Welcome back. This time, I decided to take a closer look at animation in iClone. I could very easily animate my characters in Maya, like I’ve been doing so far. However, iClone has some interesting animation tools, and can also stream motion capture (for both face and body). I don’t have an iPhone/iPad and I don’t have a motion capture suit, so I can’t test those things right now, but those capabilities might be useful in the future.
Character Creator can easily export your character to iClone as an iAvatar file. You can also add clothing to your avatar inside iClone, in case you send nude figures to be reused in different animations. This is a nice thing, because you don’t need to send all the different versions of your character.
For testing purposes, I applied a random animation and then I exported it to Unreal Engine. The animation worked perfectly, including facial morphs and this would definitely make my work easier than my current animation pipeline (so far, my process has been animating the body in Maya, while I animate the face in Face Robot, as you have seen in other articles, and then combine both in Maya before I send them to Unreal Engine).
Since I already had some idle animations, I thought it would be a good idea to try them out. Using 3DXchange, you can convert your animation into an iClone compatible animation, so it can be applied to your iClone character. You can use different animation presets, like 3D Studio Max bipeds, HumanIK rigs from Maya, and Daz animations. However, I’ve also used Mixamo animations. On the other hand, if your animation preset is not listed (for example, if you are using Blender or Cinema 4D), you can manually map your bones in the 3DXchange interface.
When you convert your animation, it’s automatically added to your iClone library and you can apply it to your character immediately.
In iClone you can also modify your current animation by adding keyframes on top. You can also pin body parts, like in HumanIK, to make animation easier. You can do the same for the face. I haven’t tested the face animation much, but I will do it soon.
I found that importing the animations into Unreal Engine was a little tricky because the skeleton was being deformed. However, that is easily fixed if you use the correct import flags in Unreal Engine. The next image shows the flags I use for importing in Unreal 4.25 (specifically, pay attention to the “Use T0 As Ref Pose” flag). Another flag I would like to point to is the “Import Morph Targets” flag. You have to turn this one on if you want to use facial morphs.
So far, I have given her two animations, so I could make an Animation Blueprint in Unreal Engine so she would go from idle to walking as I make her move around in engine.
Using iClone and Character Creator for character creation and animation definitely makes my life easier. In less than a couple of weeks, I created my character and gave her a couple of animations. Using my regular method, it took me around three weeks to do the same.
Next time, I will explore body and facial animation some more.
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