24 PM »


    Like it or not, it must be done at least once per Character/skeleton. Just make a scene with the skeleton already defined before you move anything so you have a scene to begin with when you start a new animation.
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    « Reply #14 on: November 16, 2013, 07:44:34 PM »


    I'm having trouble rotating my character so his whole body is facing the other direction. The rotate tool doesn't seem to rotate it in that manner. When I try, it seems to make the face 2D.

    Anyone have suggestions?
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