As promised the next few ActorCore articles will look at retargeting using some of the available 3D applications like 3DS Max, Blender, and Unreal Engine.
In this installment, I look at retargeting the motions to a 3DS Max CAT rig. It’s a simple process that allows us to reuse the animations already retargeted as well as automatically retargeting new animations. Those of you that are 3DS Max wizards can learn from the Reallusion tutorial but for those with less experience or are new to 3DS Max I will go into a little more detail about the process.
There aren’t that many steps in the 3DS Max process and even if you never used this particular piece of software, it is simple enough to follow along if you are familiar with 3D applications so let’s get started.
First, you need to download a profile, provided free of charge, on the Reallusion website. Click here to download the profile ( https://actorcore.reallusion.com/learn-and-support/my-software/3dsmax). It is necessary for the retargeting process. The website says it works for versions 2018 to 2020 but I find it works for 3DS Max 2021 as well.
I generally load my character with the CAT rig first and then rescale if needed to match the ActorCore motion FBX skeleton. You can also load the FBX motion file first and then create the CAT rig to scale. Either way will work as long as the CAT rig is properly scaled to fit the character mesh.
We can rescale the motion itself if needed. Select the Bone Root at the very bottom... on the floor... below the character and use the Scale tool. You will quickly see how it works. Make sure the character’s feet are on the ground.
IMPORT ACTORCORE MOTION
In this case with your CAT rigged mesh already loaded, import the ActorCore motion which in this instance is a skeletal set of bones with the motion. It’s important to use the ADD selection in the INCLUDE section of the FBX import dialog. Do not be alarmed if the motion doesn’t line up. In fact, in most cases, it won’t even be close but we’ll take care of that easily enough using the Capture Animation dialog.
At this point, you should have your CAT rigged mesh (or only a CAT rig If you just want to learn the technique) and the ActorCore motion in the workspace at the same location, on top of each other.
CAPTURE ANIMATION DIALOG
Next go up to the Animation menu on top. Go to CAT -> Capture Animation. This pops up the Caption Animation dialog that will lines things up for us and records (transfer) the motion or multiple motions from the motion file to the CAT rig.
On the left side of the dialog, you will see the Source Objects button which will be the ActorCore motion you just loaded. In most cases, it is labeled Bone Root. Click the Source Objects button then Bone Root. Below that is the Target Rig button with which you select the Cat rig. In my case, I selected the Base HumanPelvis which will show as Base Human on the button once connected.
From here you need to load the profile you downloaded earlier. Click on the Load button under the Mapping section of the Capture Animation Dialog. As soon as it loads this profile, the CAT rigged mesh should snap in the same position AND pose as the ActorCore FBX motion as they are now mated to each other.
CHECK TIMELINE LENGTH
This would be a great time to make sure we aren’t cutting off any of the animation by adding enough frames to the timeline to see the entire animation. To do this select the Time Configuration button (looks like a little clock with a gear on it at the bottom) and add extra frames which in this case I increased to 500 frames.
We can press the Capture Animation button at this point to actually transfer the motion from the Bones to the CAT rig. We can also add another motion or series of motions to this by saving out these motions with the Animation->Save/LOAD Motion selection from the top menu. Or we can replace the motion with another motion that can then be saved and reloaded into the dialog at the appropriate place.
When saving out or loading motions make sure you select the proper segment you want to be recorded or load a previously saved motion at the proper frame number so it doesn’t override previous animations.
When you are ready, as mentioned earlier, whether you loaded single or multiple motions, you can press the Capture Animation button to transfer the animation to the CAT rig then delete the FBX ActorCore motion leaving only your rigged and now animated character.
Just watch the video... it’s short and sweet then refer back to the above if you have any questions as this should guide you through your first retargeting of ActorCore motions. And... let’s face it... if you are here, following this, you have more than adequate skills to do this.
The best thing is it opens up the once walled off, high-quality, iClone mocap library to anyone that can grasp the simple retargeting and use the extremely easy online interface when selecting, purchasing or download motions from the site.
ActorCore Homepage: https://bit.ly/2WtF8Vr
iClone Unreal Live Link: http://bit.ly/3nJ4GKx
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.