Digital human creation with Reallusion: Animating in iClone part 3

Nov 26, 2020 at 02:00 pm by nemirc

After a brief pause, I’m coming back to my Reallusion series with a new iClone article. This time I am exploring a little bit more about animation. I recently purchased iClone and 3DXchange Pipeline, so I can continue working with these apps and sharing more tips without any sort of time limit. 

In a previous article I mentioned how the batch export in Character Creator 3 didn’t export facial animation. I was mistaken, and the reason it didn’t export my facial animations was because I was using the wrong iClone motion format. IClone has two motion formats, Motion and MotionPlus, and they are used depending on where you store your animations in your Content Library. When I used the CC3 exporter to export animations I used the Motion format, but now I am using the MotionPlus format, and that one includes facial animation.  

MotionPlus also makes it possible to share an animation, including facial animation, between characters. 

Another thing I’ve been exploring are Reach Targets. You can think of Reach Targets as some sort of IK Constraint and it can help you a lot in some cases. For a crouching idle animation I needed, I needed my character’s hands to rest on the knees, but, as the character moved due to breathing and head turning, the knees moved slightly as well, and that caused the hands to get inside the knees. Using Reach Targets, I linked my character’s hands to boxes, and then I parented those boxes to the knees, so the hands followed the knee movement. 

While this worked perfectly inside iClone, it didn’t quite work when I stored the animation to my Content Library or when I exported it. However, there’s another feature in iClone that helps you with that. In the timeline there’s a layer called “Collect Clip” and if you drag-select a range in that layer, and then right click on it, you can select “Add MotionPlus to Library” and that will open a window where you can set some options to bake a copy of the animation, including baking the Constraint Keys, so you bake your Reach Targets into your animation. 

While the results I had were not perfect (the animation has a little offset on the hands) it worked fine, and they remained in position, which is what I needed. 

An interesting application of the Reach Targets would be locking a character’s hand on another character’s body part. For example, imagine a sequence where the bad guy grabs Amelia’s arms: I can parent a cube to Amelia’s arm and then constraint the stalker’s hand to that cube. Then, you can bake the animation of each character into a Motion or MotionPlus file and export that to Unreal Engine. 

Another thing is that iClone reverts the character’s pivot to the origin when you export an animation, and this can cause problems with animations that move the character away from the center. However, you can fix this very easily during export. When you export your animation, click the three-dot button at the top of the export dialog and uncheck the “Reset Motion Root” option. I used this for my crouch idle animations, because the default option was causing the character to be moved slightly to the front during crouch, causing the character to be slightly outside the collider capsule. 

And this is it for today. I will continue sharing more information about iClone and Character Creator as I continue working on them. 

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Sections: Tips + Tutorials

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