How to Apply Studio Animations to Your Character in Maya
Follow along as we break down the process of how to export your animation from Rokoko Studio with a Maya HIK skeleton, import it into Maya, and prepare your character and animation to be able to work together.
This blog serves as a step-by-step guide for users who want to learn how to apply their mocap data from the Smartsuit Pro onto their custom characters within Maya. Follow along as we break down the process of how to export your animation with a Maya HIK skeleton, import it into Maya, and prepare your character and animation to be able to work together.
Exporting From Studio
Click the “Export” button to bring up the “Export options” box
Most of the default information should remain untouched however, you have the option to adjust the following settings:
If you have Virtual Production data, make sure “Export VP data” is checked
“Mimic file hierarchy” will export your files in the same hierarchy that they are in Studio
“Export Path” shows where the files will be exported out to
Default exporting file format is FBX, however, you can also change “Format” to BVH or CSV
“FBX Settings” allows you to choose between ASCII or Binary types
“Version” allows you to choose which FBX version you’d like to export as
“Skeleton” has four different choices depending upon where you plan to import the animation to: Rokoko Newton (Default), Maya HumanIK, 3ds Max Biped, and Mixamo
Once you have your settings set, click the “Export” button
Open the Maya program.
Import your animation by clicking File at the top of the window, then click Import and select the FBX file of your animation and click “Open”
Import your character by clicking File again, then click Import and select the .OBJ file of your character and click “Open”
If you don’t have a character, you can use a pre-made character from Maya’s own Content Browser by clicking Windows at the top of the window, the click General Editors then Content Browser
Navigate to the Bipeds folder located within the Modeling then Sculpting Base Meshes folders.
Select a Character by dragging it from the Content Browser and dropping them directly in the Scene window
Once both animation and character are imported, you should add each of them to their own layer
In the ‘Channel Box / Layer Editor’ under the Display tab, click the “Create New Layer” button twice to create two layers
Double click “Layer1” and rename it “Animation”, then do the same for “Layer2” and rename it “Character”
In the Outliner, click on the animation to highlight the entire skeleton
Right-click on the “Animation” layer that you created, and click “Add Selected Objects”
Do the same thing for your character and add it to the “Character” layer
Defining Skeleton Joints
We won’t be working with the character right now, so we can hide it by clicking the “V” button to the left of the “Character” layer
Clicking that same box again will make the character reappear
In order to define the joints on our animation skeleton, click the animation within your Outliner to highlight it, then under the Human IK tab (to the right) click “Create Character Definition”
If the “Human IK” tab is closed, you can open it by clicking “Windows” at the top of the screen, highlight “Animation Editors”, then click “HumanIK”
To change the name of the Character, click the blue square icon to the left of “Character” and click “Rename”
Rename it to “Animation”
Under the Definition tab, you’ll see a silhouette of a character with grey icons placed through its’ body. These symbolize that joints have not been defined
To define joints, double-click on a grey icon in the silhouette then left-click on the joint it’s associated with
Alternatively, you can click on the joint first, then right-click on the grey icon and click ‘Assign Selected Bone’
Note: When you assign joints, it will mirror the action and assign the opposite joint as well, so you only need to do this for one side of the body
The hands, shoulders, neck, spine, and feet have extra bones that can be assigned by clicking the arrow button next to each bone
Once you have defined all of the skeleton joints, it’s time to create a rig for your character
Creating a Rig
Switch back to the “Channel Box / Layer Editor” tab
Show your character by clicking the box all the way to the left of the “Character” layer
Change your Maya Workspace to Rigging (top-right corner of Maya) if it isn’t already
Select the dropdown in the top-left corner of the window and click “Rigging”
To have Maya automatically rig your character, click Skeleton at the top of the window then click “Quick Rig”
Make sure Model is selected and facing towards the Z-axis before proceeding
Within the Quick Rig box, click “Auto-Rig”
Once it’s done creating a rig, the skeleton preview window on the right should update to show the rig.
If you would rather have a bit more control in the rigging process, you can click the “Step-By-Step” option button:
“1) Geometry” will show you the mesh that is having the rig created for it
“2) Guides” allow you to generate guides for your rig which will be where your joints are
“3) User Adjustment of Guides” will allow you to adjust your guides
“4) Skeleton and Rig Generation” will generate all of the bones and controls of the rig
“5) Skinning” will allow you to adjust the Binding Method used to skin your character
Each of these fields has a “Create / Update” button that allows you to make changes and update your rig even after it’s created. Make sure you click this button at least once for all of them to fully complete the auto-rigging process
In the “Human IK” tab, click the dropdown menu under “Source” and change the source to the name of the animation file you imported.
This will allow the skeleton of your animation to drive the character model.
At this point animation is tied to your character it by pressing the play button at the bottom of the screen, you can see it in action
If the animation looks perfect, you can bake the animation directly onto the skeleton
To do this, click the blue square icon within the “Human IK” tab, highlight Bake, then click “Bake to Skeleton” or “Bake to Control Rig”
We hope that this guide has helped teach you how to properly import your studio animations into Maya and apply them to your custom characters. If you run into any issues, feel free to reach out to our support desk here.