This is the fifth of a series of articles that cover my journey learning and exploring one of the most powerful indie game creation tools available - Unity. I’ll be sharing my knowledge and discoveries over a 12 week period. Each week I’ll post primarily on the process of learning Unity 3D along with other topics such as the history of the game engine, the community, and prominent artists/creators.
Last week I covered level building and basic animation. I’ve been using the Lynda.com course, “Unity 3D Essential Training” by Craig Barr as a guide.
Looking Deeper at Animation in Unity
I had planned to continue following the Lynda.com Essential Training course, but as I started looking deeper into the animation capabilities of Unity I found myself wanting to take a little detour and drill down a bit on animation (especially humanoid animation).
Of course there are any number of great animation packs and models at the Unity asset store (many of which are free), but I found myself heading over to the Adobe’s Mixamo website where you can choose a variety of characters, create an animation stack and download it as an .fbx file specially coded for Unity!
The front page of the Mixamo.com website
Mixamo is a web-based animation and character site (still in open beta). Adobe purchased the company in 2015 and after re-working the site a bit they are allowing free downloads of all character and animations (awesome!). You choose a character (great balance between male and female) then apply animations to the character which you can save as a set and then download. One important point adding animations is to click the checkbox “InPlace” so the character performs the chosen animation in one position.
Rather than go through the details here, let me share a great tutorial on setting up Mixamo characters in Unity using the Mechanim animation system. Be warned there is a little coding involved, but it’s not hair-raising, so chill out and enjoy the video from Holistic3D (a great teacher). She describes the video this way:
This tutorial takes you through the first steps of getting a rigged and animated character from Mixamo, putting it into the Unity Mechanim system and then writing basic code to make the character run, jump and stand idle. Learn how to trigger animation transitions, interrupt animations and blend animations.
The Adobe Fuse, Mixamo to Unity Pipeline
Another interesting development by Adobe is their Fuse application (in beta). With this application, you can create your own character using a part-based and slider approach (pick head and make small, thin, wide, large, etc). There is a natural pipeline between Fuse (create the character), Mixamo (rig and add animations) and Unity (import, create controllers and add characters to your Unity scene). No space to cover Fuse here, but Holistic3D has done another excellent 2-part series on the Fuse/Mixamo/Unity pipeline. You can find the tutorial here: https://youtu.be/uC_ruUS_xRQ