Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

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SvalinnAsgard
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Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by SvalinnAsgard » 19 Nov 2015, 09:57

Well I am strictly a modeler in Softimage, and I have been given the task of taking a series of hundreds of animations out of 3DS Max and into Softimage on a fairly different rig. I am the only one on the team who can do it, and I am having some trouble wrapping my brain around it--remember I am not an animator.

Heres the problem, these animations are old and use a strange rig. The source rig uses Y-Up, IN 3DS Max, which is stupid--its actually laying face down on the ground since Max is Z-Up. My rig uses Softimage's coordinate system exactly. Secondly, the rig is in meters, mine is in centimeters--is it ok to scale an animated rig? The source rig is flipped incorrectly, it needs to be mirrored horizontally, how do you properly mirror a rig and preserve animations? Lastly, some of bones are parented differently, how does one retarget animation from such a different rig in Softimage?

Also, any tips for getting animation out of Max and nicely into Softimage would be appreciated.

Thanks.

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Mathaeus
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by Mathaeus » 19 Nov 2015, 14:59

This sounds like serious task, more for character TD who is a Max guru in same time. As an rule of thumb, *do not* change units in Max , this never ever applied to everything involved in rig, things like IK thresholds and so on. Units are for static things, not for rigs.
As far as I know, rig in Max does not scale, especially Biped. Usually it was a special, scripted procedure, for one-time scale.
In Softimage, as long as rig is created from standard stuff, constraints, expressions and IK solver, scaling works, from parent of entire hierarchy.
Anyway, regarding the number of animations, perhaps is good idea to take look at MOTOR, and build some template from there. Or, if there is a way to scale the rigs sometime in exporting phase.
The renderer "turtle" used by this scene, is not currently available. The "turtle" renderer will be used instead.

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SvalinnAsgard
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by SvalinnAsgard » 20 Nov 2015, 10:22

Thanks for the reply. So, I tried some tests and I am struggling to even get these animations out of Max. I am using FBX, which, as a modeler, I hate with a passion. OBJ has always been my go-to format since it doesn't mess with my stuff. On export from Max I say the target scene units are centimeters, and it says it will be 100X bigger which is correct. Importing it into Softimage shows that its still meters and 100X too small, so I guess it will need scaling.

By the way this rig is ultra simple in terms of what's used, its just a bunch of nulls (dummies in Max) with baked transforms. Clearly whoever did these animations years ago did some weird lossy import process.

So to use MOTOR properly, does the source rig need to match the target exactly in terms of transforms? If so, that would mean I need to:

Scale the source rig 100X
Rotate the rig to be Softimage Y-Up
Rotate the rig to use Z+ as the forward axis
Mirror the rig on X (all animations are right handed, but are showing left handed)

Please tell me all of that is possible in Softimage somehow without screwing the animation up.

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Mathaeus
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by Mathaeus » 20 Nov 2015, 11:43

SvalinnAsgard wrote:Thanks for the reply. So, I tried some tests and I am struggling to even get these animations out of Max. I am using FBX, which, as a modeler, I hate with a passion. OBJ has always been my go-to format since it doesn't mess with my stuff. On export from Max I say the target scene units are centimeters, and it says it will be 100X bigger which is correct. Importing it into Softimage shows that its still meters and 100X too small, so I guess it will need scaling.

By the way this rig is ultra simple in terms of what's used, its just a bunch of nulls (dummies in Max) with baked transforms. Clearly whoever did these animations years ago did some weird lossy import process.
Just to make clear, when I said 'do not change units in Max', I meant just application, not exporter. Generally, it should be harmless to set different scale in exporter's options, because everything is already baked. Exporter will add or remove some zeros to existing values , that's it. In any case, if there's some error in animated - imported hierarchy, it will show up, very clearly.
By the way, once everything is baked to simple hierarchy, maybe it's good idea stay with that hierarchy in Softimage, too. For mirroring, is it enough to just mirror the final mesh in SI (deformed by point cache or something).
By the way, that ''laying face down on the ground'', actually it's looking just like preparation for export, maybe there's additional, parent-of-everything dummy, just rotated by 90 degree along X, at the end of process.
The renderer "turtle" used by this scene, is not currently available. The "turtle" renderer will be used instead.

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Rork
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by Rork » 20 Nov 2015, 21:34

Wasn't there a Max<>Softimage plugin/workflow at some point?

I can remember a video showing a game soldier character being animated & tweaked between applications.
Cannot remember if this was a plugin or some built-in solution. Maybe even send to...

Hope it helps finding something useful, but this will not be a trivial task. Good luck!

rob
SI UI tutorials: Toolbar http://goo.gl/iYOL0l | Custom Layout http://goo.gl/6iP5xQ | RenderManager View http://goo.gl/b4ZkjQ

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SvalinnAsgard
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by SvalinnAsgard » 21 Nov 2015, 13:25

I am making some progress. I have the rig scaled and oriented correctly in Max--the only way I got it to preserve the animations is by parenting the source rig to a new master null and transforming that. Unfortunately, freezing any transforms on the root in Max screws up the entire animation.

Transferring the animation to the new rig is proving to be very hard. I am still working on getting it over to Softimage to try MOTOR, but I figured trying Max's retargeting was worth a shot. Turns out the bones use different axis orientations too! Y and Z are swapped. Fortunately Max's retarget system lets you remap the XYZ of each track--oh but guess what, the source animation controller doesn't have those exposed. This really is nuts. It's like this was intentionally created to be as hard as possible.

So it looks like I need a way to swap Y and Z on each bone, can MOTOR do this?

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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by Manticor » 21 Nov 2015, 18:35

if your max skeleton is a biped .You should be able to export out a bvh I think.... been a while since I did it but im pretty sure you can.
Then import using motor mocap to rig .You will need to tag your softimage rig first tho to get it working and you will also have to tag the imported wireframe representation of the max rig.
You can alter the orientation of the whole animation in the motor dialogue afterwards to tweak the retargetting

If I get time tomorrow I will have a go to refresh my memory and let you know

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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by Manticor » 21 Nov 2015, 18:44

im pretty sure you can do it with fbx format too .I think you can import it into fbx and the bones become a series of nulls.which you can tag and then do rig to rig retargeting with motor

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SvalinnAsgard
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by SvalinnAsgard » 22 Nov 2015, 02:23

Bah, MOTOR isn't working. The orientation of this rig is killing me, to make it line up with my rig it needs to be rotated 90 on X, scaled -1 on Z to mirror it properly. Also, the bones on the source rig are rotated locally in a different way than mine. Those things make any retargeting in Max or Softimage impossible.

Since the rig uses Y-Up, I would just rotate my rig to fit this one, but the fact the animation is flipped incorrectly ruins everything. Scaling -1 isn't an option, unless there's a way to freeze it without screwing the animation.

I am running out of ideas, the problem here is that these rigs are just too different and I don't know a way around that.

Manticor
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Re: Retargetting Animation from Disoriented Rig

Post by Manticor » 22 Nov 2015, 08:13

Have you tried using dotxsi format? There is a plugin for max that exports to. . Xsi and if you import into softimage it preps the model to import with the correct axis orientation..... You may have to use an older version of max tho for a plugin that works.

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