For our fourth ActorCore retargeting installment we’ll take a look at another application From Autodesk. Already having been through 3DS Max and Maya, well finish out the sister applications with MotionBuilder. Being a longtime Autodesk user and trainer, I am familiar with MotionBuilder, but it has been several years since I’ve used it with any frequency.
MotionBuilder has always been a powerful tool. That is why it's in the Autodesk arsenal but being limited, for the most part, to animation it doesn’t have the footprint of Maya and Max. A lot of good work has been churned out this application as it blends, edits, slices, and dices motion very nicely with an interface… like other Autodesk products… that mean business. Nothing fancy as there is a lot of informational choices a user must make which creates an interface that’s more industrial looking than aesthetic.
It has the usual timeline but can get a little confusing to new users as there are multiple editor types available for various tasks. Initial navigation can be a little tricky since so many choices are onscreen but, if you have prior 3D experience, just think it through and things will start coming together.
In this retargeting, we use the free Actorcore motion avatar that you can download with the motions, then load in a MotionBuilder character, and finally, a custom character not associated with the Reallusion or Autodesk pipeline.
One thing I really like about MotionBuilder is its smooth transitions. We’ll go over how to align motions for smooth operation and how to blend them for a smoother animation by taking two ActorCore motions that are totally unrelated showing how they can be made into one smooth motion.
Navigating in MotionBuilder is a bit old school but if you are an Autodesk user then you are already used to this. They may not be fancy, but Autodesk interfaces put a lot of information in front of you and MotionBuilder does this the tenth degree.
You’ll see tabs, workspaces, and windows but you can ignore 99 percent of all that for retargeting if you have never opened MotionBuilder before. The only real frustration you may have will be unfamiliarity with the info-packed interface as you online search for a lot of small things like “where is this” and “where is that” but generally, it’s right in front of you.
The final result is worth the frustration plus it’s a crash course in loading and manipulating multiple motions and one can never have enough motions. MotionBuilder can stretch the value of a motion capture library by porting it to many applications, all being industry-leading apps too.
MotionBuilder retargeting is a little more involved in the number of steps but not more complicated than the other applications we’ve used so far. With that in mind, I won’t write out a detailed description of the steps but rather refer you to the video tutorial accompanying this article. Retargeting itself is a simple process but multiple motions need to be put together and refined then saved as another take. We will go over how to change between takes and save the final take of multiple, merged motions.
This one may take a bit more time, but the results speak for themselves and always have for this Autodesk motion heavyweight. Once again I had no problem finding out what I needed to know about retargeting from the ActorCore website. More importantly, I found the results to be the best of all the applications I’ve tested so far. That is to be expected since motion is its thing.
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.